Monday, November 12, 2012


One of the most enjoyable and unintentional things about blogging is all the interesting new knowledge I happen across as a result of meeting blog friends (there should be a more appropriate word for this) and exchanging knowledge.  Today, I would like to highlight a wonderful and unintentional find I made while perusing Rob from Amersfoort's delightful website, Robs Webstek.

Rob had written about an early North American map (shown below) by Dutch cartographer, Cornelius van Wytfliet.

Like Rob, I enjoy maps.  I love looking at every little detail and I enjoyed this one too.  One detail that caught my eye this time however, was the compass rose.  Van Wytfliet had labeled the map in the Latin language including the cardinal points:  Oriens, Occidens, Septentrio, and Meridies.  Most people are familiar with the English words Oriental and Occidental as somewhat archaic terms for Eastern and Western, but I became curious if these other Latin words had spawned equivalent terms for Northern and Southern.  As a matter of fact, the answer is yes, although the terms really never caught on.

It would seem as though all the terms are archaic, but some more so than others.  Orient is used most frequently and some people will still talk about the Orient in reference to China, but the term is dying out.  Most likely this is due to the slightly derisive connotation of using the term Oriental to describe people from East Asia.  Curiously enough, to orient a map comes from the time of the Middle Ages when most maps put east at the top of the map, so to orient a map would be to arrange it towards the east.

Pietro Visconte's map of the world from 1321

The term Occident is used significantly less frequently to describe the Western World.  Oftentimes this would be in reference to Europe instead of Asia.  Although this is a rarely heard term, it still comes up from time to time.  For example, President Obama attended Occidental College in Los Angeles.

Until I had seen Van Wyfliet's map, I had only been familiar with Orient and Occident and I hadn't put much thought into why there were no comparable terms for Northern and Southern lands.  Checking the dictionary, I did see that there is a term for Northern lands, it's Septentrion.  What a wonderful word!

You might have noticed the Latin sept- prefix.  Septem is Latin for the number seven, just like September.  I can already hear some of you saying, "But September is the ninth month, not the seventh!"  Well, actually in the original Roman calendar September was the seventh month, followed by the rest of the numbered months up to the tenth month, December (e.g., septem, seven; octo, eight; novem, nine; decem, ten).  July and August were originally Quintilis and Sextilis (fifth and sixth respectively) until they were changed to honor Julius Caesar (July) and Augustus Caesar (August).  The Romans later added Ianuarius and Februarius to account for the previously unaccounted winter time period.

So how is something to do with seven related to the north?  Septentrion is a combination of the Latin septem (seven) and trion (plow oxen).  The group of stars that most of us recognize as the Big Dipper is a collection of seven stars in the northern sky.  These stars are today part of the Ursa Major constellation and the ladle of the dipper forms the bears tail.  However, in ancient times, this dipper was sometimes depicted as an ox plough.

The accompanying Latin term for things southern, "meridional," never really caught on and appears to have been eclipsed by its association with the sun's meridian or noontime.  Although I suppose for Europeans the sun was always a tad southernly.

So, thank you to Rob from Amersfoort!  But now that I'm thinking about words, shouldn't that be Rob van Amersfoort or Rob uit Amersfoort?  Either way, I always appreciate a good think.


Judi said...

My brain is reeling. Deep stuff. Love the Big Dipper connection to north.

al_luz812 said...

Septentrion......ahh enlightening.

The terms occidental and oriental are still commonly used in my country. Islands which are divided into western and eastern provinces are named after tehese archaic terms.

Negros occidental and Negros oriental; Occidental Mindoro and Oriental Mindoro.

Nate Maas said...

Al, thanks for commenting. I was unaware that they had those classifications in the Philippines - very interesting. Of course the general description of the islands to the southeast, Melanesia, also means black islands.

Rob From Amersfoort said...

You're welcome! In my little quest to make the city of Amersfoort a bit more known worldwide I decided to use 'from' instead of 'van' or ' uit' :-). Nice post, I admit I didn't take a close look at the compass rose. We always refer to the Orient as the 'far east', and to Arabia and surroundings as the 'middle east'. Which may be a bit strange when you live in California and the far east is not that far away compared to the 'middle east'. And then I won't even mention the West-Indies and and East-Indies, it's confusing.

Anonymous said...

good Vidmate on your google android and encounter the app. official latest app Therefore download the software and appreciate. Vidmate App Official nice.

ershovayuli said...

good to fret about compatibility with unique operating devices. official latest app afterward you can apply the group showing characteristic Xender App nice.

Anonymous said...

good files from one android product to another in which official latest app Aside of being possess lots of choices to choose Xender App nice.

Unknown said...

Can one jailbreak iOS 10 / iOS 10.0.2 / 10.0.1? If not, what is latest on iOS 10 / 10.0.2 jailbreak status for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices? you can get answer of this Question as now you can get iOS 10 jailbreak.

