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Floyd Davidson October 2nd 05 10:02 PM

"Peter" wrote:
Floyd Davidson wrote:

It does not necessarily have to be that one grew out of the
other. However, I *don't* see them as totally unrelated.


Ok, I'll bite. What relationship do you see between the term
"prime lens" used to mean the main lens as opposed to a supplementary
lens or attachment, and the term "prime lens" used to mean a
fixed focal length lens?


Clearly that came about because fixed focal lenses are
typically, for any given price better lenses than a similarly
priced zoom lens. Prime of course can mean the one which is the
first in quality, or the first in favor, or the first to be
used, or "primitive" as in the least complex.

It is just an extension of the concept that a "normal" or
"standard" lens is called a "prime lens". And since there are
already at least two very good terms for that meaning, it does
seem rather natural for the meaning of "prime" to migrate to a
somewhat broader scope.

Rather, it is a logical progression.


Again, what is the logical connection between the two?


Again... (You are aware of the various meanings of prime and of
how these various terms have been used in this field, right?)

And the newer meaning
does not necessarily negate correctness of the older meaning
any more than and older meaning makes a new one incorrect.


Of course. Though having a word with multiple meanings or
an unclear meaning within a technical lexicon could create
problems. That's part of why I think "prime lens" in the
sense of "fixed focal length" while a useful bit of slang until
someone comes up with something better, shouldn't be regarded
as a part of the proper technical vocabulary of photography.


Well, until some other term comes along, you don't have any
choice. The *fact* is that is is here, today. And it probably
won't be going away any time soon either.

So? I could probably come up with a single paragraph that used
at least 4 or 5 different meanings for the word "prime".


It would be interesting to see such a paragraph in which
at least four out of the five uses had no obvious connection
to the concept of "first" indicated by the word "prime."
I would like to see you try.


Why would it have to be where four out of five have no
connection to the etymology of the word? The use of the word to
mean "fixed focal length" has it roots in that. Your merely
proposing a ridiculous shift of the goal posts.

Does
that make the more recently evolved meanings incorrect just
because there is also an older meaning?


No, but creating additional meanings for an existing technical
term could be a problem.


A lot of things "could be a problem". So what?

*Not* creating some such term would definitely be a problem.

It makes a lot of sense to deprecate
the use of a new meaning for a technical term if it is seen as
beginning to erode the usefulness of the established
technical use of the term.


You are welcome to try, but tilting at windmills, barking at the
moon, and a number of other similar activities would be more
productive.

Language just doesn't work that way. As the late Steve Allen
used to say on TV about timing being everything in comedy,
context is everything in word usage.


Right, if context is not actually everything, it is a lot of it.
I've got no strong objection to "prime lens" as a handy bit
of slang to refer to fixed focal length lenses, but if it starts
to look as if some people are treating it as if it were a proper
part of the technical lexicon then it may be time to object.


Wrong. That is when it is already far too late to object. All
you get then is someone like me making fun of you for refusing
to accept reality... :-)

It's a done deal. We might as well get used to it.

I'll grant that if you had asked me 20-30 years ago if I thought
it would be a good idea to use that term in that way, *I* would
have been on your side at that time. But undoing history isn't
something I'm up to. But that happens with a lot of words. For
example, I really really wish that "hacker" was not equated with
"cracker" the way it is today. But it is. And on a more
technical note, we hear about high speed T1 or T3 lines in the
telephone industry all the time... and almost every time you
hear someone say T1 or T3 what they are talking about is a DS1
or a DS3. We live with it though...

--
FloydL. Davidson http://www.apaflo.com/floyd_davidson
Ukpeagvik (Barrow, Alaska)

[email protected] October 2nd 05 11:19 PM

writes:

On Wed, 28 Sep 2005 22:29:43 -0700, "Brion K. Lienhart"
wrote:


Nope. F:2.8 is solely based on the size of the lens. Obsidian is glass,
you can grind it into a lens shape, but if you use it as an element in a
lens, you're going to get some reallllllly slow shutter speeds. Of
course that's an extreme case, the difference between plain old glass
glass, and exotic flouro-silicates is only a few fractions of a percent.


So what was your point in bringing up a special case ulikely
to be implemented?


No, look up "T numbers", they are not a special case for many.

--
Paul Repacholi 1 Crescent Rd.,
+61 (08) 9257-1001 Kalamunda.
West Australia 6076
comp.os.vms,- The Older, Grumpier Slashdot
Raw, Cooked or Well-done, it's all half baked.
EPIC, The Architecture of the future, always has been, always will be.

Jeremy Nixon October 2nd 05 11:44 PM

Floyd Davidson wrote:

And now you have what used to be a perfectly good term, "prime lens", that,
having become ambiguous, is now *useless* for *either* of the meanings we
are talking about here. It is a dead term. It can't be used to mean


Why would you say that? Prime had several meanings long before
this happened, and yet you say it was not ambiguous then but is
now???? That's not logical.


I refer to the term "prime lens", not "prime". "Prime lens" is a specific
enough term that it can have only one useful meaning in one technical
field; were that not the case, this very discussion would not be happening.

This is in some contrast with another dead term, "zoom lens", which has
for all intents and purposes entirely lost its real meaning and had it
replaced. This is also pure entropy -- there were two terms that meant
two different things, and now they both mean the same thing -- but it
can be used with its new meaning without a discussion like this ensuing.

You need to look up the word "evolution" and find out what it
means.


"The process of unrolling, opening out, or disengaging from an envelope."

Hmm, no, probably not that one. No, I'm not being facetious; it's worth
noting that terms having very different meanings in different contexts does
not cause any particular problem; the problem arises when the two meanings
exist in the *same* context. As with "prime lens", and "zoom lens" before
it.

And as to whether change is "a good thing", that is subjective and your
opinion that it is not really isn't worth a plugged nickel. (Neither is
mine, so don't be upset that the world continues to turn even if we don't
like it.)


Well, I would find it difficult to appreciate an argument that brutally
removing things from the language can have any positive effect.

The changes made by marketing people, for example, are always bad.


As a guy who worked my whole life in Operations (and never
stopped making fun of Marketing), even I have to tell you that
you've over stated the case there.


Can you think of any change to the language perpetrated by marketing
that was good?

Some words: awesome, amazing, astounding, incredible, unbelievable. All
of these words now mean "very good". That's stupid. There is nothing
good about that; it has removed meaning and variety from the language
and not replaced it with anything of equal value.

--
Jeremy |

Peter October 3rd 05 12:24 AM

Floyd Davidson wrote:
"Peter" wrote:
Floyd Davidson wrote:

It does not necessarily have to be that one grew out of the
other. However, I *don't* see them as totally unrelated.


Ok, I'll bite. What relationship do you see between the term
"prime lens" used to mean the main lens as opposed to a supplementary
lens or attachment, and the term "prime lens" used to mean a
fixed focal length lens?


Clearly that came about because fixed focal lenses are
typically, for any given price better lenses than a similarly
priced zoom lens.


You say "clearly" but the origin of the term really seems to
be pretty murky.

The slang use of "prime lens" for "fixed focal length" appears
to have originated in the professional cine industry. And while
the early pro cine zooms were rather flare-prone they didn't
have anywhere near the performance compromises of the amateur
cine and still-camera zooms of the 1960s.

Other possible hypotheses a

1) Afocal zoom attachments used to be available which would
convert a fixed focal length lens into a zoom. In that case
the base lens would have been a "prime lens" in the more
orthodox terminology and the name could then have stuck.

2) Fixed focal length lenses could have been primary at
one point simply because the studio or production company
owned a lot more of them and thus could be the default
when a zoom lens was not specifically needed.

Prime of course can mean the one which is the
first in quality, or the first in favor, or the first to be
used, or "primitive" as in the least complex.


The explanation that they are less complex and thus
"prime" seems possible. There appear to be many possible
reasons for the name, but so far no one appears to have
provided documentation or a really strong argument to
indicate how it started. The name seems to be in use
because people hear or read others using the term and
it catches on, and not because there is any widespread
agreement about exactly why they are "prime."



And the newer meaning
does not necessarily negate correctness of the older meaning
any more than and older meaning makes a new one incorrect.


Of course. Though having a word with multiple meanings or
an unclear meaning within a technical lexicon could create
problems. That's part of why I think "prime lens" in the
sense of "fixed focal length" while a useful bit of slang until
someone comes up with something better, shouldn't be regarded
as a part of the proper technical vocabulary of photography.


Well, until some other term comes along, you don't have any
choice. The *fact* is that is is here, today. And it probably
won't be going away any time soon either.


I'm not objecting to the slang use of the term. It is convenient.
The convenience alone justifies its use as slang. I do object
to the idea that it has, through use, achieved status as part
of the standard photographic vocabulary.

So? I could probably come up with a single paragraph that used
at least 4 or 5 different meanings for the word "prime".


It would be interesting to see such a paragraph in which
at least four out of the five uses had no obvious connection
to the concept of "first" indicated by the word "prime."
I would like to see you try.


Why would it have to be where four out of five have no
connection to the etymology of the word? The use of the word to
mean "fixed focal length" has it roots in that. Your merely
proposing a ridiculous shift of the goal posts.


I don't think I'm shifting goal posts. I'm not asking for four
uses which have no possible connection to "first," but only for
four uses where the nature of the connection is obscure.

Does
that make the more recently evolved meanings incorrect just
because there is also an older meaning?


No, but creating additional meanings for an existing technical
term could be a problem.


