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Title: PA-a misnomer?
Post by: _______ on January 08, 2008, 02:03:26 pm
Back in the day I was taught that a concert sound system should not be referred to as a "PA".  A PA, my distinguised instructor stated, is a system used purely to address the public (think back to announcements made by your elementary school principal).

Problems tend to arise for me, however, when I describe my "sound system".  People immediately start asking me to help them with their car stereos and home theaters.  If I say "PA", folks generally know what I'm talking about.

Am I splitting hairs here, or should I stick to my pedantic guns?

-Matt
Title: Re: PA-a misnomer?
Post by: Tony "T" Tissot on January 08, 2008, 02:14:56 pm
Matthew Whitman wrote on Tue, 08 January 2008 11:03



Am I splitting hairs here, or should I stick to my pedantic guns?

-Matt


Call it whatever the person hiring wants to call it!
Title: Re: PA-a misnomer?
Post by: Dave Dermont on January 08, 2008, 02:29:36 pm
Yeah,

...I have given up trying to get people to stop calling a lectern a podium.

I call them "PA Systems", but the PA stands for "Performance Audio".
Title: Re: PA-a misnomer?
Post by: Brad Weber on January 08, 2008, 03:31:17 pm
How about sound reinforcement or performance sound?  Those seem to be appropriate for systems related primarily to live performances.
Title: Re: PA-a misnomer?
Post by: eric (e.t.) torgerson on January 08, 2008, 03:42:04 pm
I've taken to calling them SR, Sound Reinforcement systems just like the graphic up there in the corner, but still get a lot of calls from folks wanting their car-stereo installed.
Title: Re: PA-a misnomer?
Post by: Bennett Prescott on January 08, 2008, 04:15:54 pm
If this is what keeps you up at night, you must live a wonderful life.
Title: Re: PA-a misnomer?
Post by: John Roberts {JR} on January 08, 2008, 04:16:24 pm
Dave Dermont wrote on Tue, 08 January 2008 13:29

Yeah,

...I have given up trying to get people to stop calling a lectern a podium.

I call them "PA Systems", but the PA stands for "Performance Audio".


I believe PA stands for "Public Address" , while SR "Sound Reinforcement" is more inclusive covering speech and music. PA generally connotes a speech bandwidth system, but I doubt these are hard and fast definitions.

JR
Title: Re: PA-a misnomer?
Post by: SteveKirby on January 08, 2008, 04:54:16 pm
When I have room for multiple sylables (or am talking to someone who might understand) I saw sound reinforcement.  Otherwise I say PA.  SR could mean too many other things, so I only use it when I'm sure the receiver knows what I'm talking about.

In the old days, PA was all we had.  University horns and Bogen amplifiers.  Unless you were really big time, then you had some Altec A7s and the rest of a cinema system.
Title: Re: PA-a misnomer?
Post by: _______ on January 08, 2008, 05:59:27 pm
Quote:

If this is what keeps you up at night, you must live a wonderful life.


I do live a wonderful life.  However, it isn't acronyms that keep me awake, but rather the pitter-patter of invisible gremlins as they scamper across the ceiling.

-MW
Title: Re: PA-a misnomer?
Post by: Collin Donohue on January 08, 2008, 08:54:33 pm
Matthew Whitman wrote on Tue, 08 January 2008 16:59

Quote:

If this is what keeps you up at night, you must live a wonderful life.


I do live a wonderful life.  However, it isn't acronyms that keep me awake, but rather the pitter-patter of invisible gremlins as they scamper across the ceiling.

-MW


Even though PA for me stands for a system designed only for voice and muzak, my clients call any reenforcement system I bring in a PA, so that's what I call it.

The gremlin that keeps me awake at night isn't invisible.  She's about 30 inches long and about 20 pounds, has some really loud lungs and an insatiable hunger for pureed apples mixed with sweet potatoes.  She also has an uncanny ability to make all of my money disappear.   Sad   But she makes me smile, so it matters not.
Title: Re: PA-a misnomer?
Post by: Scott Van Den Elzen on January 08, 2008, 11:25:55 pm
Words mean whatever the people who say them and the people who hear them think they mean.  Your "distinguished instructor" doesn't get to decide what "PA" or "SR" or "Sound System" mean to everyone who says these things or hears these things.
Title: Re: PA-a misnomer?
Post by: E. Lee Dickinson on January 08, 2008, 11:49:03 pm
Matthew Whitman wrote on Tue, 08 January 2008 17:59

However, it isn't acronyms that keep me awake,


Or initialisms*, for that matter.


