littleblacksmith

Are you loosing your temper?

12 posts in this topic

Are you loosing your temper? That made sense to me before I started blacksmithing. Now, because if you loose your temper, you get softer (on a Knife, or tool, etc.)...But, losing your temper (on a tool) also isn't a good thing, so maybe it makes sense. Now, what really confuses me, is that "people who have a temper", are people who get aggravated easily, but shouldn't they not? I mean, if they have been tempered, then they should be softer, and bend before they break. "He's a hardened person" makes sense, obviously because a hardened piece of steel will break, and not bend.

We should start our own saying-"look at her play with that puppy. She's annealed and soft as butter" I know, that's pretty cheesy, but come on, it was the only example I could come up with!

                                                                                                                           Littleblacksmith

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Think about it this way....

I refuse to yell at someone when I am angry. I will *resist* the urge to lash out at someone. No matter how much pressure you put on me, I will stay *straight* and *upright*. I am determined not to lose my temper. I will try as hard as I can not to sway to the right or to the left. If I do sway a little, I will *spring* back. Some people are easily swayed by their emotions. They are *annealed*.

When life is a grind, keep cool or you might lose your temper.

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I think the meaning of "temper" has changed over the years. Used to describe a person leads us to wonder what the correlation is. LBS mentions probably the most common thought but as he says it's kind of backwards. I have to agree but temper is only part of a description, there are different kinds of temper.

Uncle Bob has an even temper but his boss has a bad temper. Now those correlate a little more directly a blade with an "even temper" is consistent and trustworthy under pressure. No? On the other hand a blade with a "bad temper" may fail or snap without warning. Hmmm?

You see it used in more blacksmitherly fashion other places though say, "Justice tempered with mercy."

I can't think of any other blacksmith heat treat terms used in mundane conversation though I'm sure there are some. I think I'll go pour a glass of iced tea and slake my thirst. ;)

Frosty The Lucky.

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When I started learning English as my 4th language, I was a bit surprised at the use of the word tempering. In Italian, French and Spanish the word Temperare, temperer or Templar means hardening and what we call tempering has another word to describe it.

If for a moment we consider the word tempering meaning hardening, then it makes perfect sense to say that to be a tempered person is being flexible and accustomed to difficult situations and that to lose one's temper, is to become less effective and to fail rather than to spring back. A hardened person is one that has been tested by the fire of many experiences. 

The answer probably lies in the origin and history of the use of the word that comes from latin meaning temperature. 

How did a word that refers to a metallurgic process turned into a word that describes character and mood, is interesting and has to do with the familiarity that most people had with fire and steel in times gone by. There are a lot of figures of speech, simile and illustrations that refer to fire and steel and temper in relation to our character and how well or poorly we react to circumstances. 

And when did the word tempering turned from meaning hardening to meaning ... well, what it means now?... who knows!

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Frosty, how about to test ones Mettle. 

Ya know I looked that up and found out that it isn't metal. It's mettle. Hmm... It is said it is a variant spelling. 

Marc, well stated. 

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What about the well tempered clavier?  

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Now you are pushing it. 

Besides the technical aspects of tuning a keyboard instrument like a piano or a clavichord  that involves compromises in the tuning in order to play with other instruments in any key and sound reasonable in tune, (that is why the piano has 3 strings for each note, each tuned slightly different), the term used for this modifications and slight compromises namely tempering is not surprising. 

Once more the hardening process of heating steel and quenching it in water, a picture that must have been very common,  is used as a simile for making something better more useful, more in tune with the task at hand ... 

Or that is what I read in it anyway. :)

 

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On 2/8/2017 at 10:17 PM, Daswulf said:

Frosty, how about to test ones Mettle. 

Ya know I looked that up and found out that it isn't metal. It's mettle. Hmm... It is said it is a variant spelling. 

Marc, well stated. 

Fellows who dressed grinding stones for grain with chisels were the origins of this saying.

Can't remember exactly but it had something to do with metal bits in the hands of the worker.

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Talk about asking blacksmiths a question! So, how many of us agree on any one definition or meaning? I concede, the meaning of Temper probably isn't really what I use it for. S'okay, I use a living language and they're shifty things they are.

In all fairness I'll probably have to stop trying to convince folk to use it how I do but that leaves me having to use descriptive phrases and such to tell people to draw a little of the hardness out of that piece or it'll be brittle. A new term is in order maybe?

Disenhardify? Unhardenize? Humor aside it's a point of confusion and it'd be nice to have a widely recognized consensus that didn't require a sentence or explanation every time we used it. 

If we use "Temper" as meaning hardening then what? We already say, "draw the temper down to x" "Drawing down" serves nicely to mean a reduction of the subject. Hardness being the subject. Heck just "Drawing" serves as nicely. "Drawing or drawing down the temper."

Still stuck with a phrase anyway, can't say, "draw the bar" or whatever. Draw already has a specific meaning in context but it's a flexible term so it lives in many contexts. I can just see a 13 yr old asking what temperature to set the oven to draw a picture.:huh:

Frosty The Lucky.

 

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Another point to consider:

The word "temperament", which is highly associated with personality, and not so much with metal. It seems to be especially related to balance (of the old time "humors" related with health, for example). It is not used very much, but it is a lot more common in latin languages, like Spanish.

Maybe it has some relation to the metal "temper", I have not researched enough to know for sure if yes or not.

Personally, I always associated "losing your temper" with the mood part. It could be seen as "losing the balance in your humors, and acting out because of it". I have only come to think about it in blacksmith terms recently, after entering these waters.

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1 hour ago, Frosty said:

Talk about asking blacksmiths a question! So, how many of us agree on any one definition or meaning? I concede, the meaning of Temper probably isn't really what I use it for. S'okay, I use a living language and they're shifty things they are.

In all fairness I'll probably have to stop trying to convince folk to use it how I do but that leaves me having to use descriptive phrases and such to tell people to draw a little of the hardness out of that piece or it'll be brittle. A new term is in order maybe?

Disenhardify? Unhardenize? Humor aside it's a point of confusion and it'd be nice to have a widely recognized consensus that didn't require a sentence or explanation every time we used it. 

If we use "Temper" as meaning hardening then what? We already say, "draw the temper down to x" "Drawing down" serves nicely to mean a reduction of the subject. Hardness being the subject. Heck just "Drawing" serves as nicely. "Drawing or drawing down the temper."

Still stuck with a phrase anyway, can't say, "draw the bar" or whatever. Draw already has a specific meaning in context but it's a flexible term so it lives in many contexts. I can just see a 13 yr old asking what temperature to set the oven to draw a picture.:huh:

Frosty The Lucky.

 

I wouldn't even consider changing the common usage of a technical term that was established who knows how long ago. It would be nice to know when was it that the word tempering shifted its meaning from hardening more towards annealing. But only as a curiosity. Many such curiosities in the English language. 

When tempering, temperament, temper and related words are used as a simile for the human psyche, it pays to dig the original meaning to make sense of such simile that in today's terms is no longer a valid metaphor.  

When in Rome do as the Romans do ... sure. In Rome it is full of Moroccan street merchants that run after you saying "vuo compra?" ... the analogy is invalid today. But it is still nice to use it even if it requires a bit of an explanation.

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This may seem childlike, but when I try to explain tempering, the English usage, I talk about living in the temperate zone, neither too hot nor too cold. It's temperate. I talk about the three bears. Goldilocks found father bear's bed too hard. Mama Bear's was too soft. Baby bear's bed was just right (had the right temper). A guy flies off the handle with anger and his wife tells him to temper his feelings...meaning to back off.

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