Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Spinal chord (for Spinal cord)

The strictest of music teachers tend to see a direct connection between the chords their students play and the straightness of their spinal cords. However, in this as in all things, moderation is key, according to William Hoyle's article "How the Words 'Sit up Straight' Have Damaged the Sound of Your Choir." The words cord and chord are homonyms, though somewhat related etymologically, which may account for the spelling confusion. The derivation of the former, according to Merriam Webster, is "Middle English, from Anglo-French corde, from Latin chorda string, from Greek chordē." The latter is an "alteration of Middle English cord, short for accord." Spinal chord turns up 11 times in OhioLINK and Spinal chords once. In hopes that this may be instructive to you as well, I remain cordially yours...

Carol Reid

(Painting of his mother and spinster sister sitting at a spinet, by Paul Cézanne, from Wikimedia Commons.)

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