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<   No. 805   2005-04-10   >

Comic #805

1 {scene: Ancient Rome. A stately vista of elegant columns and civic buildings.}
1 Julius: Ave, Marcus.
1 Marcus: Ave, Julius. What news?
2 Julius: I've invented a new business model based on sending messages using existing Roman road bridge and water transport infrastructure.
3 Marcus: That sounds superb, by Jove!
4 Julius: Yes, I call such businesses "via-duct-coms".

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For some time there I had no idea what I could do for the next strip in this theme. I even considered drawing a strip. Desperate times, indeed! But then I decided that Jedi robes are close enough to period Roman clothing that I could just use Lego minifigures. Hey, if The Brick Testament can do it, so can I.

So, here we have our first characters in this theme, Marcus and Julius.

A viaduct is a bridge that connects two points on the landscape of equal height, usually bridging a narrow valley. They are often used for rail bridges, since trains cannot handle steep grades. They are also used for transporting water, in which case they are often called aqueducts. Ancient Romans were especially fond of building aqueducts to supply their city with water.

A dot-com is a start-up company with an Internet-based business model, often funded by venture capital. They flourished in the so-called "dot-com boom" of the 1990s, following which many went broke as the technology sector collapsed. Hopefully that won't happen to Julius.

2014-05-26 Rerun commentary: I remember when I was a child, thinking that "ave", as in the Latin greeting, was pronounced to rhyme with "save". The only place I ever came across it was in Asterix comic books, and I'd never heard anyone pronounce it out loud, so I just had to make an assumption.

I don't recall when I realised the awful truth. ("ah-vay", if you're wondering...)

There's also Aves, which is the formal name for the taxonomic class of birds. I was going to say that a single bird then, could naïvely be called an "ave" (rhyming with "save"). At least... I'd always thought that "Aves" was pronounced to rhyme with "saves" - up until just a minute ago when I checked my dictionary. It says it's pronounced as rhyming with "Davies". (Also, the proper Latin singular of "aves" is usually "avis", though it does turn into "ave" in the ablative case. Or so I am told by someone who knows more Latin than me.)

Another long-standing pronunciation assumption smashed.

There are almost certainly words in your head right now that you have read but never heard pronounced, and have assumed a non-standard pronunciation for. I have one less than I had a few minutes ago, but I'm sure there are still some in there.

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