Is corrosion an onomatopoeia? was closed as "Not a real question". I'm just flabbergasted.

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form.

Yet Mark Beadles has posted a very nice response that exactly answers all parts of the question, and teaches the internet about a linguistic phenomenon to boot.

Maybe the question could've been phrased slightly better, but since when does that warrant closing?

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    "Not a real question" is shorthand for "Doesn't interest The Guardians". Given that I find the question fairly interesting, I guess their lack of interest means they didn't know the answer and it didn't appeal to them to research one. – Andrew Lazarus Dec 17 '12 at 17:47
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    I've noticed any yes-or-no question has survival chances of a snowflake in hell. If the answer is "yes," "why are you asking, you know the answer!" and closed as too obvious; if "no", then NARQ, wrong and awful for making wrong assumptions (exactly like in this case.) – SF. Dec 18 '12 at 6:54
  • @AndrewLazarus Agreed, this kind of behaviour seems endemic amongst the guardian clique you refer to. – spiceyokooko Dec 18 '12 at 15:35
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    @spiceyokooko: what "guardian clique"? You've been on the site for all of six days. Do you personally know the people who closed the question? Can you even name them? A question got closed by five high-rep community members, another high-rep community member argued that it can be salvaged, and then actually did salvage it, by editing it into shape, herself. And it got reopened. Which is precisely how SE is supposed to work. Now look at your contribution: you've spent the same time running around trying to foment unrest and division and calling people names. You are not helping. – RegDwigнt Mod Dec 18 '12 at 16:13
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    @RegDwighт But I am entitled to my opinion and I am allowed to express it on meta and I am allowed to agree with other peoples comments. Sorry you don't like that, but there's lots of things here I don't like or agree with. So much for that beloved community democracy, self moderation and policing you love so much. – spiceyokooko Dec 18 '12 at 16:17
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    @spiceyokooko Reputation is the key to changing the culture, if you want to do that. Get enough rep and you can edit questions to make them suitable for re-opening; more and you can vote to re-open them too. – Andrew Leach Mod Dec 18 '12 at 16:21
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    @spiceyokooko "[I am not helping] but I am entitled to [complain about what other people contribute]". I wasn't sure what you were doing here; now I am. Thanks for clearing that up. – MetaEd Dec 18 '12 at 16:28
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    @MετάEd I've received nothing but hostility since I came here, why are you surprised some hostility comes back? It also seems I'm not the only one who disagrees with some of the decisions being made here, I'm simply agreeing with them based on what I've experienced since I've been here. This is the most unpleasant SE I'm a member of. – spiceyokooko Dec 18 '12 at 16:37
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    It is what you make it, spice. You waded in here with hostility, so don't be surprised if that is what you take away from it. – Robusto Dec 18 '12 at 16:38
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    @Mitch: "Human language is almost entirely arbitrary." Internet faux-expertise is almost entirely conclusory. If you have the One and Only Theory of the Origin of Language, do share. – Andrew Lazarus Dec 18 '12 at 20:08
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    @Robusto, I certainly didn't wade in here with hostility. But I'm confronted with a question closure rate orders of magnitude higher than other SEs, including ones on topics that seem to attract complete cranks in the Real World. One can identify a clique by determining that these questions are being closed by pretty much the same crew each time. (Of course, in such a hostile environment, the number of participants is going to be limited.) Their own comments can be reinterpreted as preferring a small pond of questions in which they can be the big fish. – Andrew Lazarus Dec 18 '12 at 20:14
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    @RegDwigнt A late comment, but, If spiceyokookoo disagrees with decisions made by people who manage the site, what difference does it make if he knows them personally or can name them? He knows what decision they made, and that is what he is criticizing. Their personal identities are only relevant if he wants to engage in ad hominem attacks. If I said, "I think the speed limit on highway 20 should be 60 and not 50", would this comment really be invalid and uncalled for because I don't know the name of the highway department official who set that speed limit? Would the comment be more ... – Jay Mar 25 '15 at 13:49
  • ... valid if I knew him personally and we regularly had lunch together? – Jay Mar 25 '15 at 13:50

I agree. Voted to reopen. We only need three more.

