1662: "Jack and Jill"

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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby Copper Bezel » Fri Apr 01, 2016 8:30 pm UTC

Because because, dammit.
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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby Zinho » Fri Apr 01, 2016 9:07 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:Does anyone still say or write or mean "God be with ye" or "ever each"? If not, then the point is moot; the mistakes that lead to that usage were made in the past, the language is now different, and they're not mistakes in the new language. They were still mistakes when they were first made, in the past, but that's nothing to fault modern speakers for.

When people are actively misusing a language they're nominally still speaking, one that's still alive and has people still using it correctly, then when those latter people call the former people's usage in error, they're right.

I'm going to hazard making a strawman fallacy, and say you appear to think that "living language" and "invariant vocabulary/grammar/pronunciation" are compatible; they aren't. One of the primary uses of language is readily identifying those who are in your "in group" and those who are not; subtle alterations to common phrases used only among your friends/family (e.g. "God be with ye" -> "Goodbye") is not incorrect, it's what makes the difference between living languages and dead ones.

*NOTE: take my opinion with a grain of salt; my wife is the one with a Bachelor's in Linguistics, I'm just parroting from my conversations with her

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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby xtifr » Fri Apr 01, 2016 9:19 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:Does anyone still say or write or mean "God be with ye" or "ever each"?

Yes. Certainly the former.

The mistakes that lead to that usage were made in the past, the language is now different, and they're not mistakes in the new language. They were still mistakes when they were first made, in the past, but that's nothing to fault modern speakers for.

There was no moment when people stopped saying "god be with you" and switched to "goodbye". These transitions always take time, and we're right in the middle of thousands of similar transitions.

Also, language variation happens not only in time, but in space. D'ya ken, laddie? Your idea that there's one universal contemporary version of English is hella dumb. (And now people can start taking bets on whether I'm from Scotland or Northern California.) :wink:
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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Apr 01, 2016 9:47 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:Does anyone still say or write or mean "God be with ye"
"Ye" is nominative, so not so much. But "God be with you"?

Yes, absolutely.

They were still mistakes when they were first made, in the past, but that's nothing to fault modern speakers for.
Well, now that "ratchet" exists as a derivative (but not exact synonym) of "wretch(ed)", English has changed again, or at least one variety of it has.

You seem to have the same misunderstandings of language change as Creationists do of evolution when they say things like, "Show me just one transitional species!" (not understanding that all species are in transition), or "If we evolved from apes, how come there are still apes?" (not understanding that new species can exist without all related species needing to be extinct).
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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby Mikeski » Sat Apr 02, 2016 1:41 am UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:A monkey wrench is definitely exactly the same thing as an adjustable wrench. Google Images returns about 1/4 as many monkey wrenches that are not monkey wrenches as ones that are when searching for "monkey wrench".

I always thought a monkey wrench was another name for a pipe wrench, not for an adjustable wrench. (A pipe wrench is also adjustable, but the jaws point perpendicular to the wrench's handle, not nearly-parallel to it. Adjustable wrench is always the one that approximates the shape of a normal wrench/spanner.) Image searches for "adjustable wrench" and "pipe wrench" are a lot more consistent than "monkey wrench".

Wikipedia seems to agree. If you search "monkey wrench" there, it says it now refers to a pipe wrench, because the original "monkey wrench" isn't in common use anymore, and they're about the same shape.

(Being raised by a mechanic has possibly drilled more tool terminology into my head than is strictly necessary.)

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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby Copper Bezel » Sat Apr 02, 2016 2:45 am UTC

Ah, fair enough. I guess the fact that I've never had a particular mental image for a monkey wrench is probably a result of this abuse of the term by noninitiates.
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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby Lazy Tommy » Sat Apr 02, 2016 5:00 am UTC

Zinho wrote:One of the primary uses of language is readily identifying those who are in your "in group" and those who are not; subtle alterations to common phrases used only among your friends/family (e.g. "God be with ye" -> "Goodbye") is not incorrect, it's what makes the difference between living languages and dead ones.

