Monday, May 3, 2010

Defining "Dice"...dismantling the cube.
defines the noun "die" as; a small, marked cube used in games of chance.
defines the noun "die" as; small six-sided cube used in games of chance
defines the noun "die" as; a small cube marked on each face with from one to six spots and used usually in pairs in various games and in gambling by being shaken and thrown to come to rest at random on a flat surface
defines the noun "die" as; 1. small cubes of plastic, ivory, bone, or wood, marked on each side with one to six spots, usually used in pairs in games of chance or in gambling.


defines the noun "die" as; 4. any small cubes. what's wrong with these definitions? Well, probably the most obvious item is they all define a die as a cube. A cube is defined as being of 6 square facets. This statement is wholly untrue by almost any measure. Polyhedral dice have been in existence for at least 22 centuries. A cube die is but one of many configurations. I consider any definition which does not incorporate other possible forms of dice to be inaccurate. It is my belief that "dice" the noun and "dice" the verb have a relationship. Small tossed randomizing devices were called dice because they resembled what came from the chopping of food stuffs into small, often cubical bits. This should by no means limit the definition of dice to "cubes".

Additionally, I call into question the term "random" as being absolutely and exclusively true in defining a die and therefore the use of the term limits the picture conjured up when imagining a "die". There are two easy examples of "dice" which point out the limitations of the word "random". The first is cheat dice. The very intention of cheat dice is to limit randomization for the cheater while providing the illusion of randomness to the "mark'. Like a doppelganger cheat dice exist disguised as dice but really by most definitions are not dice. And yet...there they sit in my "dice" collection.

The second example of where randomness is NOT the intention of the dice is in divination dice. Divination dice are used to expose the will of the gods. Therefore while the user should exert no influence over the outcome of a toss of the dice the gods certainly are expected too. At the least hardly random in the mind of the user and as for the gods...well I guess if devination dice are random god does no exist.

I am still thinking about what would make a good definition of the term "dice" but these are thoughts I am having along the way to that definition.

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