Revisiting 37: pie charts

Follow-ups on two themes: pie chart referring to a graphic display of information; and categories and labels in the domain of desserts, notably in the PIE, SWEET-PIE, and CAKE categories. Spurred by a link (from Kim Darnell) to this posting on the edible Austin site (as in Austin TX), “A Guide to Deciphering Dessert” by Bambi Edlund:

(#1) Another sense of pie chart: ‘chart of pies, a charting of pies, a chart showing pies’ (parallel to flower painting, room diagram, and part(s) list), vs. pie chart ‘chart resembling a pie’ (parallel to penguin suit, penis mushroom, and mushroom penis)

Resemblance compound pie chart. And the reversed compound chart pie ‘pie like a chart’, also a Resemblance compound — both treated in my 11/14/19 posting “Chart pie”, with this clever cartoon:


Object compound pie chart. But the sense of pie chart in #1 is that of an Object compound: pies are charted in a pie chart (rooms diagrammed in a room diagram, parts listed in a part(s) list). Resemblance and Object are both canonical relations between the head and modifier Ns in N + N compounds, so it’s not surprising that ambiguous cases are not hard to find — though particular combinations will tend to be conventionalized with one interpretation or the other, depending on (among other things) the semantics of the head noun and of the real-world probabilities of the relationship.

In particular, an Object interpretation will be easily available when the head N evokes a V that takes the modifier N as its object — for instance, a N of artistic creation or representation, or of cataloguing or listing. The nouns chart and diagram are of both types: they refer to graphic representations of collections of information. So: a pie chart, referring to a chart representation of types of pie; and a room diagram, referring to a diagram of the parts of a room.

Either of these can be interpreted as a Resemblance compound, but it takes a bit of imagination: how can a chart of information be look, especially look like, a pie? and how can a diagram of information be like, especially look like, a room?

In the first case, the imaginative leap was made a bit over 200 years ago (when the idea of a pie chart was first described in print by William Playfair), and we now take it for granted. In the second case, the idea is very old, but isn’t known by the name room diagram.

The reference would be to a picture of a memory room, a room with pieces of information distributed around the room in such a way that you can recall those pieces of information by taking a tour around the room; the diagram thus would look like a room. Such a memory room would be a type of memory palace. From Wikipedia:

The method of loci (loci being Latin for “places”) is a method of memory enhancement which uses visualizations with the use of spatial memory, familiar information about one’s environment, to quickly and efficiently recall information. The method of loci is also known as the memory journey, memory palace, or mind palace technique. This method is a mnemonic device adopted in ancient Roman and Greek rhetorical treatises … Many memory contest champions report using this technique to recall faces, digits, and lists of words.

The world of pie. Now, as to to actual content of the chart in #1.  This is far from a catalogue of desserts, but just a list of seven types of desserts that are probably in the PIE category (in fact, the SWEET-PIE category) but are at some distance from the central members of the SWEET-PIE category and have interesting local names (pie being used for the central members).

For what it’s worth, NOAD defines pandowdy as a type of pie; defines cobbler, crisp, crumble, and grunt merely as types of dessert (not using pie in the definitions); and lacks entries for Betty and buckle.

Previously in this blog, three postings:

on 4/29/18, “All the dessert world is not either cake or pie”

on 5/3/18, “CAKE-PIE II”

on 9/14/18, “Fruit cream tarts, one with pansy”

(More have been in the works for some time, but might not ever get polished into postings.)



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