1101: "Sketchiness"

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Re: 1101: "Sketchiness"

Postby noodle » Thu Aug 30, 2012 8:30 am UTC

you are either extraordinarily young, extraordinarily old, or not from America.


Phew - at least I got an American aware of "the rest of the world".

Yes, Im from down under - AFAIK we don't use the word "sketchy" here (nor "douche", for the record, its always struck as something very odd, that an item for feminine hygiene should become a word of rebuke).

I'm 43... is that extraordinarily young or extraordinarily old?

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Re: 1101: "Sketchiness"

Postby noodle » Thu Aug 30, 2012 8:41 am UTC

Oh and weighing into the "American" thing.... its because thats what "Americans" call themselves and the place they live.

As in "God Bless America"

"America is the greatest country on Earth"

...etc etc et ad nauseum. (Yes thats right, those of us in TROTW aren't keen on it).

Here in AUS our word for it is "jingoism" - is that for "Americans" on par with "sketchy" for me?

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Re: 1101: "Sketchiness"

Postby Strange » Thu Aug 30, 2012 9:02 am UTC

Chrisfs wrote:Sketchy means unseemly, tawdry possibly disreputable. a guy selling multiple music CDs with plain covers from a blanket at a flea market is sketchy.
A cheap porn store with dated mechandise and a weird smell is sketchy.


Thank you. In British English it only has the "incomplete" meaning, as far as I know.

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Re: 1101: "Sketchiness"

Postby Faux » Thu Aug 30, 2012 12:12 pm UTC

AvatarIII wrote:how do germans refer to non-Hollander Dutch?


From the ones which I've been in contact, usually pejoratives. But to be fair, it might be all Dutch.

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Re: 1101: "Sketchiness"

Postby mathmannix » Thu Aug 30, 2012 1:17 pm UTC

noodle wrote:Oh and weighing into the "American" thing.... its because thats what "Americans" call themselves and the place they live.


This is actually a good point IMO... people should have a right to label themselves, in terms of (a) race/ethnicity (I prefer "white" to "Caucasian"), (b) nationality ("American") or (c) location ("USA or America" for me.)

clockworkbookreader wrote:When it comes to American vs. USian or U. S. Citizen, I prefer "yankee" ...


It was my impression, prior to not seeing any supportive statements in the above posts, that people in nations southward of the US often called "Americans" Yankees (or Yanquis.) Of course, as I live in the southeastern part of the US, I consider that term a tiny little bit mildly offensive, as we are "Southerners". Of course, getting everyone else to call us "Southern Americans" (as opposed to the "Northern Americans" who live in Boston and Chicago) would probably be absurdly difficult!!! Still, though... it sounds nice IMO. Like calling the people from former Saigon "Southern Vietnamese". I would also guess that some people from the former sovereign nation of Tibet object to being called Chinese just because their country is now occupied by China. I personally don't consider the Yankees to be (still) an occupying force (like they clearly were during Reconstruction, from 1865 until as late as 1877.) But I'm certain some people in the South still do see it that way...
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Re: 1101: "Sketchiness"

Postby flicky1991 » Thu Aug 30, 2012 2:47 pm UTC

mathmannix wrote:It was my impression, prior to not seeing any supportive statements in the above posts, that people in nations southward of the US often called "Americans" Yankees (or Yanquis.) Of course, as I live in the southeastern part of the US, I consider that term a tiny little bit mildly offensive, as we are "Southerners". Of course, getting everyone else to call us "Southern Americans" (as opposed to the "Northern Americans" who live in Boston and Chicago) would probably be absurdly difficult!!!

