Proposal to rename Sagittal

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cmloegcmluin
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Proposal to rename Sagittal

Post by cmloegcmluin »

A couple of times before @Dave Keenan and I began working closely together on revamping Sagittal materials, Dave heeded my calls to give names to musical concepts:
Then and now, working on names for various Sagittal concepts, one principle has come up again and again: avoiding mixing Latin and Greek etymology.

Of course Sagittal has an ancient Greek theme:
  • ancient Greek city-states lend their names to the symbol sets
  • Ancient Greek deities populate the Sagittal mythology and lend their names to heraldic descriptions of the symbols
And I’m amazed this hadn’t occurred to me until today, but we’ve got one glaring example of Latin etymology in our midst: the name “Sagittal”!

Sagittal comes from Sagittarius, the Greco-Roman god of archery (honoring him because Sagittal symbols resemble arrows). Like any Greco-Roman god, Sagittarius has both a Greek and a Latin name. Unfortunately, as should be apparent from the “-ius” ending, Sagittarius is the Latin name. The ancient Greeks referred to this god by the name “Toxotes”, which we modern English speakers pronounce “TAHKS-a-tees” (or /ˈtɑks ə tiːz/ in IPA).

In order to keep consistent around the Greek theme, I propose we rename Sagittal to “Toxic” notation. Fascinatingly, the English word toxic comes from the Latin for “poison”, toxicum, which in turn comes from Greek toxikon (pharmakon) meaning “(poison for) arrows”. So Latin somehow got switched up and took its word for poison from the Greek word for arrow due to the practice of poisoning arrows, and then English inherited this result. The word toxic, like sagittal, has other meanings already in English, but I do not feel they are likely to have significant overlap with the microtonal domain that Sagittal deals with. Er, that Toxic deals with. Yeah... it is going to take some getting used to! Talk about some serious hysteresis.

So I’ve already checked and the domain toxic.org is not in use currently so I reached out to inquire about purchasing it.

We can batch the rename along with the other changes to the Bravura fonts when we next reach out to Steinberg. I’ll won’t reach out to Daniel about it until we’ve had some discussion.

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Dave Keenan
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Re: Proposal to rename Sagittal

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