Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Language/2012 January 10

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January 10[edit]

Using the verb dominate[edit]

Suppose there are two quantities x and y, and suppose that x is much greater than y. Which, if any, of the following are correct ways to use the verb dominate?:

  1. x dominates y
  2. x dominates over y
  3. x dominates the sum x + y

References are appreciated in case I might have to convince someone else. —Bromskloss (talk) 00:55, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

Well, for starters, "dominate" means "to rule".[1] How does one quantity rule another? ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 02:55, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
In holdem, we say the hand AK dominates AQ. Not sure what you're getting at with the third sentence. Clarityfiend (talk) 03:12, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Dominating decision rule and mathematics terminology (in my experience) uses the same phrasing. Clarityfiend (talk) 03:17, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
"Dominate" is clearly used for a relationship between abstract entities in some fields (as in the examples given by Clarityfield - I guess that "holdem" is Texas hold'em poker) - but in general English - even in general mathematics - all your examples are meaningless. Is there some particular field you are discussing? --ColinFine (talk) 12:46, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Are they meaningless? My intention is just to express using the word dominate. For example "the gravitational pull on the Moon is dominated by that from the Earth, i.e., the Sun has a negligible influence". —Bromskloss (talk) 13:17, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Dominate can mean "to control by superior power" or "to exert an overwhelming guiding influence over something". So one quantity can dominate another if they are both quantities of influence or power. It can also, tenuously, be a synonym of predominate, which is a synonym of outweigh and is a safer word to use in the context of quantities. Saying "the oranges on the shelf by far outweigh the apples", or "the oranges on the shelf by far predominate over the apples", has a clear meaning; saying "the oranges on the shelf dominate the apples" sounds a little odd, giving rise to the passing thought that perhaps the oranges had set up a petty tyranny there and forced the apples into concentration camps - or more plausibly, perhaps the oranges just look bigger, or occupy a strategic position on the high ground. Even specifying "the quantity of oranges dominates the quantity of apples" sounds weirdly stilted, partly because there are better ways to put it, like "there are more oranges", but also because quantities just don't, as a rule, do any dominating, unless they are quantities of influence. If you measure the number of apples and oranges over time and make a graph out of it, then the oranges can dominate the apples in the statistics. Blue can dominate a picture, bass frequencies can dominate a recording, garlic can dominate a bolognaise, but these are all statements about factors vying for control (over the senses). Taller things can dominate shorter things, which is a separate meaning. You can't generally apply it to quantities, though: if the speed of a small cogwheel is greater than the speed of large cogwheel, it doesn't dominate the other speed. (I'm not sure it could even be said to "predominate" - a word like outstrip is expected.) If you go to a party where there are nine piano tuners and two grocers, the piano tuners don't dominate the grocers (unless they actually overpower them in some way).  Card Zero  (talk) 17:36, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
... and tie them up with piano wire, obviously.  :) -- Jack of Oz [your turn] 19:28, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
It's the way it's used in physics and other sciences I'm thinking of, where parts come together to form a whole and one part is much larger than the others. Typically, the parts are numbers and the whole is their sum. I see it as akin to "blue dominates the picture", "bass frequencies dominates the recording" etc. My two questions are really (1) does the dominating part always dominate the whole ("bass dominates the recording") or can you also say that it dominates the other parts ("bass dominates treble")? and (2) does it dominate over something or just dominate something? —Bromskloss (talk) 02:01, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
  1. Using the word "dominates" on abstract numbers risks ambiguity. It makes the reader look for some influence that those numbers have over something, leading to wild guesses based on context. Better to use another word which specifies the nature of the influence. If one quantity is merely bigger than the other and that's all you have to say about it, just use "is more than" or "is much greater than".
  1. I certainly find "bass dominates the recording" more idiomatic than "bass dominates treble". The latter also introduces some ambiguity, implying that bass is specifically attacking treble - see the next point. Maybe physicists have created their own idiom and started using "dominates" to mean simply "is larger than"; I wouldn't put it past them, I don't know.
  2. Saying that A dominates over B is equivalent to saying that A dominates more than B ( wikt:over#Preposition, sense 4). So the preposition clears up a bit of ambiguity - it indicates that part A is dominating (that is, controlling) the whole, more than part B is; so A is not directly dominating (controlling) B.
Unfortunately the ambiguity remains, because there is also sense 13 (which lacks a definition on Wiktionary), "It was a fine victory over their opponents", which is the same sense as "ruled over the citizens" or, feasibly, "dominated over the other tribes". (Does that just mean out-competed, or does it mean beat into a pulp? I can't tell.) So adding over after dominates doesn't help much. Why do you want to use this turbulent word?  Card Zero  (talk) 12:41, 12 January 2012 (UTC)


Definition of OPTIMIZATION

an act, process, or methodology of making something (as a design, system, or decision) as fully perfect, functional, or effective as possible; specifically : the mathematical procedures (as finding the maximum of a function) involved in this.

