This week's theme of "graphic language' is not what you may think. One meaning of graphic is 'describing nudity or sexual activity in detail.' But we will instead be looking at some obscure words from the Greek root graphe writing.
tachygraphy – shorthand; the art of rapid writing
[Sometimes refers to a particular sytem devised by Thomas Shelton in 1641.]
[Greek tachy- swift]
– Christopher Fowler, Full Dark House
chirography – handwriting; penmanship
[The word, once reasonably common, dropped out of use in the first few decades of the 20th century.]
– P T. Barnum, The Life of P. T. Barnum, Written by Himself
...not to be confused with similar-sounding xerography ("dry writing"), the process of photocopying invented in 1938 by Chester Carlson. See for example http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xerography.
Interesting word. Reminded me of chirugeon - a surgeon. The British graduating medical degree is MB.,ChB. (or BCh) where the ChB stands for Bachelor of Surgery; some Universities use the anglicised MB.,BS. I believe it comes to us through Old French cirurgien from Latin chirugus, a surgeon, from Greek Kyrugyos.
Chiron refers to the hand, and things manual; hence the link between handwriting and skill with the knife.
If chirography means 'handwriting', and the familiar word calligraphy means 'beautiful handwriting', then is there a word meaning 'bad handwriting'?
cacography – 1. bad handwriting 2. bad spelling
Also indecipherable was the script of the great newspaper editor Horace Greeley. He once fired a staff member who, whatever his shortcomings, had the wit to put Greeley's note of dismissal to good use. Since nobody could make out the writing, the unemployed journalist was able to pass the note off as a letter of recommendation and promptly land himself another job.
– Smithsonian Magazine, August, 1999
Today's words name errors that can creep into a text that is copied and recopied by hand. You'll rarely see them outside of biblical or similar scholarship. Nonetheless, our final example will be a humorous tale, so bear with me.
dittography – a copyist's unintentional repetition of letter(s) or word(s)
haplography – a copyist's unintentional writing of letter(s) or word(s) once, when they should be repeated [This is the dictionary definition, but see below.]
–Gerald A. Larue, Old Testament Life and Literature (1968), ch. 32
For writings, we look to today's words. Now dittography does not mean a just any old written error of addition: it specifically means repeating what went before. What about haplography: does it mean any sort of written error-of-omission, or is it specifically a failure to repeat?
Well, folks, that's not clear. The dictionaries are split but generally take the latter view; while actual usage seems to take the former view that haplology is simply omission of letters in a text. An example is the title which a web-author gave to this story:
The abbot says, "We have been copying from the copies for centuries, but you make a good point, my son." So he goes down into the dark caves underneath the monastery where the original manuscripts are archived in a locked vault that hasn't been opened for hundreds of years.
Hours go by and nobody sees the old abbot. The young monk, worried, goes down to look for him, and finds him banging his head against the wall (his forehead bloody and bruised), crying uncontrollably and wailing, "We missed the 'R', we missed the 'R'.
The young monk asks the old abbot, "What's wrong, father?"
With a choking voice, the old abbot replies, "The word was 'celebrate'."
pantograph – a mechanical device for copying plans, diagrams, etc., on any desired scale. A stylus, tracing over the original, drives a pen that produces the copy.
– Simon Winchester, The Map That Changed the World: William Smith and the Birth of Modern Geology
The modern descendent of the theodolite is the descriptively-named total station.
A pantograph is also the name given to the device on an electric locomotive that collects current from the overhead wires.
I don't know why unless it's the fact that its movement is similar.
the device on an electric locomotive that collects current from the overhead wires
According to this article in Wikipedia, the pantograph "was invented by the Key System shops for their commuter trains in the East Bay section of the San Francisco Bay Area in California." Since the pantograph drawing device was in use from the 17th century (though the word is only cited later in the late 18th century), it's safe to say that the train electricity collection device was so named because of its resemblance to the original pantograph. I live in the East Bay, and there's still a doublewide street called Key Route where the trains used to run between Richmond and Berkeley. These same trains used to have a long causeway which ended in piers for boarding commuter ferries which crossed over to San Francisco before the Bay Bridge was built in the '30s. If you read the pantograph article, there are other devices named pantograph because of their resemblance to the drawing device. The name pantograph is from Greek roots and means "all/total drawer".
[Corrected some verbiage. Also corrected some temporal nonsense.]This message has been edited. Last edited by: zmježd,
—Ceci n'est pas un seing.
What's a total station?
What's a total station?
A total station.
—Ceci n'est pas un seing.
agraphia – inability to write (as a manifestation of brain-disease)
But here used in a non-medical context.
– Andrew Lang, Sir Walter Scott
Edit: Your link shows the date as 1630 (that is, early 17th century). According to OED, the name pantograph did not arise until 1723. Earlier, the device was called a parallelogram.
Your link shows the date as 1630 (that is, early 17th century). According to OED, the name pantograph did not arise until 1723. Earlier, the device was called a parallelogram.
Just plain sloppiness on my part. I've corrected it. The pantograph drawing device still predates electric trains.
—Ceci n'est pas un seing.
"Everyone loves Veronica, I see. I'm sure any lover is very eager."
If you saw this message you might think nothing of it. But a very different message is hidden within, for those who know the secret of reading just the first letter of each word! This exemplifies the distinction between codes and cyphers, on the one hand, and steganography, which has become particularly important because computers make it easy to do.
steganography – secret writing by hiding the message in an apparently innocuous document or other matter
– PC Magazine, October, 2002
… the 9/11 hijackers may have communicated globally through steganography software, which lets users e-mail, say, a baby picture that secretly contains a 300-page document …
– Thomas L. Friedman, Longitudes and Attitudes: Exploring the World After September 11
… officials suspect that [the 9/11] hijackers and planners of the attacks used steganography … Steganography is virtually undetectable unless you know what to look for… Law enforcement officials have known for years that hackers and terrorists worldwide … have been using the technology. … Numerous developers and programmers have created software to detect steganography and to hide information.
… Steganography is not a new phenomenon. Herodotus … told of a messenger who shaved his head and then had a secret message imprinted on his scalp. Once his hair grew, he traveled to deliver the message.
– Black Enterprise, Feb. 2002
Everyone loves Veronica, I see. I'm sure dandelions emerge at dawn. Can't everyone remember to add information, not lost yet?