I don't think that in-group / out-group discrimination is a primary use of language. Surely it ranks very, very far below the use of "communication."

When solidarity disappears within a group, *any* distinctive trait can be used to pick a minority that gets kicked out. It can be language, skin color, religion, or any other cultural or behavioral or physical trait. The *only* requirement is that the trait that gets deemed undesirable is one that is shared by a sufficiently small minority, so that the majority can be confident that they'll win.

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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby Copper Bezel » Sat Apr 02, 2016 6:30 am UTC

Lazy Tommy wrote:
Zinho wrote:One of the primary uses of language is readily identifying those who are in your "in group" and those who are not; subtle alterations to common phrases used only among your friends/family (e.g. "God be with ye" -> "Goodbye") is not incorrect, it's what makes the difference between living languages and dead ones.

I don't think that in-group / out-group discrimination is a primary use of language. Surely it ranks very, very far below the use of "communication."

I wouldn't make in-group / out-group discrimination special, but it's a part of the apprehension, reinforcement, navigation and maintenance of social bonds and hierarchy. "Communication" is too broad to mean anything here - language is in whole a part of communication. The proportion of language-centered communication that's primarily concerned with social organization is definitely greater than that primarily dedicated to the exchange of abstracted information, though.
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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby addams » Sat Apr 02, 2016 6:52 am UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:I'd never heard the term "mole wrench" before and got worried, but at least according to the Wikipedia page, the two terms I have used for them ("locking pliers" and "vice grips") are real terms and I'm safe. = o

(phew) Vice Grips.
I know that tool as a Vice Grip.

No. I have no idea how a such a useful tool became associated with 'vice'.
I have no idea Why a person would associate that tool with a Mole, either.

Locking pliers is a name that makes sense.
I will call those locking pliers from now forward.
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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby Lazy Tommy » Sat Apr 02, 2016 7:33 am UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:"Communication" is too broad to mean anything here - language is in whole a part of communication. The proportion of language-centered communication that's primarily concerned with social organization is definitely greater than that primarily dedicated to the exchange of abstracted information, though.

Language is "a part of communication?" Geez, have you ever been in a country where you don't speak their language and they don't speak yours?

What do you even mean by "social organization" as opposed to "abstracted information"? Where do mundane things like "take me to the airport" or "can I borrow your phone" fit in? :roll:

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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby Copper Bezel » Sat Apr 02, 2016 8:16 am UTC

That would essentially be abstracted information, I'd think. Sort of a nonce distinction, but it was my attempt to define some category for this activity that you called "communication" the first time and asking for directions the second time.

Language is certainly a subset of any sane definition of communication. I'm not going to throw a dictionary at you, but I might suggest consulting one of your choice. I think it's worth noting that successfully asking for a favor is going to involve communication well beyond the information defining the favor in question. That's less obvious when asking for directions than when asking for a cell phone, but failing to perform appropriate conventions is going still going to make that exchange unsuccessful a lot more certainly than mutually incomprehensible languages will. There's obvious stuff like facial expressions and body language and tone of voice and how far away you stand, but the rabbit hole goes a lot deeper than that.

Simple thing would be to look at chimpanzee communication and then consider that we had a far more sophisticated social structure long before we developed language, and that none of those things ever stopped; language is just layered on top as an additional channel mixed in with the others, with a capacity for abstraction but not a particularly high bandwidth in comparison to others.

In any case, there's very much not any handy set of definitions for any of these terms that's going to exclude "performing one's role within a social group" from your chosen "primary use of language" but include all of those mundane, sensible things like asking for the nearest McDonalds. The primary use of language really, definitely, invariably is social. That isn't by itself an argument that defining and reinforcing one's in-group must be a primary consideration in making choices about one's own ideolect and things - it is, but that doesn't follow necessarily from the other statement.
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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby philip1201 » Sat Apr 02, 2016 8:45 am UTC

jewish_scientist wrote:Maybe the well was dug by an army for their fort, which is on top of a hill because the first lesson taught in Military Tactics 101 is 'take the high ground'.


