semasiography

Any system of writing that uses graphemes (as opposed to phonemes) which denote meaningful elements of speech; in other words, the symbols are unrelated to the spoken sounds.

A grapheme is the smallest unit used in describing the writing system of any given language, originally coined by analogy with the phoneme of spoken languages. A grapheme may or may not carry meaning by itself, and may or may not correspond to a single phoneme.

Looking at a sentence like this one, I understood why the heptapods had evolved a semasiographic writing system like Heptapod B; it was better suited for a species with a simultaneous mode of consciousness. For them, speech was a bottleneck because it required that one word follow another sequentially. With writing, on the other hand, every mark on a page was visible simultaneously. Why constrain writing with a glottographic straitjacket, demanding that it be just as sequential as speech? It would never occur to them. Semasiographic writing naturally took advantage of the page’s two-dimensionality; instead of doling out morphemes one at a time, it offered an entire page full of them all at once.

Definition from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License (via Wordnik)

glottography

The recording of language-based utterances. To be more precise: the recording of the vocal cords during respiration and phonation—the production of vocal sounds and especially speech. In the context of physics and anatomy, the term recording here refers to the measurement and study of such audible expressions. Linguistically, it refers to the fixation of uttered sounds in the form of symbols or characters, defining a writing system.

In principle, a writing system can be derived from glottographic and non-glottographic origins of symbols or characters. In the latter case, no relation between symbols and sounds is evident. Such a writing system is called semasiographic, formerly ideographic. In semasiography, symbols are constructed by humans who agree upon their meaning. The international road sign system and the ancient quipu of Inca Peru—connected, color-coded cords with tied knots—are examples.

So a “glottographic” writing system is one in which the written symbols have a relationship to the phonetic aspects of a language, whereas a “semasiographic” one does not.

Looking at a sentence like this one, I understood why the heptapods had evolved a semasiographic writing system like Heptapod B; it was better suited for a species with a simultaneous mode of consciousness. For them, speech was a bottleneck because it required that one word follow another sequentially. With writing, on the other hand, every mark on a page was visible simultaneously. Why constrain writing with a glottographic straitjacket, demanding that it be just as sequential as speech? It would never occur to them. Semasiographic writing naturally took advantage of the page’s two-dimensionality; instead of doling out morphemes one at a time, it offered an entire page full of them all at once.

Definition from golatintos.blogspot.com

corbel

A structural piece of stone, wood or metal jutting from a wall to carry a weight.

Corbelling, where rows of corbels gradually build a wall out from the vertical, has long been used as a simple kind of vaulting, for example in many Neolithic chambered cairns, where walls are gradually corbelled in until the opening can be spanned by a slab.

A very famous corbeled vault is at Newgrange:

corbelled-vault-at-newgrange Continue reading

etymon

An earlier form of a word in the same language or in an ancestor language. For example, Indo-European *duwo and Old English twā are etymons of Modern English two.

Epithets were generated by compiling all the words that described the desired trait: cognates and etymons, from languages both living and extinct.

Definition from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition (via Wordnik)

preformation

A theory popular in the 18th century that all parts of an organism exist completely formed in the germ cell and develop only by increasing in size.

Robert stared at the foam, remembering the doctrine of preformation that Master Trevelyan had drilled into them: all living things had been created at the same time, long ago, and births today were merely enlargements of the previously imperceptible. Although they appeared newly created, these homunculi were countless years old; for all of human history they had lain nested within generations of their ancestors, waiting for their turn to be born.

Definition from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition (via Wordnik)

spall

To chip or crumble.

Long quote for context:

Long before the miners reached the vault it had been obvious that simple digging with hammers and picks would be impractical […]. Instead, they employed fire-setting. With the wood they had brought, a bonfire was built below the chosen point of the vault, and fed steadily for a day. Before the heat of the flames, the stone cracked and spalled. After letting the fire burn out, the miners splashed water onto the stone to further the cracking. They could then break the stone into large pieces, which fell heavily onto the tower.

Definition from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition (via Wordnik)