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(Meta) Public Service Announcement #1

30th April 2008 (14:47)
thoughtful
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current mood: thoughtful

Because I've seen lots of people get these words mixed up recently, here's a handy guide to cut out and keep, that will hopefully explain how they work:

ARC means 'curved path'. 
It can also be used as a metaphor for a story that has a distinct beginning, middle and end. Like a thrown ball, it curves up then curves down again - in an arc, in other words. 'CHARACTER ARC', 'STORY ARC'.

ARCH means 'part of a building that has two columns either side and a curved part connnecting them at the top'.
A 'character arch' would be an intelligent, talking architectural feature with its own personality.

ARCH- as a compound element means 'chief' or 'superior' or 'more important'.
An archbishop is in charge of other bishops. An arch-enemy is more dangerous than a normal enemy. Your arch-nemesis will hunt you down when your other nemeses have given up the chase. You can fit an infinite number of angels on the head of a pin, but less than a dozen archangels.

The first two meanings (arc and arch) both derive from Latin 'arcus' meaning a bow (that's bow as in '--and arrows'). The second (arch-) comes from Greek 'archos' meaning chief.

Arc is pronounced with a hard 'c': /a:rk/
Arch is pronounced with a 'ch' as in 'chair': /a:rtʃ/
Arch- is normally pronounced in English as 'arch', but in some words taken straight from Greek (such as 'archangel') is pronounced as 'arc'. /a:rtʃbiʃəp/  /a:rkeindʒel/

Comments

Posted by: woman_of_ (woman_of_)
Posted at: 30th April 2008 14:22 (UTC)

hee! Thank You, been ages since I had these discussions! My husband had a classical education, and would talk about such subjects for hours!

*nostalgic*

I would just sit back proudly, listening to him. *smile*

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 30th April 2008 14:45 (UTC)

:-)

Language is an interesting subject. (Well, to me anyway...)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 30th April 2008 14:46 (UTC)

The first meaning shouldn't be confused with the very noisy Neil Young collage ARC, which is rather the antithesis of "a story that has a distinct beginning, middle and end". :-) However, in some circles it's accepted to refer to a "script doctor" as an "arc welder".

The third meaning is also, of course, the same word that shows up in "archetype" ("a generic, idealized model of a person, object, or concept from which similar instances are derived, copied, patterned, or emulated"). Not to be confused with "ark-type", which is used to tell Noah's ark (a big boat) apart from Moses' and Indiana Jones' (a large box with religious stuff inside).

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 30th April 2008 14:58 (UTC)

I'd not hreard 'arc welder' before. Funny. :-)

But according to my dictionary, 'archetype' actually comes from Greek 'archê' meaning 'beginning, origin' rather than 'archos' meaning 'chief, ruler'. Although I dare say both those words come from the same Proto-Indo-European root, given that they're so similar in sound and meaning...

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 30th April 2008 16:15 (UTC)
D'oh!

D'oh! I knew I should have doublechecked that. Thanks for setting me straight. Still, until proven otherwise, I'll claim that those two words are very closely related. :-) A lot of words for "leader" or "ruler" seem to somehow be related to some word meaning "first"...

Posted by: AnarchAngel (anarchangel23)
Posted at: 30th April 2008 16:52 (UTC)

You're correct.

As well as meaning "beginning, origin", archê means: "cause, motive; leadership, power, rule, government; territory, empire...", Archos is the same word with a masculine ending, and is basically "a man who has power".

Posted by: JG (jgracio)
Posted at: 30th April 2008 18:01 (UTC)

But is this use cannon?

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 30th April 2008 22:06 (UTC)
season8-cannon

Don't make me come over there!!!

:-)

Posted by: candleanfeather (candleanfeather)
Posted at: 30th April 2008 18:52 (UTC)

Very usefull. There are so many traps in language. I can give a good example fo one in French :

premices : beginning, first production

premisse : proposition in a syllogism

I always forget which one is one! :)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 30th April 2008 22:10 (UTC)

French is even more confusing. Why is it l'Arc de Triomphe and not l'Arche de Triumphe, hmm?
:-)

Posted by: candleanfeather (candleanfeather)
Posted at: 1st May 2008 08:45 (UTC)

"French is even more confusing. ". French is evil!

