A Conversation for Dice

To the annoyance of 'die' pedants everywhere...

Post 1

Jim diGriz

I've seen a few modern dictionaries that have succumbed to popular opinion, and have now included 'dice' as an acceptable singular term.

Grr... just makes it harder and harder to be a true pedant! smiley - winkeye

One technical error in the article: it inadvertently states that furry dice hanging from a rearview mirror are very cool. In fact, this isn't so, as detailed scientific research has proven beyond reasonable doubt.

If you have located a source that claims they *are* cool, then I would be interested in following up the claim, and scrutinising the research data very very carefully. I'm sure we'll find they've made a mistake somewhere in their analysis.

smiley - winkeye jd


To the annoyance of 'die' pedants everywhere...

Post 2

Martin Harper

Sad, isn't it, watching the language metamorphose out of your control...

Ps - does "the die is cast" refer to a six-sided die being thrown, or a die for making models, etc, being made?


To the annoyance of 'die' pedants everywhere...

Post 3

The Cow

Die is cast = thrown


To the annoyance of 'die' pedants everywhere...

Post 4

Martin Harper

hmm - then again...

This entry is just weird, because sometimes it used dice, sometimes die, as in:

"... any dice can be rolled and the decision made is based on whether the number rolled is higher or lower than the median number for that type of die..."

Shouldn't the first "dice" be "die" in that sentence? Now I'm just confused...


To the annoyance of 'die' pedants everywhere...

Post 5

RangaKoo

Hmmmmm, well that sentence seems flow, and feels intuitively correct......

And alternatively, I've heard that it's not actually "the die is cast" but rather "the dye is cast" as in colours on material - which is a fairly permenant thing that'd be a bugger to undo.

Oh well - it's a theory


To the annoyance of 'die' pedants everywhere...

Post 6

Gnomon - time to move on

It's a theory, but it's a wrong theory. The die is cast is a direct translation from Latin of what Julius Caesar said when he crossed the Rubicon, the river which divided France from Italy at the time. As far as I remember, Caesar was in charge of the army in France. By crossing the river against orders and invading Italy, he indicated that he was challenging the existing government. He said "Alea jacta est". It does mean literally, the die (singular of dice) is cast (thrown).


To the annoyance of 'die' pedants everywhere...

Post 7

The Cow

Ie: his fate was all to chance: he could not pull back then.


To the annoyance of 'die' pedants everywhere...

Post 8

Saint Taco-Chako (P.S. of mixed metaphors)

The reason for the die/dice thing is simple: outside of DnD, they always come in pairs.

The word "die" is just so little used it fell out of favor.


To the annoyance of 'die' pedants everywhere...

Post 9

The Cow

No, you sometime use a single 1d6+0 in real games (eg: Cluedo)


To the annoyance of 'die' pedants everywhere...

Post 10

manolan


Actually, the historian who wrote about Caesar crossing the Rubicon (I can't remember his name offhand) wrote in Greek. "Alea jacta est" is a later translation into Latin. Of course, no one knows what Caesar really said.


To the annoyance of 'die' pedants everywhere...

Post 11

Wol

Actually, no. The historian was, if I recall, Caesar himself, in his history of the civil war (along with his narration of the Gallic Wars, the 'locus classicus' - if I can use that phrase - of a history being written by the victor). Caesar did, of course, write in latin.

He was, however, translating a quotation from the Greek playwright, Menander - which may be what you're thinking of.


To the annoyance of 'die' pedants everywhere...

Post 12

manolan


No, sorry. You forced me to check. The quote is actually from Suetonius (Caesar, 32 or 33 - sources seem to differ) and I'm certain it was originally written in Greek.


Removed

Post 13

Wol

This post has been removed.


To the annoyance of 'die' pedants everywhere...

Post 14

Martin Harper

much thanks to the worthy latin scholars in this thread smiley - smiley


To the annoyance of 'die' pedants everywhere...

Post 15

Gnomon - time to move on

You say that the correct translation of the Greek "aneriphtho kyboi" into Latin is "iacta alea esto", but what does this mean? My Latin is a bit rusty?


To the annoyance of 'die' pedants everywhere...

Post 16

Wol

I'm no Greek scholar, I am afraid. But the difference between the two versions of the latin is:
'iacta alea est' means 'the die is cast'
'iacta alea esto' means 'let the die be cast'.


To the annoyance of 'die' pedants everywhere...

Post 17

manolan


Yes, the main thrust of the conversation was to confirm that a die in this case is the singular of dice.

I, too, had found a copy of the Latin version of Divus Julius and seen the quote. However, I have been doing further research. From the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations:

Julius Caesar

"The die is cast."
Suetonius, Divus Julius, xxxii. At the crossing of the Rubicon. Often quoted in Latin, "Iacta alea est," but originally written in Greek: Plutarch, Pompey, 60.2

This is the reference that I was originally thinking of.

Now, the internet is a strange and wonderful thing, but I cannot find an original text of Plutarch anywhere. Even finding a translation has taken time as the one at MIT (usually reliable) is truncated. Anyway, the passage in question is:

--
For when he came to the banks of the Rubicon, a river that made the bounds of his province, there he made a halt, pausing a little, and considering, we may suppose, with himself the greatness of the enterprise which he had undertaken; then, at last, like men that are throwing themselves headlong from some precipice into a vast abyss, having shut, as it were, his mind's eyes and put away from his sight the idea of danger, he merely uttered to those near him in Greek the words, "Anerriphtho kubos," (let the die be cast,) and led his army through it.
--

Quite interesting to compare this to the same author's account in Caesar:

--
When he came to the river Rubicon, which parts Gaul within the Alps from the rest of Italy, his thoughts began to work, now he was just entering upon the danger, and he wavered much in his mind, when he considered the greatness of the enterprise into which he was throwing himself. He checked his course, and ordered a halt, while he revolved with himself, and often changed his opinion one way and the other, without speaking a word. This was when his purposes fluctuated most; presently he also discussed the matter with his friends who were about him, (of which number Asinius Pollio was one,) computing how many calamities his passing that river would bring upon mankind, and what a relation of it would be transmitted to posterity. At last, in a sort of passion, casting aside calculation, and abandoning himself to what might come, and using the proverb frequently in their mouths who enter upon dangerous and bold attempts, "The die is cast," with these words he took the river.
--

As I said, I haven't been able to find the original anywhere on the internet, I will probably have to go and "browse" in a bookshop, but both translations are by Dryden. It seems unlikely that he would have taken broad enough liberties to account for the discrepancies, indeed, his sentences are so long and laboured, that they must almost certainly be literal translations.

So, who to believe and which account?


To the annoyance of 'die' pedants everywhere...

Post 18

Gnomon - time to move on

The internet is a strange and wonderful thing. But not as strange and wonderful as the people you meet there. smiley - smiley


To the annoyance of 'die' pedants everywhere...

Post 19

manolan

Ho. Ho. smiley - winkeye


To the annoyance of 'die' pedants everywhere...

Post 20

Peet (the Pedantic Punctuation Policeman, Muse of Lateral Programming Ideas, Eggcups-Spurtle-and-Spoonswinner, BBC Cheese Namer & Zaphodista)

In reply to Jim DeGriz, and in an obvious attempt to lower the tone of the conversation, I feel I should point out that on a sunny day, in a closed car, fluffy dice hanging from a rear-view mirror can become very hot indeed... smiley - ok


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