Disclaimer: English Kinda Thing

The sole purpose of the "English Kinda Thing" is to document my attempts to correct my own mistakes in standard English usage and to share the resources I find. In no way do I attempt to teach nobody English through these blurbs--just as I intend not to teach nobody to be a neurotic and psychotic handicap in Ratology Reloaded or Down with Meds! :-)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Historic vs. historical?

While my vocabulary is limited to begin with, I have an even smaller vocabulary in the history domain, just as that in the "food" department.  When translating a paper about a history textbook collaboration effort between China and Japan, one stupid question that really got me confused was the difference between "historic" and "historical." (And, ya, never knew that question existed either until then...)

What I figure so far is that, when the adjective "historic" is used, what you describe is something famous and of great significance.  However, the longer adjective "historical" simply means what you intend to describe has something to do with the study or the representation of du temps passé... history.

This is what I gathered so far based on the following sources.  Can't assure you I am 100% correct or not since I am only reporting to you what I have learned.  You are more than welcome to construct your own understanding based on the following references.

Cambridge dictionaries online
(of a thing or event) important when studied as part of the past: historic buildings and monuments
Merriam-Webster dictionary
a. famous or important in history
b. having great and lasting importance
c. known or established in the past
d. dating from or preserved from a past time or culture
Oxford Dictionaries online
famous or important in history, or potentially so: we are standing on a historic sitea time of historic change

Cambridge dictionaries online
connected with the study or representation of things from the past: The library has an important collection of historical documents.
Merriam-Webster dictionary
a. of, relating to, or having the character of history
b. based on history
c. used in the past and reproduced in historical presentations
Oxford Dictionaries online
of or concerning history; concerning past events: the historical background to such studies

[Historic vs. Historical] 
Oxford Dictionaries online
In general, historic means ‘notable in history, significant in history,’ as in a Supreme Court decision, a battlefield, or a great discovery. Historical means ‘relating to history or past events’: (historical society; historical documents). To write historic instead of historical may imply a greater significance than is warranted: a historical lecture may simply tell about something that happened, whereas a historic lecture would in some way change the course of human events.
Chicago Manual of Style online
The shorter word refers to what is momentous in history {January 16, 1991, was a historic day in Kuwait}Historical, meanwhile, refers simply to anything that pertains to or occurred in history.
Grammar Girl
“Historic” is an adjective that means something important or influential in history... “Historical,” on the other hand, is an adjective that refers to anything from the past, important or not.
Some references:

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