A lot of things "could be a problem". So what?


Ask someone in any other technical field, or even in optics
whether the technical vocabulary of their field should
shift in such a fashion.


*Not* creating some such term would definitely be a problem.


Leaving it understood as a common slang term would seem
to fit our actual needs just fine.


It makes a lot of sense to deprecate
the use of a new meaning for a technical term if it is seen as
beginning to erode the usefulness of the established
technical use of the term.


You are welcome to try, but tilting at windmills, barking at the
moon, and a number of other similar activities would be more
productive.


As I mentioned elsewhere in this thread, there have been
cases in the history of photography where a once popular
misuse of a technical term has been corrected. The
example I gave was the common early 20th century tendency
to use "depth of focus" when what was really meant was
"depth of field."

Right, if context is not actually everything, it is a lot of it.
I've got no strong objection to "prime lens" as a handy bit
of slang to refer to fixed focal length lenses, but if it starts
to look as if some people are treating it as if it were a proper
part of the technical lexicon then it may be time to object.


Wrong. That is when it is already far too late to object. All
you get then is someone like me making fun of you for refusing
to accept reality... :-)


There's no point in objecting to slang when it is used as such.
The slowly creaping respectability of the term is a relatively
recent phenomenon. I have dozens of books about photography,
only one, published in 2000, contains "prime lens" in the sense
of "fixed focal length lens." It would be interesting if someone
could dig up the earliest print uses in photography books.


It's a done deal. We might as well get used to it.

I'll grant that if you had asked me 20-30 years ago if I thought
it would be a good idea to use that term in that way, *I* would
have been on your side at that time. But undoing history isn't
something I'm up to. But that happens with a lot of words. For
example, I really really wish that "hacker" was not equated with
"cracker" the way it is today. But it is.


By newspapers, by the general public, but not by the people
who stay up to early morning doing interesting things on
computers for recreation. A hacker knows what the word means
and knows that it's the newspapers and general public who
have it wrong.

And on a more
technical note, we hear about high speed T1 or T3 lines in the
telephone industry all the time... and almost every time you
hear someone say T1 or T3 what they are talking about is a DS1
or a DS3. We live with it though...


I'm afraid I'm not familiar enough with the field to comment
much, but based on what you say, it would seem that T1 is sometimes
used as slang when DS1 is the correct designation for that line.
If so, this would seem to be a good example of the difference
between correct terminolgy and slang use.

Peter.
--



Chris Brown October 3rd 05 01:29 AM

In article ,
Jeremy Nixon wrote:

Can you think of any change to the language perpetrated by marketing
that was good?


To pick a random example, we have the verb "to hoover", which avoids
overloading the noun, "vacuum" by turning it into a verb.

Or for something more modern, and with more international currency, try "to
google" - much more managable than "to search the Internet".

There's also an endless list of names of foodstuff, introduced into the
language through marketing exercises, which are useful and inoffensive.
Sundae, Stilton (never been made there, AFAIK), Creme-brulee, etc..

Some words: awesome, amazing, astounding, incredible, unbelievable. All
of these words now mean "very good". That's stupid. There is nothing
good about that; it has removed meaning and variety from the language


That variety still exists - if a concept is useful, there will be words to
express it. In the cases above, for words or phrases which convey the
"original" meaning, I'd offer the following:

For awesome, try awe-inspiring.
For amazing, try astonishing
I don't agree that "astounding" has "lost" its meaning - perhaps this is a
British English/American English difference?
Incredible - not-credible
Unbelievable - not-believable

Jeremy Nixon October 3rd 05 02:38 AM

Chris Brown wrote:

Can you think of any change to the language perpetrated by marketing
that was good?


To pick a random example, we have the verb "to hoover", which avoids
overloading the noun, "vacuum" by turning it into a verb.


Wow... I've never heard the verb "to hoover". I think my ears might bleed
if I did. :) (I'm sure the folks at the Hoover company wouldn't be too
happy about it, either.)

As for "vacuum" being verbed, that is not a recent development; it seems
to have been used as such for about as long as vacuum cleaners have
existed, and I'm not sure it originated with marketing. In any case,
the earliest example in OED of "vacuum" as a verb is from 1922, while
the noun colloquially meaning "vacuum cleaner" dates back to 1910. I'd
rather see "vacuum cleaner" used formally (as would the nice folks at
Oxford), but "vacuum" doesn't bother me much; it beats "to hoover" by a
country mile, at least.

Or for something more modern, and with more international currency, try "to
google" - much more managable than "to search the Internet".


I really hope that one never makes it past pop-culture slang. :)

It is worth noting, in that case, that the word "google" actually has
another meaning, one that has almost certainly already been destroyed
beyond hope of recovery.

--
Jeremy |

Peter October 3rd 05 04:10 AM


Chris Brown wrote:


For awesome, try awe-inspiring.
For amazing, try astonishing
I don't agree that "astounding" has "lost" its meaning - perhaps this is a
British English/American English difference?
Incredible - not-credible
Unbelievable - not-believable



One of my strongest memories from reading H.G. Wells'
The Time Machine when I was about 10 or 11 was the
way he used the word "incredible" it was immediately
obvious from the context that he really meant it.

I do not think I had read the word used in its strong
sense before. It has left me with a conviction that
words can be rescued. Perhaps the word did not yet
need to be rescued in 1898 when the book was first
published, but it certainly did in 1978, and for me
the word was restored to its proper meaning as soon
as I read it.

To my mind, "not-credible" is a weak work-around for
a word that has lost its former power, and I'd much
rather read "incredible" from someone capable of
writing in a way which shows that he really means it.

Peter.
--



Floyd Davidson October 3rd 05 05:26 AM

"Peter" wrote:
Floyd Davidson wrote:
"Peter" wrote:
Floyd Davidson wrote:

It does not necessarily have to be that one grew out of the
other. However, I *don't* see them as totally unrelated.

Ok, I'll bite. What relationship do you see between the term
"prime lens" used to mean the main lens as opposed to a supplementary
lens or attachment, and the term "prime lens" used to mean a
fixed focal length lens?


Clearly that came about because fixed focal lenses are
typically, for any given price better lenses than a similarly
priced zoom lens.


You say "clearly" but the origin of the term really seems to
be pretty murky.


The origin may be murky, but the reason it caught on and stuck is
perhaps not.

The slang use of "prime lens" for "fixed focal length" appears
to have originated in the professional cine industry. And while
the early pro cine zooms were rather flare-prone they didn't
have anywhere near the performance compromises of the amateur
cine and still-camera zooms of the 1960s.


None of which is significant. That does *not* explain why it
became a common usage.

Other possible hypotheses a

1) Afocal zoom attachments used to be available which would
convert a fixed focal length lens into a zoom. In that case
the base lens would have been a "prime lens" in the more
orthodox terminology and the name could then have stuck.

2) Fixed focal length lenses could have been primary at
one point simply because the studio or production company
owned a lot more of them and thus could be the default
when a zoom lens was not specifically needed.


I can't imagine that either of those was a great influence,
though both may have had some insignificant but measurable
effect.

Prime of course can mean the one which is the
first in quality, or the first in favor, or the first to be
used, or "primitive" as in the least complex.


The explanation that they are less complex and thus
"prime" seems possible. There appear to be many possible
reasons for the name,


I think the point, though, is that the meaning of the word
as it existed at the time made people feel comfortable with
the extension of it into new ground.

but so far no one appears to have
provided documentation or a really strong argument to
indicate how it started. The name seems to be in use
because people hear or read others using the term and
it catches on, and not because there is any widespread
agreement about exactly why they are "prime."


Exactly. It isn't in common usage because of where it started,
or because it was obvious or strongly supported by some
particular lobby (such as marketing). It's just a case of it
being so close in meaning, so convenient, and sounding good,
that it "rings true" and people remember it and use it
themselves. Bingo, a new usage catches on.

Since the advent of national TV in the late 1950's, this has
been a fairly common occurrence in common language, but in
technical fields it had become common even before then, as we
came into the age of technology.

My field is communications (and keep in mind that photography is
in many ways a communications technology), and I've always been
fascinated by the peripheral effects that basic changes in
communications technology have had on society. In that respect,
I saw TV come to the Seattle area when I was a kid, and then I
saw it again in Alaska when my children were small. And I also
watched, as a young adult, the effect of things like Direct
Distance Dialing; and then again later I was part and parcel of
bringing widespread telecommunications and computer networking
to much of Alaska.

Language evolution is one aspect in a much larger topology of
the evolution of society as the technology of communications has
advanced.

I'm not objecting to the slang use of the term. It is convenient.
The convenience alone justifies its use as slang. I do object
to the idea that it has, through use, achieved status as part
of the standard photographic vocabulary.


Well... a short review of what google turns up suggests that
objecting is a waste of time. Tilting at windmills... ;-)

So? I could probably come up with a single paragraph that used
at least 4 or 5 different meanings for the word "prime".

It would be interesting to see such a paragraph in which
at least four out of the five uses had no obvious connection
to the concept of "first" indicated by the word "prime."
I would like to see you try.


Why would it have to be where four out of five have no
connection to the etymology of the word? The use of the word to
mean "fixed focal length" has it roots in that. Your merely
proposing a ridiculous shift of the goal posts.


I don't think I'm shifting goal posts. I'm not asking for four
uses which have no possible connection to "first," but only for
four uses where the nature of the connection is obscure.


