[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index][Subject Index][Author Index]

RE: Dilophosaurus

I wrote:

<<2. If we were just around making words that "look" good, then we'd 
hardly bother with language, would we? We'd just make up pretty words 
and say they mean stuff.>>

Tim williams responde:

<I thought that's what language was. ;-)>

  In disagreement to Mike Keesey, who responded to Time with "Fair point[,]" I 
think I must disagree. Some languages develop formulae for construction, and 
mandate that this structure be followed above all else. Such languages include, 
famously, Latin. We continue to be reminded of enforcing trends in linguistic 
structure in Latin so tight that we have debates about what _should_ apply 
between two stems to connect them. While German lacks the rule for connecting 
letters, it does have similar constructs (and "pretty" is in the eye of the 
beholder: unlike the infamous duality of the sleek, sexiness of French, the 
harsh, brutality of German can be off-putting to English readers, not because 
French is somehow better but because French is more melodic, although also 
formulaic in its structure as far as how you pronounce and connect words in 

  This is more apparent in created languages: Klingon is so formulaic, despite 
the invention of new words on the fly, that the structure of words defies even 
case in transliteration, a tact meant to help convey, as in Slavic languages, 
place-specific letters for various sounds. Transliteration in Arabic can be 
just as problematic, given to differences merely in how to use "q" or "d" which 
can differ in pronunciation, but never in original typography.

  Language is a machine meant to convey absolute ideas, and thus a word has an 
absolute meaning, even if that meaning is very encompassing or very 
unemcompassing, or changes frequently. Thus language follows rules, even in our 
own heads, for how we can interpret the world and convey the idea to others (or 
just to ourselves). Even Carroll didn't just make up words to suit a term of 
nonsense, they were virtually all derived as portmanteaus, supposedly a subject 
of Shakespeare's skill as well, where two structures are mechanically merged to 
form an elegant whole. English or German words entering Japan are simply 
modified using the lingustic _structure_ of the new language, and thus aren't 
just made up. It's quite possible that no new words are actually created, 
regardless of their elegance, but are always based in one fashion or another on 
some esoteric concept we are simply not aware of. Even fantasy words and names 
that come up in various forms, especially Tolkein's work, are based on real 
world homologues.


  Jaime A. Headden
  The Bite Stuff (site v2)

"Innocent, unbiased observation is a myth." --- P.B. Medawar (1969)

"Ever since man first left his cave and met a stranger with a
different language and a new way of looking at things, the human race
has had a dream: to kill him, so we don't have to learn his language or
his new way of looking at things." --- Zapp Brannigan (Beast With a Billion 

> Date: Tue, 30 Aug 2011 18:33:12 +1000
> From: tijawi@gmail.com
> To: dinosaur@usc.edu
> Subject: Re: Dilophosaurus
> Jaime Headden <qi_leong@hotmail.com> wrote:
> > 1. *Averostra* is linguistically inaccurate; "Avirostra" is correct, as the 
> > stem of _aves_ is not _ave-_ but _avi-_.
> Yeah, but we already have Avemetatarsalia and Avetheropoda. I'm not
> enamored of either of them, but they seem to have stuck. It'd be
> great if people who come up with new taxon names at least gain a
> rudimentary understanding on how to form names correctly - or consult
> with someone who does. (GSP, are you out there?) Avepoda is
> particularly noisome, because it's a hybrid of Latin and Greek - so
> it's linguistically inaccurate in *two* languages.
> > 2. If we were just around making words that "look" good, then we'd hardly 
> > bother with language, would we? We'd just make up pretty words and say they 
> > mean stuff.
> I thought that's what language was. ;-)
> > 3. And speaking of, the term "bird snout" is really, really inaccurate 
> > under virtually ANYONE'S concept of bird (well, I guess not people who 
> > think "bird" means the stem of the total/crown).
> > *Dilophosaurus* doesn't look like at has anything similar to a bird's snout 
> > that, say *Archosaurus,* especially when birds _don't_ have those accessory 
> > pneumatic openings that are being referred to
> > here.
> A great many entrenched names are anatomically inaccurate or
> misleading. Saurischia. Sauropoda. Theropoda. Ornithischia.
> Ornithopoda. But we're stuck with them. (Avepoda was originally
> proposed as a replacement name for Theropoda. And I much prefer
> Predentata to Ornithischia.)
> I take your point that we should cease and desist from coining any
> more daft names. But Averostra isn't so bad. It's not the worst name
> GSP has come up with. (Stiff competition there. Intertheropoda?
> Protoavia?) However, like Mike K., I'd prefer that the spelling was
> changed from Averostra to Avirostra.
> Cheers
> Tim