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Moon Starer is an Anugram, not an Aptagram.

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Wordsmythologic
1159489.  Sat Nov 21, 2015 9:36 pm Reply with quote

This may be a pedantic point, but with anagrams being as strong an interest of mine as they are, I feel I should point out the mistake that Sandy Toksvig made in the Maths episode.

An aptagram is an anagram where one of the words or phrases holds relevance to the other, or where both hold relevance to each other, but it is not an anagram where the meanings are the same or similar.

An example of an aptagram would be "dormitory" becoming "dirty room", because they hold relevance to each other through connotations, but they aren't truly interchangeable. An aptagram is an anagram with a clearly different, but still fitting meaning. Dormitories are by no means necessarily dirty, and a dirty room is not necessarily a dormitory, but the link between the two things is apt, because of mental associations.

"Ars magna", which was mentioned in the episode, is another aptagram.

"Moon starer" is an anugram of "astronomer", because the meanings are almost identical, and effectively interchangeable, an astronomer is almost certainly a moon-starer, and both denote a person who looks at celestial bodies.

Another good example of an anugram is "eleven plus two" becoming "twelve plus one", which, again, was in the show.

Aptagrams are usually fitting comparisons of two different ideas, but not necessarily true. Anugrams are usually true, but not necessarily a kind of comparison between ideas. "Moon starer" is more of a different thing to call an astronomer than it is a comparison to a new idea.

It's a subtle and nuanced differentiation, and many people who try to explain one of these kinds of anagrams aren't aware of the other, and make the same mistake of confusing the two, but, this being QI where nits are picked like nowhere else, I think it's the kind of thing that might be appreciated, and it's an important difference if you want to actually present anagrammatical facts.

 
Posital
1159494.  Sun Nov 22, 2015 3:54 am Reply with quote

Quote:
"Moon starer" is an anugram of "astronomer", because the meanings are almost identical, and effectively interchangeable, an astronomer is almost certainly a moon-starer, and both denote a person who looks at celestial bodies.
Really?

Do you not think that "moon starer" could be considered a little insulting as it belittles the scope and depth of astronomy? I don't think the word "almost" hides the dissimilarities.

 
Alfred E Neuman
1159500.  Sun Nov 22, 2015 4:59 am Reply with quote

Given the fact that we're being deliberately pedantic about the subtle difference between two words that most of the general population don't even know exist, I think we need to be properly pedantic. And if we are, there is no way that the meaning of 'moon starer' and 'astronomer' are identical.

 
PDR
1159501.  Sun Nov 22, 2015 5:04 am Reply with quote

If for no other reason than a moon-starer gazes at the moon while an astronomer gazes at stars (of which the moon is not one, of course).

PDR

 
Spud McLaren
1159515.  Sun Nov 22, 2015 6:27 am Reply with quote

< wonders whether gool-starer is an acceptable anugram of astrologer >

 
CharliesDragon
1159517.  Sun Nov 22, 2015 6:37 am Reply with quote

I found the original post quite interesting either way.

I like having you arounnd, Wordmythologic. :P

 
Alfred E Neuman
1159519.  Sun Nov 22, 2015 6:49 am Reply with quote

CharliesDragon wrote:
I found the original post quite interesting either way.

I like having you arounnd, Wordmythologic. :P


Agreed.

All we need now is a better example of an anugram.

 
suze
1159538.  Sun Nov 22, 2015 9:18 am Reply with quote

My point of pedantry there would be Sandi saying that it's not an anagram because it is in fact an aptagram.

It is, of course, still an anagram. That it may be something else as well does not stop it being an anagram. Sandi knows this perfectly well, but it's not what she actually said.


"Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott" contains the same letters as "A novel by a Scottish writer". This has amused me more than it has any business to ever since I first learned it 30+ years ago.

 
Wordsmythologic
1159605.  Sun Nov 22, 2015 11:14 pm Reply with quote

Posital wrote:
Do you not think that "moon starer" could be considered a little insulting as it belittles the scope and depth of astronomy? I don't think the word "almost" hides the dissimilarities.


