It is currently Sun Jul 22, 2018 2:28 pm

All times are UTC - 6 hours




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 266 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1 ... 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18  Next
Author Message
 
 Post subject: Re: Can't read it wrong
PostPosted: Sat Dec 23, 2017 4:30 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Wed Oct 06, 2004 12:17 am
Posts: 10069
Location: The Inside Passage
No, of course not. They're non-terrestrial creatures, and aren't likely to conform to Linnean classification rules as we now understand them. The correct nomenclature will be something in some wholly alien language. Nonetheless, in english, "avian" is as close as we can approach.

_________________
And now there was no doubt that the trees were really moving - moving in and out through one another as if in a complicated country dance. ('And I suppose,' thought Lucy, 'when trees dance, it must be a very, very country dance indeed.')

C.S. Lewis


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
 Post subject: Re: Can't read it wrong
PostPosted: Sat Dec 23, 2017 4:40 pm 
Offline
Moderatorer
User avatar

Joined: Wed Dec 18, 2002 6:00 pm
Posts: 33136
Location: Minneapolis
s1m0n wrote:
No, of course not. They're non-terrestrial creatures, and aren't like to conform to Linnean classification rules as we now understand them. The correct nomenclature will be something in some wholly alien language. Nonetheless, in english, "avian" is as close as we can approach.

Nah, that's just co-opting the word. If taxonomic rigor requires us to not call bats avians, then I think the same should apply here. There is nothing wrong with saying "flying creature" in the meantime. Calling a Porg "avian" isn't so much erudition as it is sloppy use of our language, to my thinking.

_________________
"Time is the wisest counselor of all." - Pericles

"I remain not entirely convinced of it." - Nano


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
 Post subject: Re: Can't read it wrong
PostPosted: Sat Dec 23, 2017 4:52 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Wed Oct 06, 2004 12:17 am
Posts: 10069
Location: The Inside Passage
Nanohedron wrote:
There is nothing wrong with saying "flying creature" in the meantime.


Nothing besides elegance, I suppose. And concision. English co-opts words all the time. Seriously. That's how we name things.

_________________
And now there was no doubt that the trees were really moving - moving in and out through one another as if in a complicated country dance. ('And I suppose,' thought Lucy, 'when trees dance, it must be a very, very country dance indeed.')

C.S. Lewis


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
 Post subject: Re: Can't read it wrong
PostPosted: Sat Dec 23, 2017 5:38 pm 
Offline
Moderatorer
User avatar

Joined: Wed Dec 18, 2002 6:00 pm
Posts: 33136
Location: Minneapolis
s1m0n wrote:
Nanohedron wrote:
There is nothing wrong with saying "flying creature" in the meantime.

Nothing besides elegance, I suppose. And concision. English co-opts words all the time. Seriously. That's how we name things.

Yes, I get all that. I prefer concision and elegance myself, but I prefer precision better, hence "flying creature". It's perfectly good English. I don't see "avian" suddenly being an acceptable catch-all, especially when it's your entertainment news writers doing it. They're the ones misusing the word every time in a host of recent articles about Porgs, and I'm guessing it's merely to sound erudite, and nothing more. This whole thread is about the laziness, ignorance, and presumption in that field that does disservice to the reader every day, and I include this cavalier use of "avian". For a precise elegance and concision, the zoological term "volant" would be better, mainly because it not only covers all bases, it already exists in English for us to use. Why not popularize the term now that we're confronted with a need for it? Now if the boffins do a turn-about and say that bats are now avians too, then we can rightly start calling Porgs avians, and we'd better kill a whole lot of trees to mark a linguistic and taxonomic change as momentous as that.

Of course I understand that in everyday layman's speech, examples like "berry" or "bug" have a much broader application than they do scientifically. But no one I know uses "avian" colloquially, so someone has to stand fast upon the ramparts sometime, dadgummit.

_________________
"Time is the wisest counselor of all." - Pericles

"I remain not entirely convinced of it." - Nano


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
 Post subject: Re: Can't read it wrong
PostPosted: Sat Dec 23, 2017 5:50 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Wed Oct 06, 2004 12:17 am
Posts: 10069
Location: The Inside Passage
Nanohedron wrote:
Yes, I get all that. I go for concision and elegance myself, but I prefer precision better, hence "flying creature". It's perfectly good English. I don't see "avian" suddenly being an acceptable catch-all, especially when it's your entertainment news writers doing it.


But avian gets you closer to what they are than any of your other terms. They're clearly birdlike; much more so than a bat, squirrel, flying fish, mosquito or pterodactyl. As terms go, it's not exact, but it's the most precise of the options.

_________________
And now there was no doubt that the trees were really moving - moving in and out through one another as if in a complicated country dance. ('And I suppose,' thought Lucy, 'when trees dance, it must be a very, very country dance indeed.')

