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Evolution of Language



For better or worse, language, like animals evolves.

At one time, to give a ludicrously simple minded example, the rulers of
the world spoke Latin (rather perfectly, I'd imagine), but no longer.
Vestiges of this once dominant mode of communication remain today,
(words like "video" or long scientific names), but on the whole, the
language is dead as Marley's ghost.

And so it goes with terminology. Kleenex and Zipper, for example, were a
trade names, but they have found their ways into common speech so firmly
that no one remembers that anymore.

One suspects that the same thing occurs with scientific terminology: it
evolves, names change to some extent in the transition from professional
to popular usage.  Within a scientific community, it is quite clear that
standardization is important -- if not essential -- to proper
investigation of phenomena, but even between highly educated
practitioners, word usage is variant (as I recall "family" has several
different meanings in different classication systems, but I'm sure
someone can either correct this delusion or supply a better example).

There has been a lot of ruckus about "raptor" in which the
scientifically correct definition has been put forth as the only
standard. These popular misappropriations are particularly grating on
the nerves of dedicated people, but what I'm suggesting is that there is
some inevitability to all this.  Android, a venerable science fiction
term, was "fuzzied" up to "Droid:"  words evolve all the time and get
their meanings shifted.

Even in the learned debates on the proper nomenclature for a given
specimen there are differences of opinion on what the "correct" Latin
name should be.  And this is in the interest of true clarity.

Panta Rhei.  Everything Flows.

ES


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