Date: Sat, 23 Aug 1997 00:31:27 -0400 From: "Barry A. Popik" Subject: Pyrin vs. Marenostrin (new words duel!) What's wrong with this picture? Here's the idiot test of the century, courtesy of the New York Times, 22 August 1997, pg. A 19, cols. 3-6: Gene of Mideast Ancestor May Link 4 Disparate Peoples By NICHOLAS WADE Several thousand years ago, somewhere in the Middle East, there lived a person who bequeathed a particular gene to many present-day descendants. But those millions of now distant relatives could not convincingly be called one happy family. They include Jews, Arabs, Turks and Armenians. The gene, a variant of a gene that controls fever, has come to light because it causes an unusual disease called familial Mediterranean fever in people who inherit a copy from both parents. The gene's presence among a surprising group of populations hints at the rich archeology that lies buried in the human genome, once geneticists and historians have learned how to interpret it. Two rival teams of scientists in France and the United States have been racing to isolate the gene for a year. The race finished today, with the American team announcing its finding in the journal Cell, the French team in Nature Genetics. The American team has named the gene pyrin, from the Greek word for fire, after its role in fever; the French team calls it marenostrin after the Latin "Our Sea," a Roman phrase for the Mediterranean. The race could be considered a dead heat, although the American team has recovered the whole gene, the French team just a major portion. (...) Pyrin? Marenostrin? Again I ask--what's wrong with this picture? Five seconds. Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick. Time's up. Think about it. You're naming an ancestor for Jews, Arabs, Turks, and Armenians. The name (and the language) you choose should be significant to all of these groups. So you choose a word that comes from-- Greek? Latin? DID ACTUAL THINKING GO INTO THIS? Think about it! You go to Turkey and you declare, "Hi, guys! We found the gene that's an ancestor for all of the Turks! We're so happy, WE'RE USING A GREEK NAME!!" Or you go to Israel and you say, "Shalom! We found the gene that could go back to Abraham! We're so happy, WE'RE USING A LATIN NAME!!" Granted, a good deal of English and French use both Latin and Greek. But did anyone--ANYONE--consider that Latin and Greek MIGHT be considered inappropriate for Jews, Arabs, Turks and Armenians? Didn't the writer of the article ask anybody this question? I guess not. Wouldn't you want to use proto-Hebrew? A great many Ph.D.'s worked a year, and I'm the only person to think of this???? COULD SOMEONE PLEASE NOMINATE THIS FOR THE ONOMASTIC HALL OF FAME?