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

Helen Schinske hschinske at aol.com
Mon Jun 7 13:27:07 EDT 2010

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Minnow" <minnow at belfry.org.uk>
To: "Diana Wynne Jones discussion" <dwj at suberic.net>
Sent: Monday, June 07, 2010 2:11 AM

> 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.

On the other hand, I don't think I would like hanging out with a group of 
people who *never* used a word I didn't know, or who had so much in common 
with me that no reference *ever* had to be explained. There'd be no novelty 
in it. I like the overlap of different specialized circles, cultures, 
whatever you want to call them. Heck, when I was teasing about whether 
"eneral" was a word, I was rather hoping it WAS a word I didn't know (it 
looked useful for Scrabble, for one thing!).

Incidentally, Merriam-Webster, eleventh edition, which is a pretty standard 
reference in the US, has "statistically independent" as one of the listed 
meanings of "orthogonal." That's close enough to explain the metaphorical 
usage, seems to me. I don't know whether standard British dictionaries have 
it (the OED does, but shorter dictionaries may not get that detailed).

Helen Schinske 

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