Castle wells are actually a common feature of English (and European in general) fortifications, so that seems like the most plausible explanation to me.

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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby Soupspoon » Sat Apr 02, 2016 4:55 pm UTC

addams wrote:No. I have no idea how a such a useful tool became associated with 'vice'.
You must only be thinking Miami Vice and not version(s) of vice that broadly mean "assistant", such as in the Vice President or (more relevant to the 'grip' tool we're talking about) the vice1 that is the tool(/bench equipment/assisting clamp), then?

1 Or it seems you'd spell the tool example (only!) as "vise"? Although that looks horrible!!! like it should sound like "vize", to me (which, to me, it definitely shouldn't). Americanized and Anglicised spellings. (c.f also "to advise [z] someone with advice [s]", when you're providing help to them... at least in dialects I'm familiar with, but YMMV.)

I have no idea Why a person would associate that tool with a Mole, either.
IIRC, it's from a brandname. (Like a Philips Screwdriver.) Although its connection with plumbers and their 'moleskins' could have been another origin.

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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby gmalivuk » Sat Apr 02, 2016 5:45 pm UTC

Lazy Tommy wrote:
Copper Bezel wrote:"Communication" is too broad to mean anything here - language is in whole a part of communication. The proportion of language-centered communication that's primarily concerned with social organization is definitely greater than that primarily dedicated to the exchange of abstracted information, though.
Language is "a part of communication?" Geez, have you ever been in a country where you don't speak their language and they don't speak yours?
I haven't, but it's my job to teach English to students from other countries. Some of them come here with zero English, and yet can still understand and make themselves understood for basic interactions.

Also, there are nonverbal people who can still communicate a wealth of useful information (infants being the most widespread example, but there are people with mental or physical disabilities as well). Sure, they can't (explicitly) communicate complex sentences, but that's really a small portion of the total amount of communication that happens.

In any case, even though language as a whole serves many purposes, one of the primary uses (if not the primary use) of slang is to signal group membership. It's why people code-switch so much based on who they're with and for what purpose they're communicating.
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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby Mikeski » Sat Apr 02, 2016 5:56 pm UTC

addams wrote:(phew) Vice Grips.
I know that tool as a Vice Grip.

No. I have no idea how a such a useful tool became associated with 'vice'.
I have no idea Why a person would associate that tool with a Mole, either.

Locking pliers is a name that makes sense.
I will call those locking pliers from now forward.


"Vise Grips", actually, not "Vice grips." A clamping thing, not a sinful thing.

And "Vise Grips" is kinda like "Bobcat", a trademark name that's mostly taken over for the product, regardless of manufacturer. "Locking pliers" and "skid-steer" are the "correct" terms, unless you have one made by Irwin Tools or Bobcat.

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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby Soupspoon » Sat Apr 02, 2016 6:11 pm UTC

Mikeski wrote:A clamping thing, not a sinful thing.
So which is(/was) Joe Biden, Dick Cheney, Al Gore, etc... Clampers or Sinners? Or both?

(What a colourful language! Vice (sometimes US: Vise) as "assistant/helper" seems to be from a totally different root from Vice insofar as it relates to sin, but there's no reason to suppose that there isn't an occasional circumstantial melding of both roles. ;) )

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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby Copper Bezel » Sat Apr 02, 2016 8:09 pm UTC

I've become aware of the spelling of "vise" before in the past, but my brain seems to very quickly reject it. I know English phonetics are quite loose and flexible, but that one feels like it's just being difficult for the sake of it; it would make only marginally less sense with a K. I'm not sure that I'm actually capable of training myself to spell it correctly such that I'll actually remember the difference in a couple of years or so the next time it comes up.

I suppose if I kept a vise on my desk, I could just label it or something. Maybe it would stick that way with enough time.
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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby gcgcgcgc » Sat Apr 02, 2016 8:14 pm UTC

Mikeski wrote:
addams wrote:(phew) Vice Grips.
I know that tool as a Vice Grip.

