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JANITOR

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JANITOR

Postby Dr. Goodword » Wed Jan 03, 2007 12:42 am

• janitor •

Pronunciation: jæ-ni-têr • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A door-keeper, porter, ostiary. 2. A caretaker or custodian of a building.

Notes: We think today's word is still a good one despite the fact that it has fallen into the disrepute of political incorrectness. Those of us sensitive to the political whims in language in the US today refer to janitors as custodians. This word has an adjective, janitorial, and the position of a janitor is a janitorship. We think this word should never have been shuffled off to the PC cellar and it is now time to bring it out.

In Play: When we replace names that we think have become unrespectable, however, the general result is that the replacement soon acquires the connotation of disrespect. It would be difficult to find a designation for custodians with a more sterling pedigree than janitor, though: not only is it based on the name of a Roman god, beginning in the 17th century Saint Peter himself was sometimes called "the Janitor of Heaven".

Word History: Janitor comes to us directly from Latin ianitor "doorkeeper" based on the word ianus (janus) "archway, gate". The god of doorways and the New Year in ancient Rome was also called Ianus (Janus). Because he was the god of beginnings and endings, he was represented over Roman doorways with two faces looking in opposite directions. The month of January was also named after him. The name is based on the Proto-Indo-European root ei- "to go", found today in Russian idu "I am going", Latin ire "to go" and iter "journey", visible today in the English borrowing iterate and itinerant.
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Postby Bailey » Wed Jan 03, 2007 1:33 am

I have iterated and iterated but somehow it never gets reiterated.

mark reduntant-itinerary Bailey

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Postby Perry » Wed Jan 03, 2007 10:05 am

The god of doorways and the New Year in ancient Rome was also called Ianus (Janus). Because he was the god of beginnings and endings, he was represented over Roman doorways with two faces looking in opposite directions. The month of January was also named after him.


I was a janitor well over 30 years ago. Despite that, and despite being born in January, I only have one face (althought the Hebrew word for face is a plural one BTW).
"Time is nature's way of keeping everything from happening all at once. Lately it hasn't been working."
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Postby gailr » Wed Jan 03, 2007 11:29 am

Perry wrote:... (althought the Hebrew word for face is a plural one BTW.)

Please elucidate; because parts of the face are arranged in 'pairs'?
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Postby skinem » Wed Jan 03, 2007 2:41 pm

gailr wrote:
Perry wrote:... (althought the Hebrew word for face is a plural one BTW.)

Please elucidate; because parts of the face are arranged in 'pairs'?


...or because it can appear more than one way?
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Postby Perry » Wed Jan 03, 2007 3:43 pm

There is the word "pan" (פן), which means face, or perhaps better, facet. From this we get the plural "panim" (פנים), which is the word we use for one's visage.

And yes Gail, it may have to do with the idea of the two profiles making up a whole face.
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Postby Bailey » Wed Jan 03, 2007 5:46 pm

So who are we saying is two-faced?

mark bi-focal-not-faced Bailey

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