Well, at least in England, "Yankee" means anyone from the USA, and "Southern American" is the only term for people from the South of the USA.
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Re: 1101: "Sketchiness"

Postby J Thomas » Thu Aug 30, 2012 3:33 pm UTC

mathmannix wrote:It was my impression, prior to not seeing any supportive statements in the above posts, that people in nations southward of the US often called "Americans" Yankees (or Yanquis.) Of course, as I live in the southeastern part of the US, I consider that term a tiny little bit mildly offensive, as we are "Southerners". Of course, getting everyone else to call us "Southern Americans" (as opposed to the "Northern Americans" who live in Boston and Chicago) would probably be absurdly difficult!!! Still, though... it sounds nice IMO. Like calling the people from former Saigon "Southern Vietnamese". I would also guess that some people from the former sovereign nation of Tibet object to being called Chinese just because their country is now occupied by China. I personally don't consider the Yankees to be (still) an occupying force (like they clearly were during Reconstruction, from 1865 until as late as 1877.) But I'm certain some people in the South still do see it that way...


I was also raised in the US South, and I also feel a tiny twinge of irritation at being called a Yankee. I have to remember to take it in context.

In my experience, the people who make the biggest fuss about being Southerners are also the ones who make the biggest fuss about calling it the War Between the States and not the Civil war, and also the biggest fuss about insisting that the USA is a republic and not a democracy. Those same people make the biggest fuss about supporting the troops and about the treason of other Americans who don't support the troops sufficiently. They are the first and the loudest in support of new foreign wars, and for continuing foreign wars that are going badly. They are Republicans and have implicitly forgiven the GOP for the Civil War and for Reconstruction.

It is useless to try to avoid offending them. Unless you are one of them and support them in everything, they will be offended.
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Re: 1101: "Sketchiness"

Postby Mountainhawk » Thu Aug 30, 2012 5:13 pm UTC

Calling Americans some form of 'USians' sounds as stupid as calling Germans 'Federal Republicers', Iranians 'Islamic Republicers' or North Koreans 'Democratic People Republicans'. The United States part of "United States of America" is just the formal description of the government type, just like in the "Federal Republic of Germany", "Islamic Republic of Iran", or the "Democratic People's Republic of Korea". The majority of countries have a formal name of the form "Government descriptor of Country Name".

The country's name is America. Yes, it is also the second word in two continents' names, but oh well, that happens a lot in English. The word resign is practically its own antonym.
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Re: 1101: "Sketchiness"

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Aug 30, 2012 6:15 pm UTC

J Thomas wrote:insisting that the USA is a republic and not a democracy

The rest of those may be matters of opinion (which is not to say that they're all equally right, but at least debatable), but this one really sticks in my craw because it shows a basic misunderstanding of the terminology, while trying to be a stickler for that terminology.

All republics are democracies. A republic is a state where ultimate sovereign is the people, as opposed to something like a monarchy where the monarch is the ultimate sovereign.

Non-republics can still be operationally democratic. The Queen of England doesn't actually rule anything herself despite being technically the sovereign; day-to-day operations are carried out by "her" Parliaments in the various countries of which she is the sovereign. But they are still "her" Parliaments, and actions by the state are carried out in the name of the Crown, not the People.

A democracy of any sort can be either direct or representative, and that is the point that this "republic vs democracy" crowd seems to be trying to harp on. Yes, the US is a representative democracy, not a direct one. Yes, it is also a republic, not a monarchy, but that's besides the point. The UK is also a representative democracy but not a republic. Maybe it's just because both terms start with "rep"? Is that the source of all their confusion?

I've noticed that this same crowd tries to make some huge stink about some made-up difference between "unalienable" rights and "inalienable" rights (and some connection between those and liens), which drives me even more up the wall...
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Re: 1101: "Sketchiness"

Postby chenille » Thu Aug 30, 2012 6:31 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:All republics are democracies. A republic is a state where ultimate sovereign is the people, as opposed to something like a monarchy where the monarch is the ultimate sovereign.

The canonical, name-giving example of a Republic was the Roman Republic, and while it did have some level of representation for the people, calling it a democracy without qualification really seems like it is missing the basic principle of the government. I agree with you that the republic vs. democracy distinction is made up, but it seems like you are taking that a little far.

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Re: 1101: "Sketchiness"

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Aug 30, 2012 9:30 pm UTC

chenille wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote:All republics are democracies. A republic is a state where ultimate sovereign is the people, as opposed to something like a monarchy where the monarch is the ultimate sovereign.

