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ORIENT

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ORIENT

Postby Dr. Goodword » Wed May 02, 2012 10:59 pm

• orient •

Pronunciation: or-ee-yent • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: 1. [Intransitive] To situate facing the east. 2. [Transitive] To focus on or situate facing a specific object. 3. [Transitive] To adjust in the right direction.

Notes: Today's Good Word has a sister, orientate, which many feel is an improper, a misguided back-derivation from orientation. Although orientate clearly was back-derived, it has been with us on both sides of the Atlantic since the mid-19th century. Still, most of us prefer using the bare root, orient, as a verb. Two other troublesome back derivations gaining wider recognition are commentate and coronate.

In Play: The first sense of today's word is most often used in reference to religious objects like churches and coffins: "The parson was dismayed to discover that some of the coffins in the cemetery were not oriented." However, the second and third senses are by far the more common: "The new Wal-Mart store was oriented away from the Target store, which was already there." Orient may simply refer to general alignment: "The new president is just trying to get himself oriented during his first month in office."

Word History: Today's Good Word was copied from Latin oriens, orient- "rising, east", the present participle of oriri "to arise, be born". The same original root gave us early in English and, possibly, are, an odd form of to be. In fact, it is not a stretch to suppose that the R switched places with the vowel (metathesis) before the same stem went on to become raise and rise, with an ancient suffix -s found in other words. (We are glad that Kyle McDonald is oriented toward alphaDictionary and rose to the occasion of suggesting today's Good Word.)
Last edited by Dr. Goodword on Thu May 03, 2012 10:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby JohnYY » Thu May 03, 2012 2:10 am

I would not classify Meaning 1 as Intransitive, as witness "Horrified by the breach of tradition, the bishop told the priest to immediately orient the coffin."
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Postby Philip Hudson » Thu May 03, 2012 9:55 am

JohnYY, Welcome to the forum. Chime in frequently without shame or fear.

I can't think of a case where definition 1 of orient would be intransitive in the present tense, perhaps in the past or perfect tenses. Someone give us an example.

Why are the noun and adjective lexical bugaboos? I know they are because I teach Asians. Both Orient and Asia are European words. Orient has a clear etymology and makes a western distinctive, putting Asia "somewhere in the east". Asia has an unclear etymology. I will discuss this with my class this morning.

Even though it is a back-derivation, I much prefer orientate to orient as a verb. One can go to the orientation class and get orientated. I get disorientated a lot in my dotage. I suppose I could just be disoriented, but that might serve to disorientate me even more.
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Postby LukeJavan8 » Thu May 03, 2012 1:19 pm

Welcome, JohnYY
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Postby angebunch » Tue May 08, 2012 6:28 pm

I was wondering why the noun form was bubaboo, but I'm guessing that Asians don't like to be labelled with a name that oreints them (pun unintended) with reference to 'The West'.
Or is there another reason?
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Postby LukeJavan8 » Tue May 08, 2012 8:31 pm

And we are never termed "occidentals", at least, not
that I've ever heard.
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Postby angebunch » Tue May 08, 2012 8:53 pm

I believe I have heard of us as being occidentals. And, really, what would be wrong with that? I don't understand the bias against calling Asians, "Orientals".
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Postby Perry Lassiter » Tue May 08, 2012 9:21 pm

Philip Hudson teaches some in his ESL classes, so maybe he knows. I'm old enough to remember that years ago orientals, usually limited to Chinese, we considered sneaky or up to something wicked. I've wondered if they object to our using the word to mask our bafflement as to whether a particular oriental is Chinese, Japanese, Korean, or what? On the other hand, any white dude could be a Texan, Canadian, German, or Russian...etc.
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Postby LukeJavan8 » Tue May 08, 2012 10:01 pm

angebunch wrote:I believe I have heard of us as being occidentals. And, really, what would be wrong with that? I don't understand the bias against calling Asians, "Orientals".



I too have heard it, but not in every day parlance.
It is much older than the modern era, the orient and
the occident. But calling us 'the West' seems to
have replaced it.
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Postby Perry Lassiter » Tue May 08, 2012 10:22 pm

We also use the East, Middle East, and Far East with no pejorative implications.
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Postby Philip Hudson » Wed May 09, 2012 12:30 am

My ESL students who are Asians say they have no negative feeling toward being Oriental. There is more than one airline with the name Orient. There is the idea that Orientals are inscrutable, but other foreigners are inscrutable and a lot of domestic folk are too. The persistent idea of “white slavery”, as in the musical “Thoroughly Modern Millie”, has given Asians a totally undeserved sinister touch. My grandmother had Chinese neighbors as a child in East Texas. She learned hymns in Chinese (Cantonese). Whether we call them Asians or Orientals, they are a vital part of the human race and some of them are my best friends.
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Postby LukeJavan8 » Wed May 09, 2012 10:56 am

My grandmother had Chinese neighbors, and she spoke
Chinese. She and her neighbor were great friends always
gadabouting and cavorting. No negativity there.
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Postby angebunch » Wed May 09, 2012 12:10 pm

We seem to have migrated to defending Asians as nice people. It was never my intent to imply otherwise. I would simply like to know if it's acceptable to refer to them as Oriental. Is the poo-pooing (sp?) of the term just another attempt at political correctness? Which would still beg the question, "why?".
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Postby LukeJavan8 » Wed May 09, 2012 12:45 pm

I have no problem referring to East Asians as
Orientals. And political correctness does not
affect me.
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Postby Perry Lassiter » Wed May 09, 2012 1:26 pm

Gadabouting? Never heard the participle form.
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