Quanition
Posted: 28 June 2007 06:20 AM   [ Ignore ]
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A friend has asked if I can find out anything about the word ‘quanition’, which he encountered in some long-dead relative’s ancient diary. Googling has produced only a handful of references, all from America, all to do with death. I wonder if anyone out there might have come across the term and/or have any idea what it means.

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Posted: 28 June 2007 07:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I cannot find such a word ... except by Google in transcriptions of old death records and the like.

All of these examples are presumably from handwritten originals, so one must look at the original to make sure the transcription is correct.

My speculation is that the word might be an error for “inanition”: this would suggest that it was written in cursive with capital “I” looking something like a “2” and transcribed as “Q” (obviously requiring that the following “n” be read as “u").

“Inanition” would be an archaic medical term meaning essentially “starvation” but probably used as a generalization covering such things as “failure to thrive” (in more recent medical usage). I suppose it would have been applied to infants who wasted away for no definite reason.

[ Edited: 28 June 2007 07:33 PM by D Wilson ]
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Posted: 28 June 2007 07:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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That’s a fascinating speculation, which will I’m sure impress my friend no end! Many thanks. (Needless to say, I’m still open to offers....)

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Posted: 28 June 2007 12:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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GUANITION = DEATH

perhaps a reference to the fact that (besides opening the door to good fame, and extinguishing envy) death doth make guano (manure, at any rate, if not actual bird shit) of us all?

;-)

edit: on re-reading, I see it’s a Q and not a G.  Oh well. what’s one more damp squib at my age.......

reaches resignedly for bottle

[ Edited: 28 June 2007 12:28 PM by lionello ]
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Posted: 29 June 2007 01:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Ashes to ashes, guano to guano...doesn’t quite have the ring, somehow…

Re-googling seems to me to strengthen the case for ‘inanition’: of the four hits (of five, two are in fact identical), all concern the deaths of the very young (three months or less), and two (50%) actually have a question mark immediately after the word in question, suggesting that whoever was transcribing from the original doctor’s/coroner’s notes wasn’t entirely sure of the original. Thanks again.

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Posted: 29 June 2007 07:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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How ancient is this ancestor’s writing? (and once marmalade answers that...) Would all instances of “inanition” be capitalized for that time period? If not, it seems unlikely that the word would happen to always show up at the beginning of a sentence.

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Posted: 29 June 2007 08:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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FWIW, the Google hits for the word are all from transcribed tables, in which “quanition” is not part of a sentence but is a stand-alone word indicating the cause of death.  In some of the online transcriptions it is shown capitalized, in others not but I wouldn’t be too surprised if it had been cap’d in the handwritten orginals.  Still, it’s a valid question with respect to the diary, though if the word only occurs once (which might well be the case), “always” would be meaningless.

I think it extremely likely that “quanition” is a misreading of some other word, and “inanition” seems like a good suggestion to me.

[ Edited: 29 June 2007 08:11 AM by Dr. Techie ]
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