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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]
    Definitely shortand. Not the most recent kind either, and older version. This is tachygraphy of the type that Samuel Pepys used in his diaries. Before the 19th century it was popular among lawyers and naval officers. Hopelessly arcane now, of course.
    – Christopher Fowler, Full Dark House

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chirography – handwriting; penmanship
[The word, once reasonably common, dropped out of use in the first few decades of the 20th century.]
    My grandfather's chirography was horrid. It usually looked as if a spider that dropped into a bottle of ink was permitted to crawl over the paper. He himself could not read it half the time …
    – P T. Barnum, The Life of P. T. Barnum, Written by Himself

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...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.


RJA
 
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quote:
Originally posted by wordcrafter:
chirography – handwriting; penmanship
[The word, once reasonably common, dropped out of use in the first few decades of the 20th century.][LIST]My grandfather's chirography was horrid.



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.
 
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If chirography means 'handwriting', and the familiar word calligraphy means 'beautiful handwriting', then is there a word meaning 'bad handwriting'?

Of course.

cacography1. bad handwriting 2. bad spelling
    For some of us, there is comfort in knowing that other great persons have also suffered from cacography. Napoleon, for example. His handwriting was so atrocious that notes he sent to his commanding officers looked like maps of the battlefield.

    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
 
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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.]
    Dittography or the repetition of a letter, syllable, word, clause or sentence. Once such an error was made, it was faithfully reproduced. In the Hebrew text of Lev. 20:10, the first five Hebrew words "If a man commits adultery with the wife of . . ." are repeated. The translators of the King James Version of the Bible incorporated the dittography in the English text …
    –Gerald A. Larue, Old Testament Life and Literature (1968), ch. 32
Sometimes a speaker may erroneously add a sound (athelete for athlete) or omit a sound ('cause for because). There are technical terms for this, but as I understand it those terms apply only to additions or omissions in speech.

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:
    "Freudian Haplography": A young monk, new to the monastery, is assigned to helping the other monks in copying the old canons and laws of the church by hand. He notices, however, that all of the monks are copying from copies, not from the original manuscript, so he goes to the abbot to question this, pointing out that if someone made even a small error in the first copy, it would never be picked up. In fact, that error would be continued in all of the subsequent copies.

    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'."
 
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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.
    It took him only a few months to master the basic skills [of surveying]. By the following spring he had learned how to use the pantograph and the theodolite, the dividers and the great steel chain.
    – Simon Winchester, The Map That Changed the World: William Smith and the Birth of Modern Geology
Bonus word: theodolite – a surveying instrument with a rotating telescope, for measuring horizontal and vertical angles
 
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The modern descendent of the theodolite is the descriptively-named total station.
 
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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.


Richard English
 
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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.]

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Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by neveu:
The modern descendent of the theodolite is the descriptively-named total station.
What's a total station?
 
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What's a total station?

A total station.


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agraphia – inability to write (as a manifestation of brain-disease)

But here used in a non-medical context.
    The earliest notes … show Scott … "much alarmed" by a sudden attack of agraphia, impotence to write the words as he should.
    – Andrew Lang, Sir Walter Scott
 
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Since the pantograph drawing device was in use from the 16th century ...
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.
 
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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. Wink


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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"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
    The aim of encryption is to scramble a message so that a third party cannot unscramble it … . The goal of steganography is to hide the fact that a message is being sent in the first place. … For example, to conceal a message in a digitized picture, you can change one bit per pixel … . The resulting color changes … are barely perceptible. … Unsuspecting viewers … have no clue that a steganographic message is present.
    – 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 steganographySteganography 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
Note: The dictionaries define steganography as 'cryptography', but that is inaccurate. 'Crytography' is usually defined to mean the art of codes and ciphers (and sometimes, defined so broadly as to include steganography as well).
 
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Originally posted by wordcrafter:
"Everyone loves Veronica, I see. I'm sure any lover is very eager."

No!
Everyone loves Veronica, I see. I'm sure dandelions emerge at dawn. Can't everyone remember to add information, not lost yet?
 
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