Cancer 21: A prima donna singing

T h e f i r s t p a r t o f t he o p e n c o m p o u n d p ri ma do nn a d e sc e n d s t h e r o o t p e r -1 . T h a t r o o t i s t h e “ b a s e o f p r e p os i t i o n s a n d p r e - v e r b s w i t h t h e b a s i c m e a n i n g o f fo rwa rd, t h ro u gh , a n d a w i d e r a n g e of e x t e n d e d se n se s s u c h a s in f ro n t o f , b e f o re, ea rl y,

f i rs t , c hi e f, t o wa rd, a gai n s t, n e a r, it , a n d a ro u n d. ” 1 T h e A m e ri c a n H e ri ta ge D i ct i on a ry o f In d o - E u ro p ea n R o o t s ( A H D I E R) li s t s o v e r 1 0 0
p a r o n y m s i n c l u d i n g p e r, p a ra m o un t, p a ra di se , fi rs t, f o r, f u rt h e r, f o rt h,

a f f o rd, f o rm e r, f o re m o s t, p rot e in , p ride , ap p roa c h , a pp ro x i m a t e, p ro we s s, p ro u d, p ri e s t, p ro o f , p ro ve, p ri va te , p ri n ce, p rin c i pa l , p rin c ip l e, p ro p e r, a n d t h e s uf f i x e s pe r - , p ro - , p ro t o - , a n d pa ra - .
T h e w o r d d o n na d e s c e n d s f r o m t he I E r o o t d e me- w h i c h m e a n s “ h o u se , h o u s e h o l d . ” 2 I t s d e r i v a t i v e s i n c l u de t he w o r d s da m e , dange r, de sp o t,

do m a i n , do m i c i le , do m i n i o n, do n ( a co u r t e s y t i t l e b e f o re t h e n a m e o f a
m a n i n a S p a n i s h -sp e a k i n g a r e a ; a h e a d o r t u t o r a t O x f o r d o r C a m b r i d g e ) ,

m a da m e , a n d do m in a t e .
T h e w o r d s i ngi ng d e s c e n d s f r o m t h e ro o t s e ngw - w h i c h m e a n s “ t o s i n g , ma k e a n i n c a n t a t i o n . ” 3 O t h e r d e ri v a t i v e s i n c l u de t he w o r d s o n g , a s w e l l a s t h r e e c o mp o u n d w o r d s — M e i ste rs i n ge r, m in n e si nge r , a n d

s i n gs pi e l — e a c h o f w h i c h i s o f Ge r m a n o r i g i n .
TH EMES : T h e w o r d p r i ma don n a i s a n I t a l i a n w o r d m e a n i n g l i t e r a ll y “ f i r s t la d y . ” P a r on y m s o f t h e w o r d d onn a i n c l u d e t h e I t a l i a n , S p a n i s h , a n d P o r t u g u e se w or d do n , a t i t l e o f r e s p e ct a n d t r a c e d b a c k t o t he L a t i n

do m i n u s , “ l o r d , ma s t e r . ” T h u s, t he w or d p ri m a do n na h a s a d i s t i n ct l y
L a t i n t e n o r. I n m a rk e d c o n t r a s t , t h e wo r d s i ng i ng h a s v e ry G e r m a n i c
1 Watkins, c. (2000), The American Heritage Dicti onary of Indo-European Roots, p. 65 2 Watkins, c. (2000), The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo -European Roots, p. 16 3 Watkins, c. (2000), The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo -European Roots, p. 75 Starling Hunter © 2011 1

o r i g i n s. T h u s w e ha v e c o n t ra s t b e t w e e n t he L a t i n a t e v s . T e u t o n i c t e m p e r a m e n t s. A s e c o n d t he m e c on c e r n s p e r s on s o f P OWE R, A UTHO RITY , a n d s u c h . R e c a l l t ha t a m on g t h e p a r o n y m s o f don n a a re t he t e r m s de s p o t , do n ( l e a d e r o f a n o r g a n i z e d - c r i m e f a m i l y) , do m i n a t ri x a n d dom i n a ti o n . T h e p a r o n y m s o f p ri ma i n c l u d e f i rst , p rie st , p ri n ce , a n d p ri n ci p a l ( f i r st , h i g h e s t , o r f o r e m os t i n i m p o rt a n ce , r a n k , w o r t h, o r d e g re e ; c h i e f ) . A t h i r d t h e m e c o n ce r n s ACADEM ICS . Re c a l l t ha t on e o f t he p a r on y m s o f d o nn a i s do n ( a h e a d , t u t o r o r f e l l ow a t t h e di s t i n g u i sh e d u n i v e r s i t i e s o f O x f o r d a n d C a m b r i d g e ; a c o l l e ge or u n i v e r s i t y p r o f e ss o r ) . A m o n g t h e p a r o n y m s p ri ma i s t h e w o r d p ri n ci pa l ( o n e w h o h o l d s a p o s i t i on o f p r e s i d i n g r a n k , e sp e c i a l l y t he h e a d o f a n e le m e n t a r y s c ho o l o r h i g h school).

Starling Hunter © 2011

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