Wilson Gray wilson.gray at RCN.COM
Sun Jan 30 07:52:29 UTC 2005

On Jan 29, 2005, at 8:54 PM, James A. Landau wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "James A. Landau" <JJJRLandau at AOL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: hooey
> -----------------------------------------------------------------------
> --------
> In a message dated  Fri, 28 Jan 2005 00:53:45 -0500,   Wilson Gray
> <wilson.gray at RCN.COM> wrote:
>>  I think I mentioned in an earlier post that what the Russians were
>>  using for communication was then called "using radio-relayed
>> telephony"
>>  and is now known as "using a cell phone." So, it's not always assault
>>  rifles and such that trickle down from the military for civilian use.
> No, no, no.  What you are describing is called a "radiotelephone" or
> simply a
> "mobile phone".  A "cell phone" (originally a "cellular phone") is a
> particular type of radiotelephone that did not exist until sometime
> around 1980, due
> to its need for computer power.  From MWCD10 "a radiotelephone system
> in which
> a geographical area (as a city) is divided into small sections [called
> "cells", hence "cellular" - JAL] each served by a transmitter of
> limited range so
> that any available radio channed can be used in different parts of the
> area
> simultaneously."  MW does not mention that as you move from one cell
> to another,
> your connection is switched automatically to the frequency of the cell
> you are
> entering (hence the need for computer power).
> The military does not use cell phones in combat, simply because they
> expect
> to be operating in areas in which cell phone service is either
> non-existent or
> is out of service due to battle damage.
> A piece of military history:  one of the advantages that the Soviets
> had over
> the Germans starting about 1943 was that they had a large supply of
> Lend-Lease radio sets that they could use to eavesdrop on German
> radiotelephones.
> When discussing the sound represented by the Cyrillic letter "X", why
> don't
> you simply call it a "guttural"?
>      - James A. Landau

Jeez, I understand all of that, Jimbo. Clearly, a military telephonic
radio from fifty years ago the size of an overnight bag and weighing
fifty pounds or more is not the same as one of today's cellular
telephones, any more than a Model-T Ford is the same as a Ferrari. But
the development of one did lead to the development of the other. And
yes, I know that the argument, post hoc, ergo propter hoc, is logically
meaningless, just as is the concept of the "doorway drug." So what if
70% or whatever percentage of heroin addicts started out smoking pot,
given that 100% per cent of them started out by being born? Clearly,
birth is a better indicator of future narcotic use than grass-use can
ever be.

As for the Russian [x], I don't simply call it a "guttural" because
it's a velar.

-Wilson Gray

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