Saturday, February 27, 2010
On Peter Rozovsky's Detectives Beyond Borders blog, it happened to come up what exactly was in the purview of this blog. I promptly said that there was nothing that was beyond the purview of this blog, and only belatedly realized that I didn't entirely know what "purview" meant.
Well, I know what I want it mean, at least. I want it to mean something like "the defined scope" or the "rightful subject" or something like that. The "-view" part I think we all get--it has to do with sight or seeing. The "pur" however, I'm not so sure. The only "pur" I can think of is related to "pure" and I'm pretty sure it has nothing to do with that. At least I hope not. Pure vision is not anything this blog can ever hope to promise...
...This is one of those instances where I seem to have the definition largely right and the etymology miserably wrong. "Purview" can be taken to mean the extent of something's scope, its reach (and let's emphasize that last word's familiar distinctness from its grasp as entirely fitting.) However it has nothing to do with purity or vision at all. It is actually very closely related to words like proviso and provide and purvey. It's real root is the Anglo-Norman purveu est--"it is provided". Interestingly enough, it seems to have been altered due to some kind of strong influence from the verb "view", which means... okay, we know that part already. And yes this blog especially must acknowledge that, well, mistakes can happen.
(The first, uh, view is, rather predictably, the Milky Way. The second is not a galaxy. It is an image of the 15 million atoms in the protective coating of a virus, courtesy of Rice University. This sums up the scope of my ignorance quite nicely. Now let's hope that the nice folks that posted these pictures let me keep them up...)