The canonical, name-giving example of a Republic was the Roman Republic, and while it did have some level of representation for the people, calling it a democracy without qualification really seems like it is missing the basic principle of the government. I agree with you that the republic vs. democracy distinction is made up, but it seems like you are taking that a little far.

Yeah, I suppose acting in the name of the people doesn't actually require asking the people what they want you to do, any more than asking the people what they want you to do means acting in their name. So just as you can have democracies which are not republics (like England), you can also have republics which are not democracies (like Rome).

But you can still have democratic republics (like the US). And that's still completely different from representative vs direct democracy, which is what people seem to conflate republic vs democracy with.
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Re: 1101: "Sketchiness"

Postby jpk » Fri Aug 31, 2012 5:16 am UTC

mathmannix wrote:
noodle wrote:Oh and weighing into the "American" thing.... its because thats what "Americans" call themselves and the place they live.


This is actually a good point IMO... people should have a right to label themselves, in terms of (a) race/ethnicity (I prefer "white" to "Caucasian"), (b) nationality ("American") or (c) location ("USA or America" for me.)


Actually, it's not. If you're choosing among several terms, all of which more or less refer to the same [region/ethnicity/karass of choice] then fine, the people in that karass can choose what they want to be called. The Dutch can call themselves Hollanders or Nederlanders or Dutch as they please - all of those terms are about equal in scope. There may be political and historical resonances that I'm not attuned to, but I'm never going to hear "Dutch" and think "German".
But if their choice of label is actually wider in scope than their particular karass, they have to either accept that wider scope or reject the term. So if people in Massachusetts (where I currently live) generally preferred to call themselves "New Englanders", that'd be fine - if they meant to say that they're more interested in being from the New England region than from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. However, if they want to say "New England" and by it they want to mean just the Commonwealth then their neighbors in Vermont and New Hampshire etc would have a legitimate grounds for complaint - and anyone interested in reasonable use of language would have to raise an eyebrow at their presumption.
To make the claim a little sharper, let's suppose that people from New England wanted to call themselves "Americans" and they wanted the rest of the world to use that term to refer just to people from the six states in the upper right corner of the USA. The rest of the country, you'd agree, would have a right to dispute that usage.

So how is it different for one country to lay exclusive claim to the name properly applying to two large continents?

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Re: 1101: "Sketchiness"

Postby vltava » Fri Aug 31, 2012 5:37 am UTC

Off topic by being on topic, but - "canoe", "ramp", "orchestra", "laboratory", "committee", "portal", "nebula". From the comments, I like "showdown" and "furnace".

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Re: 1101: "Sketchiness"

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Aug 31, 2012 6:11 am UTC

jpk wrote:So how is it different for one country to lay exclusive claim to the name properly applying to two large continents?

Lets try this for a different analogy.

Does anybody call themselves Eurasian? Some people may call themselves European, especially now that there's a single European Union; I doubt many people actually from Asia call themselves Asian, though people of Asiatic heritage may call themselves that in the same sense that people of European descent call themselves "white". From my understanding people from Asian countries call themselves whatever demonym is used for their people, and generally object to being lumped together as "Asians".

Now say Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan (that's every country bordering the Black and Caspian Seas except Russia, plus Armenia and Uzbekistan for presentation) for some reason joined together into the United States of Eurasia. What would we call citizens of this country? "Eurasians" seems the obvious bet. Sure, there are lots of other countries in Eurasia, but none of them say "Eurasia" in the name, and "Eurasian" isn't generally a demonym used by people from those other countries -- they call themselves whatever demonym people from their countries use.

It seems to me like people complaining that "America" shouldn't 'belong' to the US are looking for something to complain about. Yes, "American" can apply to anything from any of the Americas, if you need a demonym that broad. But does e.g. a Venezualan think of himself as an "Americano" or the like? In more than the sense that a Mongolian thinks of himself as an Asian, which I'd wager is "technically yes, if you have to ask"?
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Re: 1101: "Sketchiness"

Postby vltava » Fri Aug 31, 2012 9:56 am UTC

Hey, baby, wanna come back to my sex tournament?

