Fissiparous - origins of the word

I know what “fissiparous” means, but I haven’t found any satisfactory explanation of its origins.

My curiosity about this was (re)kindled by reading the following section of that British newspaper, The Guardian:

“As I have written before, I am not confident that a leadership that is frightened of saying boo to a goose will win the next election. But it seems blazingly obvious that the fissiparous Conservative party is doing its best to lose it – probably with a little help from the ghastly Nigel Farage and the so called Reform party”.

Best wishes for a pleasant Sunday.

Just a wild guess with little supporting evidence: I would trace “fissiparous” back to Lat. findo (to cleave / split, past part. fissum) and Lat. pario (to give birth / generate).
OED lists “fissiparous” and dates it to 1830, however its comparative scarcity would suggest an artificial construct rather than a spontaneous word.

It reminds me closely of “Schizogene” (analogous etymology, only from ancient Greek), one of the many names of Italian journalist and author Indro Montanelli - most likely an artificial construct too, as Indro’s birth allegedly brought some havoc in the family.

My unsupported guess is that it was constructed by analogy with “viviparous” and “oviparous”.

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Are you forgetting “nulliparous”?
There are many ways to call a virgin, but medicine beats them all :grin:

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Yes, I forgot that one, as well as tripparous (while on vacation), shipparous (at sea), and frippparous (among pointlessly ostentatious surroundings; the triple p is a recent adjustment to conform with Wreckedschreibung)

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Yeah sure, my favorite nightmare when I write in German!
s oder ß? Groß oder klein? Nur drei ‘f’ oder vier? May the Prince of Darkness broil slowly and painfully for all eternity those smartasses who dare dictate the way we are supposed to write, talk and think! :rage:
Er, present company obviously excluded…

Honestly, to an outsider, it’s no worse than it was before, simply different.

In any case, I think English spelling is probably harder to understand than German spelling, by (let’s say) an order of magnitude or so. The stereotype that anything German must be dominated by engineers seems to fit German spelling fairly well. English spelling, if it exists, has too little influence from engineers IMO.

Oh no: while German spelling has always at least one rule you never heard before, English spelling has just one Golden Rule: “write as you feel, someone will understand it anyway”. German is oppressively absolutist, English is pleasantly anarchic.
And if you shift the focus on the connection between spelling and phonetics, in English things get even simpler: the Golden Rule is “just forget it”. Try, get chastised, correct yourself, get chastised again by someone who grew up elsewhere… native speakers don’t realize it but English pronunciation is an art :grin:

Don’t complain, enjoy it! :laughing:

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I hesitated before writing this, but it seems to me that many people who only speak English have something similar to say about German pronunciation. I think most in North America are likely to give “difficult pronunciation” as a reason not to learn German, not realizing that it cuts both ways.

I’ve tried, to some extent, and I thought I was doing mostly OK. But there weren’t many German speakers around, and my teacher was very kind and avoided criticizing too much, so I could have been doing a pretty bad job.

I think Dan and Tanya were so busy making up their weird theories that they burned the squirrel. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Yes, people are usually fairly reluctant to learn another way to use their vocal tract - unless the situation forces them to do so.
When life commanded me in Finland my first thought was “OMG! I’ll never be able to replicate those weird noises they make with their mouths!” – and two weeks later I was swearing fluently in Finnish before our malfunctioning equipment :grin:
Unfortunately my command of Finnish stops there, but that’s because of the bizarre structure of the language, not of its pronunciation.

But also maybe not: whatever the language, pronunciation varies from place to place (sometimes even from village to village), so what is correct ‘here’ might be dead wrong a few miles away. And the strict phonetic rules dictated by the wiseasses are merrily ignored without wreaking too much havoc: if you’re in trouble you can always produce a piece of paper and a pencil, write it down, and the other will understand.
Unless, of course, you’re a non-native speaker and try that in English: with a bit of jinx in a few minutes you get caught in a tangle of homographs, homophones, heterographs and whatnot, and eventually you must resort to sign language or starve miserably :laughing:

Here I’m completely at loss: you stuck your finger into the very depth of my ignorance, nor did a careful DuckDuckGo search help any… who the hell are Dan and Tanya, and why should they char a poor squirrel while theorizing on what??? :rofl:

Their sentence might be a bit of a pronunciation trap, for German speakers who recently started learning English.

(ð θ æ ɚ w ʌ)

I don’t know what’s so special about that little animal, but Eichhörnchen is tricky for English speakers going the other direction too.

I see (well, let’s pretend that I really do…)
However I suspect that the whole English language - including the alphabet - is a challenge for an untrained German speaker :smile:
(BTW, I’m not German-born, I just live here and like it).

The poor cute furry thing is totally innocent, just a little difficult to grab :slightly_smiling_face:
As for pronouncing its German name, the trick is (as with all compound words) to split it into its basic components and utter them one at a time: “Eich” - short breath pause - “Hörn-chen” (separated by a 0-length mute instant to prevent your tongue from knotting up. Try it, it works fine.

Speaking of German compound words…

German language

Germans would in general be OK with Scrabble, in my opinion. Maybe it would be inconvenient? Just make a bigger board! Kraftfahrzeugkennzeichen here I come! (OK, I do see that “that’s not a word” is less meaningful in German, making the rules less useful.)

It’s the Chinese, and for a different reason the Hawaiians, who I think might need to watch out for this game. A full set of Chinese tiles would take a long time to make (and weigh a lot), and the scores you’d be awarded for some of the obscure ones would need to be extremely high, not to mention that the game would probably be utterly unplayable anyway. Nearly the reverse in Hawaiian - not many letters, and relatively more uniform scores for each one, giving a boring game.