Why though? That *is* the common thread that runs through
various meanings of prime. I have never claimed, and see no
point it any attempt to prove, that there are *any* meanings for
"prime" which are not related to "first".

That is just trivia, and insignificant.

Does
that make the more recently evolved meanings incorrect just
because there is also an older meaning?

No, but creating additional meanings for an existing technical
term could be a problem.


A lot of things "could be a problem". So what?


Ask someone in any other technical field, or even in optics
whether the technical vocabulary of their field should
shift in such a fashion.


Look, I'm a techie geek type of guy, who is retired after
working for 4 decades in the communications industry. *You* are
going to tell *me* about shifting technical vocabulary???? If
you can, then we could compare notes... but if you want to "ask
someone in any other technical field", rest assured you did.

I can remember working with a fellow in the mid-1960s who had a
really good story about that... He was a retired Navy Chief,
who'd been in Fire Control before WWII, and retired in the mid
1950's. You wanna talk about shifting technical vocabulary!
*Everything* to do with Fire Control changed. When he signed
on, it was all mechanical. When he retired, is was all
electronics.

His best joke was about trying to order a "soldering iron" to
work on electronics in about 1946, and being unable to get
supply people to realize that he did *not* want a plumber's
soldering iron. He also said that just about everyone was
positive that anybody who dealt with the stuff they did was some
kind of weirdo, with a social disease or something. Highly
suspect, at a minimum.

Of course in the 1960's when I worked with that fellow we were
using vacuum tubes in computers, radios, and particle
accelerators!

Virtually the entire vocabulary used today in almost any
industry using electronics *didn't exist* in 1965, and was
created between then and 1985. And now has been in place for 20
years, and people think of it as *old* and carved in stone! But
pull out a resistor that has colored *dots* to identify it, and
is 3/4 of an inch long with wire leads that wrap around each
end, and ask someone if they could solder it into a circuit...
and you'll 1) have a hard time finding anyone with solder and an
iron, and even if they do, they will 2) ask you what in
tarnation that thing is, because 3) they've never seen nor heard
of such a resistor. Heck, in the 1970's most electronics
technicians couldn't identify many parts from WWII equipment
because the technology had changed so fast. Today of course they
can't identify *most* parts from back then.

Photography and optics has changed relatively slowly by
comparison. Perhaps that's why you are uncomfortable with the
evolution of words, and to me that is just one more fascinating
aspect of communications.

*Not* creating some such term would definitely be a problem.


Leaving it understood as a common slang term would seem
to fit our actual needs just fine.


That statement doesn't make sense. Just try coming up with
a clear division of what is "common slang" and what is not.
Ask 20 people... you'll get 25 different answers?

It makes a lot of sense to deprecate
the use of a new meaning for a technical term if it is seen as
beginning to erode the usefulness of the established
technical use of the term.


You are welcome to try, but tilting at windmills, barking at the
moon, and a number of other similar activities would be more
productive.


As I mentioned elsewhere in this thread, there have been
cases in the history of photography where a once popular
misuse of a technical term has been corrected. The
example I gave was the common early 20th century tendency
to use "depth of focus" when what was really meant was
"depth of field."


One example makes it a pattern of significance??? :-)
Even half a dozen examples, which probably could be scraped up,
won't indicate any significance.

Right, if context is not actually everything, it is a lot of it.
I've got no strong objection to "prime lens" as a handy bit
of slang to refer to fixed focal length lenses, but if it starts
to look as if some people are treating it as if it were a proper
part of the technical lexicon then it may be time to object.


Wrong. That is when it is already far too late to object. All
you get then is someone like me making fun of you for refusing
to accept reality... :-)


There's no point in objecting to slang when it is used as such.


Sure. But like I said... try to draw a line between when it is
and when it isn't, and you *can't*.

The slowly creaping respectability of the term is a relatively
recent phenomenon. I have dozens of books about photography,


So?

only one, published in 2000, contains "prime lens" in the sense
of "fixed focal length lens." It would be interesting if someone
could dig up the earliest print uses in photography books.


Interesting trivia, but again that just isn't really significant.

It's a done deal. We might as well get used to it.

I'll grant that if you had asked me 20-30 years ago if I thought
it would be a good idea to use that term in that way, *I* would
have been on your side at that time. But undoing history isn't
something I'm up to. But that happens with a lot of words. For
example, I really really wish that "hacker" was not equated with
"cracker" the way it is today. But it is.


By newspapers, by the general public, but not by the people
who stay up to early morning doing interesting things on
computers for recreation. A hacker knows what the word means
and knows that it's the newspapers and general public who
have it wrong.


It is ubiquitous. And yes the old definition is still in use
too! Context is everything...

And on a more
technical note, we hear about high speed T1 or T3 lines in the
telephone industry all the time... and almost every time you
hear someone say T1 or T3 what they are talking about is a DS1
or a DS3. We live with it though...


I'm afraid I'm not familiar enough with the field to comment
much, but based on what you say, it would seem that T1 is sometimes
used as slang when DS1 is the correct designation for that line.


I don't think "slang" is even close to what it is. The fact that
you don't even know what it means, simply because it is a technical
term from a field outside your range of experience, pretty much
demonstrates that it isn't "slang".

It is a very specific technical term, which originally had one
specific meaning, but which now commonly is used (and some would
of course say "incorrectly") to mean something slightly
different too.

Both uses are ubiquitous in the telecommunications industry. The
only significance is that it's one of those "trick questions" by
which you can determine if someone is *really* well versed. If
they don't realize there are *two* meanings... they be newbies!

If so, this would seem to be a good example of the difference
between correct terminolgy and slang use.


Virtually *everybody* in the industry uses the term in both the
original, pedantic way, and as a synonym for a DS1. It isn't
slang.

(An interesting side note on just how significant "convention"
is to me in communications... I just ran a spell check on this
article and found that I had incorrectly spelled
"communications" virtually every time I used the word. To me, a
word is just a symbol for a meaning, and symbols are a dime a
dozen and can change every day.)

--
FloydL. Davidson http://www.apaflo.com/floyd_davidson
Ukpeagvik (Barrow, Alaska)

nick c October 3rd 05 09:32 AM

David Littlewood wrote:
In article , Floyd Davidson
writes


It is just an extension of the concept that a "normal" or
"standard" lens is called a "prime lens". And since there are
already at least two very good terms for that meaning, it does
seem rather natural for the meaning of "prime" to migrate to a
somewhat broader scope.

I had never seen that usage before this discussion, despite being a keen
photographer for several decades. The universal term for such lenses, in
the days when they were the most common of SLR lenses, was always
"standard".

Maybe it was a US usage, but I don't even recall seeing it in US texts.

You may have a point that once a respectable term has been utterly
*******ised, it makes little difference if it sinks into further
degeneration.

I suggest that, whatever the rights and wrongs of the meaning of
language (and I do think you have a good point, regrettable though it
is) the use of such a *******ised words is best avoided by those who
value precision of language. Those who do use it may be suspected by
some of slipshod linguistic standards

David



"English is the most widely learned and used foreign language in the
world, and, as such, many linguists believe it is no longer the
exclusive cultural emblem of "native English speakers," but rather a
language that is absorbing aspects of cultures worldwide as it grows in
use. Others believe that there are limits to how far English can go in
suiting everyone for communication purposes. "

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_language

Chris Brown October 3rd 05 11:27 AM

In article ,
Jeremy Nixon wrote:
Chris Brown wrote:

Can you think of any change to the language perpetrated by marketing
that was good?


To pick a random example, we have the verb "to hoover", which avoids
overloading the noun, "vacuum" by turning it into a verb.


Wow... I've never heard the verb "to hoover".


That's most likely because you're from North America, and it's a British
English word.

(I'm sure the folks at the Hoover company wouldn't be too
happy about it, either.)


On the contrary, I believe they are entirely happy with the word "hoover"
having come to be a generic term for vacuum cleaner, and the currency of the
associated verb. Indeed, AIUI they positively encouraged the use. It's
probably responsible for a good section of the dwindling market share they
have left. It used to be the case that everyone hoovered with a Hoover. Now
everyone hoovers with a Dyson.

I understand there's a near parallel in American English with "kleenex"
(although there's no associated verb). In British English, there's no such
improper noun (they're just "tissues"), only a proper noun.

Or for something more modern, and with more international currency, try "to
google" - much more managable than "to search the Internet".


I really hope that one never makes it past pop-culture slang. :)


I believe it's in the OED.

It is worth noting, in that case, that the word "google" actually has
another meaning, one that has almost certainly already been destroyed
beyond hope of recovery.


If you're thinking of 10^100 then you're wrong, that's a googol. The name of
the search engine is a pun on that.

Floyd Davidson October 3rd 05 12:10 PM

nick c wrote:
David Littlewood wrote:
I suggest that, whatever the rights and wrongs of the meaning
of language (and I do think you have a good point, regrettable
though it is) the use of such a *******ised words is best
avoided by those who value precision of language. Those who do
use it may be suspected by some of slipshod linguistic
standards
David


"English is the most widely learned and used foreign language in the
world, and, as such, many linguists believe it is no longer the
exclusive cultural emblem of "native English speakers," but rather a
language that is absorbing aspects of cultures worldwide as it grows in
use. Others believe that there are limits to how far English can go in
suiting everyone for communication purposes. "

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_language


That is an excellent point. There should perhaps be some
emphasis on the purpose of language though, which is to
communicate information. Pedants of trivia who concern
themselves with criticism of the "correct" mechanisms of
language evolution are missing the point entirely. It makes
*no* difference why or how a change takes place. All that
counts is whether it serves the purpose well for communicating
information.

