Sunday, 4 March 2012

naked seeds in my garden

As usual, I had my nose in a gardening book today. I love to know why things happen, and this title grabbed me - Practical Science for Gardeners by Mary Pratt. I've been discovering why I shouldn't have abandoned the sciences in favor of the arts so many years ago. If I'd continued with my studies I'd have know why plants behave the way they do, and maybe I'd have killed a few less growing things along the way.

Perhaps, somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I remembered the difference between Monocotyledones and Dicotyledones, but it was a surprise to read about naked seeds - gymnosperms.

Since it seemed likely that sperm referred to seed, the other part of the word must mean naked. Wait a minute? Was the original gym a place for naked people?

A quick look at the Online Etymology Dictionary confirmed my guess:
1590s, "place of exercise," from L. gymnasium "school for gymnastics," from Gk. gymnasion "public place where athletic exercises are practiced; gymnastics school," in plural, "bodily exercises," from gymnazein "to exercise or train," literally or figuratively, lit. "to train naked," from gymnos "naked" (see naked). Introduced to German 15c. as a name for "high school" (more or less paralleling a sense in Latin); in English it has remained purely athletic.
Okay, so that's going to make my imagination go wild when I walk past the local gym.

And what about an equestrian gymkhana? Well, it seems this word has a different origin, probably coming from the Hindustani as gend-khana, before being influenced by the word gymnasium and changing its first syllable.


proud womon said...

oooh, it's never going to be the same walking past a gym now!!!

parlance said...

proud womon, it was the thought of the gymkhanas that really had me going for a while.

proud womon said...

yes... when you put them all together you get naked ball players on horses - something akin to polo played naked perhaps (i'd like to believe their 'exercise' was nothing more sinister...)

Mary said...

Maybe your diary will make the 6 seasons we are told Melbourne has more obvious.

parlance said...

Mary, for a long time I've thought it would be more realistic to live by the seasons the indigenous inhabitants had devised. Importing the four seasons from other continents prevents us from living in true harmony with this continent.

parlance said...

proud womon, I must say I wouldn't want to take part in that sport!