t20mxs1 at CORN.CSO.NIU.EDU
Fri Oct 11 04:37:57 UTC 2002
"Kathleen E. Miller" wrote:
> The results of my searches give me only two adjectives in English that end
> in -aire. Doctrinaire and debonnaire/debonaire (which doesn't HAVE to end
> in -aire).
> Are there more I am missing? And why do those two keep the -aire, when most
> others switch to -ary?
> Thanks for any help.
> Kathleen E. Miller
> Research Assistant to William Safire
> The New York Times
Serendipity strikes again.
Two weeks ago I bought half a dozen novels by Dick Francis at a garage
sale. (I'm recuperating from an accident and need diversion. Although I
can receive around 200 channels TV channels via satellite, TV is boring
The novel I read today was "Straight", published in 1989 by G.P.
Putnam's Sons. The protagonist, as you might expect in a Dick Francis
tale, is a British steeplechase jockey. He inherits his brother's
dealership in semi-precious stones and discovers that his late brother
had purchased 100 diamonds worth $1,500,000.00 -- but the diamonds are
nowhere to be found. Our hero discovers that purchases of that magnitude
are likely to be made through a "diamantaire".
Here Francis featherdusts the word, and a couple of others. Begin quote
" . . . what's a sightholder, and what's a sight?"
"You're back to diamonds again!"
"Yes. Do you know?"
"Of course I do. A sightholder is someone who's permitted to buy rough
diamonds from the C.S.O. [INSERT from Mike Salovesh: I couldn't come up
with the passage that translates "C.S.O."; it's something like
Controlled Sales Organization, controlled by the de Beers
quasi-monopoly.] "There aren't so many sightholders, only about a
hundred and fifty world-wide, I think. They sell the diamonds then to
other people. A sight is what they call the sales C.S.O. holds every
five weeks, and a sight-box is a packet of stones they sell, though
that's often called a sight too."
"Is a sightholder the same as a diamantaire?" I asked.
"All sightholders are diamantaires, but all diamantaires are not
sightholders. Diamantaires buy from the sightholders, or share in a
site, or buy somewhere else, not from de Beers."
Ask a simple question, I thought.
Although "diamantaire" in this quote seems to be used as a noun rather
than an adjective, my feel for language catches adjectival overtones in
its use. The vocabulary is highly specialized, though; to be on the safe
side I'd want to check it out with someone who is familiar with this
Francis strikes me as pretty careful to get his background details
right. The acknowledgments in his novels usually cite people who appear
to be knowledgeable in their fields. [The acknowledgment page in
"Straight" says "My thanks especially to JOSEPH and DARLENE ZERGER of
ZARLENE IMPORTS, Dealers in semipreciouis stones."]
Hope this is of some use.
-- mike salovesh <m-salovesh-9 at alumni.uchicago.edu> PEACE !!!
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