For some people that is more significant, and more apparent,
than it is for others. Barrow happens to be a very
international place, with a majority of the population speaking
English as a second language. I typically hear people born in
Mexico, American Samoa, Korea, the Philipines, and Thailand, not
to mention the local Inupiaq speakers all speaking 1) their
native language and 2) English that varies from person to
person. *Nobody* cares whether words match precise dictionary
meanings, because *point* is to communicate.

When people *communicate*, the question is not "what did they
say", but "what did they mean".

--
FloydL. Davidson http://www.apaflo.com/floyd_davidson
Ukpeagvik (Barrow, Alaska)

Chris Brown October 3rd 05 01:51 PM

In article ,
David Littlewood wrote:

If you mean the very large number 10^100, as used by mathematicians,
then its name is "googol", not google.

AIUI, the name google was chosen to resonate with googol - or maybe it
was some marketer ignorant of the correct spelling. Good thing too, I
say.


It's a pun - it's "go ogle", as in, "go and look for", but it sounds a bit
like "googol", giving the idea that it returns lots of results.

And given Google's origins, I rather doubt there were any marketers
involved. It was initially a university experiment in inexpensive Linux
clustering.


BC October 3rd 05 02:12 PM

"Go ahead, outline "that evolutionary process" for me. I'd sure like to
see
how you get "fixed focal length" to evolve into "prime." What might the

intermediate steps look like, I wonder?"

Many of the earlier zoom lenses from the 1960's and 1970's comprised an
afocal zooming portion in the front, followed by a fixed focal length
lens group in the rear. That fixed focal length lens group was, and
still is, called a "prime lens". I suspect that this may have led to
all fixed focal length lenses being called prime lenses.

As a side note, this early type of zoom lens automatically had a
constant f/# through zoom. However, it is not nearly as common a
design form as it used to be.

As I've pointed out to you earlier, respected manufacturers such as
Panavision do use the word "prime" to mean fixed focal length. The cat
is clearly out of the bag here, and we might as well get used to
"prime" and "fixed focal length" being synonyms.

Brian


Jeremy Nixon October 3rd 05 03:28 PM

Chris Brown wrote:

(I'm sure the folks at the Hoover company wouldn't be too
happy about it, either.)


On the contrary, I believe they are entirely happy with the word "hoover"
having come to be a generic term for vacuum cleaner, and the currency of the
associated verb. Indeed, AIUI they positively encouraged the use.


Odd. Companies tend to fight that sort of thing tooth and nail, since they
lose trademark protection otherwise.

I understand there's a near parallel in American English with "kleenex"
(although there's no associated verb).


Yes. But no one pretends it's actually correct. We have "xerox" as well.

Or for something more modern, and with more international currency, try "to
google" - much more managable than "to search the Internet".


I really hope that one never makes it past pop-culture slang. :)


I believe it's in the OED.


It is not. It has made it into the New Oxford American Dictionary and the
Oxford Dictionary of English (2nd Edition), but not, thus far, the OED itself.

It is worth noting, in that case, that the word "google" actually has
another meaning, one that has almost certainly already been destroyed
beyond hope of recovery.


If you're thinking of 10^100 then you're wrong, that's a googol. The name of
the search engine is a pun on that.


No, I'm thinking of "google", to wit:

google, v. Cricket. intr. Of the ball: to have a 'googly' break and swerve.
Of the bowler; to bowl a googly or googlies; also (trans.), to give a googly
break to (a ball). Hence googler, a googly bowler.

Which *is* in the OED. The usage predates the Internet search engine by
some 90 years.

--
Jeremy |

Jeremy Nixon October 3rd 05 03:31 PM

David Littlewood wrote:

If you mean the very large number 10^100, as used by mathematicians,
then its name is "googol", not google.


I meant the cricket term, as mentioned in my other post.

--
Jeremy |

Chris Brown October 3rd 05 03:45 PM

In article ,
Jeremy Nixon wrote:
Chris Brown wrote:

It is worth noting, in that case, that the word "google" actually has
another meaning, one that has almost certainly already been destroyed
beyond hope of recovery.


If you're thinking of 10^100 then you're wrong, that's a googol. The name of
the search engine is a pun on that.


No, I'm thinking of "google", to wit:

google, v. Cricket. intr. Of the ball: to have a 'googly' break and swerve.
Of the bowler; to bowl a googly or googlies; also (trans.), to give a googly
break to (a ball). Hence googler, a googly bowler.


It's entirely unclear why you think this usage has "almost certainly been
destroyed beyond hope of recovery". If a cricket-nerd uses it, it will be
obvious from context which version they are talking about, hence there is to
be no confusion.

Nostrobino October 3rd 05 04:21 PM


"Floyd Davidson" wrote in message
...
"Nostrobino" wrote:
"Floyd Davidson" wrote:

[ . . . ]
Common use makes it "correct", and indicates the language has
evolved.


No. The popularity of some misusage does not automatically make it
correct,
as you seem to believe. Look in any authoritative dictionary that has
usage
notes, and you will find misusages that have enjoyed great popularity for
many, many years and are just still as wrong as they ever were.


So just show us examples... ;-)


I'll do better than that. I'll direct you to an excellent dictionary which
is just loaded with extensive usage notes, and you can while away many a
pleasant hour reading them: The American Heritage Dictionary of the English
Language, Third Edition. (I think there's a later edition now.) This is the
real big one, not the desk dictionary.

Even quicker, do a Google search on "misused words." You'll find several
lists, some of the words real oldies, still often misused. Wrong for years,
still wrong today, and they'll still be wrong in years to come. In most
cases the wrongness is in stylistic usage rather than definition, but the
principle is the same. Popularity of usage does not automatically confer
correctness.

N.



Jeremy Nixon October 3rd 05 04:23 PM

Chris Brown wrote:

It's entirely unclear why you think this usage has "almost certainly been
destroyed beyond hope of recovery". If a cricket-nerd uses it, it will be
obvious from context which version they are talking about, hence there is to
be no confusion.


Do you really think that, even in the nerdiest of cricket-nerd circles,
anyone can ever again use that word without everyone who hears him thinking
of the "new" meaning?

--
Jeremy |

Nostrobino October 3rd 05 04:38 PM


"David Littlewood" wrote in message
...
In article , Nostrobino
writes


Common use makes it "correct", and indicates the language has
evolved.


No. The popularity of some misusage does not automatically make it
correct,
as you seem to believe. Look in any authoritative dictionary that has
usage
notes, and you will find misusages that have enjoyed great popularity for
many, many years and are just still as wrong as they ever were.

As with many "quotations" - for example, "gilding the lily".


I'm not familiar with the origins of that.

My current anti-favorite is "that begs the question, question inserted
here." Ever since some TV ads appeared (again and again) with a voice-over
asking, "That begs the question, Is it better to give name of product,
forgotten or to receive?" this annoying misusage has spread like the
proverbial wildfire, among commentators, columnists and others, who
evidently think it's just a classy way of saying "raises the question."

Here in the U.S. the expression "that begs the question" was almost never
seen, except occasionally in British writing. So when the average American
reader saw "that begs the question" in, say, an English novel, he had not
the foggiest idea what it meant. (Question? What question?) Now
unfortunately we see it again and again, *never* used correctly.

N.



David Littlewood October 3rd 05 05:15 PM

In article , Jeremy Nixon
writes
Chris Brown wrote:

(I'm sure the folks at the Hoover company wouldn't be too
happy about it, either.)


On the contrary, I believe they are entirely happy with the word "hoover"
having come to be a generic term for vacuum cleaner, and the currency of the
associated verb. Indeed, AIUI they positively encouraged the use.


Odd. Companies tend to fight that sort of thing tooth and nail, since they
lose trademark protection otherwise.

I understand there's a near parallel in American English with "kleenex"
(although there's no associated verb).


Yes. But no one pretends it's actually correct. We have "xerox" as well.

"Biro" is another example, at least in the UK.

Or for something more modern, and with more international currency, try "to
google" - much more managable than "to search the Internet".

I really hope that one never makes it past pop-culture slang. :)


I believe it's in the OED.


It is not. It has made it into the New Oxford American Dictionary and the
Oxford Dictionary of English (2nd Edition), but not, thus far, the OED itself.

It is worth noting, in that case, that the word "google" actually has
another meaning, one that has almost certainly already been destroyed
beyond hope of recovery.


If you're thinking of 10^100 then you're wrong, that's a googol. The name of
the search engine is a pun on that.


No, I'm thinking of "google", to wit:

google, v. Cricket. intr. Of the ball: to have a 'googly' break and swerve.
Of the bowler; to bowl a googly or googlies; also (trans.), to give a googly
break to (a ball). Hence googler, a googly bowler.

Which *is* in the OED. The usage predates the Internet search engine by
some 90 years.

Being English, and having gone to a cricketing school, I know about
googlies (even if I could never bowl them). I have however never, ever,
heard the term "google" in that context. If you say it's in the OED,
fine. It's not in the Concise Oxford in my office, but it is mentioned
as an "also..." in Chambers. Probably never been used in real life since
WG Grace hung up his bat.

David
--
David Littlewood

Chris Brown October 3rd 05 06:06 PM

In article ,
Jeremy Nixon wrote:
Chris Brown wrote:

It's entirely unclear why you think this usage has "almost certainly been
destroyed beyond hope of recovery". If a cricket-nerd uses it, it will be
obvious from context which version they are talking about, hence there is to
be no confusion.


