Inquiline: Definition

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(n.) An animal that characteristically lives commensally in the nest, burrow, or dwelling place of an animal of another species.

(adj.) Being or living as an inquiline.

[Latin inquilnus, lodger, tenant : in-, in; see in-2 + colere, to inhabit; see kwel-1 in Indo-European roots.]


In zoology, an inquiline is an animal that lives commensally in the nest, burrow, or dwelling place of an animal of another species. For example, some organisms such as insects may live in the homes of gophers and feed on debris, fungi, roots, etc. The most ubiquitous types of inquiline are those found in association with the nests of social insects, especially ants and termites — a single colony may support dozens of different inquiline species. The distinctions between parasites, social parasites, and inquilines are subtle, and many species may fulfill the criteria for more than one of these, for inquilines do exhibit many of the same characteristics of parasites.

Culminant: Greenwood Cemetary, Brooklyn

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For the most part, culminant is a root word meaning the highest point, though some older dictionaries allow this little, mono-syllabic word to stand all by herself.  I like the sound of culminant and have invested an enormous amount of weight for the word in the rubric of Abecedarium:NYC. We are going to photograph the highest natural point in Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx and Staten Island and the highest human-made point in Mahhatten (Of course with the Twin Towers gone, it’s the Empire State Building).
The highest point in Brooklyn is Greenwood Cemetary. Today, I realize that our decision to make the shooting of culm a five-Burrough wide project has become absolutely daunting! I used to be almost deathly scared of cemeteries. When my girl scout troop offered to sweep autumn leaves from the grounds of the Memorial Gardens in Memphis, where I grew up, I begged to be excused from this odious good deed. I take my trembling nine-year-old daughter Noa to photograph the Revolutionary War statues in the cemetery. As we wind our way up the only real hill I have ever seen in our burrough, we realize that from this vantage point near 8th Avenue and 27th Street we are looking straight across the sky at the tops of buildings in downtown Manhattan.

Foudroyant: Defintion

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Foudroyant (adj.):

  1. Dazzling or stunning in effect.
  2. Medicine Occurring suddenly and severely. Used of a disease.

[French, from present participle of foudroyer, to strike with lightning, from foudre, lightning, from Old French fouldre, from Latin fulgur, from fulgre, to flash; see bhel-1 in Indo-European roots.]

Segment producer: Lynne Sachs

Diglot: Spanish (Argentine), Brooklyn

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Another morning with a diglot, a Latin-rooted word that sounds more like a rare flying animal than a multi-lingual human being. Today I follow Paula Felix Didier, an Argentinean film archivist, as she organizes a collection of 16mm films. I am appreciating the international quality of life here in New York, how easy it is to find a diglots who sometimes move with great effort and sometimes with astounding ease between the different worlds in which they work each and every day.

Diglot: Chinese, Brooklyn

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I spend the morning videotaping a Chinese accountant who finds it absolutely hilarious that I have any interest whatsoever in her daily meanderings between Cantonese, Mandarin and English. When I tell her she is a diglot, a person who speaks two languages, and that this is something very special, worthy of documentary attention, she seems both dismissive and charmed.

Audile: Steinway Piano Factory, Queens

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I love factories, so I feel lucky to spend three hours in the world famous Steinway Piano Factory. It is almost impossible to believe that such an old world institution, producing some of the most sublime musical instruments on earth, is flourishing in the middle of Queens. Here hundreds of craftsmen hammer, bend, glue and tinker with the wood slats and the keys that comprise one Steinway piano. During our three-hour tour, we witness the meticulous step-by-step process. We record the musical cacophony created by the creation of these renowned musical instruments. These sounds will become our second sound addition to the audile archive of New York City noises to remember.

Steinway Piano Factory website >>

Audile: Socrates Sculpture Park, Queens

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On a cold winter morning, Susan Agliata, my Abecedarium:NYC collaborator, and I visit this surprising burst of sculptural splendor. Modernism meets camp here mid-week, when no one else seems to remember that a symphony of East River wind chimes are beckoning the birds, the boats and the muses. With our microphones in hand, we reach up to the clouds and listen to a lovely, twisting, mobile sculpture as it produces exquisite, rhythmic, bell-like tones. This is our first of many Abecedarium recordings. We will create a sound map of New York City in which our website users will travel from burrough to burrough exploring this metropolis with their ears.

Socrates Sculpture Park