beyond unique (nonextant) [also nonexistent vs inexistent]

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beyond unique (nonextant) [also nonexistent vs inexistent]

Post by John Barton » Fri Feb 18, 2005 9:42 pm

'Unique' is used with very elastic meaning, often 'different', or 'not very common'. If a run of gadgets has 'a unique feature' there may be thousands of them, but presumably no other gadget is quite like it. But how about things which were known once to exist, but don't any longer? The incunable Valencia Bible is an example; known by the by only a single half-page, and that was destroyed by fire in the 17th century. An awful lot of things fit into this ultra-rare category, and there is no name for them. How about 'nullique' for things of which none exist?
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beyond unique (nonextant)

Post by russcable » Sat Feb 19, 2005 5:36 pm

For things which no longer exist due to distruction or dying out, nonextant or extinct. Other existing words meaning there is only one: singular, lone, nonpareil (a lot of these come in a box so maybe that doesn't work for you).
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beyond unique (nonextant)

Post by haro » Sat Feb 19, 2005 8:00 pm

John, I tried to find some info on the Valencia Bible. Not a single usuable hit for "Valencia Bible" on Google.

Russ, you are quite right; and for things that do not exist and never have you can still use 'inexistent' or 'nonexistent.' 'Unique' comes from Latin 'unicus,' but there's no 'nullicus' in Latin, although there is 'nullus.' Funny enough, there is the word 'nullique' in Latin, though, but that means 'and none.' Anyway, there's no real need for 'nullique' in English, but maybe we just saw the birth of it.
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beyond unique (nonextant)

Post by Edwin Ashworth » Wed Mar 09, 2005 4:53 pm

E E ("Doc") Smith, in his "Lensman" series (space-operas), as well as "inventing" new races of beings of varied intelligence also put forward the idea that some of these performed routines not understandable to humans (and were non-political!). Conveniently, the Lensmen's "lenses" automatically coined words for the new species and their strange behaviours - I seem to recollect the wonderful "dextrobope" (verb!).
Beyond recently-discovered and imaginary, there are the disturbing categories of undiscovered and unimagined.
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Re: beyond unique (nonextant)

Post by Ken Greenwald » Fri May 01, 2009 8:29 am

I was just reading a review of the film Il Postino (The Postman) (1994), which is playing at our local art theater, when I came upon the following in the synopsis:
His meeting with the poet will drastically alter his life. He is hired as Neruda's personal mailman and from that moment on he begins to weave a web around the poet, a web of devotion, of attentions and of curiosity. Neruda's initial reaction to all this is inexistent.
In his above posting, haro mentioned INEXISTENT / NONEXISTENT as being synonyms. I have never seen or heard, to the best of my recollection [which is fading fast (>;)], the use of INEXISTENT other than in haro’s posting and in the above movie synopsis. However, all the dictionaries I checked listed it as a synonym for NONEXISTENT.

Typical is the following:

RANDOM HOUSE WEBSTER’S UNABRIDGED DICTIONARY

INEXISTENT adjective: Not existent; having no existence; nonexistent. [1640–50; from Late Latin inexsistent-, inexsistens, not existing, from Latin in- + exsistent-, exsistens, present participle of exsistere]

But the OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY includes the fact that it may be obsolete:

INEXISTENT adjective (?Obsolete): Not existing; having no existence; non-existent. (In quotation, 1704, said of a state in which the person is as if non-existent.) [. . . Cf. French inexistant (Littré [[1801-88, French lexicographer and philosopher]]), medieval or modern Latin inexistens].
<1646 “They took a liberty to compound and piece together creatures of allowable formes into mixtures inexistent.”—Pseudodoxia Epidemica by Sir Thomas Browne, V. xx. page 263>

<1704 “Oh sleep! . . . Still in thy downy Arms embrace my Friend, Nor loose him from his inexistent Trance.”—The Lying Lover by Sir Richard Steele, V. i.>
A general GOOGLE search, at my coordinates, produced:

INEXISTENT ~ 700,000 hits vs. NONEXISTENT ~ 4,000,000 hits. So it looks like INEXISTENT is probably not ‘obsolete’ and appears here ~ 15% of the time.

A GOOGLE NEWS search produced:

INEXISTENT ~ 3000 hits vs. NONEXISTENT ~ 170,000 hits. So that I INEXISTENT appears here about 2% of the time.