Do you really think that, even in the nerdiest of cricket-nerd circles,
anyone can ever again use that word without everyone who hears him thinking
of the "new" meaning?


Even if they can't, that's not even close to your original position.

Nostrobino October 3rd 05 06:14 PM


"BC" wrote in message
oups.com...
"Go ahead, outline "that evolutionary process" for me. I'd sure like to
see
how you get "fixed focal length" to evolve into "prime." What might the

intermediate steps look like, I wonder?"

Many of the earlier zoom lenses from the 1960's and 1970's comprised an
afocal zooming portion in the front, followed by a fixed focal length
lens group in the rear. That fixed focal length lens group was, and
still is, called a "prime lens".


That's interesting. If that FFL lens group would (or could if separated)
function independently as a stand-alone lens, then that seems like correct
usage. That is, you have what is essentially a prime lens with a zoom
attachment, even if they are built as a single unit.


I suspect that this may have led to
all fixed focal length lenses being called prime lenses.


For all I know you may be right, though I have always suspected the usage
came about through someone seeing "prime lens" correctly used, i.e. in
connection with some attachment such as a close-up lens or tele extender,
and the prime lens happening to be FFL, just assumed that was what "prime"
meant. But this is just speculation on my part.



As a side note, this early type of zoom lens automatically had a
constant f/# through zoom. However, it is not nearly as common a
design form as it used to be.

As I've pointed out to you earlier, respected manufacturers such as
Panavision do use the word "prime" to mean fixed focal length. The cat
is clearly out of the bag here, and we might as well get used to
"prime" and "fixed focal length" being synonyms.


I'm sorry I don't remember your earlier mention of this. (Was it recent?)
I've just Googled "panavision" and find you are correct, though as I've
mentioned previously other manufacturers (Schneider, Zeiss, Arri etc.) do
*not* use "prime" and "fixed focal length" synonymously, since they
catalogue "variable prime" lenses--lenses of variable focal length.
Panavision appears to be in the minority among lens makers as far as its
usage is concerned.

Incidentally, while looking I also found this, in connection with
Panavision's Camera 65 system: "This employed using 65 mm film in
conjunction with the APO Panatar lens, an integrated anamorphic lens (rather
than a prime lens with an anamorphoser mounted on it) set to a 1.25
expansion factor."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panavision

Now that clearly uses "prime lens" to distinguish the camera lens--whether
FFL or not--from the attachment used with it, which is correct usage. A link
in that sentence takes the reader to Wikipedia's definition for "prime
lens," which is the now popular and incorrect one. I think it's significant
that Wikipedia's definition of the term, though a popular one, does not
comport with their own use of the term in the Panavision article.

This sort of confusion could be avoided simply by not using "prime" to mean
fixed focal length, which no existing definition for "prime" can support in
the first place.

N.



Nostrobino October 3rd 05 06:22 PM


"Peter" wrote in message
ups.com...

Chris Brown wrote:


For awesome, try awe-inspiring.
For amazing, try astonishing
I don't agree that "astounding" has "lost" its meaning - perhaps this is
a
British English/American English difference?
Incredible - not-credible
Unbelievable - not-believable



One of my strongest memories from reading H.G. Wells'
The Time Machine when I was about 10 or 11 was the
way he used the word "incredible" it was immediately
obvious from the context that he really meant it.

I do not think I had read the word used in its strong
sense before. It has left me with a conviction that
words can be rescued.


Hear, hear! :-)


Perhaps the word did not yet
need to be rescued in 1898 when the book was first
published, but it certainly did in 1978, and for me
the word was restored to its proper meaning as soon
as I read it.

To my mind, "not-credible" is a weak work-around for
a word that has lost its former power, and I'd much
rather read "incredible" from someone capable of
writing in a way which shows that he really means it.


Fully agree. If the cheapening and dilution of words like "incredible" is
anyone's idea of evolution, I'll take vanilla.

N.



David Littlewood October 3rd 05 06:39 PM

In article , Nostrobino
writes

"David Littlewood" wrote in message
...
In article , Nostrobino
writes


Common use makes it "correct", and indicates the language has
evolved.

No. The popularity of some misusage does not automatically make it
correct,
as you seem to believe. Look in any authoritative dictionary that has
usage
notes, and you will find misusages that have enjoyed great popularity for
many, many years and are just still as wrong as they ever were.

As with many "quotations" - for example, "gilding the lily".


I'm not familiar with the origins of that.


It is a Shakespeare quotation which has gone into common usage here for
needless over-adornment or expense, as for example with gold plated
taps. However, although pretty well everyone in the UK at least would
understand "gilding the lily" to mean this, it is a foolish misquote,
which flatly makes nonsense of the point: lilies are not already gilded,
so gilding them is not pointless.


The correct quote (from King John, ii 9) is:

"To be possess'd with double pomp,
To guard a title that was rich before,
To gild refined gold, to paint the lily,
To throw perfume on the violet,
To smooth the ice, or add another hue,
Unto the rainbow, or with taper light,
To seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish,
Is wasteful and hideous excess."

(He sure could write)

Byron also quoted the key line in Don Juan, stanza 76:

"As Shakespeare says, 'tis very silly
To gild refined gold, or paint the lily."

However, if you used the expression "painting the lily" I doubt if one
in a thousand in the UK would get the point.

Just an example of the massive power of popular ignorance.

My current anti-favorite is "that begs the question, question inserted
here." Ever since some TV ads appeared (again and again) with a voice-over
asking, "That begs the question, Is it better to give name of product,
forgotten or to receive?" this annoying misusage has spread like the
proverbial wildfire, among commentators, columnists and others, who
evidently think it's just a classy way of saying "raises the question."

Here in the U.S. the expression "that begs the question" was almost never
seen, except occasionally in British writing. So when the average American
reader saw "that begs the question" in, say, an English novel, he had not
the foggiest idea what it meant. (Question? What question?) Now
unfortunately we see it again and again, *never* used correctly.

To beg the question is, correctly, to assume the truth of a proposition
without actually attempting to prove it. For example (from Brewer's
Dictionary of Phrase and Fable): "parallel lines never meet because they
are parallel". Originally a translation from Latin "petitio principii",
though first used by the Greek Aristotle.

You are right in that it should not be used to mean "raises the
question", as begging the question very much involves deliberately not
raising a question (i.e. the truth or otherwise of the underlying
proposition) which really needs to be raised.

David
--
David Littlewood

Jeremy Nixon October 3rd 05 06:43 PM

Floyd Davidson wrote:

*Nobody* cares whether words match precise dictionary meanings, because
*point* is to communicate.

When people *communicate*, the question is not "what did they
say", but "what did they mean".


When things devolve too far in that direction, communication becomes
difficult or impossible.

--
Jeremy |

Jeremy Nixon October 3rd 05 06:50 PM

Nostrobino wrote:

My current anti-favorite is "that begs the question, question inserted
here."


Yes, that one's taken quite a beating. Another that leaps to mind is
"in lieu of", which people seem to have begun using to mean exactly the
opposite of what it actually means.

--
Jeremy |

Nostrobino October 3rd 05 07:13 PM


"Peter" wrote in message
oups.com...
[ . . . ]

There's no point in objecting to slang when it is used as such.
The slowly creaping respectability of the term is a relatively
recent phenomenon. I have dozens of books about photography,
only one, published in 2000, contains "prime lens" in the sense
of "fixed focal length lens." It would be interesting if someone
could dig up the earliest print uses in photography books.


I don't know whether it's the earliest, but I have somewhere--can't find it
at the moment--a book on the Minolta 600si by Thomas Maschke and Peter K.
Burian that uses the term "prime" to mean FFL. The book is part of the Magic
Lantern Guide series and (checking Amazon just now) was published in 1996.

What is interesting is that a book on the 700si etc. by the same two
authors, in the same series, published just a year or so previously,
covering the same subjects including lenses, does not use "prime" at all. So
from this I conclude that Maschke and Burian, who have written a number of
books on cameras, only picked up this "prime lens" thing c. 1995. (Amazon
gives only Burian as the author of the 1994 book, but I'm pretty sure my
copy--which I also can't find at the moment--lists both authors.)

N.



Frank ess October 3rd 05 07:22 PM

David Littlewood wrote:
In article , Nostrobino
writes

"David Littlewood" wrote in message
...
In article , Nostrobino
writes


Common use makes it "correct", and indicates the language has
evolved.

No. The popularity of some misusage does not automatically make
it
correct,
as you seem to believe. Look in any authoritative dictionary that
has usage
notes, and you will find misusages that have enjoyed great
popularity for many, many years and are just still as wrong as
they ever were.
As with many "quotations" - for example, "gilding the lily".


I'm not familiar with the origins of that.


It is a Shakespeare quotation which has gone into common usage here
for needless over-adornment or expense, as for example with gold
plated taps. However, although pretty well everyone in the UK at
least would understand "gilding the lily" to mean this, it is a
foolish misquote, which flatly makes nonsense of the point: lilies
are not already gilded, so gilding them is not pointless.


The correct quote (from King John, ii 9) is:

"To be possess'd with double pomp,
To guard a title that was rich before,
To gild refined gold, to paint the lily,
To throw perfume on the violet,
To smooth the ice, or add another hue,
Unto the rainbow, or with taper light,
To seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish,
Is wasteful and hideous excess."