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    Thank you. But would you address the *flabbergastion of the OP? That's far beyond mere disagreement over a close call. Does this not suggest a systemic problem with closure votes? – Andrew Lazarus Dec 17 '12 at 18:09
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    @AndrewLazarus: I agree. I guess people are just close-happy, but corrosion may very well have onomatopoeic roots (damn, I hate typing that word), as I explained in a comment on Mark's excellent answer there. It is a fine question. Just because some people don't know the answer up front doesn't mean it isn't a valid question or there isn't a good answer. Heck, even if the answer is no, it is still on topic and OK. – Cerberus_Reinstate_Monica Dec 17 '12 at 18:49
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    @Cerberus yes, if the answer is "no, even though you didn't know that", it is still on-topic. But if the answer is "no and you know it, so this question is rhetorical", we have always been closing these. The question is fine it its current form, but without people closing it first it would have stayed in a sorry state. "Closed" does not mean "off-topic" (unless it's closed as "off-topic", which this question never was). "Closed" means "pending improvement so it can be reopened". Which is a win-win. So many people get it wrong. I am sad to see you get it wrong, after all this time. – RegDwigнt Mod Dec 18 '12 at 16:52
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    @RegDwigh: I did not get anything wrong, and I think the question was always fine, and the answer was never even close to "no". There you have it. Now I'm off to merrier pastures. – Cerberus_Reinstate_Monica Dec 18 '12 at 19:05
  • @Cerberus so now the question is still fine with you, but it is also fine with the people who it used to not be fine with. You were happy all along, excellent. But now everyone else is just as happy. And future posters have one question less to use as an excuse for posting a question that doesn't sit well with some, and one question more to use as a guide for posting a question that sits well with everybody. Everyone wins. – RegDwigнt Mod Dec 18 '12 at 22:50
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    @RegDwigh: Fallacy. I am not and never was against improving questions (and frankly I'm not so sure it was actually improved: now the question about the actual onomatopoeic status of the root has been obscured). Now at least two people have been pissed off: the OP and I. Sometimes all the negativity on this site is overwhelming. One of the reasons I participate less. – Cerberus_Reinstate_Monica Dec 19 '12 at 1:52

Re: Mark Beadles answer: No it does not 'exactly answer all parts of the question'. He didn't answer any of the question.

He didn't say anything about 'corrosion'.

Also, onomatopoeia is not sound symbolism. If that is not the case then sound symbolism is all that language is. That is, a word and anything that sounds similar gives that same meaning, which is what all words are. 'Horse' and things that sound like that evokes horse-like things.

It's all eggcorns and folk etymology. Human language is almost entirely arbitrary.

All that is not is onomatopoeia, the very rare interjections and words that sound like the sound they stand for.

OK, maybe Mark did answer to what the OP was looking for. So all I'm left with after this rant is that he still didn't answer -everything- namely about corrosive.

That said, the question is mildly interesting and shows intelligence (not knowledge of basic English though; how could 'corrosion' be at all onomatopoeic?). So I neither down-voted nor close-voted.

As with many questions, they are easy to want to close, not for the full content but really for some ill-fated small detail like bad spelling or making a statement that is blatantly false to a native speaker like 'corrosive sounds like its meaning'

  • I pretty much agree with all of this, but consider "The two (non-)words flossivise/graukit mean polish/scratch. Or should it be the other way around?". I bet well over 50% of English speakers would endorse the order as given, but I don't think that implies any meaningful level of onomatopoeia. It's just that given a binary choice like that, we try to think of anything remotely similar to either/both words that might just give a tiny hint. – FumbleFingers Dec 17 '12 at 23:56
  • Oh and I don't like kittens. – Mitch Dec 18 '12 at 0:17
  • Is that because kitten is too "harsh" a sound for your? I suspect the Star Trek writers thought that tribble was inherently a soft/strokey kind of word. – FumbleFingers Dec 18 '12 at 0:22
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    No, I don't like them individually. Kittens suck. – Mitch Dec 18 '12 at 0:33
  • I hope that's not just you feeling guilty because of this! :) – FumbleFingers Dec 18 '12 at 0:38

I disagree. Onomatopoeia refers to words made to imitate sounds associated with objects or actions (one might argue that one can't have sound without action, and I would be inclined to agree with that). Corrosion refers to a chemical change, such as the oxidation of iron or steel, that takes place slowly. As I mentioned in a comment to the question, has anyone ever heard a car rusting? Corrosion could take place more quickly, of course, perhaps even violently; and if that happened it might make a sound, but who could agree on what that sound would be? Would anyone seriously suggest that a hissing or fizzing sound could be described by the phonemic sequence offered by corrode?