*From 'words I learned on PSW' chapter 5.
Title: Re: PA-a misnomer?
Post by: Dave Barto on January 09, 2008, 12:25:42 am
Dave Dermont wrote on Tue, 08 January 2008 13:29

Yeah...I have given up trying to get people to stop calling a lectern a podium.


My father taught me that when I was about 6 years old in church and it has drove me nuts ever since.  I started carrying around a handful of copies of this in my brief case to hand to people when they called the lectern a podium.

Once at a large conference the keynote speaker asked for a podium and the stage hand brought out a podium and placed it on the stage.  The expression on the speaker's face was priceless when he walked up onto the stage and looked around for his lectern, but all that was there was a podium.  Afterwards he was furious at the hand.  The hand tried to explain to him that he asked for a podium and thats what he got.  After 5 minutes or so the hand finally just walked away.
Title: Re: PA-a misnomer?
Post by: _______ on January 09, 2008, 01:44:42 pm
Quote:

Words mean whatever the people who say them and the people who hear them think they mean. Your "distinguished instructor" doesn't get to decide what "PA" or "SR" or "Sound System" mean to everyone who says these things or hears these things.



This reply makes absolutely no sense.  Perhaps you might change your mind when your doctor asks for a tongue depressor and the nurse hands him an anal probe.
 "Oh, sorry doctor, but to me tongue depressor means anal probe."
 "No problem, I actually needed a stethoscope, but I refer to it as a tongue depressor."

That's called reductio ad absurdum, by the way.  I learned it from my high school debate teacher.  Would you like to discredit her, too, while you're at it?

-Matt
Title: Re: PA-a misnomer?
Post by: Andy Peters on January 09, 2008, 02:38:12 pm
Matthew Whitman wrote on Tue, 08 January 2008 12:03

Back in the day I was taught that a concert sound system should not be referred to as a "PA".  A PA, my distinguised instructor stated, is a system used purely to address the public (think back to announcements made by your elementary school principal).

Problems tend to arise for me, however, when I describe my "sound system".  People immediately start asking me to help them with their car stereos and home theaters.  If I say "PA", folks generally know what I'm talking about.

Am I splitting hairs here, or should I stick to my pedantic guns?


As a top-grade pedant, I say: Stick to your guns!

We are sliding down towards an idiocracy ....

-a
Title: Re: PA-a misnomer?
Post by: Tony "T" Tissot on January 09, 2008, 02:46:02 pm
Andy Peters wrote on Wed, 09 January 2008 11:38


As a top-grade pedant, I say: Stick to your guns!

We are sliding down towards an idiocracy ....

-a


Aren't you more of a didact?
Title: Re: PA-a misnomer?
Post by: Scott Van Den Elzen on January 09, 2008, 11:06:23 pm
Matthew Whitman wrote on Wed, 09 January 2008 10:44

Quote:

Words mean whatever the people who say them and the people who hear them think they mean. Your "distinguished instructor" doesn't get to decide what "PA" or "SR" or "Sound System" mean to everyone who says these things or hears these things.



This reply makes absolutely no sense.  Perhaps you might change your mind when your doctor asks for a tongue depressor and the nurse hands him an anal probe.
 "Oh, sorry doctor, but to me tongue depressor means anal probe."
 "No problem, I actually needed a stethoscope, but I refer to it as a tongue depressor."

That's called reductio ad absurdum, by the way.  I learned it from my high school debate teacher.  Would you like to discredit her, too, while you're at it?

-Matt

One of the reasons communication is a lot of work is that the same words mean different things to different people.  We all have different context that causes us to interpret language differently.

My point is that sticking to a rigid definition for a term like "PA" is likely to make things more difficult for yourself.  Meanwhile, those who don't take such things too seriously can live in blissful ignorance.

When describing your "PA/Sound System," is it better to be "right" or understood?  If it's up to me, I choose to be understood.
Title: Re: PA-a misnomer?
Post by: Ian Hunt on January 09, 2008, 11:14:36 pm
Who on earth did you marry?
Title: Re: PA-a misnomer?
Post by: Phil LaDue on January 09, 2008, 11:29:46 pm
Ian Hunt wrote on Wed, 09 January 2008 23:14

Who on earth did you marry?
Ian, I believe he is talking about a dog.
Title: Re: PA-a misnomer?
Post by: Steve Oldridge on January 09, 2008, 11:37:45 pm
Sometimes I think PA stands for "Pain in the A*s"

I must be right.. what else can it be when I plug "left in" to left input and "right in" to right input and get the sum of nothing from my speakers ???
God.. I love this yob  Rolling Eyes
Title: Re: PA-a misnomer?
Post by: Ian Hunt on January 09, 2008, 11:47:15 pm
Thank God for that  Smile
Title: Re: PA-a misnomer?
Post by: Scott Smith on January 10, 2008, 10:43:50 am
Scott Van Den Elzen wrote on Tue, 08 January 2008 23:25

Words mean whatever the people who say them and the people who hear them think they mean...


