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Alfred E Neuman
1038696.  Sun Dec 01, 2013 12:51 pm Reply with quote

Thanks DJ, for carrying on arguing the case. I copped out a while back, as I suspect it's the sort of argument that isn't ever going to be winnable, not because you're wrong of course, but because people don't really change their point of view over a discussion on the internet.

1038698.  Sun Dec 01, 2013 12:52 pm Reply with quote

WordLover wrote:
I find your view strange -- do you really mean to say that usage of words comes first, and that meaning is created by people using words?

I think djgordy means that language came before the dictionary. The word "bird" only means "a warm-blooded egg-laying vertebrate animal distinguished by the possession of feathers, wings, a beak, and typically by being able to fly" because that is how people use it. If people used the word "bird" to refer instead to "a small domesticated carnivorous mammal with soft fur, a short snout, and retractile claws. It is widely kept as a pet or for catching mice, and many breeds have been developed." then the word "bird" would mean that and the dictionary would say as much. It obviously wouldn't change the fact that "warm-blooded egg-laying vertebrate animals distinguished by the possession of feathers, wings, and beaks" exist, but "bird" wouldn't mean them.

WordLover wrote:
I suggest in turn that, the usual* way people use language, a person thinks of a meaning to express, then* thinks of a sequence of words that expresses that meaning. Only after he's uttered those words does that utterance contribute to the words' usage.

"A sequence of words that expresses that meaning." Why do those words have that meaning? Because, in the past, people have used those words to express that meaning. That is the "usage" djgordy is referring to. If people had used different words to express the same meaning, then you would use those words. The meaning of a word is not immutable. If the words is used to refer to something else, that will become its meaning.

WordLover wrote:
So, as you yourself acknowledge, not "everyone".

See other languages. But this doesn't detract from djgordy's point. If anything it strengthens it.

WordLover wrote:
So first, meaning; then words; then usage.

A way to put it that would encompass both what you are referring to and what djgordy is referring to:
People want to refer to things real or abstract ("first, meaning"); words that in the past were used (usage!) to refer to them ("then words") are again used to refer to them ("then usage").

1039104.  Tue Dec 03, 2013 11:40 am Reply with quote

The meaning of a word, according to a dictionary, can be wrong. A language isn't defined by a dictionary. So just referring to a dictionary, an editor's choice, in a discussion won't always do.

The usage of a word can be wrong. But in the end usage will win, so usage is more important. If too many people use the word Excel when they mean a spreadsheet, then "excel" could become a new word, which means "spreadsheet". Or "excel" becomes a new meaning of the word "spreadsheet".

Apparently many languages still associate a pencil with the old component lead, so in this case the dictionary was right. It's like calling an OpenOffice spreadsheet document a lotus 1-2-3. Technically wrong, it's a spreadsheet document, but clearly the old words, lotus 1-2-3, is still in use.

Again, I'm not sure if there's a problem.

1039111.  Tue Dec 03, 2013 11:53 am Reply with quote

Surely it's more a case of the old error of citing the container for the thing contained (or vice versa). If I point to a milk bottle and say "that is the milk" there is no sense in which I am suggesting that the material of the container (glass, card or plastics usually) should be referred it as "milk".

So in the case we are discussing the component of the pencil may indeed be called "the lead", but the lead is made of graphite (or graphite/wax/oil mixtures in most cases). It will usually require a definite or indefinite article to go with it - it's "a lead" or "the lead", not just "lead". After all, the rest of the pencil is made of wood and no one is suggesting that there is some new organic material called "pencil" - it's just "wood". Nor is the material a tin shack is made of called "tin" - it is called "iron" or "steel alloy", or perhaps "galvanised steel alloy".


1039132.  Tue Dec 03, 2013 1:13 pm Reply with quote

And storing food in lead tins is a Very Bad Idea.

1039190.  Wed Dec 04, 2013 4:07 am Reply with quote


Last edited by WordLover on Fri Sep 16, 2016 1:01 pm; edited 1 time in total

1039770.  Sat Dec 07, 2013 4:55 pm Reply with quote

I don't see any reference to this but graphite was known as black lead, probably due to it's appearance, soft and shiny lustre. Graphite drawings on vellum were known as Plumbago drawings, if you delve a bit further you'll find that Plumbago Galena, lead sulfide, actually looks very like graphite. I'm sure the link is to do with appearance rather than actual lead, the element, in any pencils.

1040169.  Tue Dec 10, 2013 1:47 am Reply with quote

When i saw this post something suddenly sprang to mind. I was watching one of my favorite movies "Ghost In The Shell: Individual Eleven", and during the sell of the fake plutonium, Lead bars were used in the briefcase to simulate the weight. Wondering if anyone could produce real examples of how lead may have been used to dupe or trick someone in a similar way, such as in the buying of gold, or tricking someone into buying pencils with actual lead in them.

1040183.  Tue Dec 10, 2013 4:24 am Reply with quote

Densities of gold, uranium and plutonium are all about twice that of lead. If you had handled (heh) any of them then the chances of being duped by lead would be remote I think.

1040218.  Tue Dec 10, 2013 7:05 am Reply with quote

Back to lead; sounding (measuring the depth) of given points in a body of water was carried out using a lead line. A lead line, also called a sounding line, is a long length of thin rope attached to a plumb-bob, usually, but not always, made of lead. The depth was originally calculated by pulling in the line and measuring lengths between outstretched arms, which approximately gives a fathom (6 feet). Although the rest of the world has standardised measurements of depth on nautical charts to be in metres, NOAA in the USA still gives bathymetric data in fathoms and feet.

Often a wad of tallow was fixed to the bottom of the plumb-bob, to sample the substrate comprising the bottom sediment. Silt, sand, shells and gravels would stick to the tallow, whereas clean tallow would indicate the seabed was rocky. As well as just being quite interesting, this was useful information for navigation/position fixing, pilotage and anchoring.

Although the use of lead lines in measuring depth has been replaced by echo sounding/sonar, often giving more accurate readings, the information on bottom type gathered in this way still features on nautical charts.

1040219.  Tue Dec 10, 2013 7:12 am Reply with quote

The act of sounding using a lead line gave rise to the naval expression of "swinging the lead", i.e. doing bugger all.

1040225.  Tue Dec 10, 2013 7:44 am Reply with quote

There are 22 known metals heavier than lead: technetium, thorium, thallium, palladium, rhodium, ruthenium, berkelium, hafnium, curium, mercury, americium, californium, protactinium, tantalum, uranium, tungsten, gold, plutonium, neptunium, rhenium, osmium and iridium.

1040248.  Tue Dec 10, 2013 8:38 am Reply with quote

denser please.

1040251.  Tue Dec 10, 2013 8:49 am Reply with quote

denser please.


Tc, Th, Tl, Pd, Rh, Ru, Bk, Hf, Cm, Hg, Am, Cf, Pa, Ta, U, W, Au, Pu, Np, Re, Os & Ir.

1040322.  Tue Dec 10, 2013 2:35 pm Reply with quote



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