The question as it stands is vague, hard to fathom, assumes facts not in evidence, and should remain closed until the OP, or one of you who desires to see it reopened, goes in and edits it into a real question.

@Martha: If you see the real question there that is so nicely answered, why don't you do the editing to remove the misleading parts so that the beauty may shine forth for all of us.

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    You can't tell whether a word has onomatopoeic roots until you have investigated its history. Onomatopoeia is about origin, after all. – Cerberus_Reinstate_Monica Dec 17 '12 at 18:44
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    Quite. I think this (meta) question is really just something of an OTT backlash against the current perception that ELU is closing too many questions. I can't believe that anyone would seriously contend there's a characteristic "sound" associated with corrosion in the first place - but even if there were, why would anyone suppose it might sound like that particular word? – FumbleFingers Dec 17 '12 at 18:45
  • @FumbleFingers: If I had to guess, I would say there was a 60 % chance that it is onomatopoeic. – Cerberus_Reinstate_Monica Dec 17 '12 at 19:08
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    @Cerberus: Fortunately, you don't have to guess. Etymonline gives corrode c.1400, from O.Fr. corroder (14c.) or directly from L. corrodere "to gnaw to bits, wear away," from com-, intensive prefix (see com-), + rodere "to gnaw" (see rodent). There is still nothing about sound there. – Robusto Dec 17 '12 at 19:51
  • @Robusto: This says nothing about how the root came to be. You need to go farther back. – Cerberus_Reinstate_Monica Dec 17 '12 at 19:52
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    @Cerberus: Why do I need to do anything? You people want the question open, so prove that it needs to be open? Prove that it has merit. You give the 60% figure — do share with us how you arrived at that. – Robusto Dec 17 '12 at 19:57
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    I propose an experiment: for one week (or one day, if that's all you can manage), pretend you don't have the reputation to close questions, and that downvoting a question imposes a stiff penalty on your own reputation (say, 50 points). In other words, pretend that the only tools you have at your disposal are editing, comments, and flags. Now, go forth and improve the site. – Marthaª Dec 17 '12 at 19:57
  • @Robusto: Because you asserted that I didn't have to guess. See Mark's answer and its comments for pro-onomatopoeic arguments. But it has been reopened anyway, so we can bury the hatchet. – Cerberus_Reinstate_Monica Dec 17 '12 at 20:01
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    @Martha: You propose an experiment for me to do? Really? Let me offer a counter-proposal: Why don't you go rescue the question you admit could have been worded better but whose closing flabbergasted you? – Robusto Dec 17 '12 at 20:01
  • @Robusto: perhaps you ought to look at the question again. (Check the timestamp on my edit vs. your above comment.) – Marthaª Dec 17 '12 at 21:40
  • (And my point was, the question as originally posted was nowhere near bad enough that it should have needed rescuing.) – Marthaª Dec 17 '12 at 21:45
  • @Marthaª: A difference of opinion is what makes horse races and sites like these possible. – Robusto Dec 17 '12 at 21:46
  • Perhaps I'm dense (OK, OK, I know I'm dense), but what does opinion have to do with a horse race? – Marthaª Dec 17 '12 at 21:47
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    @Marthaª: I can't wait to play poker with you. The "difference of opinion" involving horse races is that if everyone thought the same horse would win there would be no race because the track would not take the bets. – Robusto Dec 17 '12 at 22:07
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    @Marthaª: Actually, I don't need to try this experiment. I never even used the review queue until two or three weeks ago. I seldom down-vote (preferring to comment instead), and I don't believe in flagging except for egregious offenses. In two years I've flagged only a few dozen questions/answers. But, seriously, you'd prefer that I flag a question than vote to close it? That seems rather extreme to me. – Robusto Dec 18 '12 at 19:13

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