Camels vs. dromedaries?

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Fri Apr 4 04:18:16 UTC 2008

At 11:59 PM -0400 4/3/08, Michael Covarrubias wrote:
>Ah better -- I'd not heard that half of it.
>But then some semantic shift has gotten in the way of it working
>perfectly. Crescent is used to describe the moon before the first
>quarter -- when it's waxing crescent -- and also after the third quarter
>-- once it's waning crescent.

I was using "crescent" in the etymological sense = 'growing'.  As you
say, somewhere along the way, we (they) started to call the
decrescent (3/4) moon phase "crescent" too, which makes it less
obvious that the moon is lying.

>So when it's 'C' it *is* crescent.
>Waning Crescent. Maybe that one will end up next to 'jumbo shrimp' in
>all those email forwards that say our language is impossible to
>understand because of the oxymorons.

Indeed, but then again we do refer to things growing smaller.  Or
maybe this just shows once again that if you keep repeating a lie
often enough (especially if you're a heavenly body), people end up
believing it.

>Laurence Horn wrote:
>>and "C" when it's crescent, or else it would only be lying half the time
>>>that mnemonic always seemed like too many steps.
>>But it's so elegant!  (In the northern hemisphere, anyway.)  Now, if
>>we can prove that camels have two humps and dromedaries one when
>>they're south of the Equator, we'll really be on to something.
>The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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