No. I have no idea how a such a useful tool became associated with 'vice'.
I have no idea Why a person would associate that tool with a Mole, either.

Locking pliers is a name that makes sense.
I will call those locking pliers from now forward.


"Vise Grips", actually, not "Vice grips." A clamping thing, not a sinful thing.

And "Vise Grips" is kinda like "Bobcat", a trademark name that's mostly taken over for the product, regardless of manufacturer. "Locking pliers" and "skid-steer" are the "correct" terms, unless you have one made by Irwin Tools or Bobcat.


Instead of Vise Grips, package contained Bobcat. Would not buy again. (Sorry, it was obligatory...)

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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby Lazy Tommy » Sun Apr 03, 2016 2:26 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
Lazy Tommy wrote:
Copper Bezel wrote:"Communication" is too broad to mean anything here - language is in whole a part of communication. The proportion of language-centered communication that's primarily concerned with social organization is definitely greater than that primarily dedicated to the exchange of abstracted information, though.
Language is "a part of communication?" Geez, have you ever been in a country where you don't speak their language and they don't speak yours?
I haven't, but it's my job to teach English to students from other countries.
In other words, I've never eaten a steak, but I have eaten lots of chicken, and that qualifies me to comment on steak anyway? You're in the position of being in a country where you have no trouble asking for directions, buying a train ticket, applying for a job, making conversation in a bar, etc. I was specifically asking about the experience of being in a country where you *can't* communicate using a common language.
gmalivuk wrote:Some of them come here with zero English, and yet can still understand and make themselves understood for basic interactions.
In a situation that is specifically set up to help these non-English-speakers. Sure, I can see how some basic needs can be dealt with even without language in that kind of scenario -- point at your crotch and twist your legs = I need to pee, where's the bathroom? Point to the coffee maker, make a gesture that implies drinking, while smiling = can I have some? But how does this work when you want to find out when to catch the bus into the nearest city? Where is the nearest grocery store? Where can I get halal beef?

gmalivuk wrote:Also, there are nonverbal people who can still communicate a wealth of useful information (infants being the most widespread example, but there are people with mental or physical disabilities as well). Sure, they can't (explicitly) communicate complex sentences, but that's really a small portion of the total amount of communication that happens.
A "wealth of useful information" sounds a bit hyperbolic. If infants were really that great at communicating, new parents would suffer a lot less anxiety, and pediatricians would have a lot less to do (the kid is crying non-stop, probably because it's in pain, but is it because it's teething, or because of a colic, or because of an infection? Yeah, it's really great how these pre-language infants can describe their symptoms).

gmalivuk wrote:In any case, even though language as a whole serves many purposes, one of the primary uses (if not the primary use) of slang is to signal group membership. It's why people code-switch so much based on who they're with and for what purpose they're communicating.
Now you're just repeating that assertion that I was taking issue with, without giving any reason why that assertion is so compelling, other than that you apparently believe that it is. Maybe it's because I am actually more familiar with being in places where there is no common language, I don't know, but the idea of using language to *exclude* people feels totally alien to me. I'd be interested to hear about some scenarios of how that actually plays out in practice, because I'm not familiar with them.

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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby gmalivuk » Sun Apr 03, 2016 2:47 am UTC

My students, once they gain enough English to hold conversations, relate stories of times they communicated in the US before they had any English. And I think you are seriously underestimating the distance between nonverbal communication and no communication whatsoever. Parents have anxiety about raising their infants correctly, but most of those infants communicate plenty well enough to survive and thrive. Or the previously mentioned chimps (and other social animals and animals that have coevolved with humans for millennia), which can also convey a great deal of information at least to the humans most familiar with them.

As for ingroup/outgroup distinctions, I feel like you must have pretty limited experience with slang and jargon that isn't regional. That slang signals group membership (and thus also non-membership) is not just some off-the-cuff conjecture on my part. It is actually a well known and researched thing that really happens with real modes of speaking and real subcultures (including things like the "subculture" of academia, where failing to adhere to the standards and vocabulary of academic discourse very definitely marks one as an outsider and makes one much less likely to be taken seriously).