This is a pretty dumb topic.  Words meanings change with time.  "Gay" in the 40's is not the same as "gay" it today.  Many in today's culture equate "sound system" with car audio or home theatre...so be it.  Call it whatever works for you.  "PA system", "sound reinforcement system", "FOH", "stacks and racks", ...whatever.  Public Address seems appropriate enough, even if you address the public with music...   Rolling Eyes
Title: Re: PA-a misnomer?
Post by: Jake Scudder on January 10, 2008, 01:44:48 pm
Just be careful not to take it too far . . . .

index.php/fa/13549/0/

From http://www.xkcd.com
Title: Re: PA-a misnomer?
Post by: Bennett Prescott on January 10, 2008, 02:04:16 pm
Good one, Jake. One of my favorites.
Title: Re: PA-a misnomer?
Post by: _______ on January 10, 2008, 02:14:35 pm
Quote:

Ian Hunt wrote on Wed, 09 January 2008 23:14

Who on earth did you marry?

Ian, I believe he is talking about a dog.


I got the impression Mr. Donohue was talking about a baby girl.  I don't know too many folks that feed their canines pureed apples and sweet potatoes.  Those types of foods tend to irritate a dog's PA (poop activator).

Peace out,
Matt
Title: Re: PA-a misnomer?
Post by: Vince Byrne on January 10, 2008, 03:02:24 pm
Matthew Whitman wrote on Thu, 10 January 2008 13:14

Quote:

Ian Hunt wrote on Wed, 09 January 2008 23:14

Who on earth did you marry?

Ian, I believe he is talking about a dog.


I got the impression Mr. Donohue was talking about a baby girl.  I don't know too many folks that feed their canines pureed apples and sweet potatoes.  Those types of foods tend to irritate a dog's PA (poop activator).

Peace out,
Matt


Dog's PA = Poop Actuator. Illiterate.  Cool
Title: Re: PA-a misnomer?
Post by: Walter Wright on January 13, 2008, 03:31:38 pm
the only time i ever hear a p.a. called a "sound system" is by someone who doesn't know the difference between home stereo stuff and live sound stuff.

ironically, when i hear the term "public address" spelled out is when i think of paging speakers and horns mounted on poles.
Title: Re: PA-a misnomer?
Post by: Patrick Tracy on January 13, 2008, 04:38:58 pm
Scott Van Den Elzen wrote on Wed, 09 January 2008 21:06

Matthew Whitman wrote on Wed, 09 January 2008 10:44

Quote:

Words mean whatever the people who say them and the people who hear them think they mean. Your "distinguished instructor" doesn't get to decide what "PA" or "SR" or "Sound System" mean to everyone who says these things or hears these things.



This reply makes absolutely no sense.  Perhaps you might change your mind when your doctor asks for a tongue depressor and the nurse hands him an anal probe.
 "Oh, sorry doctor, but to me tongue depressor means anal probe."
 "No problem, I actually needed a stethoscope, but I refer to it as a tongue depressor."

That's called reductio ad absurdum, by the way.  I learned it from my high school debate teacher.  Would you like to discredit her, too, while you're at it?

-Matt

One of the reasons communication is a lot of work is that the same words mean different things to different people.  We all have different context that causes us to interpret language differently.

My point is that sticking to a rigid definition for a term like "PA" is likely to make things more difficult for yourself.  Meanwhile, those who don't take such things too seriously can live in blissful ignorance.

When describing your "PA/Sound System," is it better to be "right" or understood?  If it's up to me, I choose to be understood.

Yes, language is constantly evolving new meanings for old words, but without some degree of stability the effectiveness of communication suffers. If language changes too fast then you have a situation in which people only a few years apart can't understand each other. There has to be some resistance to definition drift. In recent decades drift has accelerated to the point that I can barely understand someone a decade younger. Written language has suffered horribly as a result of computers and the internet. I'm not saying those are bad things, I can hardly live without them, but they have had some bad results. It's been over twelve hundred years that things like capitals, punctuation and spaces between words have been serving us well and I don't see any advantage to throwing that all away.

