Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Orthanc and hysteresis

The name of Saruman's tower, Orthanc, is probably from Old English orþanc "mind, genius, wit, understanding". This is a combination of or "original" (as in German ur-) and þanc "thought". Þanc is from Proto-Indo-European *tong-, the same root as thank and think. Or is from Proto-Germanic *uz- "out" from Proto-Indo-European *ud- "up, out".

*ud- in the comparative form *ud-tero- became Greek ὕστερος husteros "later, last", then ὑστέρησις husterēsis "coming short, deficiency". Hysteresis is "the lagging of an effect behind its cause, as when the change in magnetism of a body lags behind changes in the magnetic field."

Example sentence?

Flies trapped in amber... not even the Doctor can escape a chronic hysteretic loop. I've caught him inside a fold of time.

3 comments :

mahendra singh said...

Your penchant for mythical & crypto-imaginary etymologies might be satiated by this:
http://www.spiegel.de/fotostrecke/fotostrecke-37310.html#backToArticle=591702

cheers! mahendra

goofy said...

That's really really really cool. I'd guess that a lot of these etymologies are really imaginary, seeing as "Most of the research for the names was done using books of etymology and the Internet". I don't see how Dortmund is "Gurglewaterton" or Hyderabad is "Liontown". But it's still very cool, like the map of an alternate earth.

goofy said...

Language Log discusses many of the folk etymologies in this altas:
http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=861