Re: OT: Nutrition and pleasurable sense data
|From:||Eldin Raigmore <eldin_raigmore@...>|
|Date:||Friday, August 8, 2008, 18:43|
On Fri, 8 Aug 2008 09:45:17 -0400, Jim Henry <jimhenry1973@...>
>Does anyone have nutritional terminology in their conlang?
>If so, what concepts are the roots and how do you derive others from them?
This post won't really be an answer to your questions as asked; but some
information and thoughts that might help.
>I don't have a word yet for "sucrose"; it seems like it ought to be derived
>rather than root, but I'm not sure how yet. Maybe from the word for sugar
>and a word for some foodstuff that's typically made with sucrose?
Chemicals that taste sweet are termed "glucophores".
As a general rule, the sweet taste clues the animal in to carbohydrate content.
Simple carbohydrates are glucophores; the simpler, the sweeter.
More complex carbohydrates are less sweet; the more complex (like starch),
the less sweet.
People and other animals have enzymes in their saliva that simplify digestible
complex carbohydrates by breaking off simpler pieces; so if you chew
something starchy long enough you should get some sweet taste out of it.
Some complex carbohydrates, e.g. "fiber" and cellulose, are not digestible.
People can't taste them; I think, though, that maybe other animals can. (The
non-vestigial analogs of the vermiform appendix can digest it in some species;
ruminants can digest it; some symbiotic flora of some animals' digestive tracts
can digest it.)
>I lack as yet words for vitamins, proteins, fats, carbohydrates
>(I reckon I could derive a general term for the latter from words
>for carbon and hydrogen), or minerals other than iron, zinc, and calcium.
I talked about carbohydrates above.
Remember carbohydrates have to have significant amounts of oxygen in them
too; they are "polyols" (or "poly-alcohols"), poly-hydroxy aldehydes and poly-
hydroxy ketones. They'er different from fats; fatty-accids are mostly
hydrocarbons except for the COOH carboxyl end that makes them "organic
acids", and fats -- fatty-acid esters of glycerol -- also have some the oxygens
from glycerol, which is a tri-hydroxy alcohol.
Animals are probably clued in to the protein content of their food by
the "umami" taste. "Umami", from a Japanese word meaning
approximately "delicious", is the fifth taste the tongue senses, on the same
level as sweet, salty, sour, and bitter. "Umami" responds to the presence of
glutamic acid and various glutamates, some of which are amino-acids. Animals
mostly can't tell much difference between one protein and another; and
probably can't sense all dietarily-essential amino acids. Proteins are
polypeptides, polymers made up out of amino-acid monomers. An AA
is "dietarily essential" if the animal can't make enough of it in its own body to
stay healthy, and therefore must eat some of it to stay healthy; so the
definition of "essential" varies from species to species. Odds are animals
haven't evolved the ability to sense every essential AA; or to tell the
difference between all the AAs they can sense. Rather, their "taste"
safely "assumes" that if the ones they can sense are present in some food,
the others are too.
Possibly, also, like "sweet", there are chemicals that aren't essential AAs that
nevertheless taste "umami".
Proteins must contain at least about half as much nitrogen as oxygen, and/or
at least about half as much nitrogen as carbon. This differentiates them from
carbohydrates, and also from fats.
People can't taste fat, but fat in food enhances the flavor of the other things
that people can taste. Interestingly, the oilier the fat is, the more it enhances
the taste; and the less saturated it is, the more it enhances the taste.
Fatty-acids may or may not be dietarily essential; essential fatty acids are
Mono-unsaturated fatty-acids are called "MUFAs"; poly-unsaturated fatty-
acids are called "PUFAs".
As a general rule for humans, "EFA" and "PUFA" can be considered synonyms.
Fats are esters of one (monoglyceride) or two (diglyceride) or three
(triglyceride) fatty-acids with glycerol, an alcohol. The fewer fatty-acids
combined with the glycerol, the more oily it is and the more it enhances the
taste; but triglycerides are more digestible than diglycerides, which are more
digestible than monoglycerides.