Language is based on rules. This allows a speaker to have a reasonable expectation that his listener will consistently interpret the message. If the rules are not at least somewhat rigid then they are not rules and communication will suffer. There's a big difference between periodically revising the rules to reflect dominant modes of usage and simply making them up ad hoc.

The United States comprises fifty states, it is not comprised of them. A bus is a shared mode of transportation or a shared electrical connection. Buss is a company that makes fuses. You're is the contraction for you are and your is the possessive of you but ur is not a word unless it's capitalized in which case it's the name of an ancient city. Alot is not a word. Allot means to distribute in an organized fashion. A lot is some bulk quantity of things. Setup is not a verb, it's a noun or adjective. Everyday is an adjective meaning common or casual, not to be confused with the phrase "every day". Think of the song lyrics, "I am everyday people" and "Every day I write the book."

In my opinion it the people who initiate and propagate needless changes in language who are to blame for miscommunication, not those who insist on following the rules.
Title: Re: PA-a misnomer?
Post by: Walter Wright on January 13, 2008, 05:55:20 pm
stfu n00b lol

language is sort of like genetics. populations naturally drift over time to new variations, and eventually populations isolated from each other can no longer interbreed (or understand each other, to follow the metaphor).

written language tends to help "hold the line", but it's always a tug-of-war between what's "correct" and what's actually used. for example, my understanding is that in the term "short-lived" the "i" in "lived" is correctly pronounced like "drive". but if i were to say "short-lived" like that in conversation, the person i was talking to would likely say, "what?", halting the conversation. i would therefore be "wrong" in what i was saying.

dictionaries are properly "descriptive", not "prescriptive". they follow the language, not enforce it.

(i still try my damnedest to write grammatically, even if i do allow myself the internet convention of not using caps.)
Title: Re: PA-a misnomer?
Post by: Patrick Tracy on January 13, 2008, 07:52:57 pm
Walter Wright wrote on Sun, 13 January 2008 15:55

stfu n00b lol

language is sort of like genetics. populations naturally drift over time to new variations, and eventually populations isolated from each other can no longer interbreed (or understand each other, to follow the metaphor).

But if genetic drift happened too fast even individuals of roughly the same generation would be unable to interbreed. It doesn't bother me that I can't speak with someone on the opposite side of the planet or from a millennium ago, it bothers me that I can't speak with people here and now.

Walter Wright wrote on Sun, 13 January 2008 15:55

written language tends to help "hold the line", but it's always a tug-of-war between what's "correct" and what's actually used. for example, my understanding is that in the term "short-lived" the "i" in "lived" is correctly pronounced like "drive". but if i were to say "short-lived" like that in conversation, the person i was talking to would likely say, "what?", halting the conversation. i would therefore be "wrong" in what i was saying.

Conversational language is naturally less rigid and more about getting it done. But even then such a mispronunciation might be best viewed as a temporary variance after which one reverts to the correct use. Linguistic conservatism is retained because of its utility. If it were not useful it would have been discarded like tails on humans.

Walter Wright wrote on Sun, 13 January 2008 15:55

dictionaries are properly "descriptive", not "prescriptive". they follow the language, not enforce it.

Then why do words have definitions rather than descriptions? Definitions are, by definition, definitive. They are intended not only to be inclusive but also exclusive, implying that anything not included in the definition is excluded. Why do we need dictionaries at all if whatever is current in spoken language determines correctness? Dictionaries do in fact enforce, or at least reinforce, the rules of language derived from how it is spoken at a given time in a given place. I'm not advocating total rigidity, I'm saying that the rate of change in language has become high enough to threaten reliable communication.

Walter Wright wrote on Sun, 13 January 2008 15:55

(i still try my damnedest to write grammatically, even if i do allow myself the internet convention of not using caps.)

I think the internet convention regarding capitals is all or nothing.
Title: Re: PA-a misnomer?
Post by: Walter Wright on January 13, 2008, 11:37:48 pm
no argument, really, especially to your original point about the foolishness of just deciding that a word means what you want it to mean. unless it means the same thing to the people you're talking to, there's no communication. if i go around talking about my band's "sound system", other musicians and soundguys will think i'm an idiot.

likewise, confusing "their" and "they're" or saying "beg the question" when you mean "raise the question" are errors to be avoided, not new variations to the language.

the only thing about the dictionaries is that i dimly remember being taught that dictionaries are compiled over years of effort by gathering citations of usage for words or phrases, and then scrutinizing them for frequency and consistence and popularity of usage. in this way, dictionaries follow the language, rather than leading it. (for example, "ain't" is in fact in the dictionary!)