I note you can alter the whole tenor of the sentence by using "life". Clearly this only makes any sense if addressing an old flame...

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Re: 1101: "Sketchiness"

Postby TemporaryLife » Fri Aug 31, 2012 10:28 am UTC

jonadab wrote:"gulag"


I don't know WHY I laughed so hard at this, but I did. You have my permission to stop, since you've struck oil.

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Re: 1101: "Sketchiness"

Postby Eternal Density » Fri Aug 31, 2012 11:25 am UTC

To me, anything starting with "Hey baby" sounds somewhat sketchy.
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Re: 1101: "Sketchiness"

Postby eran_rathan » Fri Aug 31, 2012 12:29 pm UTC

jpk wrote:So if people in Massachusetts (where I currently live) generally preferred to call themselves "New Englanders", that'd be fine - if they meant to say that they're more interested in being from the New England region than from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.



But some of them would still be Massholes*, regardless.


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Re: 1101: "Sketchiness"

Postby jpk » Fri Aug 31, 2012 1:54 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
jpk wrote:So how is it different for one country to lay exclusive claim to the name properly applying to two large continents?

Lets try this for a different analogy.

Does anybody call themselves Eurasian? Some people may call themselves European, especially now that there's a single European Union; I doubt many people actually from Asia call themselves Asian, though people of Asiatic heritage may call themselves that in the same sense that people of European descent call themselves "white". From my understanding people from Asian countries call themselves whatever demonym is used for their people, and generally object to being lumped together as "Asians".

Now say Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan (that's every country bordering the Black and Caspian Seas except Russia, plus Armenia and Uzbekistan for presentation) for some reason joined together into the United States of Eurasia. What would we call citizens of this country? "Eurasians" seems the obvious bet. Sure, there are lots of other countries in Eurasia, but none of them say "Eurasia" in the name, and "Eurasian" isn't generally a demonym used by people from those other countries -- they call themselves whatever demonym people from their countries use.

It seems to me like people complaining that "America" shouldn't 'belong' to the US are looking for something to complain about. Yes, "American" can apply to anything from any of the Americas, if you need a demonym that broad. But does e.g. a Venezualan think of himself as an "Americano" or the like? In more than the sense that a Mongolian thinks of himself as an Asian, which I'd wager is "technically yes, if you have to ask"?



That's a pretty strained hypothetical. I wouldn't want to put any weight on it if I were you.
First of all, we're not talking about what people "call themselves" - we're talking about the simple meaning of a term. "American" means "of or from America", just as "Finnish" means "of or from Finland". "America" includes "North America" and "South America". I might not "call myself" an American, for whatever that's worth, but I was born in the continental United States, which is in America, so I'm an American. I'm also a US citizen, and I think of myself as being "from" Portland, because that's where I've spent most of my life and that's where I intend to return to, but if you call me "American" you're speaking truly.

Second, it's hard to avoid the sense that you're trying to play on the ambiguity of "Eurasian" which has been used in this discussion to refer to the land mass running from Calais to Cathay, but can also be used to refer to the "taint" at the center of that land mass. So if anyone were able to get up the courage to walk out on your rickety analogy, trusting that you mean what you seem to intend to mean (the latter sense) you could suddenly decide that you want "Eurasia" to include the Dutch - aha!, gotcha!
Meh. Rhetorical trick is rhetorical. "Eurasia", as you say, is not a term used by anyone to refer to anywhere in particular. Why would anyone use it to name their country?
But if I'm forced to take a positon on this, it's not too hard: if we allow that the term "Eurasia" is standardly used to mean anything broader than the area in your painful example, then the name "United States of (ow!) Eurasia" would be incorrect, and "Eurasian" would not be a felicitous term for the citizens of that nation.

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Re: 1101: "Sketchiness"

Postby Whizbang » Fri Aug 31, 2012 3:50 pm UTC

Monty Python's The Meaning of Life wrote:Shut up, you American. You Americans, all you do is talk, and talk, and say "let me tell you something" and "I just wanna say." Well, you're dead now, so shut up.

