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Semantics

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Atferrari
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Username: Atferrari

Post Number: 52
Registered: 05-2005


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Posted on Saturday, 16 July, 2005 - 12:40 am:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post

These are some of the expressions that have puzzled me for years (my mother tongue is Spanish and I find them confusing):

a) When do you "shut off" something?

b) When do you "shut down" something"?

c) When do you "turn off" something?

d) When do you "power down" something?

e) When do you "switch off" something?

What are the opposite actions for each one? "On" for "off" and "up" for "down"?

I presume that some of them would never be used by a housewife but quite often by engineers. Which ones?
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f) When talking about power distribution, the expresion "mains" is used. What are we actually talking about?
What is "mains"? Why the plural form?. Is it any valid equivalent understood by everyone native in English?

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g) I recall from Australian manuals (electronic equipment) the expresion "wrt" when mentioning voltages (with reference to).
Someone from Australia told me "that is quite common everywhere". But from all what I've read, I don't recall meeting that expression again.

Is it recognized as that by everyone or just there in Australia?
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h) A "hook up wire", is it named after its use or...)

Given certain conditions, could be that any kind of wire, is named like that?
Agustín Tomás
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Steerpike
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Post Number: 30
Registered: 05-2005


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Posted on Saturday, 16 July, 2005 - 01:06 am:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post

Just some of my personal interpretations of English (my first language):
(a),(c) and (e) are all the same thing, and interchangeable.
(b) and (d) suggest more of a process than a simple, single action: as in a Windows computer would be shut down, because several steps have to be performed.

I don't believe any have exclusive application though. Any can be used by anyone without much concern for being misunderstood.

"Mains" as in "Main supply" (of power), typically the household AC supply, usually taken (by me) to be single phase, unless otherwise stated.

My understanding of "wrt" is "with respect to", pretty much the same as "with reference to", although the latter is possibly less formal. I've encountered it often in books & lectures (in South Africa). Very useful shortcut when you are taking lecture notes in long hand!

Hook-up wire I take to be any general purpose wire that would vary depending on its exact application (usually the cheapest that can be safely used), but would exclude certain types of wire that have particular and unique applications (co-axial, or ribbon, etc.)
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Boris
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Post Number: 51
Registered: 05-2005


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Posted on Saturday, 16 July, 2005 - 04:40 am:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post

Yeh. What he said. 8^)
www.pyxia.com - BASIC was never less basic.
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Mikehibbett
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Post Number: 96
Registered: 04-2005

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Posted on Saturday, 16 July, 2005 - 08:48 am:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post

>Hook-up wire I take to be any general purpose wire that would vary depending on its exact application (usually the cheapest that can be safely used), but would exclude certain types of wire that have particular and unique applications (co-axial, or ribbon, etc.)

And those wires would be 'patch cables'
and so the word soup continues :o)
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Zardof
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Post Number: 4
Registered: 05-2005


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Posted on Sunday, 17 July, 2005 - 06:29 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post

wrt.....With Respect To. ie "the voltage could be +5V wrt earth".The voltage has been read using earth as the voltage connected to the common input of the voltmeter.

You could have the scenario where you have three wires, a,b and c. Measuring with a volt meter.
a-b = +5v
a-c = +10v
b-c = +5v
ie c= +5v wrt b.

As far as I know wrt is in common usage.

Gary
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Grab
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Post Number: 23
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Posted on Wednesday, 20 July, 2005 - 10:40 am:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post

"Shut down" means to stop something running. As Steerpike says, this could be a process ("Shut down starboard engines, Scotty!") rather than a single action. There isn't an corresponding term "shut up" because that has a very different meaning! ;-) The opposite would be "start up" (or maybe "open up" in a few rare cases).

Both of these are slightly redundant phrases - the "shut" part clearly indicates you're making something unavailable, so the second word (down/off) is somewhat redundant. Maybe give it a century or two, and it'll be shortened to just "shut".

"Turn off" and "switch off" have identical meanings, and both have opposites "turn on" and "switch on". "Turn off" is obviously an older term coming from plumbing, where you do literally turn the tap, and this has become a general reference to controlling something. I believe (although I've no source) that "switch on/off" is a shortened version of "turn the switch on/off", or a reference to the status of a switch which has become a verb over time. Clearly this is a much newer term, since it did not exist before the invention of electricity - before that time, "switch" meant a thin flexible stick used as a light whip for directing animals.

"Shut off" tends to be an American version of "turn off". There isn't a corresponding "shut on" - the opposite would be "turn on" or something similar.

"Power down" very specifically means removing power from a system. This may involve some process to power down safely, or it may involve flicking a switching, but it specifically means removing power. Other terms may not - you can "turn on/off" or "switch on/off" a transistor but the circuit will still be powered. You would never talk about "powering down" a transistor unless you meant you were removing power to the whole system driving that transistor.

Usually your average person would just say "turn on/off" or "switch on/off".
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Grab
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Post Number: 24
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Posted on Wednesday, 20 July, 2005 - 10:47 am:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post

Re "mains", there are "mains electricity", "mains water" and "mains gas". The phrases "electricity main", "water main", "gas main" (note the singular) refer to the huge pipe supplying the street with water or gas, and electricity uses a "ring main" to supply selected power points in a house (eg. all the lights on one floor, or all the sockets, or whatever).

Why it's called "mains" plural I don't know. A guess would be the military habit of quoting things in the order general-then-specific (eg. "uniform, camouflage, green"), so it becomes "mains, water" for example.

One nice thing about English though:there's so much variation in words and usage between individual English speakers from different places that you can misuse phrases and the meaning still gets across. ;-)

Graham.
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Mas
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Post Number: 7
Registered: 07-2005

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Posted on Sunday, 24 July, 2005 - 07:44 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post

unless it should be the possesive 's', ie electricity from/of the main.

in which case an apostrophe has gone missing. (probably shouldn't go there ;)
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Mark
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Post Number: 4
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Posted on Monday, 25 July, 2005 - 04:48 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post

'mains' is used a singular word.

'Is the mains connected?'
not 'Are the mains connected.'
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Poriet
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Username: Poriet

Post Number: 11
Registered: 06-2005

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Posted on Monday, 25 July, 2005 - 06:23 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post

I was talking to a Portugese woman recently
( although Spanish isn't Portugese I imagine there is some resemblance ) who was explaining subleties in the language for which theres no English equivalent. I'm not sure how one explains to a Foreigner the difference between 'power up', 'power on', 'power in'...., but I CAN explain how to play cricket: The side that's in goes out and the side that's out goes in ......
..................................................

HTH
P

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