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Author Topic: In search of ... "Why is it" Websites/services  (Read 3420 times)

barney

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In search of ... "Why is it" Websites/services
« on: September 27, 2012, 12:59:28 PM »
In the dim past, when I was in high school, I had a trio of books
  • Why do they call it ... ?
  • Why did they name it ... ?
  • What's in a name?
(I don't recall now if the titles really included the ellipsis, but I think they did.  I'm also uncertain as to that third title.)

These books answered questions like
  • Who/What are the Masons?
  • If Christians mark time as periods before and after the birth of Christ, why is the time after his birth Anno Domini (AD, Latin for after) but the time before his birth Before Christ (BC, English for before - from a time when England/English did not exist)?
  • Why are reporters and journalists said to be members of the Fourth Estate?  What is an Estate  What is the Fourth Estate?  What are the other three (3) Estates?  Are there more than four (4) Estates?
  • Why do they call it tin?
  • What's the difference between dynamite and nitro glycerin?
  • What are rare metals and why are they rare?

I'm looking for Websites and services that do that.  Not certain how to class them.  They'd be part lexicon, part philology, part lexicology, part ... ?

Thought I remembered a thread here about that, but cannot locate one (1).

I'd like to create a reference list of URLs, and I've run across a number of them over the years, but there's not not enough consistency in the naming or descriptions for a definitive search.

But I figured an erudite - and quirky! :-* :P - bunch like this would probably have a number of such URLs already bookmarked.  Gimme 'em .

TaoPhoenix

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Re: In search of ... "Why is it" Websites/services
« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2012, 01:31:03 PM »

barney

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Re: In search of ... "Why is it" Websites/services
« Reply #2 on: September 27, 2012, 05:15:31 PM »
Stuff like this ?

http://www.westegg.com/etymology/

Yep, thanks  :up:.  And it provides a prime example of the original comment.  Never occurred to me to use etymology, although it should have been an obvious choice.

TaoPhoenix

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Re: In search of ... "Why is it" Websites/services
« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2012, 05:42:55 PM »
But I figured an erudite - and quirky! :-* :P - bunch like this would probably have a number of such URLs already bookmarked.  Gimme 'em .

Or, if not bookmarked, a sufficient vocabulary to get there by the side alley of the search engines!   8)

tomos

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Re: In search of ... "Why is it" Websites/services
« Reply #4 on: September 28, 2012, 03:05:13 AM »
  • What's the difference between dynamite and nitro glycerin?

there is/was a great wiki site that compared similar stuff and gave an in depth table-list of differences e.g.
Margarine vs. Butter
I remember editing it to say butter tastes better ;-)

But I cant find it, I even had email contact with the site but cant find that either :-\

Maybe someone who knows how to use search might find it - I keep getting compare wikis or compare prices :-(
Tom

barney

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Re: In search of ... "Why is it" Websites/services
« Reply #5 on: September 29, 2012, 08:49:14 AM »
Maybe someone who knows how to use search might find it - I keep getting compare wikis or compare prices :-(

That was what triggered this post - six (6) - and still going - pages of price comparisons or game stuff (RuneScape figured quite heavily  ;D) before I stopped :huh:.

SeraphimLabs

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Re: In search of ... "Why is it" Websites/services
« Reply #6 on: September 29, 2012, 01:27:12 PM »
Not sure about sites or services for this, but I can tell you one of those.

Pure nitroglycerine is a very highly shock sensitive liquid, known to detonate if someone yells in it's presence or bumps the container.

Dynamite is Nitroglycerine that has been mixed with Clay. The clay makes it easy to shape into sticks, and stable enough to be safely handled. To detonate dynamite, you need to hit it with something else. Using a hammer is not recommended, so normally a blasting cap is used to provide the initial jolt. In the old days these blasting caps were nothing more than a small gunpowder cartridge, like a firecracker. Today they are a specialty pyrotechnic device that ignites electrically for precise control of when and how the dynamite is detonated.


barney

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Re: In search of ... "Why is it" Websites/services
« Reply #7 on: September 29, 2012, 04:46:19 PM »
Not sure about sites or services for this, but I can tell you one of those.

Pure nitroglycerine is a very highly shock sensitive liquid, known to detonate if someone yells in it's presence or bumps the container.

Dynamite is Nitroglycerine that has been mixed with Clay. The clay makes it easy to shape into sticks, and stable enough to be safely handled. To detonate dynamite, you need to hit it with something else. Using a hammer is not recommended, so normally a blasting cap is used to provide the initial jolt. In the old days these blasting caps were nothing more than a small gunpowder cartridge, like a firecracker. Today they are a specialty pyrotechnic device that ignites electrically for precise control of when and how the dynamite is detonated.

Yep, understood - that was an example, btw  ;).  Take a look at The Straight Dope for an example of a Web site that does some of what has been mentioned.  That might make the concepts clearer.

tomos

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Re: In search of ... "Why is it" Websites/services
« Reply #8 on: September 29, 2012, 05:08:19 PM »
Take a look at The Straight Dope for an example of a Web site that does some of what has been mentioned.

Didn't think of that - it's very informative, entertaining, (and the main man can be very, eh, judgemental at times). I'd say roughly the same about the very active associated forums.

