Sunday, April 3, 2022

Words for mushrooms and other fungi, Part 5

[This entry is taken from a chapter of Part II of the open-source textbook Spanish-English Cognates: An Unconventional Introduction to Spanish Linguistics.]

[Go to Part 1 of Words for Mushrooms and Other Fungi]

Fungi: Eng. mycology ~ Sp. micología

The name for the scientific study of fungi is mycology [maɪ̯ˈkʰɒləʤi] in English and micología in Spanish, two obvious cognates. These words were coined in the early 19th century, first in English, and then the word was calqued into other languages, such as French mycologie, replacing an earlier mycétologie, attested in 1839, which may have served as the inspiration for Eng. mycology, as well as into Spanish. The basis for these words is the New Latin word mycologia, formed from the Greek root myc‑ (combining form: myc‑o‑, with a linking ‑o‑ vowel) and the Latin ‘suffix’ ‑logia ‘‑logy’, also of Greek origin (cf. Part I, Chapter 8). The root myc‑ is a loanword from Ancient Greek, namely from the noun μῠ́κης (múkēs) ‘mushroom, other fungus’, whose root was μῠ́κ‑ (múk‑). Note that this word is cognate with Latin mūcus ‘mucus, snivel’, source of Eng. mucus and Sp. moco ‘mucus, snot’ (which presumably came from the vulgar Latin variant mŭccus). All of these words descend from Proto-Indo-European stem *mew‑k‑ ‘slimy, slippery’ (cf. above in the discussion of Eng. mold).

In addition to this word, there are other English and Spanish words that contain the Greek root myc‑ (with or without the linking vowel ‑o‑). One is the noun mycosis [maɪ̯ˈkʰ̯sɪs] (Sp. micosis), which refers to an ‘infection with or disease caused by a fungus’ (Merriam-Webster's Collegiate). This New Latin word was first created in 1876 and it was formed from the Latinate suffix ‑osis (cf. Lat. ‑ōsis, ultimately from Ancient Greek ‑ωσις (-ōsis) ‘state, abnormal condition, or action’, found in ‑όω (-óō) stem verbs with the noun-forming suffix ‑σις (-sis) from an earlier ‑τις (-tis) that formed abstract nouns or nouns of action, result or process, a suffix that is cognate with Latin suffix ‑tĭō that has given us the English ending ‑tion and its Spanish cognate ‑ción.

Derived from the English noun mycosis (Sp. micosis) we have the adjective mycotic [maɪ̯ˈkʰɒɾɪk], as in mycotic dermatitis ‘inflammation of the skin caused by a fungus’ (WNTIU),  mycotic pneumonia ‘brooder pneumonia of the chicken’ (WNTIU) or mycotic stomatitis ‘thrush of cattle and other ruminants’ (WNTIU). There is a Spanish cognate of this adjective, namely micótico/a, though it is not found in any of the most common Spanish dictionaries, only in technical, medical ones. A perhaps more common alternative in everyday Spanish to the adjective micótico/a is the modifier phrase de hongos ‘of fungi’.

Another English word that contains the root myc‑ is mycocide, which does not appear in most English dictionaries, even the OED. It appears in Webster’s New Third International Unabridged Dictionary, which defines the word as ‘a fungicide that destroys molds’, and not just any fungus (WNTIU). This word was created in English by means of the Latinate pseudo-suffix ‑cide (cf. Part I, Chapter 5, §5.12.1). The adjective derived from this noun is mycocidal, again derived by means of the Latinate suffix ‑al that derives adjectives from nouns, though that word is even more technical. Some dictionaries say it is equivalent to fungicidal or antifungal (see above).

Medical Spanish has calqued these words, resulting in the single word micocida, which in Spanish is an adjective, equivalent to Eng. mycocidal. Other Spanish words with the suffix ‑cida are both adjectives and nouns, though they were originally just adjectives that came to be used as nouns, probably under the influence of their English counterparts. So, for instance, Sp. insecticida is equivalent to Eng. insecticidal and insecticide, and Sp. homicida is equivalent to the English adjective homicidal and the noun murderer (cf. Eng. homicide = Sp. homicidio).

Yet another rather common word these days that contains this root is mycotoxin ‘any toxic substance produced by a fungus’ (COED). This noun was coined in English in the 1960s. This word has been calqued into Spanish as micotoxina, a word that, like micocida, has yet to appear in regular Spanish dictionaries.

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Words for mushrooms and other fungi, Part 17

[This entry is taken from a chapter of Part II of the open-source textbook  Spanish-English Cognates: An Unconventional Introduction to Span...