ancestor = "descendant"

Barbara Need nee1 at MIDWAY.UCHICAGO.EDU
Thu Mar 1 22:28:49 UTC 2007

At 15:00 -0500 01/3/07, Laurence Horn wrote:
>At 9:30 AM -0800 3/1/07, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>>Observe how the presence of "descended" and a normal "ancestor"
>>makes no difference:
>>   2007 Christopher A. Brochu, John Long, Colin McHenry, et al.
>>_Dinosaurs_  (rev. ed.) (S.F.: Fog City Press) 105 (caption): Birds
>>are the living ancestors of the dinosaurs that became extinct at the
>>end of the Cretaceous period. Alligators and crocodiles are not
>>directly descended from the dinosaurs, but they share a common
>>ancestor through the archosaurs.
>>   No dinosaur ever descended from birds. Quite the contrary.
>>   As all the authors but one hold Ph.Ds,  the caption was presumably
>>written by an unnamed picture editor. Explaining the ex. as a "mere"
>>lapsus begs the question. Why this particular lapsus?
>>   The book otherwise appears to be impeccably proof-read.
>Someone must have substituted an "ancestor" with a "descendant".  Or
>vice versa.  Hard to imagine a PhD doing so, let alone a native

Well, I don't have it at hand, but the article in Tribune that
reported on the "relationship" between Al Sharpton and Strom Thurmond
(was Sharpton easily "shocked", or have I become truly cynical?) says
uses _descendant_ for _ancestor_. If someone cares for the details, I
will check my print version.


Barbara Need

The American Dialect Society -

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