[lit-ideas] "Stupid machine!"

  • From: Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Fri, 17 Sep 2004 11:37:00 EDT

M. Chase wrote:
>Stupid machine!
M. Geary asked for proof.
>Show me a stupid machine.  
Implicaturing that Chase was overreacting. 
Interestingly, I'd say the meaning "Stupid machine!" depends, on occasion,  
on the meaning of 'stupid' and 'machine' -- the first cite in English for  
'stupid' is 1541; the first cite for 'machine' is 1845. I wonder what the first 
cite is for Chase's collocation, 'stupid machine' -- Descartes, possibly.
>Machines are never stupid.  
'stupid'  ad. L. stupidus, f. <NOBR>s to be  stunned or benumbed. Cf. F. 
stupide (Rabelais), Sp., Pg. estúpido,  It. stupido. Wanting in or slow of 
perception; lacking  ordinary activity of mind; slow-witted, dull.  1541  _R.  
  Galyen's  Terap. 2Biijb, 
     For the first speak over lightly and 
    too  imprudently,..and the other are 
   altogether stupid,  sturdy, and litigious. 
'machine' [<  Middle French, French machine < classical Latin  <NOBR>m (cf. 
macigno n.) <  ancient Greek (Doric) mackana (cf. ancient Greek (Attic) 
mechane: see  mechanic a. *AND NOUN* [emphasis mine -- JLS, cf. Geary  'The 
As Noun', Papers in the Parts of Speech, vol. 2 -- section 4] and n.), prob. 
related to mekhos â??means, expedient,  remedyâ??, perh. ult. < the 
base of 'may' v.1 Cf. Spanish máquina  (1444), Italian macchina (15th cent.); 
German Maschine, Dutch  machine, Swedish maskin are all 17th-cent. borrowings 
from French.  The sense â??a fabric or structure, esp. the fabric of the  
universeâ?? is present in classical Latin (but not in ancient Greek), and is 
first one attested in Middle French (1377). The sense â??stratagemâ?? is not 
in classical Latin and is only attested in French from 1639; it is sparingly  
attested in post-classical Latin in British sources from Aldhelm to William 
of  Malmesbury (and similarly machinamentum 'machinament' n. down  to the end 
of the 13th cent.), but is in English prob. independently <  machine, v. 1: cf. 
ancient Greek  mekanai, â??shifts, devices, wilesâ??, and the Italian sense 
conspiracie, a  stratagem, a contriuingâ?? recorded by Florio (1598). The 
application to the  living human and animal body is a development of sense 1a; 
the similar sense  in French â??the combination of organs of a living bodyâ?? 
attested in  Descartes (1637). The sense â??vehicleâ?? (without the connotation 
mechanismâ??)  appears to be a distinctively English development of sense 1a: 
in French (from  1817 denoting a bicycle), Dutch, and German, such use is 
restricted to metonymic  use for a vehicle with a â??mechanismâ?? or 
â??engineâ?? (as a 
bicycle, automobile,  locomotive, aeroplane, etc.). Sense 6, â??apparatus, 
appliance, instrumentâ??, is  one of the earliest senses in ancient Greek, 
common in 
classical Latin and  post-classical Latin, and attested from 1559 in Middle 
French and French. 
The sense â??penisâ??, developed from it, is also  attested in French, in 1748 
and 1750. The sense â??military engineâ?? is in ancient  Greek from Thucydides 
onwards, and is common in classical Latin and  post-classical Latin; it is 
attested in French in 1671. The sense â??a large  work (of art)â?? is attested 
French from 1566, and the theatrical use (sense  4a) from 1650.

[The sense of 'car' is Italian, only, -- 'che  bella machina']
A number of passages imply by their metre that  the word could be stressed on 
the first syllable in earlier modern English (e.g.  quot. 1599 at sense 1a: 
the latest evidence below is quot. 1702 at sense 1c).  The earliest evidence 
for stress on the second syllable is quot. 1681 at sense  4.] 
A material or immaterial structure, esp. the fabric of the  world or of the 
universe; a construction or edifice. Now rare. 

First cite:
1545 in J.  Schäfer Early Mod. Eng. Lexicogr. (1989) II. s.v., 
The hole  machyne of this world is divided in .2. parte. That is to saye, in 
the  celestiall and into the elementall regions. 
1545 in J. Schäfer Early Mod. Eng. Lexicogr. (1989) II. s.v., 
Machine, hath many significacions, but here it is  taken for the worke of the 
hole worlde. 

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