Edit: For example, here's a book I found within about 5 seconds on Google, about the relationship between slang and group membership.
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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby Lazy Tommy » Sun Apr 03, 2016 4:28 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:My students, once they gain enough English to hold conversations, relate stories of times they communicated in the US before they had any English. And I think you are seriously underestimating the distance between nonverbal communication and no communication whatsoever. Parents have anxiety about raising their infants correctly, but most of those infants communicate plenty well enough to survive and thrive. Or the previously mentioned chimps (and other social animals and animals that have coevolved with humans for millennia), which can also convey a great deal of information at least to the humans most familiar with them.

As for ingroup/outgroup distinctions, I feel like you must have pretty limited experience with slang and jargon that isn't regional. That slang signals group membership (and thus also non-membership) is not just some off-the-cuff conjecture on my part. It is actually a well known and researched thing that really happens with real modes of speaking and real subcultures (including things like the "subculture" of academia, where failing to adhere to the standards and vocabulary of academic discourse very definitely marks one as an outsider and makes one much less likely to be taken seriously).

Edit: For example, here's a book I found within about 5 seconds on Google, about the relationship between slang and group membership.

Give me just one or two actual examples of people using language to exclude people from their group. Don't talk in abstractions, don't give me citations. Give me a couple of actual real life situations.

Of course you can exclude people based on how they speak, just as you can exclude people because they don't adhere to your dress code, or your religion, or because of the color of their skin, whatever. But why would you want to? Having friends is a lot nicer than having enemies. Unless, of course, you're in a place where opportunities to survive are running out. That's when you'll want to exclude people. To reduce the competition for limited opportunities.

People wear clothes in order to stay warm or protect their skin from the sun; they speak because language works a lot better for communication than pointing and making gestures; they adhere to religion because the cruelty of mortality is hard to swallow otherwise. All of these things have a very real purpose. None of these things exist in order to exclude anyone from any group.

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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby gmalivuk » Sun Apr 03, 2016 4:52 am UTC

I've given you entire categories and books full of examples. AAVE has also been mentioned in this thread, and it serves to distinguish outsiders even if that isn't always the main goal of its use.

But if that isn't sufficient, there's a list of a bunch of others at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cant_(language)

The fact that you (claim that you) wouldn't want to exclude people with your language use doesn't mean no one else possibly would. And your mention of competition for survival was accidentally insightful. Many marginalized groups have some degree of closed cultures, often out of a desire to protect the culture. There are also all manner of secret societies and organizations that use their own slang/jargon/argot explicitly to exclude outsiders.

Incidentally, are you aware of the story behind the modern meaning of "shibboleth"?

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Edit: Let's talk about your clothing analogy a bit, because I think you misunderstand how clothes are used in a similar way to how you misunderstand language.

When you deny that language is just one part of communication, it's like denying that clothing is just one part of the technology we use for protection against the elements. Downplaying the whole of nonverbal communication is like downplaying the roles of shelter and fire and cars with windows that roll up.

When you suggest that language is always to communicate and never to exclude people, it's like when you suggest that clothing is just for protection. You ignore really basic things like the existence of uniforms and dress codes, or all the other social reasons people wear clothes even when their protection is unneeded or even burdensome. If you live in a place with buildings and electricity, which I suspect is the case given your ability to post here, then there are some times and places when the only reason you wear what you wear, or indeed anything at all, is because of the social consequences of doing otherwise.

(By the way, no one has ever suggested that the reason we use language as opposed to non-language is to include and exclude people from our own groups. Rather, we're all talking about how using language in a particular way (as opposed to using language in some other way) often has that purpose or at least that consequence.)
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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby da Doctah » Sun Apr 03, 2016 6:16 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:Incidentally, are you aware of the story behind the modern meaning of "shibboleth"?


Are you aware that when you mention "streaming Bach", whether you get a laugh from the person you're speaking to constitutes a shibboleth?

(From my half-vast collection of trilingual puns.)

