A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: Frank Reed
Date: 2018 Dec 3, 12:37 -0800
Tony, you wrote:
"It just occured to me: the "fix" word in CN context means "to repair a DR position". "
Heh. That's clever! From the point of view of historical origin in English, it's probably not quite right, but at least it's a good mnemonic --a way to "fix" the meaning of the word in your memory.
See how I used "fix" there? This is another meaning of the word in English, distinct from "repair". If I set or or settle or stabilize something, I can say that I have "fixed" it. This is not the same meaning as to repair, but it's very close to the navigational meaning. The word "fix" has been in English for the better part of a millennium. It was probably one of the earliest borrowing from Norman French in the decades after 1066. Since it's an old word and a short word, it has developed quite a few related meanings.
There's a nice dictionary entry for the word "fix" at merriam-webster.com. The navigational sense of "fix" is part of definition 3 of the verb in their listing. Fixing the date of an event (def. 3a) is very similar to our navigation sense of fixing our position at sea. In fact, they give this as a distinct meaning (def. 3b):
" to make an accurate determination of: DISCOVER
// fixing our location on the chart ".
And separately, the noun "fix" is defined and includes the navigation sense as a top-level meaning:
" the position (as of a ship) determined by bearings, observations, or radio
also : a determination of one's position "
Sometimes new students do puzzle over the word "fix" wondering why they call it that. But it's not really an obscure usage. It's common English, but a secondary sense of the word. Comparing with "fixing" the date of an event is probably a good way to make it clear. I haven't tried this but I will the next time someone asks. I'll also suggest your idea of "fixing" being like "repairing" the DR since that would certainly help some students.