Saturday, May 20, 2017

PHLEGM - A Word Designed To Give English Spelling Rules The Finger

I searched the blog and there seems to be only one post that uses the word 'phlegm.'  I mention only in passing and when on to other topics.
"My body is mostly back to normal, but there are still insurgents hiding, taking advantage of any weak points they can find.  Fortunately for you, the Film Festival kept me too busy to do a post on phlegm."
Well, the film festival is in December, so this time phlegm gets its own post - in terms of its bodily functions as well as its spelling peculiarity.

Web MD tells us mucus is good for us:
"Mucus-producing tissue lines the mouth, nose, sinuses, throat, lungs, and gastrointestinal tract. Mucus acts as a protective blanket over these surfaces, preventing the tissue underneath from drying out. "You have to keep them moist, otherwise they'll get dry and crack, and you'll have a chink in the armor," says Neil L. Kao, MD, associate professor of medicine at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine. 
Mucus also acts as a sort of flypaper, trapping unwanted substances like bacteria and dust before they can get into the body -- particularly the sensitive airways. "You want to keep that environment, which is a sterile environment," free of gunk, says Johns. "Mucus is kind of sticky and thick. It's got viscosity to it that will trap things."
But mucus is more than just sticky goo. It also contains antibodies that help the body recognize invaders like bacteria and viruses, enzymes that kill the invaders it traps, protein to make the mucus gooey and stringy and very inhospitable, and a variety of cells, among other things."
In some ways, mucus is like government, we don't notice what it's doing for us most of the time.  We only pay attention when something's wrong:
"Even when you're healthy, your body is a mucus-making machine, churning out about 1 to 1.5 liters of the stuff every day. Most of that mucus trickles down your throat and you don't even notice it."
There's a lot more at the link, particularly about when mucus becomes phlegm.  An alternative site is My Sinus Story which basically tells the same story but with what seems like a bit more detail.

And about spelling.  When I googled for words with silent 'g' I got a list 18 words that included words that started with 'gn' (i.e. gnat,  gnash, etc.) and those that had 'gn' elsewhere (align, benign).    So I asked for words with silent g before m.  I got a website dedicated to Silent Letters in the English Language.
"When ‘g’ is before ‘m’ in the same syllable, it is generally silent. Some of the words are:
There are 514 Words that contain ‘gm’. However ‘g’ is silent in the following words, only:
apothegm(n), diaphragm(n), epiphragm(n), paradigm(n), phlegm(n), phlegmy(adj)."

I would note that while I have found the various forms of my phlegm this week to be interesting, I also feel there's enough of an ick factor that I took no pictures and thus offer you none.  But we should be able to confront all aspects of our body as something of interest to study, don't you think?  

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