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Re: 1101: "Sketchiness"

Postby neremanth » Fri Aug 31, 2012 6:33 pm UTC

sonalita wrote:
ShuRugal wrote:

you are ... not from America.

something is "sketchy" if it sounds untrustworthy, suspect, or poorly defined.


I know for some it's hard to imagine, but there are other countries in the world besides America. Many even have internet access and some of their citizens read xkcd!

In the UK at least, only your last definition is common. I've never come across "sketchy" in this context before.


Me neither. So once again I have learned something new from xkcd. I think we in the UK would use "dodgy" for the first two senses of that definition. Do you people from the USA not have "dodgy" in those senses?

Pfhorrest wrote:But you can still have democratic republics (like the US)

And interestingly, you can have "Democratic Republic"s which are not in fact democratic republics. At least, they're not democratic. It seems to me as though every country with "Democratic Republic" in its name that I can think of offhand and actually know anything about* was/is undemocratic, so now I'm wondering:
a) Am I wrong about that - have there been/are there any "Democratic Republic"s that genuinely were democratic republics?
b) Have there been any "Democratic Republic"s that were democratic but not republics?

*Admittedly this is not a long list

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Re: 1101: "Sketchiness"

Postby Whizbang » Fri Aug 31, 2012 6:51 pm UTC

neremanth wrote:Me neither. So once again I have learned something new from xkcd. I think we in the UK would use "dodgy" for the first two senses of that definition. Do you people from the USA not have "dodgy" in those senses?


As a citizen of the US of A (born and raised in Utah, spent my adult life in New Hampshire), I have never heard anyone use the term "Dodgy" in any context. I have seen and heard it used on Brittish programs and movies, however, so would not bat an eyelash if I were to encounter it. From my understanding of the two terms, they appear to be interchangable.

Also, I don't hear "sketchy" all that often, either.

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Re: 1101: "Sketchiness"

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Aug 31, 2012 8:42 pm UTC

jpk wrote:Second, it's hard to avoid the sense that you're trying to play on the ambiguity of "Eurasian" which has been used in this discussion to refer to the land mass running from Calais to Cathay, but can also be used to refer to the "taint" at the center of that land mass.

I was unaware that anyone used that second sense. The only sense of "Eurasia" that I am familiar with is the sense of the land mass encompassing what otherwise might be called Europe and Asia, from Iberia to Siberia.

So if anyone were able to get up the courage to walk out on your rickety analogy, trusting that you mean what you seem to intend to mean (the latter sense) you could suddenly decide that you want "Eurasia" to include the Dutch - aha!, gotcha!

As above, I did intend "Eurasia" to include the Dutch. This is why I mentioned people calling themselves Europeans and Asians immediately after asking if anyone called themselves Eurasians. The analogy was of North America and South America to the Americas jointly (or "America"); a Mongolian is a Mongolian first and an Asian second and a Eurasian third in the same sense that a Venezualan is a Venezualan first and a South American second and an American third.

"Eurasia", as you say, is not a term used by anyone to refer to anywhere in particular.

It's a term used to refer to the geographical landmass. It's just not a term people use for their demonym. A Dutchman and a Mongolian are both technically Eurasian, but neither is going to identify themselves as such, even if they might admit "I guess, technically" if asked. I'm saying that to my knowledge people from other countries in the Americas are the same way; they are Canadian or Mexican or Venezuelan or Brazillian or Chilean, and "yeah I guess technically" American. People from the United States of America are equally "yeah I guess technically" American in that broader sense of American, but they are also definitively American in the more narrow sense of that is what people from the United States of America are called.

Why would anyone use it to name their country?

Why would one medium-sized country in the middle of North America call itself the "United States of America"? The point was to imagine an analogy to that scenario. My hypothetical U.S.E. would occupy a big chunk of Eurasia, but not the whole of it, just like the U.S.A. occupies a big chunk of America (in the broader sense), but not the whole of it.

