Thursday, January 29, 2009

I do not know why they're called "guy wires."

Yes, the date stamp on this post is a little early. My overbooked life has reached critical mass this week, as I thought I'd take on a project and call it a vacation -- except that I'm really not capable of taking a vacation, even when it's a working vacation, and thus have three things I need to be doing right this minute instead of blogging or preparing to go out on this other job.

Sorry to be cryptic. My policy is never to discuss current work projects by name on this blog, but I'm working this week as location scout and local fixer on a documentary being shot in Maine -- in addition to a couple of manuscript cleanups, some technical writing, and my usual work for clients who have me on retainer. I told my other clients that I was taking this week off, except that everyone knows I never really take any time off, and besides I'm still working on things I should have finished last week.

But sorry -- this post is not "I don't know why I think overbooking myself will stave off seasonal affect disorder." It's about guy wires, which came up the other day as I watched the cinematographer and sound technician strapping a camera to the hood of a car. The producer used the term, and stopped to wonder why it was "guy" wires instead of "guide" wires, so I said I would look it up.

It's a sailing term: the guys are lines (ropes) attached to and meant to stabilize a spar. "Guy wire" has extended to mean any tense cable that provides support to a rigid structure.

But why guy? What guy? Or for that matter, who was Guy? (And since it's originally a French name, why don't we say "ghee" wire?)

Theories are welcome.

Five Random Songs

"Won't Forget," Uncle Tupelo. A track for anyone who thinks that alt-country is mellow music: driving guitars, desperate lyrics.

"Chaingang," Monstrance. Funky instrumental electronica, from a band formed by Andy Partridge of XTC. I have no idea where I got this track; I like it a lot, but it also reminds me of that scene from Spinal Tap where the boys reinvent themselves as a freeform jazz band.

"Not Dark Yet," Bob Dylan. This is a song I listened to a lot right around the time my mother died, which was three years ago this month. I can't listen to it without tearing up, and usually click through. We all miss her so much, still.

"Crime," The Pietasters. Thank God, comic relief. I spent yesterday morning on a tour of the Maine State Prison in Warren. It was a powerful deterrent to thoughts about a life of crime.

"Power to the Meek," Eurhythmics. I don't know who the "meek" are supposed to be in this song; not Annie Lennox, certainly.


Claire said...

Huh. I always thought is WAS "guide wires" and that people were eliding the D. That's very peculiar.

AnswerGirl said...

I know, I used to think that too! But it's not...

Kevin Wignall said...

Over here we always say "guy-rope" rather than wire. You are, of course, correct in saying it's French in origin. In this case, "guy" comes from the Old French and Spanish for... "guide"!

AnswerGirl said...

Aha! That still doesn't explain why we don't say "ghee" ropes...

Anonymous said...

I read that the Etymology is from Middle English- gie from old French guie


Django Beefheart said...

According to the OED, guy was the original word which later became "guide" both meaning "To conduct or lead on the way". It says 'guide" later superseded "guy".