When burning is wet, not so hot
Posted: 30 January 2018 07:56 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Once upon a time there was cremation (n.)
1620s, from Latin cremationem (nominative crematio), noun of action from past participle stem of cremare “to burn, consume by fire” (also used of the dead), from PIE *krem-, extended form of root *ker- (3) “heat, fire.” (source: https://www.etymonline.com/word/cremation).  As Oxford Dictionaries tells it, cremation is “The disposal of a dead person’s body by burning it to ashes.”

Suddenly, there is a new way, fire free, to cremate a corpse— Water cremation. 
Read all about it here.  No fire or combustion required.  Rather than ashes, one gets some liquid.

Water cremation is to cremation as non-dairy creamer is to cream?

Is there a name for this meaning shift, in which a functional name is carried over to a different function, with only a somewhat similar output—less than a full corpse in this case— in common?

wikipedia: Alkaline hydrolysis (also called biocremation, resomation, flameless cremation, or water cremation) is a process for the disposal of human remains which produces less carbon dioxide and pollutants than cremation.

[ Edited: 30 January 2018 08:42 AM by cuchuflete ]
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Posted: 30 January 2018 10:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Somehow, dribbling the dear departed over the ocean or earth doesn’t have quite the same power as scattering their ashes.

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Posted: 30 January 2018 12:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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What?  No Dune references?

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Posted: 30 January 2018 01:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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It’s simply called semantic shift, or in this case more specifically broadening.

It’s a perfectly ordinary and everyday process. Tea, for example, refers to all sorts of infused drinks, not just those infused with leaves of the tea tree. A companion is not just someone you eat bread with. There are countless other examples that you don’t even think of because the shift did not happen in your lifetime.

In this case, cremation is nowadays pretty much only used in reference to disposing corpses, so that’s the dominant aspect people associate with the word, not fire. So it’s no surprise that cremation would come to refer to other means of disposing of bodies.

[ Edited: 30 January 2018 09:25 PM by Dave Wilton ]
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Posted: 30 January 2018 08:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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The process (alkaline hydrolysis of corpses, not semantic shift) was discussed here about two years ago: see this thread.

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Posted: 31 January 2018 06:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Aha, I knew it sounded familiar!  (Yes, I get all my body-disposal information from Wordorigins.)

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Posted: 31 January 2018 12:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Well, you know what they say: A good friend will help you move; a great friend will help you move a body.

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Posted: 01 February 2018 05:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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I think there’s a good, if somewhat unappetising, parallel in the verb roast.

Roast has meant, as the OED puts it, ‘To cook (food, esp. meat) by prolonged exposure to heat at or before a fire’ in English since at least AD 1300, as do its roots in earlier Germanic languages. It continued to mean this for over half a millennium till in the mid-19th century the standard fuel in all urban environments changed from wood to coal. You cannot roast anything over or in front of a coal fire because burning coal gives off foul-smelling and -tasting smoke, and nasty black smuts. With coal you can only cook in an enclosed oven or on a hot plate.  However, 19th-century cooks’ employers / patrons / husbands were still keenly demanding roast meat and poultry, and all the cooks could do was dress the meat as they had always done for roasting, cook it in the oven instead, and serve it up in the same way and with the same sauces as ‘roast leg of mutton’, ‘roast beef’, roast duck’ or what-have-you. I’m sure that cooks who lived through this change of technique were muttering to themselves ‘This isn’t roasting, it’s baking!’ But as far as the consumers were concerned, the same commodity as before had been sent to the kitchen, put through a process that they didn’t see and didn’t necessarily have to envisage, and the result of the process as produced for them wasn’t much different from what the previous technology had produced. Therefore, it didn’t seem unreasonable to call it by the same word.

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