I am looking for assistance with the the word Optimization. Optimé is from the Latin root optim which in English means “to be the best.” Is this accurate? Is Optimé short for Optimization? And would it be accurate for me to call my company "Optimé Group" or is "The Optimé Group" more suitable? Are you able to provide me the translation for Optimization in other languages? 04:12, 10 January 2012 (UTC) (talk) (talk) 04:11, 10 January 2012 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:18, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

OPTIMIZATION - more detail

Definition of OPTIMIZATION: an act, process, or methodology of making something (as a design, system, or decision) as fully perfect, functional, or effective as possible; specifically: the mathematical procedures (as finding the maximum of a function) involved in this.

I am looking for assistance with the the word Optimization. Optimé is from the Latin root optim which in English means “to be the best.” Is this accurate? Is Optimé short for Optimization? And would it be accurate for me to call my company "Optimé Group" or is "The Optimé Group" more suitable? Are you able to provide me the translation for Optimization in other languages? (talk) 05:55, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

"Optimé" looks like a French spelling, but it doesn't mean anything in French, as far as I can tell. However, it could represent the Latin adverb optimē, which means roughly "in the best way"... AnonMoos (talk) 09:10, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
P.S. See wikt:optime... AnonMoos (talk) 09:19, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

British place name Slurvian pronunciations[edit]

Is there an article, or some rule of thumb, to aid non-British English speakers as to how real or fictional English place names are likely to be pronounced? When some writer first recorded the name of Cholmondeley, Cheshire, or the name of someone it was named for, it may well have been pronounced with four syllables, rather than as "Chum-lee." A commentator on American speech once described such US contraction and omission of sounds as "Slurvian." If Worcester had been pronounced in the old days as "Woostuh," why would it have been spelled as it is? Inhabitants of Britain can learn the correct pronunciations from the speech of news readers, or from common speech if they live near the cities, but would Brits somehow know what letters or syllables to slurviate in pronouncing placenames they read in fiction, where some of the names might be the author's invention? Are most place names pronounced as spelled (allowing for non-rhotic pronunciation) and only a select few slurviated? Are places with 3 or fewer syllables left unslurviated? Are certain syllables more likely to be glissed over than others? Would most Brits automatically pronounce (real) Towcester like "tohster" or some similar 2 syllable pronunciation if they had not heard it so pronounced? Are all "w's" omitted, and double "e's" pronounced as "short "i's" as in Greenwich? Is Cavendish, Suffolk pronounced with 3 syllables, or is it "Candish?" Lamberhurst has no pronunciation listed, so presumably it is not some contraction like "Lamb'st." If one sees a (fictional) "Heronsdene," should one mentally pronounce it as spelled,(3 syllables) or contract it somehow? How about Horsmonden? Does a Brit somehow know it is not "Horm'den" or some such, without hearing someone pronounce it? Edison (talk) 03:55, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