(He sure could write)

Byron also quoted the key line in Don Juan, stanza 76:

"As Shakespeare says, 'tis very silly
To gild refined gold, or paint the lily."

However, if you used the expression "painting the lily" I doubt if
one
in a thousand in the UK would get the point.

Just an example of the massive power of popular ignorance.

My current anti-favorite is "that begs the question, question
inserted here." Ever since some TV ads appeared (again and again)
with a voice-over asking, "That begs the question, Is it better to
give name of product, forgotten or to receive?" this annoying
misusage has spread like the proverbial wildfire, among
commentators, columnists and others, who evidently think it's just
a
classy way of saying "raises the question." Here in the U.S. the
expression "that begs the question" was almost
never seen, except occasionally in British writing. So when the
average American reader saw "that begs the question" in, say, an
English novel, he had not the foggiest idea what it meant.
(Question? What question?) Now unfortunately we see it again and
again, *never* used correctly.

To beg the question is, correctly, to assume the truth of a
proposition without actually attempting to prove it. For example
(from Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable): "parallel lines
never
meet because they are parallel". Originally a translation from Latin
"petitio principii", though first used by the Greek Aristotle.

You are right in that it should not be used to mean "raises the
question", as begging the question very much involves deliberately
not
raising a question (i.e. the truth or otherwise of the underlying
proposition) which really needs to be raised.


I've almost given up on derailing the new usage and soon-to-be
standard meaning. Begs the question: "Have they stopped beating their
wives?"

--
Frank ess


Nostrobino October 3rd 05 07:56 PM


"David Littlewood" wrote in message
...
In article , Nostrobino
writes

"David Littlewood" wrote in message
...
In article , Nostrobino
writes


Common use makes it "correct", and indicates the language has
evolved.

No. The popularity of some misusage does not automatically make it
correct,
as you seem to believe. Look in any authoritative dictionary that has
usage
notes, and you will find misusages that have enjoyed great popularity
for
many, many years and are just still as wrong as they ever were.

As with many "quotations" - for example, "gilding the lily".


I'm not familiar with the origins of that.


It is a Shakespeare quotation which has gone into common usage here for
needless over-adornment or expense, as for example with gold plated taps.
However, although pretty well everyone in the UK at least would understand
"gilding the lily" to mean this, it is a foolish misquote, which flatly
makes nonsense of the point: lilies are not already gilded, so gilding
them is not pointless.


The correct quote (from King John, ii 9) is:

"To be possess'd with double pomp,
To guard a title that was rich before,
To gild refined gold, to paint the lily,
To throw perfume on the violet,
To smooth the ice, or add another hue,
Unto the rainbow, or with taper light,
To seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish,
Is wasteful and hideous excess."

(He sure could write)


He sure could, and I'm embarrassed not to have known that source. (Sometimes
it seems to me that about half of our common expressions, and practically
all of the better ones, are from Shakespeare, so it doesn't surprise me.) I
think I've read most of Shakespeare's plays and especially love the
histories, but I guess I somehow missed King John. "Gilding the lily" is a
well-understood expression here in the U.S. too, but I never knew it was a
misquotation.



Byron also quoted the key line in Don Juan, stanza 76:

"As Shakespeare says, 'tis very silly
To gild refined gold, or paint the lily."

However, if you used the expression "painting the lily" I doubt if one in
a thousand in the UK would get the point.

Just an example of the massive power of popular ignorance.

My current anti-favorite is "that begs the question, question inserted
here." Ever since some TV ads appeared (again and again) with a
voice-over
asking, "That begs the question, Is it better to give name of product,
forgotten or to receive?" this annoying misusage has spread like the
proverbial wildfire, among commentators, columnists and others, who
evidently think it's just a classy way of saying "raises the question."

Here in the U.S. the expression "that begs the question" was almost never
seen, except occasionally in British writing. So when the average American
reader saw "that begs the question" in, say, an English novel, he had not
the foggiest idea what it meant. (Question? What question?) Now
unfortunately we see it again and again, *never* used correctly.

To beg the question is, correctly, to assume the truth of a proposition
without actually attempting to prove it. For example (from Brewer's
Dictionary of Phrase and Fable): "parallel lines never meet because they
are parallel". Originally a translation from Latin "petitio principii",
though first used by the Greek Aristotle.

You are right in that it should not be used to mean "raises the question",
as begging the question very much involves deliberately not raising a
question (i.e. the truth or otherwise of the underlying proposition) which
really needs to be raised.


Your explanation is certainly far better than my dictionary's, which
basically just says "beg the question" means "to reason badly" or some such
thing. I doubt that most American dictionaries even mention the expression
at all (my desk dictionary doesn't), which only makes it that much easier
for the ignorant to get away with misusing it.

N.



David Littlewood October 3rd 05 09:26 PM

In article , Nostrobino
writes

(He sure could write)


He sure could, and I'm embarrassed not to have known that source. (Sometimes
it seems to me that about half of our common expressions, and practically
all of the better ones, are from Shakespeare, so it doesn't surprise me.) I
think I've read most of Shakespeare's plays and especially love the
histories, but I guess I somehow missed King John. "Gilding the lily" is a
well-understood expression here in the U.S. too, but I never knew it was a
misquotation.

It's not a popular play - the first of the English kings series (though
I don't know whether it was written first - I mean John was the earliest
king to be covered).


To beg the question is, correctly, to assume the truth of a proposition
without actually attempting to prove it. For example (from Brewer's
Dictionary of Phrase and Fable): "parallel lines never meet because they
are parallel". Originally a translation from Latin "petitio principii",
though first used by the Greek Aristotle.

You are right in that it should not be used to mean "raises the question",
as begging the question very much involves deliberately not raising a
question (i.e. the truth or otherwise of the underlying proposition) which
really needs to be raised.


Your explanation is certainly far better than my dictionary's, which
basically just says "beg the question" means "to reason badly" or some such
thing. I doubt that most American dictionaries even mention the expression
at all (my desk dictionary doesn't), which only makes it that much easier
for the ignorant to get away with misusing it.

Incidentally - and getting even more off topic - the bit about parallel
lines never meeting is not an essential truth, it was merely one of the
assumptions ("axioms") postulated by Euclid (another Greek philosopher,
these guys got around) in devising the rules of geometry. Other systems
of geometry exist in which it is not true at all, thus demonstrating the
benefits of questioning the underlying assumptions.

David
--
David Littlewood

nick c October 3rd 05 09:26 PM

Jeremy Nixon wrote:
Floyd Davidson wrote:


*Nobody* cares whether words match precise dictionary meanings, because
*point* is to communicate.

When people *communicate*, the question is not "what did they
say", but "what did they mean".



When things devolve too far in that direction, communication becomes
difficult or impossible.


No Jeremy, I think now, Floyd has a good prospective of the evolutionary
process that has overtaken the English language. The language itself is
no longer subject to exclusive overview by proponents of the Oxford
dictionary, so to speak. Those that may be offended by the use of jargon
as speaking aides may well find that to be a problem they have created
unto themselves.

"English is a pluricentric language, with marked differences in
pronunciation and spelling between the UK and the US, and a variety of
accents of those and other English-speaking countries. It is usually
considered a symmetric case of a pluricentric language, because no
variety clearly dominates culturally. Statistically, however, American
English speakers comprise more than 70% of native English speakers, with
British English a distant second at 16% and other varieties having less
than 5% each."

Within the US, communicative jargon is accepted. Should the word "Bucks"
be substituted for "Dollars" the jargon would not be misunderstood. No
more than "Howdy" would not be understood to mean "Hello." Consider
also, Oxford English is not the English of Geoffrey Chaucer. Even in
England, the English language has undergone considerable change.

Though it serves to repeat: "... no variety clearly dominates
culturally," the time to consider when extreme use of jargons have
caused communicative problems is when a listener has to say ... eh?

However, just having the ability to inquire about what is being said
still leaves a listener with the ability to communicate. :)




no_name October 3rd 05 11:13 PM

Jeremy Nixon wrote:

Floyd Davidson wrote:


*Nobody* cares whether words match precise dictionary meanings, because
*point* is to communicate.

When people *communicate*, the question is not "what did they
say", but "what did they mean".



When things devolve too far in that direction, communication becomes
difficult or impossible.


No, it's when things devolve too farr FROM that direction, or more
precisely when "what did they mean" devolves too far from "what did they
say".

'"Words mean exactly what I want them to mean," the Red Queen informed
Alice in Wonderland.'

Jeremy Nixon October 3rd 05 11:41 PM

nick c wrote:

No Jeremy, I think now, Floyd has a good prospective of the evolutionary
process that has overtaken the English language. The language itself is
no longer subject to exclusive overview by proponents of the Oxford
dictionary, so to speak. Those that may be offended by the use of jargon
as speaking aides may well find that to be a problem they have created
unto themselves.


I have no problem at all with jargon; I'm a big fan of slang; and I think
it's a good thing that the language is not set in stone. What I don't
much like is the fact that I honestly, as I type this, don't know whether
you meant "prospective" or "perspective", given that 9 times out of 10
that you see the former, the person really meant the latter.

--
Jeremy |

Floyd Davidson October 4th 05 12:47 AM

"Nostrobino" wrote:
"Floyd Davidson" wrote in message
...
"Nostrobino" wrote:
"Floyd Davidson" wrote:

[ . . . ]
Common use makes it "correct", and indicates the language has
evolved.

