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Question: how do you get PNEUMONOULTRAMICROSCOPICSILICOVOLCANOCONIOSIS?
Asked by brobdingnagian to Damien, Rachael, Simon, Suzi, Tim on 16 Jun 2011.
answered on 14 Jun 2011:
Hah, there’s an obsession with this word.
Are you guys trying to trip us up??
I assume you get it from breathing in the air near volcanoes 🙂
answered on 16 Jun 2011:
I reckon Suzi’s about right.
Here’s what I wrote to @dalvindk about what I think(!) it means:
I don’t know what that means, but the great thing about linguistics (well, one of them) is that I can get close to it by looking at the letters and syllables in the word!
pneumono – : from Ancient Greek, I can tell that this has something to do with air, or breath, or the lungs probably
ultramicroscopic: obvious? Something to do with very, very small things – particles?
Volcano- : maybe means the particles are particles of volcanic ash?
-osis: usually words that end in –osis are diseases.
So I would guess that this is some lung disease that has to do with tiny particles of ash getting into your lungs. Is that right?
crazy commented on 14 Jun 2011:
how do u even pronounce that word
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Suzi commented on 14 Jun 2011:
@crazy – good question
noo-mo ul tra my crow sco pic sili co volcano coh- nee oh sis
Damien commented on 16 Jun 2011:
I reckon Suzi’s right, except in my accent the first syllable would be new, not noo.
Suzi commented on 16 Jun 2011:
Once a linguist, always a linguist 🙂
Damien commented on 19 Jun 2011:
Oh no – I tried to mouse over the ‘Like’ thumb to see who’d ‘liked’ my comment, and I ended up ‘liking’ it myself! Now that looks awful.
But, yeah, it’s always on! I love it, though. That’s exactly why I became a linguistic scientist. If you follow me on Twitter for long enough you’ll see stuff about strange linguistic things I have noticed. Suzi already follows me (which I hope will last after IAS!), but anyone’s welcome, so join us too, crazy, if you’re on Twitter!
Suzi, I was going to ask whether you were from the West Country, but I see from your profile that you’re there now but were brought up in Buckinghamshire. Noo- for pneu- is something I’d expect to hear from someone from the West Country (or East Anglia). Maybe you first heard lots of scientific words with pneu- when you’d got to Bristol?
See, you can do linguistic science any time, and it doesn’t have to be complicated!
Suzi commented on 20 Jun 2011:
@Damien You’re right, I’m not from the West Country, but I do find myself talking with a twang on occasions…uh-oh!