Sadly, I don't think there is a general answer to your question: even in travelling the relatively short distance from Ak'ne to Naaarj one will find such variations in dialect as to render any 'rules' useless. AndyTheGrump (talk) 04:20, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Edison -- The pronunciations that you mention can be disconcerting, and sometimes serve as quasi-shibboleths to distinguish people with local knowledge from those without, but I don't think that they're really very frequent or very important. British people might well ask what the general principle is which distinguishes the pronunciation of "Kansas" from "Arkansas" (of course there's none). And there are a lot of small towns in the U.S. which have quasi-shibboleth pronunciations (i.e. which are pronounced differently from how you would expect from the spelling) -- such as Palestine, Texas pronounced "Palesteen" etc. etc. etc.
If you want to avoid faux-pas, you can acquire a copy of Daniel Jones' pronouncing dictionary, which lists all the names with unexpected pronunciations which ca. 1950 radio newsreaders in Britain would be expected to know... AnonMoos (talk) 06:04, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
The answer to the question "Does a Brit somehow know it is not "Horm'den" or some such, without hearing someone pronounce it?" is: no. However, some "difficult" place names such as Gloucester, Worcester and Bournemouth are relatively large towns, and their names would probably crop up occasionally on national radio, TV and in general conversation. Many children would therefore generalise the spelling of, say, Leicester, on that basis. I grew up in a place called Wallasey, pronounced Wollasee rather than Wallasay, and never thought it odd in any way. Ghmyrtle (talk) 08:52, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Even within British English, spelling pronunciations of place names sometimes arise and oust the traditional pronunciations. Cirencester used to be pronounced "Sissiter", but very rarely is nowadays. Angr (talk) 09:12, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
That applies to surnames too. I know people whose surname is spelt Mainwaring, and they pronounce it as spelt, Main-waring, not the traditional Mannering. I once met a man I'd previously read about, whose surname was "St John", and I thought I was doing the right thing by addressing him as "Mr Sinjen", but he looked at me very strangely and said "It's Saint John". -- Jack of Oz [your turn] 12:08, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
In the American South, the surname Taliaferro (Italian: "iron cutter") is pronounced Tolliver. Outside the South it tends to be rendered as spelled, possibly even by the directly interested, though I'm not sure about that. --Trovatore (talk) 23:46, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
The Lib Dem MP Lynne Featherstone doesn't seem to ask people to call her "Fenshaw" either ;) doktorb wordsdeeds 12:11, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
These examples and so much more are gifts/time-capsules from one era of England's decision not to have spelling rules to the modern era and we would be a lesser country without them ;) There's a good amount of the British obsession with class here too - I live near Penwortham whose population would love to have it pronounced "Pen-worth-am" to suit their income and social standing but until the Lancashire short-vowel is killed off, they have to live in the less grand sounding "Penwuth-em". I have no doubt that "Towcester" became "Toaster" for the same reason ;). In seriousness - spelling rules are alien here, and through a mixture of spelling reforms, class, and dialects, the contradictions and exceptions will always outnumber the rules. How else can "Macclesfield" not be pronounced as spelled? doktorb wordsdeeds 09:21, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
As suggested above, some of these pronunciations are unexpected to British people from different regions. When I moved to West Yorkshire, I got corrected when I accented Todmorden on the second syllable (it's accented on the first), and I was told that Slaithwaite was pronounced 'Sla-wit': so it is, but it is also pronounced as written, and I've yet to discover an explanation for who says one and who says the other. --ColinFine (talk) 12:53, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Is it a rule that "mouth" on the end of a placename in England is pronounced "muth" rather than "mouth," as in (Bournemouth? Any useful rules of thumb (even if there re a few regional exceptions? Is the "ce" of "ces" in the middle of a name generally or always glissed over like in Worcester and Towcester? Edison (talk) 14:22, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Not invariably: there's usually a distinct "ow" sound in Tynemouth, for example. AndrewWTaylor (talk)
... and Cirencester is, as far as I know, "Siren-sester". Ghmyrtle (talk) 14:49, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
PS: No-one has yet pointed out the obvious differences between Gillingham and Gillingham, or between Cambridge and Cambridge. Ghmyrtle (talk) 14:52, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
I didn't know such difference existed! Oh, we can add Euxton to the list of places where spelling and pronunciation don't meet doktorb wordsdeeds 16:00, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
...And Ewell. Penistone is probably best left unmentioned. AndyTheGrump (talk) 16:33, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Also Chichester and Chichester or Southwick and Southwick. Sussexonian (talk) 23:39, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
It helps to live in New England, where many towns are pronounced like their English namesakes despite a spelling that suggests otherwise. There are a couple of rules of thumb: 1) vowel sound + "cester" = vowel sound + "ster"; 2) "-wick" = "-ick"; 3) "-wich" = "-ich" or "-idge". Also, a final "-wich" tends to shorten the vowel in a preceding stressed syllable. Thus Greenwich is "Grennich" or "Grennage", and Harwich rhymes with "carriage". Marco polo (talk) 17:34, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
-ham and -ton and many other suffixes (-den?) have unstressed schwa vowels (unlike Birmingham, Alabama).  Card Zero  (talk) 18:25, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Also, AmE seems to pronounce -bury more like berry, AFAIR, while in BrE it's usually more of a neutral vowel. (talk) 02:07, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
List of names in English with counterintuitive pronunciations has a few basic rules toward the top. I'm a little surprised no one linked that article here yet. RamsesWPE (talk) 19:02, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

Russian word translation[edit]