But if I'm forced to take a positon on this, it's not too hard: if we allow that the term "Eurasia" is standardly used to mean anything broader than the area in your painful example, then the name "United States of (ow!) Eurasia" would be incorrect, and "Eurasian" would not be a felicitous term for the citizens of that nation.

So the name "United States of America" is incorrect as well? We should rename the country?
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Re: 1101: "Sketchiness"

Postby Radical_Initiator » Fri Aug 31, 2012 8:49 pm UTC

Whizbang wrote:
neremanth wrote:Me neither. So once again I have learned something new from xkcd. I think we in the UK would use "dodgy" for the first two senses of that definition. Do you people from the USA not have "dodgy" in those senses?


As a citizen of the US of A (born and raised in Utah, spent my adult life in New Hampshire), I have never heard anyone use the term "Dodgy" in any context. I have seen and heard it used on Brittish programs and movies, however, so would not bat an eyelash if I were to encounter it. From my understanding of the two terms, they appear to be interchangable.

Also, I don't hear "sketchy" all that often, either.

I use "dodgy" fairly often, but that could be because I'm something of an anglophile. But I hear "dodgy", "sketchy" and "hinky" fairly commonly, which leads me to believe I am hanging out with unreliable people.
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Re: 1101: "Sketchiness"

Postby bmonk » Fri Aug 31, 2012 9:29 pm UTC

clockworkbookreader wrote:When it comes to American vs. USian or U. S. Citizen, I prefer "yankee" or "arrogant bastard."

Just don't call a Texan or Georgian either one of those...
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Re: 1101: "Sketchiness"

Postby freezeblade » Fri Aug 31, 2012 9:40 pm UTC

Radical_Initiator wrote:"hinky"


What is this nonsense?
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Re: 1101: "Sketchiness"

Postby flicky1991 » Sat Sep 01, 2012 5:01 pm UTC

freezeblade wrote:
Radical_Initiator wrote:"hinky"


What is this nonsense?

Took the words right out of my mouth.

I understand the term "sketchy" from US media, but it's not something I'd say, and "dodgy" to me would mainly be used in the sense of "poorly constructed". In the context of the comic, I'd probably say "creepy".
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Re: 1101: "Sketchiness"

Postby Max™ » Sat Sep 01, 2012 6:04 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
Max™ wrote:I'd be ok with 10: Eurasian, North American, South American, Caribbean, African, Arabian, Indian, Australian, Antarctic.

[img]http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/8a/Plates_tect2_en.svg/800px-Plates_tect2_en.svg.png[img]

The problem is that tectonic plates don't define continents. A continuous body of land (literally a "continent", terra continens) can span several tectonic plates, and worse still discontinuous parts of land can rest on the same tectonic plate. Even if some people would be OK with calling India or Arabia separate continents, I don't think claiming half of Japan is in America is going to fly.

I never said Japan was a continent, but half of Japan is on the North American continental plate, so half of Japan is North American, so you're basing your distinction on a covering of water.
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Re: 1101: "Sketchiness"

Postby jpers36 » Sat Sep 01, 2012 8:10 pm UTC

No love for "shady" as another synonym for "sketchy"?

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Re: 1101: "Sketchiness"

Postby webdude » Sun Sep 02, 2012 12:16 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
jpk wrote:So how is it different for one country to lay exclusive claim to the name properly applying to large continents?

Does anybody call themselves Eurasian?

If I was of Asian descent, then yes, I would call myself Eurasian.

"Europe" covers a broad geographical area and range of people. Scandanavians are quite different from Albanians, though both are European. I, like the majority of Americans, am primarily of Western European heritage (I'm throwing Germany and Austria into W. Europe due to a common Germanic language and culture, as opposed to the Russo-slavic culture of much of Eastern Europe). Because my ancestry covers a large chunk of W. Europe, I am a Euromutt by heritage and American (or a USer - see above) by birth.

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Re: 1101: "Sketchiness"

Postby Pfhorrest » Sun Sep 02, 2012 2:30 am UTC

Max™ wrote:so you're basing your distinction on a covering of water.

Yep, since that's where the term "continent" comes from. A continuous body of land, i.e. not divided by any body of water.

