Mike Salovesh 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
beyond belief.)

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
(page 126):

" . . . 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.

End quote.

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
high-level marketing.

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>     PEACE !!!

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