Tuesday, February 12, 2008


In my search for useful two-letter Scrabble words, I have found another good one: ai. This is not the AI of Artificial Intelligence, Artificial Insemination or American Idol. This is the ai that is the three-toed sloth of Central and South America. The plural of the word is ais. It is pronounced “eye” or “ah-EE,” which is similar to the sound made by the sloth and how the mammal got its name.

There are at least three species of ais, including the Maned Three-toed Sloth of South America. These ais have a coarse outer coat with hairs that apparently angle up so that they will hang down when the sloth is in its normal position, hanging from forest trees. Even a good dose of Frontline wouldn’t eradicate the critters that supposedly live in ai fur: algae, mites, ticks, beetles and moths.

The Maned Three-toed Sloth eats from the trees where it hangs. It is rarely seen on the ground because it cannot stand or walk and is reduced to dragging itself by its front legs and claws when it is on the forest floor.

One of the seven deadly sins that was the subject of many lessons at St. Margaret Mary and St. Margaret’s Academy has the same name as the sloth, which is considered to be a sluggish and lazy creature, although I’m not sure that the description is completely fair.

Human to sloth: “Excuse me. Why are you so sluggish and lazy?”

Sloth to human: “Excuse ME! Why don’t you try hanging in trees all day and night; moving to a new residence every time you run out of food; providing reliable, rent-free housing to numerous undesirable pests that you cannot evict; and dragging yourself around on the ground by your arms every time you to need to use the privy?”

No thanks. I’ll pass. I’ll stick to finding places on the Scrabble board where I can rack up points with my ai, which appears to be a whole lot easier than being a sloth.


Colin said...

I was watching a dog show on TV today, and they had an interesting factoid. The Puli is an ancient dog breed with dreaded hair. What's interesting, and I thought you might appreciate, is that the plural of Puli is Pulik. Not a plural you see too often!

pete said...

So I was doing the TMS crossword puzzle in the Strib this morning? And the clue was "types of three-toed sloths"? And - BAM - I recalled my perusal of WHAT'S THE WORD and GOT it. Thank, Sue!!!!!!!