Linguistic puzzlesDecember 19, 2008 Tim WorstallTrivia11 CommentsWhy do we have a three syllable word to mean "having two syllables"? previousUnanswered QuestionsnextThat Bailout 11 thoughts on “Linguistic puzzles” Eva December 19, 2008 at 7:01 pm er…because it comes from Greek? cassander December 19, 2008 at 8:00 pm Er… bisyllabic has four syllables. Iambic doesn’t mean “having two syllables” – as any fule know, it refers to a specific subset of bisyllabic words. Yours pedantically, AMcguinn December 19, 2008 at 11:59 pm There are only so many two-syllable words… using up one for “comprising a metrical foot of two syllables, the second one stressed” would be a bit of a waste. Then again a dactyl, if I remember correctly, is a foot of two stressed syllables. Which tells against my previous statement. And a spondee I recall as being three syllables, the last one stressed., but spondee is a two-syllable word. Ah well, human languages aren’t Huffman coded. dearieme December 20, 2008 at 12:26 am Why do we have a three syllable word to mean one syllable? john b December 20, 2008 at 12:09 pm A five syllable word to mean one syllable, surely? Pogo December 20, 2008 at 1:17 pm … and why is “abbreviation” such a long word? Little Black Sambo December 20, 2008 at 6:15 pm Why do we have a black word to mean coloured? Why do we have a word of no measurable weight to mean ton? Why do we have a little word to mean huge? Etc. dearieme December 20, 2008 at 8:04 pm “syllable” means “syllable”, johnb. Arfa December 20, 2008 at 11:30 pm Well, that way we can have a four syllable word to describe the word that describes a word with three syllables, a five syllable word to describe that one…and so on, thuis establishing the mathematical proof that lexicography is a job for life. Arfa December 20, 2008 at 11:31 pm …err there was an error in my proof, in that I wrote three syllables when I meant two syllables… …I’ll stick to making pedantic points about economics, as I usually do, from now on… …I’ll get me coat. DBC Reed December 21, 2008 at 9:23 am A Mcguinn’s definitions are a bit off: dactylic is the Greek for finger hence the pterodactyl was named after the fingers on its wings.So it is one long two short like the bones in the finger.Basically the waltz or 3 rhythm. A spondee is n’t used as a rhythm but it is two syllables,generally two short words stuck into some other rhythm to have an arresting or jarring effect. A pity there are not blogs discussing poetry. Leave a Reply Cancel replyYour email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment Name * Email * Website Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.