terminology

Bob Vickery vickery at MPX.COM.AU
Thu Apr 24 22:26:52 EST 1997


Kathleen.Archer at mail.cc.trincoll.edu (Kathleen Archer), wrote:

>outer layer of fruit wall   epicarp      unneccessary classicism
>middle layer of fruit wall  mesocarp     unneccessary classicism
>
>I couldn't help but notice that a number of Bob's suggested improvements
>require 5 words where a single word in the old terminology sufficed.  I
>agree the wordier version is simpler to understand for a novice, but the
>shorter, more precise old standards do serve a useful purpose.  In lecture I
>use the "unneccessary classicism" version of the word first, followed
>parenthetically with my simple version.  Eventually I can eliminate the
>longer, simpler version because students have become accustomed to the old,
>or "standard" version.  While most of our students will not continue in
>biology and therefore will not find it necessary to know the standard
>terminology, those who do will be poorly served if they are blown away by
>terminology their advisors feel they should have learned as undergraduates.
>
>Kathleen Archer

I must admit that the English phrases are, usually, longer than the
"unneccessary classicism" but I don't think this is much of a problem when
speaking or using a word processor.  I tend to say the technical words
rather slowly to let them sink in.  The brevity of the technical terms is
more apparent than real because, like in German, they combine several words
into one.

Having said that, I must admit that I use the technical vocabulary in my
teaching because it is "out there".  The text books and floras all use it
and students can't get very far without it.  I believe we should get rid of
this terrible encumbrance, but it will take a long time.  The change, if it
is to come, will have to start with text books, then with floras.

The problem of botanical language is, as far is I know,  peculiar to
anglophones.  Dutch botanists, in my limited experience, use vernacular
terms.  They still manage to do outstanding botany.  The Dutch people seem
to know a lot more botany than Australians.  I am not sure whether this is
because of the language or because there are just so few plants to learn
about in Holland.

Cheers

Bob Vickery
bob at acsusun.acsu.unsw.edu.au
vickery at mpx.com.au





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