In the last post we looked at the astronomical term sizigia/syzygy, whose English version is unusual for having a y as the vowel in all three of its syllables. Another English technical term of Greek origin that has three y‘s in it is polydactyly, whose Spanish equivalent is polidactilia. The word means ‘the condition of having more than the normal number of fingers and/or toes.’ The first element is from Greek polus ‘many,’ which we recognize in words like polígamo/polygamous ‘having more than one spouse’ and polinomio/polynomial ‘a mathematical expression consisting of multiple terms’; the second element comes from Greek daktulos ‘finger.’ Readers wanting more information, including photographs of the condition and a list of some people who have it, can turn to Wikipedia articles in Spanish and English.
Someone growing up with polidactilia/polydactyly might become a bit hyper, and in fact hiperdactilia/hyperdactyly is a synonym for the condition. As before, the English version of the word has three y‘s in it. There’s also sindactilia/syndactyly, whose first element is from Greek sun- ‘together,’ so that a person born with that condition has two or more digits fused. Here too, curiously, the English version of the word has three y‘s in it. As before, readers wanting more information can read Wikipedia articles in Spanish and English, with the English one more fleshed out, so to speak.
© 2011 Steven Schwartzman