chlorine
Posted: 01 September 2009 08:08 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Number 17.

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Posted: 02 September 2009 02:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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The chemical symbol for chlorine is Cl, taken from the first two letters of its name.

This is obviously some new definition of “first two letters” of which I was previously unaware.

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Posted: 02 September 2009 06:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Damn, “cut and paste” gets me again. Corrected. Thanks.

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Posted: 02 September 2009 11:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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But it is the first two letters in Greek.

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Posted: 02 September 2009 01:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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No, the first two letters in Greek are χλ.  (If I’m missing a joke, my apologies.)

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Posted: 03 September 2009 12:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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languagehat - 02 September 2009 01:33 PM

No, the first two letters in Greek are χλ.  (If I’m missing a joke, my apologies.)

What I meant to say is that the consonantal diagraph, while two letters in our alphabet, transliterates one letter in Greek.  Spanish by the way, also has a C and a CH, though the sound there is soft as in chocolate). 

It’s interesting that the decision to transliterate the χ as “ch” is not consistent. The Magna Carta, for example, could have been Magna Charta, though Latin seems to be the culprit there, and cartography could be chartography (the OED lists that as an alternative spelling but only has one citation for that). Archbishop could be pronounced arkbishop, though, once again Latin or more specifically Italian, seems to have softened the diagraph, but not, for some reason, in the word archangel. 

The ch is also an independent letter in Welsh, Irish and Scottish (Loch Lomond and Loch Ree come to mind. Wiki suggests that the Irish letter C with a dot over it was changed to ch when typewriters were invented. I’m not sure about that...).

Perhaps Dave could have said that the symbol Cl comes from the first two sounds of the word “chlorine.” Or. more academically, he could have said, first two phonemes ....  Chlorine could have been rendered Clorine.

In any case, mine was but an idle post but lh’s response led me through a marvelous walkabout in the OED.

[ Edited: 03 September 2009 01:06 PM by Oecolampadius ]
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Posted: 04 September 2009 06:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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In this case, my error was a cut and paste one.

But my etymologies for the chemical symbols are, for the most part, guesses. Reasonable and educated ones, but guesses nonetheless. If anyone knows of a document that explains the IUPAC reasoning behind the chemical symbols, I’d love to see it. (Although I doubt there would be a single document--the symbols were developed over decades.)

And there is no guarantee that English is the base language for the symbols. (In some cases, like potassium and K, it’s obviously not.) So to talk about the English /ch/ sound being represented by C is presumptuous and most likely incorrect. And IUPAC is made up of chemists, not linguists or phonologists. Their decisions are most likely based on what the chemists are using in their work, ability for the symbol to be easily recognized across multiple languages (not necessarily conform to any one particular language), and with some political considerations thrown in (i.e., don’t be too obviously Anglo-centric in the choices).

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Posted: 04 September 2009 07:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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So to talk about the English /ch/ sound being represented by C is presumptuous and most likely incorrect.

You’re taking my post waaaayyy too seriously, Dave.

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