Saturday, April 19, 2008

New word: neoteny

Last year this week I was wandering around Chiang Mai, Thailand with my son Matt and his buddy Sean and Matt and I were having an animated discussion about a word, and Sean says, "Now I see where his [Matt's] love of words comes from." Sean was right. And here's a new one, discovered while reading the Wiki article about cats: neoteny. Neoteny is the persistence of childhood traits into adulthood. The reason the cat article had it was that the practice by our feline friends of depositing dead prey at our human feet is possibly a neoteny: the cat is (again, possibly: it is hard to read the motives of cats) treating us like mother cats, and demonstrating that the cat has the ability to hunt for prey. Another example of a neoteny is lactose tolerance. But a good word. Not one I'll be using every day, but I'll try and slip it in from time to time.

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