verb (used with object)
to ascertain the number of; count.
Enumerate “to ascertain the number of” comes from the Latin verb ēnumerāre “to count up,” equivalent to the element ē- “out of, from” and the noun numerus “number.” Both enumerate and number come from Latin numerus, but how did that stray b appear in number? As Latin evolved into French, the unstressed e in numerus was slowly lost in a process called syncope; to compare, in English, note how we pronounce the adjective every as “ev’ry.” Because the consonant cluster -mr- was a bit awkward to say, though a pattern called excrescence, the consonant b was inserted between the two letters, producing Old French nombre—much like how hamster and something in English are often pronounced as “hampster” and “sump-thing.” While number passed into English by way of French and therefore featured these two sound shifts, enumerate was borrowed directly from Latin with minimal changes. Enumerate was first recorded in English in the 1640s.
Beginning about an hour after the workouts, researchers took repeated samples from each animal’s muscle, liver, heart, hypothalamus, white fat, brown fat and blood and used sophisticated machinery to identify and enumerate almost every molecule in those tissues related to energy usage. They also checked markers of activity from genes related to metabolism. Then they tabulated totals between the tissues and between the groups of mice.
The issue is that the best counting techniques often rely on recursion—that is, solving a problem using a similar problem that is a step smaller—but two-dimensional spatial counting problems just do not recurse well without some extra structure …. By the time you get to a grid of nine-by-nine, there are more than 700 trillion solutions .… We are trying to assess one way of cutting up a state without any ability to enumerate—let alone meaningfully compare it against—the universe of alternatives.
semiarid country; scrubland.
Pindan “semiarid country” is an adaptation of the word bindan in the Bardi language. Bardi is an endangered language spoken in Western Australia’s northern Kimberley region, which borders the Indian Ocean and the Timor Sea. Unlike most aboriginal languages of Australia, which belong to the Pama-Nyungan family (as we learned in the Word of the Day podcast about yakka), Bardi belongs to the Nyulnyulan family, all languages of which are spoken in the same area of what is now Western Australia. In North America, the Pacific coast hosts the most linguistic diversity, with over 20 unrelated Indigenous language families and language isolates spoken from Juneau to San Diego; in Australia, a similar phenomenon exists on the continent’s northern shore, which more than a dozen discrete language families call home. Pindan was first recorded in English in the early 1930s.
Our ideals of nature include striking features of landscape: mountains and hills, flowing rivers, tall trees, perhaps even hedgerows. The pindan has none of these. It is flat and densely vegetated, though burnt fairly regularly. For people used to navigating by hills and valleys, it is easy to get lost in …. The qualities of the pindan are subtle, and must be lived with, learnt and understood. They reveal themselves gradually, to those who make an effort to find them. And they are known intimately by the people who truly belong there.
In the south-western Kimberley, wide sandy plains are covered by a low open woodland and tall shrubland known as pindan, in which wattles are dominant, with a grassy understorey. Passing southwards, as the rainfall diminishes there is a corresponding fall in the lushness and variety of the vegetation. To the south-west the transition is to the rugged Pilbara, and to the south the desert.
consisting of or abounding in woods or trees; wooded; woody.
Sylvan “consisting of or abounding in woods or trees” derives from Latin sylvānus, a variant of silvānus “of or relating to the forest,” from silva “forest” and the adjectival suffix -ānus. Though silva is spelled with an i, sylvan and its relatives, such as the place names Pennsylvania and Transylvania as well as the given names Sylvester and Sylvia, contain the letter y. There are two reasons for this shift: Ancient Greek influence and the lack of spelling consistency during the Medieval Latin period. Ancient Greek contains two words for “wood”—hȳ́lē and xýlon—that bear a passing resemblance to Latin silva, and as the letters i and y became interchangeable in Latin during the Middle Ages, it was rather easy for the variant spelling sylva to emerge. Sylvan was first recorded in English circa 1560.
Over time North America’s forests became a dense patchwork of different sylvan communities, each characterized by a unique topography and climate. As a whole, the deciduous forest was home to many different tree species—oaks, beeches, maples, basswoods, hickories, chestnut, ashes, elms, birches and poplars—but different types of trees predominated in different regions.
It’s the first day of our four-day trek through the valley, and already the undergrowth is so thick we can barely squeeze through. Matt disappears into the sylvan maze. We’re not on a trail. There is no trail. Beyond the thicket we come upon what we’ve taken to calling a “gangplank”—a downed tree so enormous it creates an elevated walkway through the forest. We clamber atop the behemoth and step carefully along its moss-slick back.
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