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REHEATING THE "PALEOARTIST" DEBATE
I've been away for the last couple of weeks and am just catching up on
my email. Sorry if this subject seems a bit moldy, but I felt a need to
respond to the last post.
Considering Rich Penney's comments in support of the (IMO ludicrous)
term "paleoartist" to be unfounded, I did what any good researcher does
and consulted with an authority. Rob Kyff teaches English in West
Hartford, Connecticut, and writes a regular column about words and
language for The Hartford Courant. When I presented both my comments and
Mr. Penney's to him, here's what he had to say...
> Thanks for your question about "paleoartist" and I apologize for the > delay
> in responding. Boy, you guys sure looked at this one from > every angle!
> I don't think "paleoartist," while cute, is a good term > to use. Here's why:
> It could cause confusion. Because "paleo" does > indeed mean "ancient," it
> would be logical to call the people who > first painted (such as those who
> did the French cave paintings) > "paleoartists," though I've never heard
> the term. Why pick a term to > describe people who draw dinosaurs that might
> be confused with > another group of artists?
It goes beyond mere confusion, however. Re: Mr. Penney's observation, a
biologist is someone who studies life; it logically follows that a
*paleobiologist* is someone who studies *ancient* life. By the strict
Webster's definition, an artist is "a person who is skilled in the fine
arts, esp. in painting, sculpture, etc."; a "paleoartist", therefore,
would be "a person who is skilled in the *ancient* fine arts". Again,
what exactly does this mean? IMO, nothing; it is still a nonsense word.
Of course, I don't necessarily expect anyone to agree with me. If Mr.
Penney or anyone else chooses to continue to call themselves a
"paleoartist", hey, more power to 'em. To take this subject *too*
seriously would be ridiculous. But I'm as interested in words and
language as I am in dinosaurs, and I just felt compelled to let loose
one last shot.
This is, after all, just my opinion, and of course I could be wrong.