[DWJ] "Orthogonal" (orthogonally to T-shirt slogans)

Minnow minnow at belfry.org.uk
Mon Jun 7 05:11:22 EDT 2010

Charlie Butler wrote:
> If I remember correctly, the earliest meaning of 'right' is the angle
> meaning, and our other senses (right vs. wrong, right vs. left) derive
> ultimately from that.
> But here's the way I picture it, anyway. Imagine a graph in which two
> qualities are plotted against each other. In this case, Legality and Number
> of Words Borrowed. Because these variables are independent of each other,
> the value of (say) legality will be a straight line, orthogonal to its axis.
> Like this: http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4068/4678122044_96b936d398_o.jpg.
> Maybe that's not what's means at all, but that's how I get my head round it.

It occurs to me that if in modern (1998, 1999, 2002) dictionaries the 
meaning Roger used is not given, and if it has to be explained to a 
group of erudite and intelligent folk such as are here, and a well-read 
and intelligent Oxford graduate and professional writer like Diana has 
no idea what it means, it might not be the best word to use in any but 
specialised circles.

Like "triblet", though that has the advantage of being in the 
dictionary, at least, and thus not pretty-much entirely inaccessible to 
any but the select, interior people with a particular training.


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