C.S. Lewis


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
 Post subject: Re: Can't read it wrong
PostPosted: Sat Dec 23, 2017 5:53 pm 
Offline
Moderatorer
User avatar

Joined: Wed Dec 18, 2002 6:00 pm
Posts: 33136
Location: Minneapolis
s1m0n wrote:
Nanohedron wrote:
Yes, I get all that. I go for concision and elegance myself, but I prefer precision better, hence "flying creature". It's perfectly good English. I don't see "avian" suddenly being an acceptable catch-all, especially when it's your entertainment news writers doing it.

But avian gets you closer to what they are than any of your other terms. They're clearly birdlike; much more so than a bat, squirrel, flying fish, mosquito or pterodactyl. As terms go, it's not exact, but it's the most precise of the options.

Ah, I must have edited while you were composing. It's a bad habit of mine.

But I'll repeat. English DOES already have such a catch-all word: Volant. Just learned it only a moment ago, as a matter of fact, all thanks to Google and a bit of sleuthing. Very satisfying to know we actually do have such a term. :thumbsup:

It's an adjective, but in English's time-honored fashion, it could just as well be a noun.

_________________
"Time is the wisest counselor of all." - Pericles

"I remain not entirely convinced of it." - Nano


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
 Post subject: Re: Can't read it wrong
PostPosted: Sat Dec 23, 2017 6:05 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Wed Oct 06, 2004 12:17 am
Posts: 10069
Location: The Inside Passage
Nanohedron wrote:
But I'll repeat. English DOES already have such a catch-all word: Volant.


Well, sort of. It's the word "flying" in french.

But the problem with catch-all words is just that: they catch all*. I thought you valued precision.

*Bats, dragonflies, helicopters - all manner of things fly but are unlike the creatures under discussion.

_________________
And now there was no doubt that the trees were really moving - moving in and out through one another as if in a complicated country dance. ('And I suppose,' thought Lucy, 'when trees dance, it must be a very, very country dance indeed.')

C.S. Lewis


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
 Post subject: Re: Can't read it wrong
PostPosted: Sat Dec 23, 2017 6:37 pm 
Offline
Moderatorer
User avatar

Joined: Wed Dec 18, 2002 6:00 pm
Posts: 33136
Location: Minneapolis
s1m0n wrote:
But the problem with catch-all words is just that: they catch all.

What problem? The wrong use of "avian" is trying to do just that too, you see. I think you're missing the point, here. My use of the word "precision" doesn't mean a narrowing of choices in a set; it means little to no ambiguity of meaning. If I mean "bird", I say "bird". If I mean "flying creature" I say "flying creature". Each is precise to its purpose. To say "bird" for any flying creature at all is as imprecise as it gets.

s1m0n wrote:
I thought you valued precision.

I do. I value precision of meaning. "Volant" precisely means "flying [creature]". It is far more precise than "avian" in meaning "flying creature", since "avian" means only "bird". For my part, my love of precision is satisfied.

s1m0n wrote:
And besides, 'volant' is really french, not english.

So are "hour", "pilot", and "candle". As a Canadian, I expect you say "courgette" and "aubergine", so don't be so quick on the draw, there. "Volant" is zoological English, as well as heraldic. We don't even pronounce it in the French manner, but say "Voe-lunt". There's no reason we shouldn't use it, other than for embarrassment at being sesquipedalian. I would still prefer "flying creature", since I tend to stick to the poetic force of native English when I can. If you want to call that inelegant, that's up to you, but I ain't buying it.

_________________
"Time is the wisest counselor of all." - Pericles

"I remain not entirely convinced of it." - Nano


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
 Post subject: Re: Can't read it wrong
PostPosted: Sat Dec 23, 2017 6:41 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue Jul 20, 2010 3:51 pm
Posts: 476
s1m0n wrote:
English co-opts words all the time.


"We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary."

-- James Nicoll

_________________
Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum viditur. (Anything is more impressive if you say it in Latin)


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
 Post subject: Re: Can't read it wrong
PostPosted: Sat Dec 23, 2017 6:48 pm 
Offline
Moderatorer
User avatar

Joined: Wed Dec 18, 2002 6:00 pm
Posts: 33136
Location: Minneapolis
Brus wrote:
s1m0n wrote:
English co-opts words all the time.

"We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary."

-- James Nicoll

"Avatar" is a good example of English's thuggery. One Indian objected to how it's used in English these days, because for him it's religious first and foremost.

I just remembered that we got "thug" from the Indians, too.

Borrowing words is one thing, but mauling the actual meaning of already-existing English words is quite another.

