Thursday, August 06, 2009

etymology of blog title

just as a small first note, i will explain the title of this blog: "linguisteresis"

linguistics is the study of language, no suprise there. i have never taken any linguistics classes or done anything worth note regarding linguistics, but it is a field i find very fascinating and the more you dig into it the more you realize how little you know. just take a look at this sample wikipedia entry about 'rhotic consonants' and you will know what i mean. i am so blown away by the differences in language and how much there is to learn about the names of the different sounds, voiced and unvoiced, that humans can make.

the second half of the title comes from the word hysteresis. hysteresis is basically when something is path dependent. for example: the building i work in has two paths to my desk. when i arrive in the morning i always take one path and when i leave at night i always take the other path. they are about the same distance so i am never saving time choosing one over the other, but i am quite consistent subconsciously.

a picture commonly associated with hysteresis is seen here (just ignore the labels):

interestingly this is the exact shape of the hallways to and from my desk as i described them before. another common occurrence of hysteresis in my field involves electrical amplifiers, which often have different threshold voltages before switching rails depending on if the input is getting larger or shrinking.

together these two words describe my purpose in writing this blog. i am interested not just in language, but in how we use different methods of conveying the same meaning when one may be more efficient (but not always)

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