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Posted by R. Berg on March 29, 2003

In Reply to: Revenge of the purists. posted by masakim on March 28, 2003

: : : : : : Does any one know the meaning of the word "telestrate"? I think it might be some kind of portmanteau.

: : : : : : Thanks in advance for any information.

: : : : : It's a hideous word, isn't it? I only know it as a verb and have heard it used by those masters of word mutilation at Microsoft, amongst others. It's a recent coinage to do with overlaying graphics onto video, usually in the course of a presentation, or maybe, if you have interactive TV, if you call up facts about the programme that you are currently watching which then overlay the screen. The provenance is fairly depressingly clear - tele as in "television" (a leap of faith from the original Gr**k "distant") and strate as in L*tin "layer".

: : : : I've never come across this word in verb form before. I'm familiar with the form "telestrator", which is an electronic pen used by commentators during sporting events to draw lines on a freeze-frame on the screen, to clarify some point they're making about the action. Currently the device is seeing heavy use on maps of Iraq.

: : : : I was somewhat surprised that "Telestrator" doesn't seem to be a trade mark or brand name.
: : : :
: : : It's a useful gadget. The sports analyst circles the player-to-pay-attention-to on the replay, and you learn a little something. Television + demonstrate. But my immediate concern is ... why is this a "hideous" word? Given that this device exists, and seems clearly educational, it's here to stay. I'd suggest the verb that flows from it seems to be useful, too, on the grounds of efficiency: "telestrate" is a single word that sums up "point out the important things to notice in this televised image, " an 11-word pile of baggage. It's not a euphonious word, but not all that clanky, either. Why fight it?

: : Admittedly I'm slightly calmed by the realisation that you're right, and it's formed from tele(vision) and (demon)strate, rather than my initial assumption that it was dealing with video layers and overlays - strata. If one is being a fanatical purist (not that I am - well not unless I'm caffeine-deprived at the time), the coinage commits a few irredeemable sins, namely:

: : Although it splits the Gr**k prefix correctly, the resultant "tele" just means distant, and so is not relevant.

: : It splits the L*tin suffix unnaturally. The natural word faultline is de-monstrate, rather than demon-strate. This I think explains my confusion re strata.

: : It mixes Gr**k and L*tin word roots. I remember when quadraphonic was the latest buzz technology in audio equipment, and its launch engendered several snotty letters from fusty academics to various learned journals pointing out that it should either be quadrasonic or tetraphonic. I imagine that the same dusty professors, if still alive, would be having conniptions if they came across telestrate.

: : I know, I know. I just think about these things too much.

: How about the word "television"? It mixes Gr**k and L*tin word roots, too.

"Television" raised howls among purists for precisely that reason decades ago. I think they've become resigned.