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Unit 1.15 – Fishapod Linguistics

Difficulty: Hard

Time: 3 minutes


Below is an extract from I Smirt, You Stooze, They Krump… by J. Crozier, C. McKeown & E. Summers entitled ‘Mix and Match’.

One of the latest creatures to have slithered from the primeval swamp of palaeontology is Tiktaalik roseae, a link between fish and land animals recently discovered in the Nunavut territory of Arctic Canada.

Tiktaalik has been dead for a mere 383 million years, but its name, Inuktitut in origin, looks set to enter the Collins English Dictionary in the near future.

It’s nice to see another Inuktitut word enter the English language, joining anorak, igloo, and kayak. But Tiktaalik’s nickname is just as interesting. Fishapod not only succinctly encapsulates the nature of this ‘fish with feet’ (an important missing link between water and land animals), but also highlights an interesting trend in language – the increasing freedom with which we create new hybrids from exisiting words, regardless of linguistic convention.

Purists will doubtless sneer at the way in which Germanic and Greek words have been spliced together in fishapod (‘Surely it should be icthyopod?’), but these people are probably still bemoaning that egregious Greek-Latin hybrid television.

As coinages like flexitarian, fauxmosexual and tanorexic show, we are adept at making new words from old, based on punning, allusion, and common sense rather than deference to ancient linguistic principles. These words are memorable, amusing, and – most importantly – easily understood. So the fishapod, our new friend from the distant past, serves as a reminder that English is ours to do with what we will, rather than a fossilised museum exhibit.


Unit 1.2 – Interpreting The Art of War


Difficulty:            Medium/Hard

Time:                   1 minute 30 seconds


The following is an extract from Sun Tzu’s The Art of War.


In War,

Victory should be


If victory is slow,

Men tire,

Morale sags.