Rant warning: myrmecophory/ myrmecochory; semiparasitic/hemiparasitic

penstemon penstemon@Q.com
Mon, 16 Mar 2015 17:38:23 PDT

. In the case of myrmecochory, those meaningsare “ant” and “to dance” (think choreography). To be sure, their meanings derive from the way they are used and not from the meanings of their componentparts. Thus, myrmycophory would be a good word to describe both a process whichcauses ants to be carried by something or just as well a process in which antscarry something. It’s my choice for the process in which ants distribute seeds.

The suffix –chory comes from the Greek khorein, to spread. The correct word is myrmecochory.  Dispersal by wind, anemochory, by animals, zoochory, etc. 

Myrmecochory  likewise might be used for a type of dance in which the movements of ants are mimicked(in The Ballet of the Ants maybe) ,  orjust as well a process in which ants themselves dance something (the ant jig?).Since there is no law which prohibits scientists from using metaphor or a bitof poetic license, we don’t have to get too exercised about why this word wasput together this way. But when you know the etymology of the words in question,it seems to me that myrmecophory says it better than myrmecochory. 

Deriving a meaning based on etymology, rather than common usage, is known as the etymological fallacy. An example of this might be to insist that a person offering an apology could not be sorry, since the word is derived from “sore”, not “sorrow”. Or that a wooden house could not be delapidated. Etc. 

Bob Nold
Denver, Colorado, USA
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