Tuesday, April 03, 2007


Seeds and Roots

Sara B. Stein, My Weeds: A Gardener's Botany (New York: Harper & Row, 1988; rpt. 1990), occasionally confuses Greek and Latin roots of English words, e.g. at p. 136:
To the evolutionist, the most advanced flora in the ancient swamp assemblage were pteridosperms. The name comes from the Latin words for fern and seed; the seed-ferns made seeds.
and at p. 143:
The name "gymnosperm," which is applied to all seed-bearing plants that lack flowers, comes from the Latin for "naked seed."
"Pteridosperm" and "gymnosperm" come from Greek roots, not Latin ones. English "fern" is πτέρις (ptéris) in Greek, filix in Latin. English "naked" is γυμνός (gymnós) in Greek, nudus in Latin. English "seed" is σπέρμα (spérma) in Greek, semen in Latin.

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