This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.



Thursday, 27 November 2014

The Boring Poisoner: a rant.

I know the world is big, but it hadn't occurred to me until recently that it's big enough to contain millipede enthusiasts.

Where they meet, and what activities they indulge in when they do, I do not know; but what I do know is that they're seriously upset.

It's the fault of Buglife, the Invertebrate Conservation Trust charity based in Cambridge, England. Buglife does all sorts of things to raise awareness of the plight of animals without backbones, and one of the things they've done is to give English names to some animals previously known (to humans, at least) only by their scientific names.

But what has Buglife done? It's gone and named a flat backed millipede, Polyzonium germanicum, in fact, one of only three millipedes in England with its own biodiversity action plan, the Boring Millipede.

Boring? But nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to flat backed millipedes. I mean, some species of flat backed millipedes, when annoyed, give off raw cyanide: it is said that if you put a flat backed millipede in a jar with other bugs, within an hour all the others will be dead.

Boring? Good grief, Agatha Christie made a fortune from plots more likely than that.

All right, it may be true that the Boring Millipede does, well, bore its way into...well, whatever it is that millipedes like to bore into.

But to call it a Boring Millipede is a foul slander, and those millipede enthusiasts, in whichever phone box they happen to be holding their convention, really do have my sincerest sympathy.

Mind you, they want to call the poor thing the Pinhead Millipede.

And, quite frankly, with friends like those...

Word To Use Today But Not About Millipedes: boring. This word comes from the Old English borian and is probably something to do with the Greek pharos, ploughing, and phárynx, meaning throat.

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