Thursday, August 13, 2009

No conjugating!

I was on a cross-country flight today, only half-paying attention to the passenger instructions, when I heard the flight attendant say, "..and please do not conjugate in front of the restrooms!" I'm sure she meant congregate, and it's quite possible that I heard her incorrectly. Perhaps I have a dirty mind, or perhaps it was just the association with airplane bathrooms and what's said to go on there, but I found myself chuckling at the idea of two people doing the deed in front of the bathrooms.

It occurred to me later, though, that I don't think I've ever actually heard the word conjugate used in reference to sex, though the phrase "conjugal relations" is certainly well known and often used. From Latin, con + iugare means simply "to join together". The more commonly used word is copulate, from copula, link. I tried Googling conjugate to see if I could find an instance in which it has the meaning I ascribed to it, but the word has too many uses in biology and mathematics for that to be a useful exercise.

Anyway, I don't think they'd want people standing in the aisles reciting Spanish verb forms either.

1 comment:

Leslie Weekley said...

I'm so glad I stumbled across this! I have reported this exact same phenomenon -- I even Tweeted about it! None of my friends seemed to get the joke, perhaps because this particular usage of conjugate is a bit unfamiliar.

I still chuckle about this from time to time, and I wonder -- especially now that I know it's happened more than once -- if it's an inside joke for the flight crew.