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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby xtifr » Sun Apr 03, 2016 8:05 pm UTC

Lazy Tommy wrote:
gmalivuk wrote:
Lazy Tommy wrote:Language is "a part of communication?" Geez, have you ever been in a country where you don't speak their language and they don't speak yours?
I haven't, but it's my job to teach English to students from other countries.
In other words, I've never eaten a steak, but I have eaten lots of chicken, and that qualifies me to comment on steak anyway? You're in the position of being in a country where you have no trouble asking for directions, buying a train ticket, applying for a job, making conversation in a bar, etc. I was specifically asking about the experience of being in a country where you *can't* communicate using a common language.

It seems to me that the original claim that language is "part of communication" has been thoroughly established. You seem to be going on about what a small part it is, and how difficult it can be to communicate with someone who doesn't share any common languages with you. I don't see anyone disputing that. But a small part is still part! I communicate without language all the time. My brother is going deaf, but isn't yet deaf enough to get a hearing aid, let alone learn AMSLAN. I frequently communicate non-verbally with him, because it's often easier than trying to get him to hear my actual words. Thus, QED, language is only part of communication.

If you're going to argue with gmalivuk, you need to address what he said, rather than making up your own, more easily refutable, arguments, and knocking those down. Doing the latter is called "straw man argument", and you seem to be engaging in a textbook example.

Have you ever flirted with anyone? If you have and still believe that language is not merely part of communication, then I can only assume that you're never going to reproduce. :P :wink:
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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby mwistey » Tue Apr 05, 2016 6:47 am UTC

As its name says, this spring is on a ridge. It's actually on a mild saddle, which likely explains its unusual hydrology. I visited it personally about 3 weeks ago, believing "the map must obviously be wrong." Nope.
http://geonames.usgs.gov/apex/f?p=136:3 ... e%20Spring
Photo with the spring in the foreground:
Spoiler:
http://www.nd.edu/~mwistey/Ridge_Spring-lowres.jpg

ekwisner
Posts: 2
Joined: Sat Mar 15, 2014 5:34 am UTC

Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby ekwisner » Thu Mar 22, 2018 2:38 am UTC

If y'all can post several screens worth of grammar quibbling,
I feel I'm fully justified in an extended comment on the original topic, "what's up with the hydrology around here":

Reasons to go uphill for water:
1) As mentioned above, it's cleaner.
2) From a behavioral standpoint, people and animals can rarely be trusted not to make a dirty, muddy mess around our watering holes, worsening the problem of surface water contamination and potentially turning the well shaft into a 2-way "drain" for unhygienic ooze. It's easier to control/avoid this if we separate the source from the sink.
3) Same reason you don't shoot a deer downhill, or across a steep ravine - it's a lot more of a chore to go uphill on the way back, carrying a heavy load.
4) If you want to get all high-tech and progress toward actual plumbing, locating the main water source uphill of most users is considerate engineering.
5) If your mother catches you using her good pail for duck pond muck, the new pail will be coming out of your allowance.

1)
Surface water (the kind that runs downhill) is potentially contaminated. In fact, it might be safest to say it's ALWAYS contaminated.
Surface water puddling up around a common resource like the village water source is likely to be a little more contaminated than usual - what with the gunk we rinse off our hands, dippers, dishes, diapers, etc. Animals that are watered near a well tend to hang out there, and poop and pee there too. This is not just a primitive problem that happens when people are ignorant of germ theory - people who grew up with modern plumbing can be super-gross in their habits, possibly due to growing up with the luxury of indoor fresh water sources we call "sinks." The sink, or drain, is where the dirty water leaves the room. The tap is where the clean water comes from. But this does not mean that every tap is a naturally welcoming location for dumping contaminated water.
Just look near any campground tap - it's very common for people to just haul the dirty dishes to the water source and rinse it all "away." "Away" in this case being right next to the clean water source; late in the season in some campgrounds you can barely see the "drain rock" for all the sludge people have deposited into it. Just as experienced back-country campers will not poop right by a stream, considerate campers will carry water away from the tap to a discreet location, like a nice thirsty patch of topsoil, and will pre-wash most of the dishes with a small amount of water before using clean water for the final rinse.
This "wash by the tap" habit would be one effective way to contaminate a downhill well.