Strictly speaking that would mean that every island is a continent of its own, though, which clearly doesn't match any usage ever, so can't be what was intended; some minimum size must be necessary. But once we get a minimum size large enough to rule out everything usually called an island, then we find that there was only one continent, Afro-Eurasia, in the entirety of the known world when the term was coined, rendering the term rather useless, so that clearly can't be what was intended either. So some minimum size of connection between two landmasses of a sufficient size must be required, and a strait smaller than that counts as a discontinuity separating two continents, such as Africa and Eurasia.

Where the common notion of Europe as a separate continent from Asia ever came from still boggles me though. Did people once think the Black Sea kept on going north or something, dividing Europe from Asia?
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Re: 1101: "Sketchiness"

Postby J Thomas » Sun Sep 02, 2012 4:37 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:Where the common notion of Europe as a separate continent from Asia ever came from still boggles me though. Did people once think the Black Sea kept on going north or something, dividing Europe from Asia?


Tradition. Herodotus said that all the land was linked up, except for some islands. The boundary between africa and asia was set at the nile. Asia was considered to be the middle east extending to india, and europe was everything to the north -- europe was as long west to east as africa and asia together. Nobody he knew, knew where europe ended to the north, and anybody who knew where the island with the tin mines (Ireland or England) were wasn't telling.

He said the continents were named after women, and he didn't know why they put the boundaries where they did.
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Re: 1101: "Sketchiness"

Postby chenille » Sun Sep 02, 2012 4:43 am UTC

Max™ wrote:I never said Japan was a continent, but half of Japan is on the North American continental plate, so half of Japan is North American, so you're basing your distinction on a covering of water.

Of course we are, since it matters to most land animals. As Pfhorrest said, it's the basic meaning of the word continent - from terra continens, continuous land. If you're interested in the regions of the world as separated by plate boundaries instead, there's already a different word for that: plates. Why not keep both concepts?

Pfhorrest wrote:Where the common notion of Europe as a separate continent from Asia ever came from still boggles me though. Did people once think the Black Sea kept on going north or something, dividing Europe from Asia?

Sort of. The three continents Europe, Asia, and Africa were the invention of the ancient Greeks, back when anything north of the Black Sea was mostly rumor; for practical purposes it divided the world as much as the other seas. By historical times they were more familiar with eastern Europe - as J Thomas says, Herodotus writes a lot about it - but there was still a common notion that the Caspian might open into the ocean, a kind of mirror image of the Persian gulf.

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Re: 1101: "Sketchiness"

Postby Max™ » Mon Sep 03, 2012 3:04 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
Max™ wrote:so you're basing your distinction on a covering of water.

Yep, since that's where the term "continent" comes from. A continuous body of land, i.e. not divided by any body of water.

Strictly speaking that would mean that every island is a continent of its own, though, which clearly doesn't match any usage ever, so can't be what was intended; some minimum size must be necessary. But once we get a minimum size large enough to rule out everything usually called an island, then we find that there was only one continent, Afro-Eurasia, in the entirety of the known world when the term was coined, rendering the term rather useless, so that clearly can't be what was intended either. So some minimum size of connection between two landmasses of a sufficient size must be required, and a strait smaller than that counts as a discontinuity separating two continents, such as Africa and Eurasia.

Where the common notion of Europe as a separate continent from Asia ever came from still boggles me though. Did people once think the Black Sea kept on going north or something, dividing Europe from Asia?

Yeah, I wasn't saying any island counts, just that half of Japan is indeed part of North America, it's certainly not part of Asia in any way.

The names I suggested weren't "North America", but "The North American Continent", "The Caribbean (Sub-)Continent", etc.

The straight of a certain size is silly though, America, Afro-Eurasia, Australia, Antarctica for the win.
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Re: 1101: "Sketchiness"

Postby noodle » Mon Sep 03, 2012 3:24 am UTC

Aussies say "dodgy" too (we're just the brits they didn't want, after all) - though in the context of the comic we'd say "creepy" I think.