Anonymous said...

good for case seem for Water-type Pokemon by lakes and oceans. Pokemon GO for Windows Move on battles by signing up for the group of three. nice.

Anonymous said...

good to Battery management as well as from address book back-up to Wi-Fi installment, tutuapp apk a solitary application with multiple functions loaded in it nice.

denisejmorris said...

good Nonetheless, it must be stated that you can't download on your disk drive you may search in the Downloads folder best.

Unknown said...

I'm puzzled with lots of exercises. I was afraid I could not do the right time despite my hard work. I need a support person.

Happy Diwali said...

download the shareit apk is very easy from this method

Sarah Saad said...

شركة نقل عفش
اهم شركات مكافحة حشرات بالخبر كذلك معرض اهم شركة مكافحة حشرات بالدمام والخبر والجبيل والخبر والاحساء والقطيف كذلك شركة رش حشرات بالدمام ومكافحة الحشرات بالخبر
شركة مكافحة حشرات بالدمام

Sarah Saad said...

شركة تنظيف خزانات بجدة الجوهرة من افضل شركات تنظيف الخزانات بجدة حيث ان تنظيف خزانات بجدة يحتاج الى مهارة فى كيفية غسيل وتنظيف الخزانات الكبيرة والصغيرة بجدة على ايدى متخصصين فى تنظيف الخزانات بجدة
شركة تنظيف خزانات بجدة
شركة كشف تسربات المياه بالدمام
شركة نقل عفش واثاث

Sarah Saad said...

شركة نقل عفش بالرياض وجدة والدمام والخبر والجبيل اولقطيف والاحساء والرياض وجدة ومكة المدينة المنورة والخرج والطائف وخميس مشيط وبجدة افضل شركة نقل عفش بجدة نعرضها مجموعة الفا لنقل العفش بمكة والخرج والقصيم والطائف وتبوك وخميس مشيط ونجران وجيزان وبريدة والمدينة المنورة وينبع افضل شركات نقل الاثاث بالجبيل والطائف وخميس مشيط وبريدة وعنيزو وابها ونجران المدينة وينبع تبوك والقصيم الخرج حفر الباطن والظهران
شركة نقل عفش بجدة
شركة نقل عفش بالمدينة المنورة
شركة نقل اثاث بالرياض

robin said...

Avriq MAP
CCTV Camera
Pest control services
PC Optimization
CP Plus
Termite control services

ahmed said...

company on our numbers or communicate through the Internet Visit our websites will receive our team working at the highest level of custom wearingافضل شركة نقل اثاث

Darren Demers said...

It would seem as though all the terms are archaic, but some more so than others. Orient is used most frequently and some people will still talk about the Orient in reference to China, but the term is dying out. gold shawls and wraps , shawl wholesale online , prom shawl , embroidered pashmina shawl , pashmina shawls manufacturers , shawl fashion , men's pashmina shawls , best pashmina shawls , buy shawl , pashmina shawl in nepal Most likely this is due to the slightly derisive connotation of using the term Oriental to describe people from East Asia. Curiously enough, to orient a map comes from the time of the Middle Ages when most maps put east at the top of the map, so to orient a map would be to arrange it towards the east.

Anaminka said...

After this brings up its clients get entertained well with its premium services, the hi profile escorts in kolkatais liable to increase the level of fun by its quality services dissimilar to get anywhere. So, let us forget everything and take pleasure in what you wait for a long time. Check our other Services...
hi profile escorts in kolkata
hi profile escorts in kolkata
Housewife Escorts in Lucknow
Housewife Escorts in Lucknow
Housewife Escorts in Lucknow

Best Packers And Movers Bangalore said...

Local Packers and Movers Bangalore List, Get Best Price Quotes, Compare Movers and packers Charges, Top, Local Household Shifting Services. Packers And Movers Bangalore

Meena kumari said...

With ourModel Escorts in Lucknowand escorts services, you may really improve stage of fun by its quality services different. Sure! This assists its people to victory over all the gloom and depressive disorders from your lifestyle and appeases your delicate wishes specifically.So, you may do a trip at web page and can get your wish suggested with an outstanding woman escort. Check our other services also...
Hi Profile Call Girls in Lucknow
Russian Call Girls in Lucknow
Russian Escorts Service in Lucknow
Foreigner Call Girls in Lucknow
Foreigner Escorts in Lucknow
Air Hostess Escorts
Call Girls In Lucknow

Denian Frizy said...

Nice post. I learn something more challenging on different blogs everyday. It will always be stimulating to read content from other writers and practice a little something from their store. I’d prefer to use some with the content on my blog whether you don’t mind. Natually I’ll give you a link on your web blog. Thanks for sharing.

Visit Web