Friday, June 6, 2008

Dictionary Rantings



1a. idle chatter
1b. talk intended to charm or beguile
2. a parley between two groups, especially European explorers and representatives of local populations

[Portuguese palavra, speech, alteration of Late Latin (after 11 PM) parabola, speech, parable.]

Wait a minute! I thought we studied parabolas in Algebra and they were kind of like rounded ended "v"s that appeared in certain kinds of graphs and could be pointing in any direction. *runs to check on this theory* Oooooh, I love it when I'm right.

Wikipedia says...

In mathematics, the parabola (pronounced /pəˈræbələ/, from the Greek παραβολή) is a conic section generated by the intersection of a right circular conical surface and a plane parallel to a generating straight line of that surface. A parabola can also be defined as the locus of points in a plane which are equidistant from a given point (the focus) and a given line (the directrix).

A particular case arises when the plane is tangent to the conical surface. In this case, the intersection is a degeneratestraight line. parabola consisting of a

The parabola is an important concept in abstract mathematics, but it is also seen with considerable frequency in the physical world, and there are many practical applications for the construct in engineering, physics, and other domains.

OK so I'm a little frustrated because it doesn't trace it back to Late Latin or early Latin for that matter. All right then, here we go, FreeDictionary gives us...

[New Latin, from Greek parabol, comparison, application, parabola (from the relationship between the line joining the vertices of a conic and the line through its focus and parallel to its directrix), from paraballein, to compare; see parable.]

OK so now we're dealing with "New Latin". Would that be Latin that hasn't passed its "use by" date? Or maybe like "new potatoes" it hasn't laid around long enough to develop a thick skin? I realize this may feel like hair splitting [the act of creating split ends] but these distinctions must be important or why would the various dictionaries bother to mention them? Clearly it isn't enough to simply say "Latin". Oh well, it's all Greek to me.

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