In the article Animals in space, someone changed the translation of Уголёк from Ember to Blackie. Does this seem like a proper change? In Russian space dogs, it appears as Little Coal while Чернушка is "Blackie". Rmhermen (talk) 17:53, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

Literally, Уголёк is "a little piece of coal". So, neither Ember or Blackie is a perfect match. --Itinerant1 (talk) 19:28, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
I suggest a transliteration of the Cyrillic, followed by a literal translation ("Little piece of coal"). No point trying to come up with an English name that sounds like a nickname. — Cheers, JackLee talk 12:29, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
Since we're talking, not about the general meaning of the word Уголёк, but about a specific historical use of that word in relation to a specific animal, we should find a citation for how the word was actually translated at the time, i.e. what the animal was actually called in actual English-language newspapers etc. Then, if we think it was badly translated, we could have a footnote or whatever commenting on it. But we cannot just rewrite history. If the animal was actually called "Blackie", for example, in the anglosphere, it is not open to us to retrospectively rename it "Ember", or vice-versa. Or maybe it was given different translated names by different journalists. We should report that. -- Jack of Oz [your turn] 18:49, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
I'm of Jacklee's opinion. I'm old enough to remember Laika, and I'm pretty sure that no Western journalists attempted to give her an English-style doggy name; they just used the transliteration "Laika". We can, of course, give the literal meanings of such names here, but there seems no reason to coin "equivalent" English pet names. Deor (talk) 19:50, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
I remember Laika too. I don't remember any Blackie or Ember, and I certainly don't remember any "Ugolyok". Maybe not so much these days, but back then it would have been extraordinary to expect the Joe and Mary Bloggses of the anglo world to speak or remember such a word. So, it's very likely a translation was used. Whatever it was, that's the one we should be calling this particular animal. -- Jack of Oz [your turn] 00:25, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
According to the New York Times archives at least, the two dog names were variously reported in contemporary articles as "Breeze and Blackie", "Veterok and Ugolyok", or, in one case, "Veterok (Breeze) and Ugolyok (Nut)". This more recent article uses "Ugolyok". --PalaceGuard008 (Talk) 17:07, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
I agree with not coming up with a new translation at this point. However, if I were coming up with one at the time, perhaps "charcoal" would work. It's a small, black piece of "coal" (not exactly, but close enough) and a single word that's easy to remember in English. StuRat (talk) 18:30, 12 January 2012 (UTC)

Hello "SNOTRAG", goodbye "PORNOMAG"[edit]

I know the language and linguistic types on these pages would be interested to see which words can, and cannot, be used at official Scrabble tournaments this year: [2] doktorb wordsdeeds 18:11, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

What a splendid garden path sentence! I did not assume "that" after "know", supposed there must be "and" omitted before "would", and got to the end wondering what was the point of the posting. --ColinFine (talk) 00:24, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
Can't decide if this is well 'nang' or 'meh'. Richard Avery (talk)
IMNSHO 'huh?' covers it adequately, or perhaps you might prefer 'whatever...' if you feel a need for a more verbose response. Roger (talk) 09:04, 11 January 2012 (UTC)

War of Succession[edit]

What does a "War of Succession" mean? I looked up the definition of "succession" and there were several ones that didn't make much sense to me. Does it just mean (using the Austrian one for example) "war of Austrian success"? (talk) 20:40, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

It's a war about who succeeds to a throne, so usually a dynastic struggle of some sort. -- Arwel Parry (talk) 20:57, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Much more than you ever wanted to know may be read at Order of succession#Monarchies and nobility. --Orange Mike | Talk 21:04, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Are you sure you don't mean "War of Secession"? — Michael J 21:43, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Well, the one I know most about is the War of the Spanish Succession, where the thing that was being fought about was who would "succeed" (follow) as king of Spain. Looie496 (talk) 22:40, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Since so many European Royal Houses were very intertwined, "Wars of Succession" were often continent-wide wars involving many nations, rather than mere civil wars, as the name might imply. The War of the Polish Succession only started as a war over the Kingship in Poland; it quickly turned into a war over who would control what parts of Italy. The War of the Austrian Succession was fought all over the world for a variety of goals, including control of various colonies, Prussian and Austrian conflict over Silesia, and again control over Italy. The Hundred Years War was a Succession War between the Plantagenets and Valois, and consumed France and England, as well as their allies, for, well, over 100 years. --Jayron32 01:16, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
See War of succession for many examples. PrimeHunter (talk) 00:35, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
"Nothing secedes like success." :-) StuRat (talk) 18:25, 12 January 2012 (UTC)