No. The popularity of some misusage does not automatically make it
correct,
as you seem to believe. Look in any authoritative dictionary that has
usage
notes, and you will find misusages that have enjoyed great popularity for
many, many years and are just still as wrong as they ever were.


So just show us examples... ;-)


I'll do better than that. I'll direct you to an excellent dictionary which
is just loaded with extensive usage notes, and you can while away many a
pleasant hour reading them: The American Heritage Dictionary of the English
Language, Third Edition. (I think there's a later edition now.) This is the
real big one, not the desk dictionary.

Even quicker, do a Google search on "misused words." You'll find several
lists, some of the words real oldies, still often misused. Wrong for years,
still wrong today, and they'll still be wrong in years to come. In most
cases the wrongness is in stylistic usage rather than definition, but the
principle is the same. Popularity of usage does not automatically confer
correctness.


Show *show us* some words where the common use is "wrong".

Note that that is different than words that are "commonly mis-used".

You do have a real problem with understanding words, don't you.

--
FloydL. Davidson http://www.apaflo.com/floyd_davidson
Ukpeagvik (Barrow, Alaska)

Floyd Davidson October 4th 05 12:48 AM

Jeremy Nixon wrote:
Floyd Davidson wrote:

*Nobody* cares whether words match precise dictionary meanings, because
*point* is to communicate.

When people *communicate*, the question is not "what did they
say", but "what did they mean".


When things devolve too far in that direction, communication becomes
difficult or impossible.


That simply is not true. That *is* the point of communications.

--
FloydL. Davidson http://www.apaflo.com/floyd_davidson
Ukpeagvik (Barrow, Alaska)

Peter October 4th 05 03:53 AM

Floyd Davidson wrote:

The origin may be murky, but the reason it caught on and
stuck is perhaps not.


It is a handy term and people see others using it,
that is enough. At least it is enough to make it
useful as a handy term.

I've been using the word "slang" for this kind
of term. I think it applies, but since it isn't
communicating quite what I want I'll have to go
with a longer explanation.

Amateur radio operators often use "c.w." as a kind
of informal short form for radiotelegraphy. It isn't
what it actually means. It actually means continuous
wave transmission as opposed to damped wave, or spark
transmission. Since damped vave transmission has
been illegal for nearly 80 years, all radio transmissions
of voice, data, television and everything else are c.w.
and the correct use of the term mainly appears in
historical discussions. If you use c.w. as a synonym
for radiotelegraphy, hardly anyone is going to object,
but if you try posting on a amateur radio newsgroup
that c.w actually means that, you are going to be corrected.
(And yes, it does happen.)

The question, "when does improper terminology become
correct?" is very interesting. While I might personally
wish it never did, there is a perfect example of such
a thing happening in photography. Photographic emulsions
are not actually emulsions as chemists use the term,
and yet it is the standard term in photography. I imagine
that this must have annoyed more than a few chemists
who went into photographic chemistry. But no one has
managed to create a new word which conveys the same
idea to photographers, and so it gets used in scientific
papers where both the author(s) and the intended audience
know that it doesn't conform to proper scientific
terminology.

So it can happen that a mistake becomes correct, but
I'd personally like to set the bar pretty high
for accepting this. If a term starts to be used regularly
in a certain way in scientific papers or advanced
technical discussions, then I think I have to agree
that it has become correct.


Other possible hypotheses a

1) Afocal zoom attachments used to be available which would
convert a fixed focal length lens into a zoom. In that case
the base lens would have been a "prime lens" in the more
orthodox terminology and the name could then have stuck.

2) Fixed focal length lenses could have been primary at
one point simply because the studio or production company
owned a lot more of them and thus could be the default
when a zoom lens was not specifically needed.


I can't imagine that either of those was a great influence,
though both may have had some insignificant but measurable
effect.


The afocal zoom attachment hypothesis seems to have got
some support from BC, so I'm now inclined to take it fairly
seriously as a possible origin of "prime lens" = "fixed focal
length lens."

I think the point, though, is that the meaning of the word
as it existed at the time made people feel comfortable with
the extension of it into new ground.


Quite probably, but if the term grew out of the prime lens
vs. supplementary lens use then very few people who use
the term have any idea of its origins.

Why though? That *is* the common thread that runs through
various meanings of prime. I have never claimed, and see no
point it any attempt to prove, that there are *any* meanings for
"prime" which are not related to "first".


I said the connection was obscure, not that there wasn't one.


Ask someone in any other technical field, or even in optics
whether the technical vocabulary of their field should
shift in such a fashion.


Look, I'm a techie geek type of guy, who is retired after
working for 4 decades in the communications industry. *You* are
going to tell *me* about shifting technical vocabulary???? If
you can, then we could compare notes... but if you want to "ask
someone in any other technical field", rest assured you did.


OK, I had the impression that you got new vocabulary all the
time, but that the older terms had to have pretty much fixed
meanings to avoid serious confusion. I'm aware of what
happened in philosophy with "subjective" and "objective."
You have to pay attention to this to avoid the mistake
of thinking that an older writer is saying nearly the
opposite of what he intended. This sort of thing where
words very nearly switch places can happen, but it is
really undesirable.

I can remember working with a fellow in the mid-1960s who had a
really good story about that... He was a retired Navy Chief,
who'd been in Fire Control before WWII, and retired in the mid
1950's. You wanna talk about shifting technical vocabulary!
*Everything* to do with Fire Control changed. When he signed
on, it was all mechanical. When he retired, is was all
electronics.

His best joke was about trying to order a "soldering iron" to
work on electronics in about 1946, and being unable to get
supply people to realize that he did *not* want a plumber's
soldering iron.


But that's really about expectations within an industry:
soldering irons for electronics were very much around,
but fire control people were not expected to be using them.

If you order Glycin from a general chemical supplier,
you will get the kind which isn't a photographic
developer; there are only a few sources for the stuff
you want for your darkroom and you have to go to them
if you want the right stuff. This comes up on a
semi-regular basis on rec.photo.darkroom.


Of course in the 1960's when I worked with that fellow we were
using vacuum tubes in computers, radios, and particle
accelerators!

Virtually the entire vocabulary used today in almost any
industry using electronics *didn't exist* in 1965, and was
created between then and 1985. And now has been in place for 20
years, and people think of it as *old* and carved in stone! But
pull out a resistor that has colored *dots* to identify it, and
is 3/4 of an inch long with wire leads that wrap around each
end, and ask someone if they could solder it into a circuit...
and you'll 1) have a hard time finding anyone with solder and an
iron, and even if they do, they will 2) ask you what in
tarnation that thing is, because 3) they've never seen nor heard
of such a resistor.


Are these the old carbon composition types from before they
used stripes? I seem to recall that the colour code was
the same even though the markings were different. I bet
if they saw them in a radio they would figure out what
they were pretty quickly. I know I did. I can see they
would be a real puzzle out of context, but I don't
think that you would often see them out of context:
they would be in an old piece of electronic equipment.


Heck, in the 1970's most electronics
technicians couldn't identify many parts from WWII equipment
because the technology had changed so fast. Today of course they
can't identify *most* parts from back then.


I wasted too many hours reading the radiation labs series
to be puzzled by much from WWII. I suspect I'm unusual
but not unique in that.


Photography and optics has changed relatively slowly by
comparison.


Lenses can be much more complex and colour film is
much improved from fifty years ago, but they still
work the same way. Many photographers use fifty
year old cameras on occasion, and it won't generally
be obvious in the results. The better equipment
from back then can still be above average by today's
standards.

My 1958 edition of the Ilford Manual of Photography
is actually a better book for the areas it covers
than the 2000 edition. The 2000 edition does cover
some things which didn't exist in 1958, but at least
half of the book is a rewritten version of the
1958 edition. The rewriting seems to be for the sake
of rewriting; you can make paragraph by paragraph
comparisons of surprising amounts of it and the
new version of a paragraph is rarely an improvement.


Perhaps that's why you are uncomfortable with the
evolution of words, and to me that is just one more
fascinating aspect of communications.


Elsewhere in this thread, I mentioned my delight
as a child at reading "incredible" used in a literal
way in The Time Machine. I think a certain amount
of conservatism is part of my personality.


That statement doesn't make sense. Just try coming up with
a clear division of what is "common slang" and what is not.
Ask 20 people... you'll get 25 different answers?


Maybe my use of the word "slang" is a problem. It seems
to have a lot of meanings. I think that most people
are aware that some terms which are frequently used
aren't strictly correct terminology. I began this
discussion by noting that audio engineers often call
cellulose nitrate lacquer disc records "acetates"
even though they are not made from acetate. It is
an informal term which appears to be the result
of an error but is nonetheless frequently used to
communicate. No one would think of calling them
"acetates" in any kind of technical paper.


It makes a lot of sense to deprecate
the use of a new meaning for a technical term if it is seen as
beginning to erode the usefulness of the established
technical use of the term.

You are welcome to try, but tilting at windmills, barking at the
moon, and a number of other similar activities would be more
productive.


We only get to find that out later. Sometimes the effort pays off.

As I mentioned elsewhere in this thread, there have been
cases in the history of photography where a once popular
misuse of a technical term has been corrected. The
example I gave was the common early 20th century tendency
to use "depth of focus" when what was really meant was
"depth of field."


One example makes it a pattern of significance??? :-)
Even half a dozen examples, which probably could be scraped up,
won't indicate any significance.