Note: Folks may be wondering why I always use the qualifier ‘at my coordinates’ when referring to Google searches. The reason is that several years ago after some Google numbers were disputed, Wordwizard members ran some search tests (I believe we were egged on by Wiz) and we found that, depending on such seemingly irrelevant factors of where in the world you were (continent, country, state, city, neighborhood, . . .), the browser you were using, the time of day, . . . Google searches could produce startlingly different hit count results. This forever shook my confidence in the reliability of Google hit numbers and I wouldn’t bet any money on any particular hit count, and readily admit the possibility of others coming up with significantly different numbers. From the above search results, all I am fairly sure of is that the trend ‘appears to be’ that NONEXISTENT is used a lot more than INEXISTENT.

One possibility that I was thinking of, since I had never heard the expression, and haro, above, evidently took it to be a common synonym, is that the expression is perhaps more common outside of the U.S. (Hans Rothenberger, a.k.a. haro, resides in Switzerland and I believe his native language is German). Anyway, I did a sample search in a news archive and sure enough most of the hits were from foreign sources or of foreign sources speaking in U.S. publications. Here’s a sampling of INEXISTENT hits that do exist (<;) and I’d be curious if folks in other countries find the expression more familiar than I do.
<1983 “The paper [[French Communist Party daily L'Humanite]] lambasted the French media for their alleged anti-Soviet bias and declared that there were ‘no established facts’ and only ‘inexistent proof [and] uncertain hypotheses’ behind the reports of the Bulgarian-Soviet connection.”—Time Magazine, 10 January>

<1992 “The European Commission's environment policy lacks coordination and the funding granted to protect the environment sometimes make matters worse. . . . the Court also criticises the lack of coordination in the Member States and notes that at this level, consultation between departments is not just occasional, it is practically inexistent.”—Europe Environment, 6 October>

<1995 “Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935), . . . spoke of himself and his fictitious colleagues as an ‘inexistent coterie,’ The poetry of these writers, together with the prose of a similarly ‘inexistent’ fifth, Bernardo Soares, have now been newly translated into English [[A Centenary Pessoa (Carcanet Press)]].”—The Independent (London), 31 May>

<2000 “Complicating that are the modern questions of whether democracy exists and human rights are respected ­ a fragile aspiration in Kosovo; inexistent in Chechnya and open to doubt in Russia, and, while largely achieved in Taiwan, distant in China.”—International Herald Tribune, 23 March>

<2005 “Too many Filipinos complain that the rule of law is inexistent in our country.”—Manila Bulletin (Philippines), 31 January>

<2009 “According to the same poll, Layton's coattails are, at best, inexistent outside Quebec and in that province, they don't seem sturdy enough to stop the NDP from slipping back into oblivion. Toronto Star (Ontario, Canada), 25 March>
Existent in Fort Collins, Colorado, USA,

Ken G – May 30, 2009
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Re: beyond unique (nonextant) [also nonexistent vs inexistent]

Post by Erik_Kowal » Fri May 01, 2009 8:54 am

Ken, I notice that many of your citations come from, or are connected with, French speakers. It may be relevant that the French word for 'non-existent' is inexistant (although you can also say non existant).

I'd be willing to bet that many of the occurrences in English texts originate from French speakers whose mother-tongue vocabulary has interfered with their English-language word selection.
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Re: beyond unique (nonextant) [also nonexistent vs inexistent]

Post by Wizard of Oz » Sat May 02, 2009 8:59 am

.. Aussie googlista WoZ reporting in >>

Google.com
-- inexistent 657 000
-- nonexistent 3 270 000

Google.com.au
-- inexistent 659 000
-- nonexistent 3 260 000

Google.com - news
-- inexistent 3 050
-- nonexistent 166 000

WoZ at 32° 56' 21.29" S, 151° 44' 48.18" E
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Re: beyond unique (nonextant) [also nonexistent vs inexistent]

Post by Erik_Kowal » Sat May 02, 2009 9:44 am

And your altitude?
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Re: beyond unique (nonextant) [also nonexistent vs inexistent]

Post by Wizard of Oz » Sun May 03, 2009 2:06 pm

.. Erik at the time of writing it was "high" ..

WoZ on a cloud
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Re: beyond unique (nonextant)

Post by Shelley » Fri May 08, 2009 1:10 am

Ken Greenwald wrote:Existent in Fort Collins, Colorado, USA,

Ken G – May 30, 2009
Ken, to presume the above perhaps may be tempting fate, somewhat. ;^)
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