Arc in arc de triomphe is the whole monument, but arc is also an architectural name for any architectonic member following the form of a (or several) curve as in arc de plein cintre, arc brisé... As for arche it's a specific part of a monument (as well as Noe's boat!) : it's a vault. So the Arc of triomphe definitively has an arche too. Evil, I told you....:-D

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 1st May 2008 09:59 (UTC)

French is evil!

Being English, I can only agree. :-)

(How would you say 'evil' in French, in the Buffyverse sense? Méchant, malin, or something else?)

Posted by: joe_sweden (joe_sweden)
Posted at: 1st May 2008 10:17 (UTC)

Le mal is the noun "evil". But I guess mechant (where are the accents on this site?) would do. Hmm...not sure actually, will check.

Oh, and don't forget "The Chameleon Arch" on Doctor Who, which is central to the arc of the Doctor's Archnemesis the Master :D

http://tardis.wikia.com/wiki/Chameleon_Arch

Posted by: joe_sweden (joe_sweden)
Posted at: 1st May 2008 10:39 (UTC)

Interestingly, it seems that in the French version of Buffy (contre les vampires!), the First Evil is called the "Force". No wonder Andrew fell under its spell!

Posted by: joe_sweden (joe_sweden)
Posted at: 1st May 2008 10:40 (UTC)

Right...evil the adjective = maléfique

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 1st May 2008 10:50 (UTC)

Merci! May the First Evil be with you! :-)

Posted by: candleanfeather (candleanfeather)
Posted at: 1st May 2008 10:57 (UTC)

Nowadays, there isn't anymore a totally satisfaying French equivalent of evil. "Méchant" will do but doesn't have anymore (at least in current language) the religious charge "evil" still carries. "Malin" was in the past the equivalent of evil. You find in it, as well as in "malice", "malicieux" the root "mal". Le "Malin" was one of the Devil's surname. It was a very strong word. But now, malin is much more currently used as a synonym for smart with a light pejorative undertone. Un malin is someone who doesn't always use his intelligence for good reasons.

Posted by: candleanfeather (candleanfeather)
Posted at: 1st May 2008 11:36 (UTC)

Sorry to spam your LJ, but I only thought about it now (stupid me!), the best translation for evil would be "mauvais".

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 1st May 2008 12:55 (UTC)

So the French I learned at 11 years old, "il fait mauvais temps", means "the weather is Evil!" ? :-)

Actually it's quite refreshing to find a people who don't really belive in the concept of Evil anymore, at least if their language is anything to go by. But I bet it does make translating Buffy episodes difficult...

"Prince of Night, I summon you. Come fill me with your black, naughty evil!" (Willow, 'Gingerbread')

Posted by: candleanfeather (candleanfeather)
Posted at: 1st May 2008 19:35 (UTC)

"So the French I learned at 11 years old, "il fait mauvais temps", means "the weather is Evil!" ? :-)" Well, with the global warming and all...

"Actually it's quite refreshing to find a people who don't really belive in the concept of Evil anymore, at least if their language is anything to go by." You're right. French society is deeply de-christianised.It's a phenomenon that began under the French Revolution. A majority of people would probably declare themselves as catholic but they don't practice and are ignorant of the dogma.

Posted by: Aadler (aadler)
Posted at: 30th April 2008 20:25 (UTC)
Muse

Nice, and always good to have these things out for people who just never thought about it before. However, don’t forget “arch” as a verb: as in, to arch one’s back. (I’m sure there are other uses, but none come immediately to mind.)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 30th April 2008 22:12 (UTC)

I'd not thought of that one, but there is 'arch' as an adjective meaning 'roguish' or 'mischevious'. I left that out in order not to confuse things...

Posted by: Lidia (beloved4always)
Posted at: 1st May 2008 10:23 (UTC)

oh THANK you - for some reason it drives me insane when people say 'story arch' - and so very many do :(.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 1st May 2008 10:50 (UTC)

Glad to help. The same sort of frustration inspired this post. :-)

Posted by: Carin (carinas_carinae)
Posted at: 23rd May 2008 02:35 (UTC)
While You're at It...

...can you please do peek/peak/pique, too and to, then/than, vice/vise, and oh, heck, why don't you throw in blonde/blond and brunette/brunet. ;-)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 23rd May 2008 08:41 (UTC)
Re: While You're at It...

My dictionary gives the definition of "vise" as "US spelling of vice" so I'm not sure what I'd say about that one... :-)

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