Not at all. By pedantic linguistic definition, an "astronomer" would be somebody who exclusively names stars, which, if "moon starer" is belittling, is exactly as insulting a name. It's very hard to find an anagram for "astronomer" that includes the name of all extant celestial bodies and phenomena. So difficult, in fact, that it's impossible, which is why "moon starer" is an anugram, because if somebody told you they stared at moons professionally, you'd probably surmise they were an astronomer. The meaning of the name "astronomer" and "moon starer" are not, in the everyday sense, semantically identical, but in the linguistic sense of the word, they are easily considered semantically identical, or, at the very least, interchangeable. It's no more insulting than calling a surgeon a "heart transplanter" or something similar. It doesn't, in literal terms, convey the same etymologically exact verbiage, but it conveys the same meaning, which is what an anugram does. An aptagram conveys a comparison that is apt. An anugram conveys a truth. Astronomers are, by definition, moon starers. They're more than that as well, but that fact doesn't negate the arguably incomplete truth of the anugram, and somebody who is a professional moon starer is, more specifically, a selenologist, but that is a category of astronomy, so they are also an astronomer.

Alfred E Neuman wrote:
Given the fact that we're being deliberately pedantic about the subtle difference between two words that most of the general population don't even know exist, I think we need to be properly pedantic. And if we are, there is no way that the meaning of 'moon starer' and 'astronomer' are identical.


I did say it's a subtle and nuanced differentiation. If we're the same degree of pedantic about all aptagrams and anugrams, then no anugram could possible exist at all, because they will never be truly identical. You need to use new words to form either one. It's the factual truth versus the connotative fittingness of the anagrm that differentiates the two, and it remains true that "moon starer" and "astronomer", while not carrying etymologically identical meanings, do both carry the same conveyed meaning, which is all that makes the difference between the two kinds of anagrams. There's pedantry and there's misuse of semantics.

And I don't mean to make this into an argument, but I do stand by my post, so I figure I should explain it a little. The fact that the two terms aren't totally identical is something I was aware of in making the post, but it's still, with the way that anugrams and aptagrams are intendedly defined, an anugram more so than an aptagram, because there is a truth associated with it more so than only a comparison of ideas that don't carry the same intended meaning, which is the point I was trying to make. I do get that it's a sort of fuzzy area, but, again, anagrams, and really all forms of wordplay, are my most avidly avocational forte, so it's a point of pedantry that I'm very vividly aware of, and thought I'd point it out.

It's sort of difficult to explain the difference explicitly, because there certainly can be a kind of overlap, but it might be easiest to explain through example:

Aptagrams:
Elvis = Lives
Schoolmaster = The classroom

Anugrams:
A gentleman = Elegant Man
Indomitableness = Endless ambition

If you're pedantic, those anugrams aren't literally the same either, but it's the truth shared between them that allows for a pretty reasonable level of interchangeability that makes them anugrams, whereas aptagrams have different meanings that are not necessarily interchangeable, but the meanings they have are still apt for comparison. I hope that makes sense. I know it's working in the middle of a bit of a gray area, but I figured it might be a technicality worth pointing out. And "moon starer" can, theoretically, be argued as either one, and, perhaps, is not a prime example, but it's still, technically speaking, more of an anugram than it is an aptagram. And it might be worth pointing out that the two terms are supposed to be mutually exclusive, in that no anugram is an aptagram, and no aptagram is an anugram, because the key difference between the two, although they both are fitting comparisons, is the shared meaning, which, if had, makes it an anugram, and, if not had, makes it an aptagram. "Moon starer" doesn't have the same literal or whole meaning as "astronomer", but it does share its linguistically semantic meaning, in that it conveys the same notion, if that makes sense. Linguistics semantics are not the same as semantics as invoked by most people when they say they're arguing semantics. What they mean in that sense is fine grain details of words, and usually, more specifically, dictionary definitions of words, but semantics, in linguistics, is more general and encompasses all meaning, which is more what the distinction between the two kinds of anagrams involves, otherwise pedantry can nullify all anugrams altogether.

Spud McLaren wrote:
< wonders whether gool-starer is an acceptable anugram of astrologer >


How about "Logo Starer", since they look at astrological symbols and asterisms?

CharliesDragon wrote:
I found the original post quite interesting either way.

I like having you arounnd, Wordmythologic. :P


Glad to hear it. I know my posts tend toward excessively detailed verbosity, but I love all areas of linguistics, wordplay especially so, so I like sharing these sorts of hidden gems.

suze wrote:
My point of pedantry there would be Sandi saying that it's not an anagram because it is in fact an aptagram.

