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

Minnow minnow at belfry.org.uk
Mon Jun 7 06:11:43 EDT 2010


Eleanor Joslin wrote:
> On 07/06/10 10:11, Minnow wrote:
>
> > 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.
>
> True, but most of us do not check whether words are in the dictionary 
> before we use them.  If we're used to moving in circles where a word is 
> understood, it's easy to forget that outsiders are not likely to know it.
>
> I remember using the word "boilerplate" (in the sense of standard text 
> that can be reused with very few changes) in conversation with my 
> mother, who is also a well-read, intelligent English graduate, and being 
> surprised to discover that it made no sense to her at all.  It seemed 
> quite straightforward to me.  But then she is not a lawyer or a computer 
> programmer, and I am (the latter).
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boilerplate_(text)
>   

Yes, but there is surely a distinction between "needs to be checked in a 
dictionary and can be found there" and "needs to be checked in a 
dictionary and cannot be found there".  Boilerplate in the sense that 
you mean is in even the 1998 Shorter Oxford (US slang: stereotyped 
writing for use in newspapers"...).

I was thinking as much that if "orthogonal" required an explanation as 
long as the one Nicholas gave, it might be easier just to say "not the 
same as".

I am starting to feel that peppering speech with technical terms from 
specialities is not unakin to the way that people used to put French 
words and phrases in to show how educated they were, and in written work 
to put the wretched things into italics as well; a fad that I hope is 
passing.

Minnow



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