I actually mean that as a fairly positive review ;-)
Tom

barney

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Re: In search of ... "Why is it" Websites/services
« Reply #9 on: September 29, 2012, 07:43:40 PM »
Didn't think of that - it's very informative, entertaining, (and the main man can be very, eh, judgemental at times). I'd say roughly the same about the very active associated forums.

Yep.  Almost anything of this nature will have some sort of authorial slant.  'Bout the only exception would be papers having to do with philology/lexicology/etymology - 'cause of peer review (assuming a formal paper).

However, even if some elements are inaccurate, they provide a starting place when you are interested and want to follow up. 

Many such sites tend to lack the investigative thoroughness  of, say Snopes, FactCheck.org, TechDirt.  And a number of them, like TechDirt or the aforementioned The Straight Dope may be opinionated.  However, even knowing that, you still have a starting place when you want more information.

barney

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Re: In search of ... "Why is it" Websites/services
« Reply #10 on: October 08, 2012, 12:05:59 PM »
Here are a few that I have listed:

I'd like to find a few that list naming conventions, e.g., why do they call it the Ku Klux Klan, why do they call it Paradise, why do they call it ...?
I'd also like to find more lexicology, philology, etymology sites - stuff for fun, mostly, rather than serious research stuff.

sword

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Re: In search of ... "Why is it" Websites/services
« Reply #11 on: October 08, 2012, 03:04:28 PM »
What's in a name is important in genealogy. You might look there. Surname and place name origins are interesting.  I think, but have not checked, that place names ending in wich/witch were where salt was located. KKK see Greek for circle ( something like kuklos ). One in my high school kept his sheet under the back seat of his car  >:(

barney

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Re: In search of ... "Why is it" Websites/services
« Reply #12 on: October 08, 2012, 04:01:01 PM »
Yeah, understood.  But finding sites with that information, other than very specific searches, is  ... awkward, shall we say?  A lot of place names migrate to products, e.g. Cognac (if it wasn't produced in Cognac, France, it's brandy, or else  ;D).  But the origins of the product names are not always obvious - I was probably in my twenties before I discovered some of the legal battles over that oft maligned liquor.  In the liquor vein, what is the source of the name Absinthe - also much maligned?  Or why is sour mash called that ... how was it discovered?  Those are the kinds of things for which I want sources.  Not just those, specifically, but generally.  It's easy to find programming sites, or DIY sites ... explanatory sites, not so much.  

For [another] instance, why did Kernigan & Ritchie call the C language C?  It's relatively easy to find explanations of the differences 'tween C and C++, but why is it C?  

Another for instance, neither Kernigan nor Ritchie was much on typing, so a lot of C syntax is based upon two-finger typing and their idea of shorthand.  That's been documented, but finding that particular reference is a matter of serendipity.  I just wanna eliminate as much of the serendipitous effect as possible.

There's an old saying that in order to ask an intelligent question, you need to already know 90% of the answer.  I want to know where the questions reside.

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joiwind

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Re: In search of ... "Why is it" Websites/services
« Reply #13 on: October 08, 2012, 04:20:08 PM »
In the liquor vein, what is the source of the name Absinthe - also much maligned?

It comes from the name of the plant used to "flavour" the drink (though it does apparently have other qualities too which make Absinthe a very special drink).
.: I use K-Meleon - the browser you can control - but I love Pale Moon too :.

barney

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Re: In search of ... "Why is it" Websites/services
« Reply #14 on: October 08, 2012, 04:46:20 PM »
In the liquor vein, what is the source of the name Absinthe - also much maligned?

It comes from the name of the plant used to "flavour" the drink (though it does apparently have other qualities too which make Absinthe a very special drink).

And dangerous properties, to boot.  It was once considered to be poisonous, and may well be still.  There is a beverage marketed as Absinthe ... don't know that you can obtain in - or import into - the US, but there is a commercial product of that name elsewhere on the globe, or at least there was a decade or so ago.  Think it was a lot like the Japanese Puffer fish, which is poisonous, but can be prepared so that the diner can get a kick and still not die  :P.  (I'll pass, thank you very much  :P :P.)

[Addendum]
That still doesn't explain the source of the name, though.
[/Addendum]

tomos

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Re: In search of ... "Why is it" Websites/services
« Reply #15 on: October 08, 2012, 05:04:41 PM »
You'll get a lot of stuff on Wikipedia, mind you this doesnt really make sense to me - they say 'alternatively' it means... (alternative to what?):
Quote
Absinthium comes from Ancient Greek ἀψίνθιον (apsinthion)/ἀσπίνθιον,[9] underlain by a pre-Greek Pelasgian word, marked by the non-Indoeuropean consonant complex νθ. Alternatively, it might possibly mean "unenjoyable", and probably refer to the bitter nature of the derived beverage.[citation needed]

http://en.wikipedia....ymology_and_folklore

The plant smells lovely. I haven't come across any versions of the drink.

Edit/ the drink page's etymology is more informative. Both wiki pages pretty much say that it's poisonous reputation was fairly unfounded (lets face it, if you drink a lot of any spirit you're going to go off your head)
Tom
« Last Edit: October 08, 2012, 05:15:34 PM by tomos »