As you suppose, there are other examples. The word "focus"
used to be frequently used when "focal length" was meant.
This is preserved in "long-focus lens" which is now quite
respectable, but for the most part this usage has vanished.


Sure. But like I said... try to draw a line between when it is
and when it isn't, and you *can't*.


One line is "would you expect to see the word used this way
in a serious technical paper?" There may be problems with
this, but it seems a reasonable dividing line between
standard terminology and informal terminology.


By newspapers, by the general public, but not by the people
who stay up to early morning doing interesting things on
computers for recreation. A hacker knows what the word means
and knows that it's the newspapers and general public who
have it wrong.


It is ubiquitous. And yes the old definition is still in use
too! Context is everything...


The first time I was aware of the word "hacker" was from
a Psychology Today article that was in our school computer
room around 1980. I think they got it pretty much right.
The word "hacker" is interesting because it is informal
terminology in both senses. The vast majority of people
who think it applies to them use it in the old sense,
while the majority of people who are not now and have
never been hackers are primarily aware of it in the
sense of "cracker." I'm not one now, but I might just
have qualified or had aspirations in that direction when
I was in high school. I haven't written a shell script
for my Mac since I got it. I'm pretty sure I could, but
I haven't. I think you could argue that "hacker" really
does have both meanings, but one should be aware that
a guy who does computer programing for fun probably has
pretty strong views on the matter.

OTOH when clear techical language and popular use
conflict, I think it is reasonable to give preference
to the technical use. For instance, people who are
neither coin collectors nor involved in the making
of coins often call the grained or reeded edges of
coins "milled edges." This is even in some dictionaries.
Coin people nearly always deprecate this use because
it comes from a misunderstanding of the term
"milled coinage" which has nothing to do with the
edges of coins, but from the fact that they are
made on a screw press or other machine.


I don't think "slang" is even close to what it is. The fact that
you don't even know what it means, simply because it is a technical
term from a field outside your range of experience, pretty much
demonstrates that it isn't "slang".


I've probably been guilty of trying to pay "slang" extra
to mean what I want it to mean. Chambers's includes "the
jargon of any class, profession or set" as well as "colloquial
language with words and usages not accepted for dignified
use." My use included elements of each, but perhaps this
wasn't quite right.


It is a very specific technical term, which originally had one
specific meaning, but which now commonly is used (and some would
of course say "incorrectly") to mean something slightly
different too.

Both uses are ubiquitous in the telecommunications industry. The
only significance is that it's one of those "trick questions" by
which you can determine if someone is *really* well versed. If
they don't realize there are *two* meanings... they be newbies!

If so, this would seem to be a good example of the difference
between correct terminolgy and slang use.


Virtually *everybody* in the industry uses the term in both the
original, pedantic way, and as a synonym for a DS1. It isn't
slang.


Obviously my use of "slang" has failed to communicate the right
idea, I've tried to use other expressions this time round.


(An interesting side note on just how significant "convention"
is to me in communications... I just ran a spell check on this
article and found that I had incorrectly spelled
"communications" virtually every time I used the word. To me, a
word is just a symbol for a meaning, and symbols are a dime a
dozen and can change every day.)


I sometimes misspell words I use regularly too. I haven't run
a spell check on this, so if I did it this time it will show.


Peter.
--



Nostrobino October 4th 05 04:24 AM


"David Littlewood" wrote in message
...
In article , Nostrobino
writes

(He sure could write)


He sure could, and I'm embarrassed not to have known that source.
(Sometimes
it seems to me that about half of our common expressions, and practically
all of the better ones, are from Shakespeare, so it doesn't surprise me.)
I
think I've read most of Shakespeare's plays and especially love the
histories, but I guess I somehow missed King John. "Gilding the lily" is a
well-understood expression here in the U.S. too, but I never knew it was a
misquotation.

It's not a popular play - the first of the English kings series (though I
don't know whether it was written first - I mean John was the earliest
king to be covered).


Popular or not, I should read it I suppose. When I took Shakespeare in
college, the professor had us read Titus Andronicus as an example of
below-standard Shakespeare, just to show that he didn't always write great
stuff. But I *liked* Titus Andronicus. Maybe I just have a depraved sense of
humor (the stew, of course).



To beg the question is, correctly, to assume the truth of a proposition
without actually attempting to prove it. For example (from Brewer's
Dictionary of Phrase and Fable): "parallel lines never meet because they
are parallel". Originally a translation from Latin "petitio principii",
though first used by the Greek Aristotle.

You are right in that it should not be used to mean "raises the
question",
as begging the question very much involves deliberately not raising a
question (i.e. the truth or otherwise of the underlying proposition)
which
really needs to be raised.


Your explanation is certainly far better than my dictionary's, which
basically just says "beg the question" means "to reason badly" or some
such
thing. I doubt that most American dictionaries even mention the expression
at all (my desk dictionary doesn't), which only makes it that much easier
for the ignorant to get away with misusing it.

Incidentally - and getting even more off topic - the bit about parallel
lines never meeting is not an essential truth, it was merely one of the
assumptions ("axioms") postulated by Euclid (another Greek philosopher,
these guys got around) in devising the rules of geometry. Other systems of
geometry exist in which it is not true at all, thus demonstrating the
benefits of questioning the underlying assumptions.


Yes, I remember the recent discussion here about that. :-/

Neil


David
--
David Littlewood




Nostrobino October 4th 05 04:49 AM


"no_name" wrote in message
om...
Jeremy Nixon wrote:

Floyd Davidson wrote:


*Nobody* cares whether words match precise dictionary meanings, because
*point* is to communicate.

When people *communicate*, the question is not "what did they
say", but "what did they mean".



When things devolve too far in that direction, communication becomes
difficult or impossible.


No, it's when things devolve too farr FROM that direction, or more
precisely when "what did they mean" devolves too far from "what did they
say".

'"Words mean exactly what I want them to mean," the Red Queen informed
Alice in Wonderland.'


That was Humpty Dumpty ("it means just what I choose it to mean"), not the
Red Queen. And actually both were in "Through the Looking Glass," not "Alice
in Wonderland," though the two books are usually printed together so it's
easy to get them confused.

Neil



Floyd Davidson October 4th 05 08:04 AM

"Peter" wrote:

Amateur radio operators often use "c.w." as a kind
of informal short form for radiotelegraphy. It isn't
what it actually means.


Ahem... that is *precisely* what it means!

It actually means continuous
wave transmission as opposed to damped wave, or spark
transmission. Since damped vave transmission has
been illegal for nearly 80 years,


Exactly, and that of course actually means you cannot
modulate it...

You were doing fine until you got to this point!

all radio transmissions
of voice, data, television and everything else are c.w.


Nope, that just ain't so. They all require some form of
modulation that produces discontinuity of the carrier.

and the correct use of the term mainly appears in
historical discussions. If you use c.w. as a synonym
for radiotelegraphy, hardly anyone is going to object,
but if you try posting on a amateur radio newsgroup
that c.w actually means that, you are going to be corrected.
(And yes, it does happen.)


I think you need to look up the actual meaning of c.w., rather
than surmising on your own. You also need to realize that
c.w. is not defined by or for amateur radio operators, hence
references to what ham operators thing it does or does not mean
is only trivia.

I assure you the reason nobody (except perhaps a few ignorant
ham operators) objects to others equating cw with radio
telegraphy is because in fact it *is* a synonym for radio
telegraphy. (And be warned that I held a commercial radio
telegraph license 40 years ago, and still hold valid commercial
radio telephone and amateur licenses.)

Your statement that "all radio transmissions of voice, data,
television and everything else are c.w." is simply *wrong*.

Here is the technical definition of "continious wave", according
to the FTC 1037C Standards, available at

http://www.its.bldrdoc.gov/fs-1037/fs-1037c.htm

continuous wave (cw): A wave of constant amplitude and
constant frequency.

Clearly it means a transmission that is neither amplitude,
frequency, nor phase modulated. Any such modulation necessarily
must cause a discontinuity in the wave. The only thing you can
do is turn it on and off... which is called radio telegraphy!

The question, "when does improper terminology become
correct?" is very interesting. While I might personally
wish it never did, there is a perfect example of such
a thing happening in photography. Photographic emulsions
are not actually emulsions as chemists use the term,
and yet it is the standard term in photography. I imagine
that this must have annoyed more than a few chemists
who went into photographic chemistry. But no one has
managed to create a new word which conveys the same
idea to photographers, and so it gets used in scientific
papers where both the author(s) and the intended audience
know that it doesn't conform to proper scientific
terminology.


My particular field of expertize is communications, not
chemistry. Hence I have no comment on this example, other than
hoping you know more about chemistry terms than you do about
radio communications terminology!

....



--
FloydL. Davidson http://www.apaflo.com/floyd_davidson
Ukpeagvik (Barrow, Alaska)

nick c October 4th 05 08:51 AM

Jeremy Nixon wrote:
nick c wrote:


No Jeremy, I think now, Floyd has a good prospective of the evolutionary
process that has overtaken the English language. The language itself is
no longer subject to exclusive overview by proponents of the Oxford
dictionary, so to speak. Those that may be offended by the use of jargon
as speaking aides may well find that to be a problem they have created
unto themselves.



I have no problem at all with jargon; I'm a big fan of slang; and I think
it's a good thing that the language is not set in stone. What I don't
much like is the fact that I honestly, as I type this, don't know whether
you meant "prospective" or "perspective", given that 9 times out of 10
that you see the former, the person really meant the latter.


"Perspective" is de word. :)


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