Publish or publish

The other day, in an aside, I found it anachronistic that WordPress still has us “publish” posts. But Brendan Greeley of Open Source Radio emailed this bit of research:

Hey, I just checked the derivation, because I was curious. “Publish” is from “publicare,” roughly, “to make public.” That is, it doesn’t have anything to do with paper at all. This isn’t just to nitpick, it’s to make the point that what we traditionally understand as “publisher” — someone who pays for paper to be printed — is only an accident. The verb isn’t anachronistic; what it came to mean is.

I’ll now hit “publish” with revolutionary pride.

  • That’s weird. I’d always understood publish to mean, essentially, to “put out there,” irrespective of medium. Maybe it’s all that Latin I had to take in high school, but more likely it’s my science fiction background, which forces me to look at concepts rather than simple definitions when trying to predict the future.

  • In Merrie Old England, one published tidings by handing them to a town crier who yelled it out to your ‘consumers’… hardly a paper ‘medium’.

    In Catholic and Anglican churches one ‘published’ the Banns of Marriage by announcing them at the service… actually printing them on paper was an *innovation*.

    So even in the English language, ‘publish’ means more than it does to publishers.

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