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Topic: can someone help with definition?
Replies: 1   Last Post: Jun 16, 1996 6:06 PM

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Terry Moore

Posts: 538
Registered: 12/8/04
Re: can someone help with definition?
Posted: Jun 16, 1996 6:06 PM
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In article <4pm6uo$>, J C Rougier
<> wrote:
> AaCBrown ( wrote:
> : I offer the sad fate of Louis Pasteur who said "the exception puts the
> : rule to the proof" and was always mistranslated as "the exception proves
> : the rule" to the benefit of sloppy thinkers everywhere.

This is not so much a mistranslation as use of an older meaning of
"prove" still is use in such terms as "proving ground" and "proof
sprit". In this sense "proof" means "make sure that ... is up to
standard". If a certain proportion of gunpowder added to a spirit
would burn, that was "proof" that there was not too much water in it.

> Quite right Aaron, I usually give the example "the stone proves the
> sword" to show the correct interpretation of the word `prove'.

This is a good example of the older meaning.

Terry Moore, Statistics Department, Massey University, New Zealand.

Imagine a person with a gift of ridicule [He might say] First that a
negative quantity has no logarithm; secondly that a negative quantity has
no square root; thirdly that the first non-existent is to the second as the
circumference of a circle is to the diameter. Augustus de Morgan

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