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Re: 1101: "Sketchiness"

Postby chenille » Mon Sep 03, 2012 3:55 am UTC

Max™ wrote:The straight of a certain size is silly though, America, Afro-Eurasia, Australia, Antarctica for the win.

It doesn't actually have anything to do with the straights. It has to do with the relatively narrow isthmuses, which make it very intuitive to look at North and South America as separate regions with a single bridge between them, and likewise Africa and Eurasia. And as it happens, continental drift supports the notion that those are passing connections between more permanent pieces.

This isn't math; sometimes it is less important to enforce some simple definition, and more important to go with what is actually useful. Regardless of the fact that it is now drifting a bit more with North America, for instance, Japan has very close ties to Asia in terms of the culture, the animals, the plants, and most of its geological history. I don't see any value in a unit that includes both Johannesburg and Beijing but not Hokkaido, except maybe planning a road trip where you can't use ferries.
Last edited by chenille on Mon Sep 03, 2012 4:01 am UTC, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: 1101: "Sketchiness"

Postby javahead » Mon Sep 03, 2012 3:57 am UTC

Sex-capade

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Re: 1101: "Sketchiness"

Postby Max™ » Mon Sep 03, 2012 4:17 am UTC

chenille wrote:
Max™ wrote:The straight of a certain size is silly though, America, Afro-Eurasia, Australia, Antarctica for the win.

It doesn't actually have anything to do with the straights. It has to do with the relatively narrow isthmuses, which make it very intuitive to look at North and South America as separate regions with a single bridge between them, and likewise Africa and Eurasia. And as it happens, continental drift supports the notion that those are passing connections between more permanent pieces.

This isn't math; sometimes it is less important to enforce some simple definition, and more important to go with what is actually useful. Regardless of the fact that it is now drifting a bit more with North America, for instance, Japan has very close ties to Asia in terms of the culture, the animals, the plants, and most of its geological history. I don't see any value in a unit that includes both Johannesburg and Beijing but not Hokkaido, except maybe planning a road trip where you can't use ferries.

Japan isn't "drifting with North America", it is literally a part of the same plate.
Image

There is nothing arbitrary about "contiguous portion of a plate above sea level", there is nothing about "anything larger than the Panama/Suez canals divides continents" which isn't arbitrary.

Japan shares political and social similarities with Asia, half of it shares more than mere proximity with the Asian plate. Ultimately, the reasons for claiming there are 7 continents come down to tradition, which is the human side of geography, I'm partial to the physical side, but that's just me.
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Re: 1101: "Sketchiness"

Postby bmonk » Mon Sep 03, 2012 5:34 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
Max™ wrote:so you're basing your distinction on a covering of water.

Yep, since that's where the term "continent" comes from. A continuous body of land, i.e. not divided by any body of water.

Strictly speaking that would mean that every island is a continent of its own, though, which clearly doesn't match any usage ever, so can't be what was intended; some minimum size must be necessary. But once we get a minimum size large enough to rule out everything usually called an island, then we find that there was only one continent, Afro-Eurasia, in the entirety of the known world when the term was coined, rendering the term rather useless, so that clearly can't be what was intended either. So some minimum size of connection between two landmasses of a sufficient size must be required, and a strait smaller than that counts as a discontinuity separating two continents, such as Africa and Eurasia.

Where the common notion of Europe as a separate continent from Asia ever came from still boggles me though. Did people once think the Black Sea kept on going north or something, dividing Europe from Asia?

Back then, they didn't really know about the other side of the Black Sea. And Asia was a big land mass (Turkey/Anatolia) across from another (Greece). So, in their world, it was a separate land mass, not connected.
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Re: 1101: "Sketchiness"

Postby bjowen » Mon Sep 03, 2012 7:22 am UTC

jpk wrote:Totally off topic, but hear, hear. I like the term "USonian", which I've heard attributed to Frank Lloyd Wright. He supposedly used it to characterize the native architecture of the USA, but it works as a drop-in replacement for the incorrect use of "American".


I frequently use "USAnian" or "USAnal" ... depending on where the foreign policy's at.


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