Fatty-acid esters of alcohols other than glycerol are called "waxes". Several
of them are important in the bodies of humans (for instance fatty-acid esters
of sphingol are important in the human nervous system); others are important
in the bodies of other organisms.
An alcohol that has more hydroxyl groups than glycerol does, could combine
with more than three fatty acids. For instance, glucose has six hydroxyl
groups, and could combine with up to six fatty-acids. Past the third one, the
more fatty-acid chains that get attached, the less digestible the wax is.
Olestra (TM) is such a wax; it has the taste-enhancing properties of fat, but
isn't digestible as fat is.
The only mineral I know of that people can taste is sodium. Sodium is
essential for nerves and muscles; all animals must eat sodium. Plants have no
nerves and no muscles, so few plants contain enough sodium to sustain an
animal's health; therefore herbivores have to find "salt-licks".
Humans, and AFAIK many other animals, can't actually taste all the minerals
that are dietarily essential to them.
Vitamins are traditionally "amine" compounds (thus "-amin"), though I suppose
not all of them are. All of them are dietarily essential (thus "vita-"). They
often contain essential metals that are needed in small amounts (I think one of
the B vitamins contains some cobalt?) Some of these dietarily-essential-in-
small-amounts metals could be eaten as "minerals", but some have to be in a
chemically accessible form, such as combined in an organic compound, such as
an amine. At least one metalloid (selenium) is actually needed for some
proteins (the amino-acid "selenocysteine" is needed also in other parts of the
cell, but especially in the mitochondria). And of course there are many others
I'm not mentioning here.
Humans, and AFAIK many other animals, can't actually taste all the vitamins
that are dietarily essential to them.
>I don't think my chemistry knowledge is up to snuff for deriving
>all those systematically, yet.
Realistically they won't be able to taste the presence or absence of everything
they have to eat to survive, so I don't know that they need all those words at
all. Deriving them all systematically may not actually be an issue (unless you
just decide that it should be).
>I might could derive "fat" from a word for butter or ice cream plus
>the "primary/active ingredient" suffix.
Like the fatty-acid "butyric acid" (from butter), the organic acid "lactic acid"
(from milk), or the sugars "lactose" and "galactose" (from milk)?
>(The word for milk + that suffix already is in use for "calcium".)
They can taste calcium? And it doesn't just taste "salty"? Then they
aren't "standard-issue" humans.
>Protein, maybe the same kind of derivation from the word for meat/muscle,
Not a bad idea.
>and maybe "carbohydrate" from the word for rice or potato or something.
They're likelier to be able to taste the simple ones (e.g. sugars) than the
complicated ones (e.g. starch).
>What about vitamins?
They're not likely to be able to taste most of them.
Humans can taste citric acid (but can't really tell it by taste alone from various
other edible acids).
The vitamin humans need is ascorbic acid (Vitamin C). ("Ascorbic"
means "without scurvy", btw.)
I don't know if humans can even taste ascorbic acid; but the fruits ascorbic
acid comes in (citrus fruits, peppers, and tomatoes, e.g.) often contain also
lots of citric acid.
>This musing grew out of a small translation project, rendering the
>Sirius Cybernetics Corporation slogans into gzb. Share and enjoy:
> ť lĭw-i kuln pě'ljy-na gǒ, gâ lǒ ĥun-i pwĭ-ť-van.
> 2 relationship-at casual.friend plastic-made.of behold, thing
> REL together-at delight-2-V.STATE
> Your plastic pal who's fun to be with!
> syj-ĥun-ť-zô mwe kiň pwĭ-van.
> use-together-2-V.ACT IMP and delight-V.STATE
> Share and enjoy!
> vâ-ja-tǒj pe sĭŋ-žâw jyn-fwa
> digestion-fitting-NOMZ and information-sensation pleasure-CAUS
> Nutrition and pleasurable sense data!