It is, of course, still an anagram. That it may be something else as well does not stop it being an anagram. Sandi knows this perfectly well, but it's not what she actually said.


"Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott" contains the same letters as "A novel by a Scottish writer". This has amused me more than it has any business to ever since I first learned it 30+ years ago.


That, actually, is a very good point, and I'm honestly disappointed I was remiss enough to not point that out myself. Also, that is a fantastic anagram.

 
Alfred E Neuman
1159608.  Mon Nov 23, 2015 12:01 am Reply with quote

Wordsmythologic wrote:
If we're the same degree of pedantic about all aptagrams and anugrams, then no anugram could possible exist at all, because they will never be truly identical.


Yea = aye?

 
Wordsmythologic
1159609.  Mon Nov 23, 2015 1:00 am Reply with quote

Alfred E Neuman wrote:
Yea = aye?

Well, a pedant could argue that "yea" is a form of assent, while "aye" is technically an adverb meaning "always" which only came to denote agreement later on, and the two words, historically, carried different connotations. If you're pedantic enough, you can draw lines anywhere you like, which is the point. The difference between an anugram and an aptagram is more in concept than in a literal sense. The difference itself is a pedantic point only because they're quite similar, but if you get more pedantic than their respective definitions and into the pedantry of the literal meanings of whatever anagrams are in question, it becomes an entirely arbitrary exercise and the whole thing moot. Again, there's pedantry and there's misuse of semantics, and the shared meaning that's carried by "astronomer" and "moon starer" is the crux of the categorization, in the same way that "aye" and "yea" convey the same meaning, even though you can certainly get inordinately technical and point out the difference that does exist.

Of course, it's probably one of those things, like the exact definition of irony, that's up for a fair amount of debate and interpretation, but, in a sort of general sense, the pedantic point of distinction between aptagrms and anugrams, without introducing pedantry of the anagrams themselves, is one that makes "moon starer" an anugram of "astronomer" more so than an aptagram. It's by no means the best example out there, but I think the distinction between the two kinds of anagrams is worth pointing out, especially since Sandy used "aptagram" as a word for both terms.

 
Alfred E Neuman
1159632.  Mon Nov 23, 2015 6:30 am Reply with quote

Wordsmythologic wrote:
Alfred E Neuman wrote:
Yea = aye?

Well, a pedant could argue that "yea" is a form of assent, while "aye" is technically an adverb meaning "always" which only came to denote agreement later on, and the two words, historically, carried different connotations.


Are you extending the definition of an anugram to include the historical meaning and derivation too? Because if it was hard to find true anugrams before, that'll make it almost impossible.

 
PDR
1159662.  Mon Nov 23, 2015 8:16 am Reply with quote

Wordsmythologic wrote:
It's no more insulting than calling a surgeon a "heart transplanter" or something similar.


Many surgeons WOULD regard that as rather insulting. They're a sensitive bunch (as you'd find out any time you addressed a surgeon as "doctor").

Quote:

It doesn't, in literal terms, convey the same etymologically exact verbiage, but it conveys the same meaning,


Only to those who do not grasp the actual meaning of the words.

Quote:

An anugram conveys a truth. Astronomers are, by definition, moon starers.


Only the subset of astronomers who actually study moons, which is very few. Most of them study stars, stellar motions, dust clouds, gas clouds and extra-solar cosmic events. These people are, by definition, NOT "moon starers".

PDR

 
Wordsmythologic
1159679.  Mon Nov 23, 2015 10:53 am Reply with quote

Alfred E Neuman wrote:
Are you extending the definition of an anugram to include the historical meaning and derivation too? Because if it was hard to find true anugrams before, that'll make it almost impossible.

No, certainly not. The point I was trying to make was that that is a bad thing to do. If you extend the same pedantry of literal definition that would have "moon starer" be not an anugram to all anagrams, no anugram is safe against exclusion, because you can be as pedantic as you want. So it's much more constructive to deal with them as they're intended, and to look at semantic meaning and not literal dictionary definitions for a given anagram.

And in that sense, "moon starer" is an anugram of "astronomer", because they convey a semantically interchangeable concept, as opposed to drawing a comparison between one idea and an entirely new one that merely holds amusing relevance.

