Fixing terminology

Bob Vickery vickery at MPX.COM.AU
Mon Apr 28 09:16:53 EST 1997

Scott D.  Russell wrote:

>After looking at Bob Vickery's list of terms, e.g.:
>> Proposed Term               Old Term     Rationale
>> belly                       venter       unneccessary classicism
>> embryonic food store        endosperm    = albumen (French) confusing
>> ovule coat                  integument   unneccessary classicism
>> female parts                gynoecium    unneccessary classicism
>> male parts                  androecium   unneccessary classicism
>> flower stalk                pedicel      unneccessary classicism
>> inflorescence stalk         peduncle     unneccessary classicism
>> outer layer of fruit wall   epicarp      unneccessary classicism
>> middle layer of fruit wall  mesocarp     unneccessary classicism
>> inner layer of fruit wall   endocarp     unneccessary classicism
>I find a need for these terms in a developmental and structural context.
>The proposed terms are to scientific terms as common names are to
>scientific plant names:  the scientific terms has very specific
>ontogenetic and homological context, whereas the common names do not.

I believe terminology acquires its precision and wealth of associations
through  consistent usage and not from fancy construction.  I find the term
'transfer cell' precise, elegant and easy to understand even though it is
made from plain English.

>The revised terms also lack internationalism outside of English-speaking

The 'scientific terms' are _not_  international.  This was the point I
tried to make with one of my examples. The tissue derived from the triple
fusion nucleus in many seeds  is called 'endosperm'  in English, 'albumen'
in French and 'zaadmeel'  in Dutch.  The Dutch term  translates as 'seed
flour' which is perfectly understandable and uses only common words.  To
make things more confusing the tissue called 'nucellus' in English is
called 'endosperm' in French.

>About the elimination of "bad terms," maybe we should organize a Web
>site on this specific topic to archive comments.  This would serve as a
>central exchange point that we could show publishers and say, "these are
>terms that botanists would like changed and here's why."  In the end,
>the publishers make their living based on us and if we don't like the
>product, they will have to change it.

Excellent suggestion.

Bob Vickery
bob at
vickery at

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