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Re: Evolution of Language
Sorry, Brian, but you've missed the point. The point is NOT that you are
wrong about anything you said (quoted below): Language CAN be about
economy of expression, it IS annoying to explain to kids over and over
again, EoRaptor is NOT a raptor in the sense you mean it, and it IS
sloppy in the sense you explain. (see, we agree about all that)
My point is that there is not much we can do about it -- other than, as
you do, fight the "good fight" and encourage "proper" usage -- that
language, in effect, has a mind of it's own...
Let me say it more poetically (yuck): Language is as much a force of
nature as a tornado. You wish tornadoes would stay out of your corn
field, but they don't. You wish it wouldn't rain before you fix the
roof, but it does. You wish that earthquake wouldn't swallow 250,000
people, but it does. You wish people would employ correct usage, but
they don't. You wish language would stay constant, but it doesn't. Alas!
What can we do? (fight the "good fight") (but I said that already).
Paleontology would be ever so much easier if animals didn't evolve over
time. We'd only have to find one type and that would be the end of it.
Language is the same way, and now I've beaten that Eohippus to death (or
had it evolved into a horse by now?).
Brian Franczak wrote:
Sorry, Ed, but you've missed the point. Raptor is already a common term
(*not* a scientific term) in science for birds of prey. Your example
is not analogous. Allowing the use of "raptor" to mean dromaeosaur does
nothing but lead to confusion. Language is also about economy of
communication: raptors is more concise than birds of prey. How can I
discussion with school age children and use the word raptor (in its
sense) and not confuse the hell out them if they think I'm talking about
dromaeosaurs? Why should I have to keep explaining this every time I
talk? Why should I have to give up a perfectly acceptable, long-standing
common term in favor of one invading from pop culture? And read my
RAPTOR WRONG again. What about _Eoraptor_, _Conchoraptor_, _Sinraptor_,
_Oviraptor_? Where do they fit into the "raptor family" of dinosaurs?
Sorry, I can't give in on this one. The evolution of language is a
but in this case, I think it's just an excuse for sloppiness.
> Ed Summer wrote:
> > 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
> > the nerves of dedicated people, but what I'm suggesting is that
> there is
> > some inevitability to all this. Android, a venerable science
> > term, was "fuzzied" up to "Droid:" words evolve all the time and
> > their meanings shifted.
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