Again, things like "Elvis" and "Lives" are aptagrams, because they're distinct ideas which aren't interchageable, but, together, they present a cohesive, humorous comparison which is apt, hence the name.

PDR wrote:
Many surgeons WOULD regard that as rather insulting. They're a sensitive bunch (as you'd find out any time you addressed a surgeon as "doctor").

Well, I maintain an abundant stockpile of skepticism towards all anecdotal claims, and with my reserves as full as they are, my doubts as to this claim are not allayed, but what degree of insulting an anagram is, still, is an entirely irrelevant thing to the classification of an anagram as an aptagram or anugram.

PDR wrote:
Wordsmythologic wrote:
It doesn't, in literal terms, convey the same etymologically exact verbiage, but it conveys the same meaning,

Only to those who do not grasp the actual meaning of the words.

No. Actually, it conveys the same meaning to anybody who knows that astronomers look at celestial bodies, and that studying moons falls under astronomy. What you're doing right there is insulting the intelligence of anyone capable of understanding that two different phrases can express the same notion, which, quite frankly, is uncalled for. You're arguing about dictionary definitions here, which is not only unconstructive, it's, in totality, irrelevant. Both phrases, to anybody who has the capacity to understanding the meaning behind the words, semantically, convey a thought that is indisputably similar enough to warrant categorization as an anagram wherein the phrases express a thought that is shared between the two.

PDR wrote:
Wordsmythologic wrote:
An anugram conveys a truth. Astronomers are, by definition, moon starers.

Only the subset of astronomers who actually study moons, which is very few. Most of them study stars, stellar motions, dust clouds, gas clouds and extra-solar cosmic events. These people are, by definition, NOT "moon starers".

PDR

Okay, again, you're kind of missing the point. The two phrases, regardless of how you choose to interpret their literal, dictionary meaning, in the situation of the anagram, convey an underlying idea that is shared between the two, which makes them an anugram. If, hypothetically speaking, you could rearrange "astronomer" into something like "alien abduction" or "big bang", those would be aptagrams and not anugrams, because it would be an introduction of a distinct and new idea, and comparing the two, humourously. That's all that really matters for the definition.

Also astronomy, by definition, is the study of all celestial phenomena. Regardless of what "most" astronomers specialize in, be they selenologists, astrophysicists, planetologists, cosmologists, or any other subcategorical specialization, they, as a whole, include, by definition, observation of moons. Yes, it is absolutely a fact that those who don't observe moons are, by definition, not moon starers, but that's not a pertinent fact, and it makes no sense to define the entirety of astronomy as excluding the observation of moons on the basis that not all specialize in that field. So, again, astronomers, and if it helps to add, as a whole, by definition, are moon starers. And, again, the pedantry of decided literal meaning of the words in anagrams renders all anagrams easily and immediately excluded from the category which "moon starer" falls under, defeating the entire purpose of the term.

"Moon Starer" and "Astronomer" are both terms that can be applied to the same field of scientific study. Neither is linguistically complete in expressing the totality that that field of study encompasses, because "moon starer" points out one aspect of astronomy while, by etymologically strict definition, "astronomer" only means "star namer". But that's irrelevant, because both terms, to anyone capable of understanding intended and expressed meaning of words above the level of pedagogic dictionary or etymological definition, which I believe does include you, convey an identical underlying idea. If an astronomer is insulted by the fact that their profession can be expressed in words other than those on their business card, I can only apologize for the flexibility that language lends itself to, but it does not change the fact that "moon starer" is an anugram of "astronomer", and not an aptagram, as was stated on QI, which is the only point I was trying to get across.

 
PDR
1159687.  Mon Nov 23, 2015 11:20 am Reply with quote

Sorry - you're caught up in your own circular argument which is along the lines of "both moon-starer and astronomer mean the same thing provided you dig deep enough to discover that astronomers look upwards but don't look deeper to discover that they don't all look at the same thing.

Therefore provided you restrict your depth of study to that which makes them appear the same they are the same". You're also trapped in a logical falacy of claiming that as B is a subset of A all of A must be the same as B, which doesn't really stand up to scrutiny whether logically, semantically, mathematically, ecumenically, legally or psychologically.

If you actually want to discuss/debate this please go ahead, but if all you're ever going to do is say "you are wrong because I am right regardless of any evidence or argument that might call this into question" then don't bother.

PDR

 

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