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    On Cook's mapping and pronunciation
    From: Peter Fogg
    Date: 2006 Nov 25, 22:15 +1100
    George wrote:

    Well, it isn't so simple to make a map of an unknown coastline as you
    "meander" along it. Land surveyors can measure a baseline and take
    bearings from its ends and triangulate from that. From sea, any
    baseline is somewhat fluid. For a coast that tends North-South, it can
    be done by creating a baseline between two sea-positions with spacing
    determined by precise celestial latitude measurement. Where it tends
    East-West, it's much harder, when the surveyor lacks a chronometer, as
    Cook did on that first circumnavigation, and had only lunars, and dead
    reckoning, to rely on for longitude differences.

    And of course the coasts of both eastern Aus and NZ do run mostly north/south. I had assumed (also not a Cook or mapping expert) that maps of coastlines could be created via a kind of reverse coastal navigation, via corrected compass bearings of, eg; headlands. Isn't this what sea explorers have always done in practice?

    The meandering is perhaps significant, as it enables bearings to be drawn from different angles and distances from land. Indeed sailing along this east (Oz) coast and using plotting sheets (rather than draw onto the charts) I do draw up primitive maps as we go, although we have charts to refer to, unlike Cook.

    One reason Cook had to meander is that the prevailing fine weather wind along the NSW coast (then and now) is a north-easterly, precisely the direction Cook was trying to take. So he spent quite some time tacking to and fro (which, again, I assumed was useful for mapping purposes) or hove to. When southerlies came they were a mixed blessing. Good progress could be made to the north but the weather tended to be bad (rain and squalls - then and now) and thus visibility was often poor.

    Jeremy is actually a Kiwi (New Zealander) by origin, though now in
    Australia, and the accent is subtly different from Australian.

    VERY subtly different, at best.

    I must say that I didn't share the difficulties that Wolfgang reports...

    Sometimes a subtle difference in pronunciation can make all the difference to comprehension. Years ago I was hitching south through France from Le Mans, on my way to a little place on the northern banks of La Gironde. A truck picked me up.
    "Where are you going?" A predictable question; in French of course.
    Rather than burden him with the name of the closest village to my destination well off this main road, I gave the name of where the road was going - Bordeaux. Just to establish that we were both heading that way. I had a map and every intention of bailing at the right intersection.
    "Connais pas." (Don't know it). Ah well, I thought, just keep going this way and soon you'll know all about it. Volunteered that it was a major port and industrial city on La Gironde, information to which he listened with great interest.
    "Où ca ?" (Where did you say?). We went through this routine a few times, before lapsing into mutual silence.
    Which he broke, after a while, to tell me that he wasn't from around this area and that he didn't know the names of all the little villages.
    "En tout cas, moi ; je vais à Bordeaux, donc si cela peut vous aider …"
    (Anyhow, I'm going to Bordeaux, so if that's any use to you ...)
    I allowed that this would be just fine. And it was. Got out at the intersection and soon caught a school bus going in the right direction, full of little kids.

    In Germany it was even worse. They would laugh at my attempts to speak German and answer me in English. Which was no way to improve, at all; at all.




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