Focusing on Words Newsletter #01

(the first newsletter of a series that was formerly presented to subscribers by the Sr. Scribe, a.k.a. John Robertson)

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The Senior Scribe is trying to find more info for his project.

Success follows doing what you want to do. There is no other way to be successful.

—Malcomb S. Forbes (1919-1990, American Publisher and Businessman

"Focusing on Words Newsletter" Sunday, November 15, 1998.

Latin phrases you should know for your protection
1. Caveat lector is a Latin phrase that means, "Reader, beware (or take heed)". That's good advice regardless of what you are reading.
2. Caveat emptor, quia ignorare non debuit quod jus alienum emit or "Let a purchaser beware, for he ought not to be ignorant of the nature of the property which he is buying from another party."

The well-known shorter version, Caveat Emptor applies to the purchase of land and goods, with certain restrictions, both as to the title and quality of the thing sold. Out of the legal sphere and as a non-legalistic usage, the phrase is used as a warning to a buyer regarding any articles of doubtful quality offered for sale.

This legal terminology means, the purchaser (buyer), not the seller, is responsible for protecting the purchaser (himself or herself) in the transaction. Caveat emptor is the opposite of caveat venditor.

3. Under caveat venditor, the seller is assumed to be more sophisticated than the purchaser and so must bear responsibility for protecting the unwary purchaser.

The purchaser, emptor, is a child who must be protected against his or her own mistakes, while the seller, venditor, is the big, bad wolf lying in waiting for Little Red Riding Hood. So while the two rules struggle for preeminence, attorneys gleefully watch—and litigate."

4. Cave canem means, "Beware the dog". This was used in Roman times and may be seen even now on some gates in Europe. Would anyone be warned sufficiently in the United States if he or she saw this sign on a gate?
5. Cave quid dicis, quando, et cui strongly suggests, "Beware what you say, when, and to whom."

This is certainly good advice for all of us; especially, when writing e-mails or on social websites.

Recent studies have shown that e-mail messages may stay recorded somewhere for years and be available for others to read long after we thought they no longer existed.

A case in point is Bill Gates, whose videotaped deposition for the federal trial in the United States revealed that he couldn't remember sending an e-mail about Microsoft's plans to use Apple Computer to "undermine Sun".

Reading about, "The Tale of the Gates Tapes" in the November 16, 1998, issue of Time, the writer Adam Cohen, wrote, "At a key point in his war against archrival Sun Microsystems, Gates fired off an e-mail about Microsoft's plans to use Apple Computer to 'undermine Sun', but now he can't remember sending the message and has no idea what he could have meant by it."

"Trouble was, it was a difficult line to swallow. Gates as a fuzzy-headed amnesiac? This is the man revered even by the geniuses who roam Microsoft's Redmond, Washington, campus for his awesome 'bandwidth' (geekspeak for intelligence)."

In the news

Couple will pay $2.3 million to have the family pet cloned as seen in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 6, 1998.

“A couple who are convinced they have the perfect dog with the perfect bark and the perfect howl are giving $2.3 million to Texas A&M University to clone their beloved animal, Missy.

“Besides making a litter of Missy pups, the Texas A&M scientists hope to learn more about canine reproduction and improve contraception and sterilization methods. The project could also lead to the replication of exceptional animals, such as guide dogs or rescue dogs.”

I once saw a sign at a copy-service store that read, “Clone your own.” So where did the word “clone” come from? It’s etymological source is Greek, and means “twig”, “slip”, “sprout”, or “shoot” and apparently refers to the reproduction of the plant from which the twig comes [my guess]. Do you have a better explanation? If you do, please send it to me so I can share it with the list. I could not find any explanation in my etymological dictionaries nor in any other abridged or unabridged dictionary. Definitions are available for the word clone, but no explanations about the Greek source.

Another article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (September 6, 1998) caught my attention:

Robot leads tours at history museum in nation’s capital  The article talks about Minerva, who isn’t a typical tour guide. She’s four feet high and shaped like a tank.

“Minerva, named for the Roman goddess of wisdom, was developed by a team under Sebastian Thrun, 31, assistant professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon.”

According to the article, “She leads five tours that cover three to five items each. They deal largely with robots and how they are made.”

My question to you is, if we call a “male” robot an android (in the form, or shape, of a man); what should we call a robot that is in the form, or shape, of a woman? If you would like to easily find the answer, go to this gynoid page.

[sic], [sic], [sic]

The element [sic] is a Latin term that means, “thus, so”. Normally, it is supposed to be used within brackets, [sic] to show that a quoted passage, especially one containing some error or something questionable, is precisely reproduced, or written, just as the person who is being quoted wrote it. It is to be read exactly as it is shown because that’s the way it was written in the original quotation.

The first [sic] comes from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (September 6, 1998) sports section: “Even the best rookie backs loose [sic] their grip in the NFL” 

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