My sister worked on one village project in North Africa to install a concrete "skirt" with features like animal troughs downhill from the people water-access taps and basins. These caps help prevent effluent and rainwater from backflowing into the well, and make it somewhat more difficult for users to fall in, too. (People or animals, nobody wants to be hauling donkey butt out of the drinking water.)

2) If you drill your well at the bottom of a dip, it's a recipe for contamination.
Contaminating your well, or worse a shared aquifer, is an expensive and anti-social waste of effort.
Pipes and casings running through dirt tend to become a conduit for water. As with most obstacles in the path of flowing water, the water will preferentially adhere and flow along that surface, eroding itself a path of least resistance that runs right alongside the pipe or casing.
This is a known problem for outlets in earthen dams; and a frequent problem for under-sized culverts that can wash out in impressive ways when flood waters build up behind inadequate or blocked culverts, and force their way alongside the pipes (sometimes "floating" the pipes out several yards like you might blow a drinking straw out of its wrapper).
Texturing the pipe or giving it "shielding" can help.
What helps even more is arranging for the water to go somewhere else, through adequate drainage, if you're not actually trying to build a dam. More frequent and larger culverts, deeper and better-engineered roadside ditches, and placing the pump-driven "up" pipe where it won't be a logical drain point for the resulting muddy mess around the water source.

3-4) In the absence of artesian 'luck,' if a well is deep enough to tap aquifers, it requires a pump anyway - another 20 or 100 feet of hill won't make a huge difference. Very localized, "benched water lenses" sometimes excepted.
Where possible, locating the main well site uphill of most every user conveys advantages for gravity-fed plumbing, allowing a lot of storage and household water pressure to be run off of one good pump, and not even a particularly fancy one.

Even if it's not plumbed, as in the rhyme, it's still easier to carry empty buckets uphill and a load of heavy water downhill.
I have a poignant example from a grandmother whose family farm plumbing filled up with mud during the Dust Bowl. A new well drilled downhill of the farm sufficed to keep the cattle alive but left the family hauling buckets uphill, and upstairs, for several years (until there was enough money to fully re-plumb the house). They learned to bathe 2 sisters at at time, in 1 bucket of water, rather than haul more than necessary. (As everyone around their rural area was in the same boat, and some worse off, it was only embarrassing when the city cousins came to visit.)

I've seen village systems where folks run an occasional pump - diesel, solar, or wind-powered pumps that don't have to be operating 24-7 to provide reliable water. They run large amounts when conditions are favorable, fill an uphill cistern or attic tank, then use the stored water until the next refill. Same works for irrigation ponds, if your water rights allow. (and an occasional pump running by dark of night is harder to prove in any case...)

A side note about "clean water" for those new to village/rural/backwoods life:
Once withdrawn from the aquifer "bank," untreated, fresh, clean water has a limited life expectancy. Under ordinary conditions (warm, sunny, standing still, open to air), almost all water turns back into duck muck if left to its own devices. Even treated water grows algae after left long enough in open swimming pools, etc. Dead ends in domestic plumbing can harbor water-born disease even with treated city water. While communities of people have evolved using open water sources just like animals do, so have the diseases and gut-to-stream microbes that take advantage of these common vectors. If you did not grow up drinking open water, getting wormed regularly, or suffering the occasional bout of 'beaver fever', giardia, cholera, etc. you probably don't want to start as an adult.
(I was raised with the odd habit of taking the occasional taste of a high-elevation waterfall, dew, or the salt ocean on nature excursions. Usually not even enough to swallow. We carried clean water or filters on hikes, the occasional taste was more of a ceremonial innoculation to honor the waters our ancestors would have known more intimately.)

