Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Mon Mar 1 03:48:04 UTC 2010

Tom, I though you would have learned by now not to play this game
without consulting a dictionary.

Let's see what the OED has for "tidal, a.", shall we?

> *1.b. tidal wave:* (a) the high water wave caused by the movement of
> the tide: = /tide-wave/ (TIDE, n. 16b); /erron./ (but now in common
> use) an exceptionally large ocean wave caused by an earthquake or
> other local commotion.
> *1830* LYELL /Princ. Geol./ I. 293 On mathematical principles, the
> rise of the tidal wave above the mean level of a particular sea must
> be greater than the fall below it. *1878* HUXLEY /Physiogr/. 2 The
> tidal wave occupies about two hours in coming up from the Nore to
> London. Ibid. 188 The terrible devastation wrought by the great tidal
> wave, which followed the earthquake at Lima. *1899* /Daily News/ 13
> June 8/2 The tidal wave sweeps round the earth twice in the
> twenty-four hours; the great wave produced by an earthquake,
> erroneously described sometimes as a 'tidal wave', has nothing tidal
> about it, and it is called by scientific men 'a free wave'.

In particular, please note the last citation, the one from 1899 and the
corresponding second part of the definition. Or do you suggest I am
misinterpreting the meaning of "erron."?

I rest my case.


PS: I've been ignoring it until now, but you seem to let your spelling
reform go to your head. That's "knew", not "new", and "seismic", not
"seizmic"--this would be a cheap shot in any other case, but not when
the error is persistent, which suggests that it is deliberate. But since
you are suggesting that "Americans cannot spell" /tsunami/, perhaps they
can start by spelling /seismic/.

PPS: In general, I have nothing against people using "tidal wave" in
this context, if the meaning is clearly understood, even if it's
incorrect--I may suggest that there is a more fitting term, but I'd
leave it at that. Unfortunately, you are not "most people".

On 2/28/2010 9:26 PM, Tom Zurinskas wrote:
> A tidal wave has no other definition.  It is no other phenomenon that I know of.
> And by your logic the term "tidal wave" has always had a more than literal interpretation.  We new it as a seizmic wave event, now called a tsunami.  But the term was dropped "because" of the literal interpretation.  So why is tsunami superior.  It too has an inferior literal interpretation, "harbor wave."  Your dumbass example applies to both.
> Meanwhile Americans are stuck with a word they cannot spell or look up based on the sound of it.  Apparently it's a better term only because it's in a different language.  So for the Japanese "tidal wave" must be a better term for them, whether or not they can pronounce it from the spelling.
> Tom Zurinskas, USA - CT20, TN3, NJ33, FL7+
> see truespel.com phonetic spelling

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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