Super-random language note
Reading old Italian tech books, I was struck by a difference in terminology. In French an electromagnet is electro-aimant. In Italian an electromagnet is elettrocalamita.
Lover or attractor seems like a pleasant word for magnet, but calamity?
Turns out both assumptions are wrong.
Per this online dictionary,
the aimant in electro-aimant comes from adamant, hard as a diamond. (Pyrite isn't really diamond-hard, but it's considerably harder than plain iron.)
The calamity comes from Latin calamus, a straw or piece of wood, because early compasses were made with a magnetic needle floating in a bit of wood or cork.
Calamity as disaster comes through French from the same Latin root, but the transfer of meaning is obscure.
My misassumption shows my basic bias. I think of the world in terms of function, not material. I was trying to translate both words as functions, but they were really named after qualities of the materials
. The English word magnet is named after the place
where magnetite was first found.
Labels: Asked and not worth asking, Language update