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Tom Wier wrote:


>I have always read that the Christian fish was a method of avoiding
>letting it be known that they were Christians during the persecutions
>of the Roman Empire.  The Greek word for fish is <ichthys>, which was
>used by the Christians as an acronym for "Iesous Christos Theou Souter
>Soter" or something like that (I always seem to forget the last words),
>meaning "Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior". =20

Actually it's "Iesous Chreistos Theou Uios Soter" (translitering Greek =
y'psilon as "u"). I first learned about this in a comical fantasy story =
by Avram Davidson. I mention that because it was a good story =
("Peregrine: perplexed") and because it contains a lot of linguistic =
material. It takes place in an imaginary period before the fall of the =
Roman Empire. The Empire is divided into *three* parts and in the =
province of Umbria the old religious ceremonies are resurrected by an =
imperial decree... The problem is that they have to be help completely =
in Umbrian, which an Italic language long ago dead. The two priests =
chosen to do this have to read a lot of tablets in Umbrian, but they get =
tired and anyway the people doesn't understand a word. So they just =
begin to recite paradigms! There's a lot of Umbrian in the story, and =
also a terrible discussion about translating some parts. The worst part =
is when the Quaestor (master of ceremonies, so to speak) dares pointing =
out that a certain word means "food", not "beer" as the priests where =
asking for.


--Pablo Flores

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