• amanuensis •
Pronunciation: ê-mæn-yu-en-sis • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: Someone employed to take dictation and/or make copies (originally to copy manuscripts).
Notes: The position of an amanuensis expanded to that of a secretary and now secretaries are being replaced by research assistants. We need a new, more imposing name for assistants who keep up, now, with paper and electronic copies. Unless we wish to unleash acomputerensis, this might be a Good Word to expand the meaning of and replace secretary. We might even back-derive a verb, amanuense, if needed. Notice the plural is "amanuenses."
In Play: Here is how the word would work in today's office, "Marvin is my indispensable amanuensis; he types, edits, and proof-reads everything I write." Now, despite the sound of its second syllable, it is a unisex noun, applicable to all genders: "Polly Graff is just the sort of trust-worthy amanuensis the office has needed for years." We should launch the rebirth of amanuensis immediately.
Word History: This Good Word comes directly from the Latin word, based on the phrase a manu "at hand" (short for servus a manu "hand servant") + -ensis "pertaining to." Manus "hand" is also found in manacle maneuver, manuscript (hand-written), manage (to handle), manual (a handbook), manufacture (make by hand in ancient Rome), and manure. In Middle English manure meant "land cultivation" from Anglo-Norman main-ouverer "hand-work" from Latin Latin manuoperare "to work (the soil) with the hands". (Luis Alejandro Apiolaza, AKA Uncronopio in our quickly growing marketplace of words, the Alpha Agora, managed to suggest this word in the Good Word Suggestion shop there.)
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3 posts • Page 1 of 1
- Grand Panjandrum
- Posts: 1142
- Joined: Tue Feb 15, 2005 8:24 am
- Location: Stockholm, SVERIGE
Back in the good old days, 40 years ago or so, when one could still walk into a professor's office on some side street in Stockholm and say «I'd like to take your course» and, if one met the requirements, find oneself signed up then and there, the amanuens was the professor's right-hand man (or woman), and the person who really ran the office. They were not, of course, permitted to be quite as eccentric as the professors themselves, who were appointed by the King in Council, but otherwise they had a pretty free hand. Then the university decided to become rational, modern, and up-to-date - computers were purchased and applications were electronically processed. The first time around some 40,000,000 SEK (a fair amount of money in those halcyon days) were used for the purpose, and the resulting efficiencies led to a waiting period of three to six months before one received a reply to the written application in at least three copies that had been submitted. In those days, as mentioned above, the amanuens was king, always siding with the professor against the docent, but I do not know if the position still exists in Swedish universities. Perhaps anders can tell us ?...
- Grand Panjandrum
- Posts: 1464
- Joined: Tue Feb 15, 2005 3:31 pm
- Location: Botucatu - SP Brazil
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