Of telearchs, telegas, etc
Posted: 04 June 2017 08:00 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Having finally concluded Gibbon (perhaps for the last time) I found the experience of reading a work with access to exhaustive resources so enjoyable that I’ve launched on the Aeneid again, with Perseus and Lewis & Short as my twin Achates this time. Every single word is clickable and with arma I noted this:

Implements of war, arms, both of defence and offence (but of the latter only those which are used in close contest, such as the sword, axe, club; in distinction from tela, which are used in contest at a distance; hence, arma and tela are often contrasted

I wondered if there existed an English term with tela as its root with the same Latin contrast with arma, perhaps some sort of spear. I felt sure I’d come across such a word but unless I missed it OED was unobliging. But what fun I had discovering that! I found myself in company with Ancient Greek sanitation tsars, Russian carts, exploded theories of genetics, French Canadian soap operas, the opposite of acrostic, old words for grumbling and whittling, and a wonderfully precise French phrase for just as it is. Details below.

And all this from the very first word of the Aeneid. I don’t know whether to wish the internet were around when I was young or not. I may not have read so much but by God I would certainly have read more deeply!

telearch - a magistrate in ancient Thebes, responsible for keeping the streets clean and in good repair.

telega - in Russia: a roughly or simply constructed four-wheeled cart, without springs.

telegony - the (supposed) persistent influence of a previous sire on progeny of subsequent matings of the

same dam with different sires.

teleroman - a French Canadian television soap opera.

telestich - a poem in which the final letters of the lines, taken in order, spell a word, phrase, or

sentence.

teling - blame, reproof; slander. In later use: grumbling, complaining.

tel quel - just as it is; without improvement or modification.

telwe - to thwite, to whittle (a stick)

Now it’s back to Virgil with a resolution not to be distracted at every word. It would take me a century to finish it.

NB Just a follow-up about Lewis & Short. Their comprehensive Latin lexicon is also a wonderful resource for English lovers of words. The entries are packed with details of English etymologies. Dunderhead that I am I should have realized that before but better late then never.

[ Edited: 04 June 2017 08:25 AM by aldiboronti ]
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Posted: 04 June 2017 02:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Yes, we live in a golden age of instant reference!

unless I missed it OED was unobliging

Did you use the Advanced Search and put “tela” in the etymology field?  (I no longer have access to the online OED or I’d do it myself.)

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Posted: 04 June 2017 09:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Thank you, lh. That does indeed facilitate the search. In fact your post made me realize that I had been searching the wrong root anyway, tele rather than tela. (It’s instructive that I always seem to make these errors on a Sunday afternoon after a large meal, half the time browsing and the other half drowsing. Still, I can’t regret the lapse as it led me to some interesting words.)

BTW tela too turned up nothing relevant in its 17 hits.

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