Most educated farms and villages that use both non-potable water have a clear system - different types of hose or pipes, labels, separate containers, separate handling, special treatment for the potable water. Drinking out of the irrigation ditch takes a remarkable degree of intestinal fortitude, reckless disregard for personal safety, or both.
Most cultures have traditions like coffee, tea, soft drinks, and the "soup course" that amount to boiling or treating the water with all due ceremony before drinking. Sterilized (boiled) water can be canned, just like food, for indefinite shelf life. Boiling kills pathogens, but doesn't remove most chemical contaminants, so the cleanest available source is still preferred (uphill, or rainwater if available).

5) Aquifers are cleaner in part because the water has been filtered by yards of topsoil and subsoil, and in some cases is quite old ("fossil water" from glacial deposits is a vanishing resource in much of the West.) In most areas it may be considered a crime to deliberately contaminate the aquifers that feed our domestic wells, or are known to feed public water systems. Even accidental contamination of a minor aquifer is grave public harm, damage that is difficult or impossible to reverse. The nitrogen load in groundwater downstream of pastures or fertilized farm runoff, even after it has been filtered, can be a hazard for kids raised on farm produce and well water. In other areas, calcium or arsenic leached from the soils makes well water a long-term hazard to kidneys or other organs.
https://www.americanbar.org/newsletter/ ... p97gr.html

Aquifers below the surface often follow the contours of the land, forming a fresh water "lense" above salt waters on islands, and a "sand lense" under large dunes and some types of hills. They flow between layers of impermeable clay, or bedrock. Some parts of the aquifer may be pressurized by water and land above, creating enough pressure for 'artesian' wells (those whose water wells up, or even spurts up all the way up above the surface without a pump).

Ancient Persian kings and craftsmen dug underground aqueducts called qanat, sometimes for miles, to bring water from uphill sources to channels under a city. Houses above these channels might have an indoor well and/or cooling shafts to take advantage of the cool spring-like air. The palace and cultivated lands were usually near the low point. At the lowest points, water could be gravity-fed up into fountains before running through aeration channels in elaborate water gardens. And waters contaminated by uphill residential use were still amply adequate for irrigation.
(This art is being lost in modern times, despite still-living families of the traditional qanat builders, for reasons both political and relating to unsustainable use of the same water resources they tapped. A community that does not have the social cohesiveness to reward builders for 5 generations, and to parcel out the available water equitably with due regard for the original contributors' rights, is unlikely to succeed in taking advantage of the enormous amount of work involved. Widespread drying of qanats and their analogues across Eurasia and N Africa is an indicator of unsustainable water management. Due to common use including bathing in open channels, quanat were never as hygienic as closed plumbing systems; however they allowed long-term settlement and cultivation of areas that would otherwise have been essentially desert.)
http://www.waterhistory.org/histories/qanats/
For a video tour, National Geographic has a nice article:
https://news.nationalgeographic.com/201 ... ory-video/

If your neighbors have to climb downhill into a reservoir or cistern area to draw water, or share open channels or wells with the opportunity to drop waste water and other debris back into the water source shared by others, it's probably not clean. Measurements of 6 qanat systems showed 1 dangerous, 3 questionable, and only 2 whose water would be considered potable before it emerged from the closed portion of the channels.

So a water source uphill is likely cleaner, and arguably more convenient, than hauling water uphill from a downhill source.

Sure, you could drill the well out back next to the outhouse, or just pump directly from the duck pond/ sink drain back up to a water tower, if you're really strapped for hills. Chlorine is cheap, and our robust immune systems are how the West was won, after all.
The winners of the Darwinian lottery for surviving prolonged livestock contact and water-borne illnesses enjoyed the benefits of a world population well below 2 billion, right up until the invention of public sanitation.

Does going uphill to fetch water still sound counter-intuitive?

rmsgrey
Posts: 3378
Joined: Wed Nov 16, 2011 6:35 pm UTC

Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby rmsgrey » Thu Mar 22, 2018 6:21 pm UTC

ekwisner wrote:Does going uphill to fetch water still sound counter-intuitive?


Yes. Doesn't mean it's wrong, just that it sounds counter-intuitive.


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