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The meaning of ‘sound’ and ‘anachronistically


The passage below is from Fathoms: The World in the Whale Hardcover by Rebecca Giggs.


❶To sound is to measure within the body, or, anachronistically, ❷it is the action of a whale body, plunging; a whale rushing to the deep. How does a whale locate itself in a universe without landmarks, without light, without a way to quantify time?


This short paragraph is interesting. It used the not-so-frequently-used meanings of SOUND. So I looked up the Marriam-Webster.

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sound


I got my answer, but I’m not so sure about mine.

First, the meaning of #1 SOUND is the following: *sound transitive verb 3: to explore or examine (a body cavity) with a sound

(Am I right?)

Second, the meaning of #2 SOUND is the following: *sound intransitive verb 2 : to dive down suddenly

(Am I right?)


Third, I cannot make out the meaning of ‘anachronistically’.

It seems to be used a bit unusually. Usually it means ‘chronologically out of place’, rather in this context it seems to mean ‘archaically’. But ‘chronological’ and ‘archaic’ is not same. To me ‘archaically’ seems better than ‘anachronistically’ in this context.


Last and the hardest, ‘a universe’. Before this word, the passage talked about ‘a whale rushing to the deep’. Then abruptly ‘a universe’, not ‘an ocean’.

I am deeply in the dark.

Can you help me?


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The first part of the sentence defines "to sound" as "to measure within the body". Submarines take soundings to determine how far they are from the seafloor; fishermen also use sounding devices to locate schools of fish.

The second predicate conjoins with the conjunction "or". It means "another way to define it is.."

Another way to define "sound" is the way it used to be used by whalers. (It is an anachronistic definition because it has fallen out of use.

After whales are shot with a harpoon, they try to escape by "sounding. "

  • noun The rapid descent of a whale or of a fish to the bottom (commonly) after being harpooned or hooked.

https://www.wordnik.com/words/sounding

Here are some quotes from Melville's Moby Dick (1851)

“Shipmates, this book, containing only four chapters—four yarns—is one of the smallest strands in the mighty cable of the Scriptures. Yet what depths of the soul does Jonah’s deep sealine sound! what a pregnant lesson to us is this prophet! What a noble thing is that canticle in the fish’s belly! How billow-like and boisterously grand! We feel the floods surging over us; we sound with him to the kelpy bottom of the waters; sea-weed and all the slime of the sea is about us!

For as the secrets of the currents in the seas have never yet been divulged, even to the most erudite research; so the hidden ways of the Sperm Whale when beneath the surface remain, in great part, unaccountable to his pursuers; and from time to time have originated the most curious and contradictory speculations regarding them, especially concerning the mystic modes whereby, after sounding to a great depth, he transports himself with such vast swiftness to the most widely distant points.

First: Though most men have some vague flitting ideas of the general perils of the grand fishery, yet they have nothing like a fixed, vivid conception of those perils, and the frequency with which they recur. One reason perhaps is, that not one in fifty of the actual disasters and deaths by casualties in the fishery, ever finds a public record at home, however transient and immediately forgotten that record. Do you suppose that that poor fellow there, who this moment perhaps caught by the whale-line off the coast of New Guinea, is being carried down to the bottom of the sea by the sounding leviathan—do you suppose that that poor fellow’s name will appear in the newspaper obituary you will read to-morrow at your breakfast?

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Stenka25Last and the hardest, ‘a universe’. Before this word, the passage talked about ‘a whale rushing to the deep’. Then abruptly ‘a universe’, not ‘an ocean’.

From the whale's perspective, the ocean is his universe.

Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
Comments  
Stenka25First, the meaning of #1 SOUND is the following: *sound transitive verb 3: to explore or examine (a body cavity) with a sound(Am I right?)

Right.

Stenka25Second, the meaning of #2 SOUND is the following: *sound intransitive verb 2 : to dive down suddenly(Am I right?)

Right.

Stenka25Third, I cannot make out the meaning of ‘anachronistically’.

Who can? She misused the word, but I guess she supposed that people are more familiar with the modern medical use than with the one from the Age of Sail. I myself do not think that is the case.

Stenka25Last and the hardest, ‘a universe’. Before this word, the passage talked about ‘a whale rushing to the deep’. Then abruptly ‘a universe’, not ‘an ocean’.

You can speak figuratively of any area as a universe. The whale's universe is the deep. "a distinct field or province of thought or reality that forms a closed system or self-inclusive and independent organization" - ( https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/universe )

Stenka25I am deeply in the dark.

So, the whale is not alone. It has us.

 AlpheccaStars's reply was promoted to an answer.
 AlpheccaStars's reply was promoted to an answer.
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Thanks a lot as always, anonymous.

Thanks a lot as always, AlpheccaStars.