Tuesday 7 September 2010

Pedigrees and Perigees and French Cranes

Here is a pretty picture of some cranes, or grues as the French call them.

Here is a detail showing you the crane's foot or pied de grue as the French call it.

Here is a family tree of the languages derived from Proto-Indo-European.

Do you see the pied-de-grues? Do you see the pedigree? That is because lineages resemble both trees and cranes' feet.

A pedigree should never be confused with a perigee, which is the opposite of an apogee and therefore a low-point. You may, though, if you are the black sheep of your family, be the perigee of your pedigree.

I can fanatically recommend the excellent philological book Pedigree: Words From Nature. It's a trifle odd, though, as it costs £5.68 in Britain, and $140 in America. I may start a hedge fund for rare books.

Incidentally, if you have three toes you are technically tridactylic and generally unfortunate. I have an irrational hatred of people who have toes missing. I fear I may be lack-toes intolerant.


  1. Fascinating, yes. But. Please tell me you did not work backwards from the last sentence to create this post. Please.

  2. I laughed. Out loud.

    Do you think there's something wrong with me?

  3. I'm happy that I can tell people that actually I'm not splay-footed, I just have pedigree.

  4. The pun was, I promise, an afterthought.