You have the con... or com... OK I'm an idiot. Help.

Ursa major

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1883 R. L. Stevenson Treasure Island I. iii. xiii. 104
Long John stood by the steersman and conned the ship.
He was conning folk on land as well, if my memory serves me right.
 

Interference

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I used to think "Com" for "Command", but later noticed Shatner was actually saying "Con" (his lips didn't meet - I watched :)) and deduced it was, like so much of Trek, Conning Tower.
 

Interference

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:eek:

I said: "... and deduced it was^, like so much of Trek, Conning Tower." ^ of naval origin
I forgot the key phrase :eek:

Now, does anyone know how "Conning Tower" got its name?
 

MstrTal

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:eek:

I said: "... and deduced it was^, like so much of Trek, Conning Tower." ^ of naval origin
I forgot the key phrase :eek:

Now, does anyone know how "Conning Tower" got its name?

Ask and some smart rear-end will look it up!

Well according to the Oxford English Dictionary again, I do so love the OED. . .
ˈconning-ˌtower, n.

Etymology: < conning n.2 + tower n.
a. The pilot-house of a war-ship, esp. the shot-proof pilot-house of an iron-clad. Similarly conning-shield n.


1870 Daily News 31 Aug. 2 A ‘conning’ tower is likewise being constructed of thick armour-plating, from which the officer in charge of the vessel will issue his orders during the time the ship is under fire.
1881 J. H. Johnson Specif. Patent 655, The ship‥has in addition to the turrets, what I term a conning shield or observation turret.
1884 E. J. Reed in Contemp. Rev. Nov. 623 [Other shells] pierced the conning tower and blew to pieces the admiral commanding.

(Hide quotations)

b. A superstructure on a submarine in which the periscope is mounted and from which steering, firing, etc., are directed when the submarine is on or near the surface.


1886 Graphic 17 Apr. 410/3 A New Submarine Vessel.‥ A conning tower is placed on the top of the vessel, in the sides of which are ports which enable the steersman to see in every direction, and which is covered by a strong watertight scuttle for access to the interior of the boat.
1902 A. Lang Disentanglers 406 Periscope not necessary with conning-tower out of water.
1915 W. E. Dommett Submarine Vessels iv. 42 All hatches are closed and water admitted to the tanks until the deck, which is just below the base of the conning-tower, is at the level of the water.
1955 Times 20 June 4/6 Last week your Correspondent saw some of the demonstrations from the conning tower and through the periscope of the submarine Tapir.
 

HareBrain

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Plus, look here on Wikipedia for the derivation of "conning": see Etymology 5

Etymology 5

From earlier cond, from Middle English conduen, from Old French conduire, from Latin condūcere, present active infinitive of condūcō (“draw together; conduct”).
[edit] Verb


con (third-person singular simple present cons, present participle conning, simple past and past participle conned)
  1. (nautical) To give the necessary orders to the helmsman to steer a ship in the required direction through a channel etc. (rather than steer a compass direction)
 

Jake Reynolds

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Just about all the words in common use about travelling in space have the same origin, relating to sea-travel on Earth: ship, vessel, deck, bridge, helm, Captain, docking, voyage...

Not to mention navigation, cartography, hull, port, starboard, bow, stern (or aft)...
 

Jayaprakash Satyamurthy

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I've always found the default use of nautical terms in spacefaring SF tales troublesome. Sure, I use the term spaceSHIP as naturally as spacecraft, but it's still something worth thinking about. These nautical terms are so deeply tied in with the 'age of discovery', an era in which mariners from a specific set of countries found routes to other regions and helped extend their countries of origin's commercial and territorial interests. SF writers have mostly stopped giving their characters the same set of Anglo-Saxon/Germanic names everyone in the Golden Age stuff had, but other manifestations of the genre's cultural roots run deeper and harder to shake off or even apparently acknowledge. Doesn't mean it is wrong and bad, but at least it's food for thought. At the very least, writers in a genre that claims to be one of ideas and thought experiments, we should be aware of various dimensions to the language we use.
 

