Cleave upward and downward . . .
Being somewhat of a wordsmith myself, I enjoy an oddity or two in language, especially cases where what looks, ostensibly, to be one word, e.g., "cleave," can have two opposed meanings, namely, "to cling together" and "to cut apart." I believe that Paul Auster makes much of this point about "cleave" in his novella City of Glass.
At the time that I was reading -- and teaching -- Paul Auster's short novel at UC Berkeley back in the latter 1980s, I was also working on Sahidic Coptic for my anticipated, but ultimately unsuccessful career in religious studies, and I came across a common noun that could take either of two diametrically opposite meanings:
Ϩραι (pronounced "hrai") - "upper part" or "lower part"By addition of a prefixed "ε," it became an adverb:
εϨραι (pronounced "ehrai") - "upward" or "downward"I ought to have taken this as a sign that I had no idea which direction my career would go, upward or downward! As a former historian of science, I should have realized that the second law of thermodynamics favors "downward," of course, and that thermodynamics always wins.
At least I learned Coptic, though. I haven't had the opportunity to teach it, other than privately to the Manichaean expert Samuel Lieu while we were both at Eberhard Karls University, Tuebingen, as well as to a few other individuals there in the early 1990s.
But I at least learned the language and thus have more than a passing interest in the condition of the longsuffering Copts, now fearful of impending Islamist oppression in their own native land of Egypt.