mso at oz.net
Thu Jun 30 08:09:41 MSD 2005
Rick Moen wrote:
>>I heard the word comes from Greek basileus (king), because it's the "king
>Or from Latin basiliscus (English "basilisk") because its sharpness of
>flavour and aroma conjure up the fire-breathing dragons of myth. We'll
>probably never know, unless some word-hunter spends time chasing it
I heard it from a Greek Orthodox priest. The word basileus (now
pronounced "vossil-EFS") is used all over in the hymns and New
Testament. Vasili ("Vah-SEE-lee") is a common first name (I'm not sure
how they anglicize it: Basile?), and one of the three liturgies is named
after St Basil the Great. Against this background he said basil was
so-named because it was considered the "king" of herbs. So I guess
basil has a long and honorable history in Greek. As for basiliscus, it
seems to come from basileus too. "dict basilisk" says:
From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 [gcide]:
Basilisk \Bas"i*lisk\, n. [L. basiliscus, Gr. basili`skos little
king, kind of serpent, dim. of basiley`s king; -- so named
from some prominences on the head resembling a crown.]
1. A fabulous serpent, or dragon. The ancients alleged that
its hissing would drive away all other serpents, and that
its breath, and even its look, was fatal. See
Make me not sighted like the basilisk. --Shak.
I don't know what it means by "basiley's king".
>[Pronunciation of "nukular" for nuclear:]
>>I don't know how many people would notice the difference. I prob'ly
>>wouldn't, not unless it was highly exaggerated.
>Really? As with "ah-thuh-lete", I wince and pity the speaker -- which
>is the sort of response that makes possible the theatrical
>anti-Eastern-liberal-elitism posture some people aim at, in deliberately
>adopting those and similar examples of semiliterate pronunciation. Thus
I guess I'm too much of a philistine. Nook-you-lr and ath-uh-leet are
what I grew up saying coz everybody said it that way. At some point I
unconsciously switched to nook-lee-r most of the time but never 100%.
(Maybe. I don't know which one I say when I'm not consciously thinking
about it.) Certainly I've never heard "nukular is wrong" or "nucular
sounds uneducated" before. Occasionally I notice the extra vowel but
just put it down to "lots of English words are pronounced differently
than they're spelled". Ath-leet and nook-lee-r sound a bit more
formal. But I do switch back and forth with athlete. And herb too, now
that I think about it.
I can imagine an actor playing an uneducated Texan saying, "I don't know
if that newfangled nook-you-lr ree-act-or we got in town is safe." That
sounds uneducated because of the whole sentance. But "nucular" alone
would not sound significant to me; just a variation like tomayto/tomahto
and coyotee/coyote. Now if they said "ain't", that'd be a different matter.
There's a town near Seattle called Puyallup. Everybody pronounces it
pyoo-AL-up (short a) even though some people claim it's "supposed" to be
poo-YAWL-up. But I had a college friend (from Texas) who used to say as
a joke: "pull-y'all-UP".
More information about the TAG