Ursa major

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SF writers have mostly stopped giving their characters the same set of Anglo-Saxon/Germanic names everyone in the Golden Age stuff had....
Unfortunately, there are some readers (for whatever reason) who have trouble with names from a wider variety of sources, as Stephen Palmer has discovered; he has recorded his experiences in this Chrons thread: http://www.sffchronicles.co.uk/forum/530601-page-99-a.html.



(I have to admit that the characters in my WiPs have European names :)o), but that is for a very particular frame-story-related, not culturally-related, reason.)
 

Luc Valentine

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Mosaix is correct, the term originates with submarine jargon from "conning tower". The first submarines were round with a tube rising from the top for the head and torso, from which the pilot controlled or conned the ship. In the round bottom of the vehicle were pedals, like bicycle pedals, where the lower torso and legs would go to power the ship. The tube on top where the head went was the "conning tower".
 

Kristopher Donner

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Hi,

Its true, a sci-fi fan since 1972 and I'm uncertain what should be said when the average starship 'Captain' hands control over to the 'First Officer'.

Is it con or com (and if so what does it mean) or, is it something else?

Thanks,
Rusty

"There 'are' stupid questions."
On the bridge of a ship, you have an Officer of the Deck whom represents the Commanding Officer on the bridge and has the responsibility for the ship. Under the OOD you will often have a Conning Officer (Conn). The Conn is responsible for the safe navigation of the vessel and issues orders to the helmsman; the Conn is the only person that should issue orders to the helm. During a watch changeover you will hear the exiting officer announce that the incoming officer now how has the Conn so that everyone will know who has control of the ship.
 

farntfar

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Several mentions in this discussion of the bridge, without anyone noticing that it's a nautical term too.
 

The Ace

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All of which assumes that by the time we have manned spaceships out there, people on board will use 400-year old nautical jargon. I would find this a rather jarring archaism in a contemporary SF story, unless there's a reason in terms of plot or storytelling style.

Such jargon came into being because it allowed a fairly large number of people to work in concert to control a very large ship. It has survived centuries already because it is useful and concise, and there is no reason to doubt it will continue to be so. There will be minor changes as the language evolves, but that may well be it.
 

Cathbad

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There will be minor changes as the language evolves, but that may well be it.
I once had the opportunity, at the University of Florida library, to read a 1902 English version of Le Morte D'Arthur.

An extremely interesting read, not the least because of the difficulty in reading it due to those "minor changes" in the language.

Thinking about that just now, I find myself a bit glad that Sci-Fi authors haven't taken to try to emulate those future language changes in their novels!! :D
 

Captain Jack

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"I've always found the default use of nautical terms in spacefaring SF tales troublesome."
Why is that Jayaprakash Satyamurthy? I know this is a ten-year-old thread and I just got here because I wanted to know the origin of "con" myself, but I'm curious why you would think that 400 years in the future man wouldn't be using nautical terms in space? Who's to say that an empty cargo ship going from a drop point to a pickup point isn't "deadheading" - a term truckers use for running with an empty trailer and not much of a nautical term (although I could be wrong there)? I'm truly curious if after ten years you've changed your view or if you are still holding fast to your view on the matter.

For me, it would be easier to just use jargon that is already in place. I might consider coining a new term if the circumstances called for it, but for the most part, if there's a proper nautical term, why not just use it? (Yeah, I know, laziness, right? But does a writer really want to spend time making up a whole new template of terms then still have to go back and explain it to the reader?)
 

Valtharius

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This is a fascinating thread. Too bad it's mostly dead. The naval analogy is correct for a number of reasons:
1. International commerce is mostly done by sea and in a more advanced society so will interplanetary commerce. Whoever controls the seas militarily controls commerce. And whoever controls the sea of space will control commerce in a spacefaring society.
2. The length of journeys on a spaceship will be like the months or years crewmen spend on naval vessels as opposed to maybe hours spent on planes in the airforce.
3. The size of the crews will be like naval crews since the vessels are similarly massive and complex.
4. Naval battlespace in the modern context is in fact three dimensional thanks to planes, submarines, naval mines, and guided missiles.
5. Planets' first line of defense against invasion will be their spaceships, as the navy often is for Earth's nations.
 

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