|Saturday, August 3, 2002||
ANY scholar will define a vowel as a speech sound produced without any obstruction of the air passing through the vocal tract, a schoolchild will quickly say ‘aeiou’ and a scrabble-player will talk about the importance of vowels in making words. It is, indeed, tough to think of words without vowels, even though they are just ‘aeiou’. Rather, it is easier to find words that use all the vowels. Let’s look at some of them.
The first word has the
vowels in their alphabetical order. Abstemious means to be sparing
while eating and drinking. It comes from the Latin ab (from)
and temetum (alcoholic liquor). Arterious refers to anything
artery-like, whether it is the circulatory system which helps in the
transportation of blood or the roots of a plant. It is derived from
artery, which is derived from the Greek airein (arise) via the
Armiger, a person entitled to heraldic arms, gives armigerous, the adjective used to refer to such a person. Armiger is from the Latin arma (arms) and gerere (to bear), thus literally meaning, bearing arms. Quorum, the number of members needed to make a meeting valid comes from the Latin expression quorum vos, meaning ‘of whom we wish that you be’. It gives inquorate that refers to a meeting attended by too few people to be valid.
Ossuaries are rooms or containers used to store the remains of the dead. It is the plural form of ossuary, which comes from the Latin ossuarium — formed from the Latin oss or bone. Uvarovite is an emerald green variety of garnet that contains chromium. It is named after the Russian statesman Count Sergei S. Uvarov.
Indian etymology accepts
the potential value of a single sound. Perhaps this is borrowed from the
Indian philosopher who calls both sound and Brahma akshara (imperishable).
The rishis had total faith in the meaningfulness of individual
sounds. Patanjali, one of the first grammarians of the world, believed
that the nucleus of speech is a sound. The Chandgoya Upanishad explains
the word satya as sa (immortal) + ta (mortal) + ya
(that which determines) — meaning that which determines the mortal
and the immortal. In Sanskrit, almost all individual letters carry
meaning and are considered potential words.