"esquivalience" is out

David Bowie db.list at PMPKN.NET
Mon Oct 10 13:16:43 UTC 2005

From:    Thomas Paikeday <thomaspaikeday at SPRINT.CA>
> From: "Laurence Horn" <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
>>At 9:39 PM -0400 10/7/05, Thomas Paikeday wrote:


>>>On the other points, however, we have to agree to disagree. I view
>>>lexicography not as a creative effort (as in "creative accounting")
>>>but as an effort to describe what exists, based on solid evidence,
>>>similar to anatomy and cartography. An anatomist cannot presume to
>>>create organs and structures that don't exist, not even plausible
>>>ones. A route to India by sailing west was quite plausible, but they
>>>couldn't put out a map of the world based on theories. The route had
>>>to be discovered first.

>>Interesting you mention cartography.  Wasn't it precisely the
>>practice of (some?) traditional map-makers to deliberately invent an
>>error in the form of (for example) a fictitious island that would be
>>included on their maps so that anyone else reproducing that same
>>island on their map could be exposed as a plagiarist?  Nobody is
>>talking about creating new continents or sublexicons, but the
>>occasional small island or word seems harmless enough.  (And
>>occasionally piquant--cf. "The Island of the Map-Maker's Wife" by
>>Marilyn Sides, a story in her eponymous collection from ten or so
>>years ago.)

> I think the idea is good, but the practice is wrong.

Actually, within cartographic circles, it's seen as not only not wrong,
but an accepted way for mapmakers to protect their commercial interests.
Introducing a small error that's not likely to affect anyone (except
perhaps in a slight annoyance way--i got caught looking on the wrong
side of the street for an address in West Chester PA once in what i'm
pretty sure was a case of this) means that mapmakers can catch those who
unthinkingly simply copied their work and presented it as their own.

This isn't done with mission-critical sorts of things, of course, but
for your basic street map? Sure.

One of these has been documented on MapQuest's map of Alexandria
VA--Usufruct Ave, which doesn't really exist (not even virtually,
anymore--MapQuest deleted it from their map once it was outed,
presumably replacing it with something else). It's a shame, since it was
even marginally clever, since AIUI usufruct is a legal term for
someone's right to profit from someone else's property.

David Bowie                                         http://pmpkn.net/lx
     Jeanne's Two Laws of Chocolate: If there is no chocolate in the
     house, there is too little; some must be purchased. If there is
     chocolate in the house, there is too much; it must be consumed.

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