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 Post subject: Note to fantasy authors
PostPosted: Fri Oct 27, 2017 9:28 pm 
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Hay bales are no doubt ubiquitous barn-furnishings at present, but as a class they are not much more than a century old. Nothing set in a time earlier than the equivalent of say, 1880 (and more likely the 1930s), will contain hay in bales. If you are writing pseudo-medieval fantasy, a bale of hay is a screaming anachronism. That is all.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 27, 2017 10:32 pm 
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Then there's the time I got a burr under my saddle when early-18th-Century whatshername in Pirates of the Caribbean said to whatshisname, "I'm okay."

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 27, 2017 10:41 pm 
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Nanohedron wrote:
Then there's the time I got a burr under my saddle when early-18th-Century whatshername in Pirates of the Caribbean said to whatshisname, "I'm okay."


Quite right, I might have done the same. However, the origins of OK are completely obscure. No one can say for sure where, or how it began. It isn't likely that 18th C pirates were saying it, but no one can prove that.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 28, 2017 12:40 am 
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Yes, I'm aware of the murky, conjectural beginnings. But Wiki says that the earliest attested instance of "OK" is from 1839, and we've had a pretty ongoing and comprehensive record since the invention of movable type, so one does wonder how long it might take a phrase to be in general use before it appears in print. Can't have been over 100 years. That's my reasoning for being in a huff.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 28, 2017 1:47 am 
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s1m0n wrote:
Hay bales are no doubt ubiquitous barn-furnishings at present, but as a class they are not much more than a century old. Nothing set in a time earlier than the equivalent of say, 1880 (and more likely the 1930s), will contain hay in bales. If you are writing pseudo-medieval fantasy, a bale of hay is a screaming anachronism. That is all.

This is interesting. I knew nothing about this. What is surprising to me is that hay bales are, indeed, relatively recent. I had no idea, so thanks for point that out.

However, I don't think your time line is quite right (unless I'm misinterpreting what you mean by "hay bale", about which, more anon). I gather from this link that hay was already being baled, by hand, at the latest by the very early 1840s, and then there were a number of different patents and actually manufactured machines from 1843 on. I cannot find the equivalent site for the UK, and, from what I can gather, it may well be that we were a bit late to this.

The bit above about me possibly not fully understanding your meaning, S1m0n, is that maybe you were referring just to round bales? I am taking the phrase "hay bale" to include both round and rectangular hay bales.

Now, as with other things, there does seem to be considerable overlap with older methods. I can remember, when I was a kid, that there were still a lot of hay ricks dotted around the countryside. We had a very clear idea of what "finding a needle in a haystack" meant, because there were haystacks seemingly everywhere. From memory, there weren't very many round bales when I was growing up. There were only rectangular bales. And, as I've indicated, hay wasn;t even necessarily made into bales even then.

Excitingly, where I am sitting now, in my house, was the hay loft. When I bought this house in 1992, the hay loft was full of fresh hay. So the practice of storing hay loose was still alive as late as the 1990s, in small ways, in small country houses - maybe at smaller farms as well. There must be somewhere that still does it, although I wouldn't know where any more.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 28, 2017 7:04 am 
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Another peeve from the late Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series: "The wheel weaves as the wheel will". Sorry, wheels do not weave; only looms and their ilk.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 28, 2017 8:15 am 
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Nanohedron wrote:
Then there's the time I got a burr under my saddle when early-18th-Century whatshername in Pirates of the Caribbean said to whatshisname, "I'm okay."
I don't know that they ever claimed historical accuracy was high on their list of production values ... or anywhere on it, for that matter. If it helps, consider it literature in translation, adapted to the language of the intended audience. You wouldn't quibble about a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream that wasn't in Athenian Greek, would you?


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 28, 2017 8:22 am 
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An Draighean wrote:
Another peeve from the late Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series: "The wheel weaves as the wheel will". Sorry, wheels do not weave; only looms and their ilk.

Looms don't have an "ilk". They are inanimate, so don't have family.

