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Alarms #27703
04/30/01 11:03 AM
04/30/01 11:03 AM
Joined: Jan 2001
Posts: 1,156
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Bean Offline OP
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Bean  Offline OP
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This may be a YART, but I got too many hits on the word "alarm" to figure that out. My Turkish friend and I were talking the other day about smoke detectors...

Why does a fire alarm "go off", meaning that it begins to sing? And when it stops singing, what do you use to indicate that? It doesn't "go off"; I would probably say "It stopped". Does this have something to do with the way alarms originally worked? We also say "I set off the fire alarm". (Or the burglar alarm.) Why, oh why?

Are there other situations where a "backward" verb is used like this?


Re: Alarms #27704
04/30/01 12:58 PM
04/30/01 12:58 PM
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wwh Offline
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Dear Bean: I guess saying "the alarm went off" meaning it sounded is an idiom, and so need not be logical.


Re: Alarms #27705
04/30/01 01:07 PM
04/30/01 01:07 PM
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Portland,Oregon, USA
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Geoff Offline
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I feel that it indicates a movement from its normal state. One could say that the alarm went back on standby mode once it ceased "going off." So, in a sense (nonsense?) "on" and "off" reverse rolls.

BTW, what's a YART? I thought it was a Mongolian house.


Re: Alarms #27706
04/30/01 01:22 PM
04/30/01 01:22 PM
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Posts: 11,613
Louisville, Kentucky
Jackie Offline
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YART, not yurt, is Yet Another Rehashed Topic, acc'g. to its
inventor.

And, Bean, this isn't one. My guess would be that alarms go off for the same reason something or someone sounds off, to make itself/himself heard, though why that is, I
don't know. Possibly because it is a departure from the normal pattern, or path, of behavior--off the regular path, as it were?


Re: Alarms : Off and On #27707
04/30/01 01:36 PM
04/30/01 01:36 PM
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New England, USA
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wow Offline
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Isn't it alarming how we go on and on on a topic then go off it? Off on a tangent?


Re: Alarms #27708
04/30/01 02:29 PM
04/30/01 02:29 PM
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Bean Offline OP
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Bean  Offline OP
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To Jackie and Geoff -

Certainly it is a deviation from the normal behaviour. But that implies that an alarm is "always on" except when it's going off. Most other things are always off, except when they're turned on: light switches, television (at least in my house), computer, faucets, etc.

This leads me to my original suspicion. "Off" indicates an open circuit for household applicances, lights, etc. Maybe the original fire alarms normally had closed circuits, and began to sing when their circuit was opened (ie. when it was off) (instead of the other way around). I was wondering if anyone knew how the first fire bells worked, how they were activated. Maybe the clue is there.


Re: Alarms #27709
04/30/01 02:37 PM
04/30/01 02:37 PM

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Anonymous
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"Off" indicates an open circuit for household applicances, lights, etc. Maybe the original fire alarms normally had closed circuits, and began to sing when their circuit was opened

Good point. I don't know if it's the same for everyone, but in my house there are little magnets on the tops of the doors and windows which make the alarm sound if they are separated from their mates in the door/window frames, thus 'opening' the magnetic circuit [not-a-very-good-grasp-of-physics-e]


Re: Alarms #27710
04/30/01 03:08 PM
04/30/01 03:08 PM
Joined: Feb 2001
Posts: 609
Portsmouth, United Kingdom
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rodward Offline
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"Off" indicates an open circuit for household applicances, lights, etc

I think the use of "OFF" in this context predates modern electronics. Alarm clocks go off, ships sound off their horns, etc. (though the phrase "noises off" is from a completely different root ). It may come from "Go Off"="Explode"="Noise" perhaps?

And B96, rather like my telling every one my Mother's maiden name, we now know to bring a set of little metal disks to avoid setting the alarms off when we burgle (sorry - burglarize for you us'ns) your house

Rod


Re: Alarms #27711
04/30/01 03:18 PM
04/30/01 03:18 PM
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 5,400
rego park
of troy Offline
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You've been caught Ron-- not little metal disks-- little magnets!

It's pretty simple -- the maganet pulls on a flexible "bar" (strip) and holds it away from a contact point. When you open the door, the magnet is no longer holding the bar-- and it falls back into its natural position... It is the very simplisity of it that make it easy to overcome.. take some of those flat, flexable magnetic sheets-- the would almost fit between the door and the frame... It is fun "science project" for a 10 to 15 year old to set up an "alarm circuit" with a door bell and some magnets, and some magnetic switches (and it can be recyle it to an other project by replacing magnet switches with "tilt" switches-- for a motion detector!)

And now i move from being a fellow AWAD, to being a felonious one!


Re: Alarms #27712
04/30/01 03:19 PM
04/30/01 03:19 PM
Joined: Dec 2000
Posts: 544
San Francisco, CA
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Hyla Offline
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San Francisco, CA
Burgle?

Really? That's a funny word! Although it makes some logical sense that one who burgles is a burglar (and why not burgler?). I guess in the US we should, logically speaking, have burglarizers.


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