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—itis … Solecism 4th of September, 2007 ANTE·MERIDIEM 08:25

Today’s entry is mainly lexicographic. The –itis  suffix in medical Latin and thence in English, though etymologically only a feminine Greek ending regularly used with νόσος, ‘disease’, is often and especially used with the name of an organ or a body part to indicate inflammation of that body part. Examples are tonsilitis, appendicitis, peritonitis and I’m sure you can think of any number more

Word of the day: solecism is a fairly common English word meaning ‘infelicity of use of language’; what I didn’t know until yesterday was that its Greek root arose among Athenians to describe the language of their colonists in Σόλοι, in modern Turkey. So if you use it, consider this context of mother-country snobbishness. Which, okay, is unclear to most speakers today, but will have motivated lots of the usages of the word in the past that speakers today naturally model their usage on. The French word is le solécisme, the Spanish el solecismo, the German Fremdwort der Solözismus.

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