:D

[Seriously, though, that just happens to be one of my pet peeves.]

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 28, 2017 8:57 am 
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An Draighean wrote:
Sorry, wheels do not weave

Don't know the original context, but isn't that context-dependent? Like, for example, a cyclist's wheels weaving in and out of obstacles...

Edit: deleted rest of post because I was embarrassingly wrong about something I did (and should) know!

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Last edited by Peter Duggan on Sun Oct 29, 2017 2:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 28, 2017 9:13 am 
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I agree about the similar things part. But I thought that my objection encapsulated that as well as the other objection. After, you can't really accept that it's to do with family, place etc, without also accepting that it's not about similar things.

I know that modern dictionaries tend to list the 'similar things' meaning as acceptable. But it isn't by me. I do have a reason, apart from being awkward. It's because "ilk" is a fancy word. There are plenty of other, more common words, to describe things being alike without having to deliberately distort the meaning of a specialised term. If we use a specialised term for a much wider set of meanings that used to be the case, when we want to use that specialised term, what have we left? There is no substitute for "ilk" in its proper sense. But there are plenty of very common words which we could choose if we just want to say that something is like something else. "Like" would be one of them, for instance.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 28, 2017 1:40 pm 
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benhall.1 wrote:
It's because "ilk" is a fancy word. There are plenty of other, more common words, to describe things being alike without having to deliberately distort the meaning of a specialised term. If we use a specialised term for a much wider set of meanings that used to be the case, when we want to use that specialised term, what have we left?


True. But ultimately, words mean what people mean by them. "Ilk" in its purest sense is, lets face it, a word with a declining market. According to the principles of linguistics, it'll either take on a more general meaning, or die out. Which would you prefer?

In any case, words can mean things both literally and metaphorically. It seems you were objecting to a metaphoric use by complaining that it isn't literally true. That's a category error.

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And now there was no doubt that the trees were really moving - moving in and out through one another as if in a complicated country dance. ('And I suppose,' thought Lucy, 'when trees dance, it must be a very, very country dance indeed.')

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 28, 2017 6:47 pm 
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Tunborough wrote:
Nanohedron wrote:
Then there's the time I got a burr under my saddle when early-18th-Century whatshername in Pirates of the Caribbean said to whatshisname, "I'm okay."
I don't know that they ever claimed historical accuracy was high on their list of production values ... or anywhere on it, for that matter. If it helps, consider it literature in translation, adapted to the language of the intended audience. You wouldn't quibble about a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream that wasn't in Athenian Greek, would you?

Well, it's not like I freaked out about it. But saying "I'm okay" in an early 18th century setting did stick out for me like a sore thumb for some reason. That's all. Can't explain that when there is so much else I might have taken exception to. It had the same discordant effect on me as seeing a bearded man in drag.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 28, 2017 8:03 pm 
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benhall.1 wrote:
There is no substitute for "ilk" in its proper sense. But there are plenty of very common words which we could choose if we just want to say that something is like something else. "Like" would be one of them, for instance.


Yes, it occurred to me after I posted that "like" would probably be a better word.

Thanks for the correction in any event; I didn't know that ilk had a familial connotation.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 28, 2017 8:18 pm 
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s1m0n wrote:
But ultimately, words mean what people mean by them.

End dove coarse, ewer awl two write, serr. Butt lettuce knot stoup too wit.

s1m0n wrote:
"Ilk" in its purest sense is, lets face it, a word with a declining market. According to the principles of linguistics, it'll either take on a more general meaning, or die out.

Fear not. As long as there are clan chieftains, the word will live.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 29, 2017 8:22 am 
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Nanohedron wrote:
Then there's the time I got a burr under my saddle when early-18th-Century whatshername in Pirates of the Caribbean said to whatshisname, "I'm okay."


I had someone get annoyed with my first fantasy book for using the phrase "leisure time."

My answer to that was "This book clearly doesn't take place on Earth as you know it, so clearly they can't be speaking English. Chalk it up to the translator." :D

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