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POTAMOPHILOUS

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POTAMOPHILOUS

Postby Dr. Goodword » Fri Jun 15, 2012 11:26 pm

• potamophilous •

Pronunciation: pah-tê-mah-fê-lês • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Loving rivers, river-loving.

Notes: Today's Good Word is clearly related to hippopotamus; that is because this word comprises the Greek stems for "horse" hippos and "river" potamos. This latter stem also resides in several other words referring to rivers, including potamography, the geographic study of rivers and potamometer, the instrument for measuring river currents. If you are potamophilous, you are a potamophile and that particular love is known as potamophilia. (Remember the A is always between two Os.) Before you even ask, the name of the Potomac River is not evidence that Greeks first settled Washington, DC, even if the gobbledygook emanating from there today sounds like Greek to you (see Word History). Potomac was the name of an Algonquian village long vanished that may have meant "something brought".

In Play: Despite the ostensible implication, your river does not have to contain hippopotamuses for you to wax potamophilous: "The Pennsylvania Potamophilous Society will hold a riparian repast by the susurrous Susquehanna River on Saturday, April 1 at 5 in the afternoon." If you go, you might catch sight of other potamophilous creatures such as a muskrat or a beaver.

Word History: The root of potamos is Proto-Indo-European *pot-/pet- "fly, flow". In potamos it means "that which flows", but the same root with the suffix -er turns up in Greek pteron "wing", found in pterodactyl "wing-finger". In Russian it is found with the common Russian suffix -ica in ptica "bird". We also find it in Sanskrit pattram "feather, leaf" and, finally, with the suffix -er again, in English feather, a coincidence that led to Dr. Goodword's article "How is a Hippo like a Feather?"
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Postby wurdpurrson » Sun Jun 17, 2012 3:36 am

This word is so very relevant in our part of the world right now. The largest dam-removal project to date in this country is happening within 20 miles of my home; the Elwha River that flows from the Olympic Mountains to the Strait of Juan de Fuca will soon be completely released to be free-flowing once again, after 100 years of being blocked by two concrete dams. Additionally, there were no fish ladders provided when the dams were constructed, so that a storied annual spawning run of 400,000 (or more) salmon was stopped cold. These salmon will be restored once the siltation has cleared; the fish were driven by instinct to bump their noses against the lower dam on the day in September, 2011 that the removal project was launched.
So we potamophiles are rejoicing!
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Postby Philip Hudson » Sun Jun 17, 2012 4:29 pm

wurdpurrson: As a fellow potamophile, I rejoice with you. Building a dam, and thus a reservoir or lake, may be necessary for water supply and flood control. But the wild river is so basic to our ecology and the human spirit. Have you read the book, "Raintree County" by Ross Lockridge, Jr.? The hero, John Shawnessy, sees the Shawmucky River as vital to his life, perhaps even to all existence. From the Bible, Rivers flowed through and out of the garden of Eden. Then remember the “Song of the Chattahoochee” by my favorite poet, Sidney Lanier.
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Postby wurdpurrson » Mon Jun 18, 2012 3:54 am

Thanks for your sympathetic response. Rivers loom large both as actual resources and as symbols. The Elwha dams are obsolete in many ways, and their time for making way for free-flowing waters is long overdue. It's a lovely, vital river, one that invites visiting all along its 70+ miles - though it's quite a hike to the headwaters in the Olympic Mountains. We like to take our dogs and a simple picnic to a favorite riverside spot guarded by tall trees, to listen to and smell the waterflow and to watch the bald eagles overhead as they circle in their hunt. It's a small ceremony of renewal each time. Delicious!

I am familiar with both "Raintree County" and Lanier's poem, yes. Rivers ARE vital to all existence - without their good water we die.
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Postby bamaboy56 » Mon Jun 18, 2012 2:03 pm

I always wondered why the word "potable" meant drinkable water. Now that I understand the root of the word, it makes sense. Thanks!
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Postby Perry Lassiter » Mon Jun 18, 2012 3:35 pm

But whence cometh "pot" as slang for maryjane?
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Postby Slava » Mon Jun 18, 2012 3:47 pm

Perry Lassiter wrote:But whence cometh "pot" as slang for maryjane?

dictionary.com sayeth thusly:

Origin:
1935–40, Americanism ; said to be a shortening of Mexican Spanish potiguaya or potaguaya, apparently contraction of potación de guaya wine or brandy in which marijuana buds have been steeped (literally, drink of grief)
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Postby Philip Hudson » Mon Jun 18, 2012 9:47 pm

Why did Mary Jane get identified with cannabis? I have an Aunt Mary Jane and several friends named Mary Jane. They have nothing to do with cannabis.
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Postby Slava » Mon Jun 18, 2012 10:26 pm

Philip Hudson wrote:Why did Mary Jane get identified with cannabis? I have an Aunt Mary Jane and several friends named Mary Jane. They have nothing to do with cannabis.

Simple sound association. Marijuana = Marie and Juana, Mary and Jane in Spanish.
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Postby Philip Hudson » Tue Jun 19, 2012 12:45 am

Slava: Etymonline says the origion of the Spanish word marijuana is unknown. Folk etymology seems to have associated it with Mary Jane (Maria Juana) and may have changed its spelling and pronunciation. So your answer of simple sound association is right on. I still feel sorry for all the Mary Janes out there.
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Postby Perry Lassiter » Tue Jun 19, 2012 11:01 am

It's playful. Think how many words we have for pot and booze. We don't seem to want to say marijuana and alcohol. Are we ameliorating the problems by playful discourse? I once thought it was temperance people who used the word "booze," but later found alcoholics also used it. I also have wondered about continuance of many words because writers are enjoined not to repeat the same word too close together or use it too many times. (The medium IS the message.)
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Postby Slava » Tue Jun 19, 2012 1:17 pm

One major reason for many of these code words, I suspect, is just that, they are code. You can't go down the street asking if anyone has any heroin, now can you? Horse on the other hand....
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Postby LukeJavan8 » Wed Jun 20, 2012 1:14 pm

wurdpurrson wrote:This word is so very relevant in our part of the world right now. The largest dam-removal project to date in this country is happening within 20 miles of my home; the Elwha River that flows from the Olympic Mountains to the Strait of Juan de Fuca will soon be completely released to be free-flowing once again, after 100 years of being blocked by two concrete dams. Additionally, there were no fish ladders provided when the dams were constructed, so that a storied annual spawning run of 400,000 (or more) salmon was stopped cold. These salmon will be restored once the siltation has cleared; the fish were driven by instinct to bump their noses against the lower dam on the day in September, 2011 that the removal project was launched.
So we potamophiles are rejoicing!




That is so positive: it is so great to see progress for a change.
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Postby wurdpurrson » Wed Jun 20, 2012 1:50 pm

There are always the naysayers, of course; that's just human nature for some to resent change or to hold a very narrow perspective. But the consensus is that this project is a very positive thing. I (who makes an annual drive every September to another river to watch the salmon assault the cascades below their spawning grounds) certainly am rejoicing!
Thank you LukeJavan8 for also viewing it as progress.
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Postby LukeJavan8 » Wed Jun 20, 2012 4:06 pm

You are most certainly welcome. Returning this planet
to its natural state is always welcome. People have
destroyed too much of it.
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