Shirley’s Adventures in Science

This is an assignment I handed in for a Classical Studies course. We had to write a story, then analyze some of the words for their Greek / Latin origin. I present it here for your educational benefit.

Classical Studies 100b: Assignment #1

Mike *****

January 22nd, 2002

Shirley’s Adventures in Science

Chapter 1

Once there was a boy named Shirley. One day, he was walking down the street when he saw Nicole and her boyfriend Tom sitting on a dumpster. Shirley had a huge crush on Nicole, and this drove Tom insane with jealousy. As soon as Tom saw Shirley, he went into a bovine rage. Tom’s fists flew repeatedly into Shirley’s head. Shirley, a frangible boy, broke into two pieces.

“Stop this fatuous commotion!” screamed Nicole. Tom stopped his assault. Shirley, thoroughly embarrassed, pulled himself together and crawled to the hospital.

Chapter 2

Ten years later, Shirley was a successful scientist. His specialty was the genetic makeup of monkeys. One day, he drifted to sleep while working late into the night on the mundane task of counting monkey DNA. He dreamed of Nicole, for the first time in years. Seeing her there, in intangible dream form, made him long for the real Nicole. When he woke up, he vowed to find Nicole and make her his wife. “Surely she must have broken up with Tom by now,” he thought, then laughed at the reference to his own name.

Shirley came up with a plan. In the stinky darkness of his lab, he created a new species of monkey. This was no generic monkey, this monkey was 20 feet tall and could shoot peanut butter out of its eyes! Shirley made a brilliant deduction: he could ride his monkey to Nicole’s home, then ask her to marry him. She would be so impressed by his arcane knowledge of monkey DNA that she would want to do vulgar things to him.

Shirley rode his giant monkey out into the night. He found Nicole’s house, and ordered the monkey to crash through her bedroom wall. The monkey did so, and Shirley was faced with a grave sight. Tom was there, in bed with Nicole. Shirley began to cry, as Tom pulled a shotgun out from under the bed. The monkey, sensing the pertinent danger they were in, shot two gobs of peanut butter from its eyes. The gobs hit Tom, and he collapsed in a brown gooey mess. Nicole got out of bed, rubbed her eyes, and looked at Tom.

“Mmm, peanut butter, my favourite!” she cried, and ate a handful of the wonderful stuff. She smiled perversely. “Shirley? Are you responsible for this?”

“Yes ma’am.” replied Shirley.

“Any man who can create a peanut butter monkey is the man for me! Let’s go get married now!” squealed Nicole. She joined Shirley on the monkey’s back. They rode off into the sunrise together and lived happily ever after.

The End

Analysis of Bolded Words


sanus (adj.) “sound, healthy” (san-)

+ in-: prefix, used with adjectives, meaning “not”

Literal meaning: “Not healthy.”

Modern meaning: “Not mentally healthy. Crazy.”


< bos (n.) “cow” (bov-)

+ -inus: suffix indicating possession or having features of

Literal meaning: “Having features of a cow.”

Modern meaning: “Like a cow. (Note: in my experience, cows can be pretty violent. So “bovine” is a legitimate characteristic of rage)”


< frangere (v.) “to break” (frang-)

+ –ibilis: suffix forming an adjective, meaning “capable of being”

Literal meaning: “Capable of being broken.”

Modern meaning: “Breakable, or fragile.”


< fatuus (adj.) “foolish” (fatu-)

Literal meaning: “Foolish.”

Modern meaning: “Stupid, silly, foolish.”


< motus (v.) “move” (mot-)

+ com– : prefix meaning “together”

+ –io, –ionis: suffix forming a noun, meaning “state, quality or action”

Literal meaning: “A state of moving together.”

Modern meaning: “A condition where there is a lot of motion. A disturbance.”


< mundus (n.) “world” (mund-)

+ –anus: suffix forming an adjective

Literal meaning: “Having characteristics of the world.”

Modern meaning: “Boring or ordinary…i.e. of this world, not heavenly.”


< tangere (v.) “touch” (tang-)

+ –ibilis: suffix forming and adjective, meaning “capable of being”

+ in– : prefix meaning “not”

Literal meaning: “Not capable of being touched.”

Modern meaning: “Incapable of being perceived by the normal senses. Immaterial.”


< species (n.) “appearance” (speci-)

Literal meaning: “The appearance of something.”

Modern meaning: “A classification of animals. Animals within a species have a similar appearance and are capable of interbreeding.”


< generis (n.) “race, kind, origin” (gener-)

+ –ic: adjective-forming suffix.

Literal meaning: “Characteristic of a certain race.”

Modern meaning: “Relating to an entire group. Not out of the ordinary in the group.”


< ductus (v.) “lead” (duct-)

+ de- : prefix meaning “down”

+ –io, –ionis: suffix forming a noun, meaning “state, quality, action”

Literal meaning: “The act of leading down.”

Modern meaning: “Drawing a conclusion through reasoning. I.e. being lead down a path of clues and coming to a conclusion (?).”


< arcanus (adj.) “secret” (arcan-)

Literal meaning: “Secret.”

Modern meaning: “Mysterious, or only known by a few people. Rare.”


< vulgus (n.) “the crowd, ordinary people” (vulg-)

+ -aris: suffix forming an adjective

Literal meaning: “Characterized by the ordinary people.”

Modern meaning: “Something lacking in refinement, or offensive.”


< gravis (adj.) “heavy” (grav-)

Literal meaning: “Heavy.”

Modern meaning: “Somber, dark, or serious. Not ‘light.’”


< tenere (v.) “hold” (ten-)

+ per- : prefix meaning “thoroughly, very”

+ –entis : adjective forming suffix.

+ vowel weakening (‘e’ becomes ‘i’)

Literal meaning: “In a state of being thoroughly held.”

Modern meaning: “Very relevant to the current situation. Should be held in attention.”


< versus (v.) “turn” (vers-)

+ per- : prefix meaning “thoroughly, very”

+ -ly: suffix forming an adverb

Literal meaning: “Doing something in a way which involves thorough turning.”

Modern meaning: “Doing something in a way that is opposed to what is right and good.”