_________________
"Time is the wisest counselor of all." - Pericles

"I remain not entirely convinced of it." - Nano


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
 Post subject: Re: Can't read it wrong
PostPosted: Sat Dec 23, 2017 7:09 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Wed Oct 06, 2004 12:17 am
Posts: 10069
Location: The Inside Passage
Come now. "Volant" is so vague that it identifies about half of the world's non-aquatic animal biomass. As far as I know, no one has yet dissected a porg, but we do have footage. What they resemble most is a bird with an unusual mouth. As the platypus demonstrates, it is entirely possible for a creature to belong to one kingdom but, through the miracle of convergent evolution, to posses a mouth or other feature which greatly resembles that characteristic of another kingdom. Seals, penguins and minnows, to take another example, all posses flippers/fins. Until we manage to recover a porg for detailed anatomical study, it is most reasonable to treat it as an atypical-jawed avian.

_________________
And now there was no doubt that the trees were really moving - moving in and out through one another as if in a complicated country dance. ('And I suppose,' thought Lucy, 'when trees dance, it must be a very, very country dance indeed.')

C.S. Lewis


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
 Post subject: Re: Can't read it wrong
PostPosted: Sat Dec 23, 2017 7:22 pm 
Offline
Moderatorer
User avatar

Joined: Wed Dec 18, 2002 6:00 pm
Posts: 33136
Location: Minneapolis
Among aquatic creatures, zoologically the term "volant" only applies to those that can be airborne for extended periods, such as flying fish. Dragonflies and sugargliders are volant, but not avian. Penguins are avians, but not volant. This is precision of meaning.

If there's any vagueness about "volant", it's that the word doesn't distinguish between gliders and actual fliers; but being airborne for extended periods applies to all. It's not all that vague in the end.

Porgs fly; therefore, they may by definition be called volant (or volants, if we want to make a noun out of it). Now show me a bird with a muzzle and teeth, and I'll rethink my position on "avian". Until then, I'm sticking to my guns. But to hell with "volant"; it's "flying creature" for me. :wink:

_________________
"Time is the wisest counselor of all." - Pericles

"I remain not entirely convinced of it." - Nano


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
 Post subject: Re: Can't read it wrong
PostPosted: Sat Dec 23, 2017 7:32 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Wed Oct 06, 2004 12:17 am
Posts: 10069
Location: The Inside Passage
You mean like this?

Image

Quote:
Scientists said on Thursday they unearthed 215 eggs of the fish-eating Hamipterus tianshanensis – a species whose adults had a crest atop an elongated skull, pointy teeth and a wingspan of more than 11ft (3.5m) – including 16 eggs containing partial embryonic remains.


Or this:

Image

_________________
And now there was no doubt that the trees were really moving - moving in and out through one another as if in a complicated country dance. ('And I suppose,' thought Lucy, 'when trees dance, it must be a very, very country dance indeed.')

C.S. Lewis


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
 Post subject: Re: Can't read it wrong
PostPosted: Sat Dec 23, 2017 8:28 pm 
Offline
Moderatorer
User avatar

Joined: Wed Dec 18, 2002 6:00 pm
Posts: 33136
Location: Minneapolis
s1m0n wrote:
You mean like this? [Hamipterus tianshanensis]

If we're speaking of muzzles, no, I wouldn't call that a muzzle at all, but a beak. Yes, the creature has teeth, and it's clearly birdlike, but it's not a bird. It's a dinosaur, not an avian. Avian is just a scientific way of saying "bird" and nothing else, if you're using the word properly.

s1m0n wrote:
Or this: [gaping Porg]

There. That's a muzzle as I count the word, almost mammalian in its aspect. Pug-like here, one might say. Along with Hamipterus t., this creature also has teeth, but functioning wings to fly with aren't all it takes to make a bird out of it, any more than feathers make a dinosaur a bird, either. Bats have functioning wings too, and they fly very well indeed, but all informed people know that they are not avians - birds - by any stretch. So on the basis of that comparison, whatever a Porg might be, I say it's wrong to call it avian if we're going to be true to the word. Find other terms instead. I've already offered up a couple, FWIW.

Dogs, rodents, cats, and cattle (and bats), to name but a few, have muzzles with teeth. Flying or no, I know of no bird configured that way.

_________________
"Time is the wisest counselor of all." - Pericles

"I remain not entirely convinced of it." - Nano


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
 Post subject: Re: Can't read it wrong
PostPosted: Sat Dec 23, 2017 10:26 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Wed Oct 06, 2004 12:17 am
Posts: 10069
Location: The Inside Passage
Nano, what you're not grasping about writing Science Fiction is that you get to make it all up. If you want to decide that language has shifted in a particular direction in the future, you can. If you want to change the basic laws of physics and you're writing hard SF, you need a plausible excuse, but nomenclature has no objective reality. The words for anything are all arbitrary. If you study etymology, or better yet middle or early modern english, you'll see how swiftly definitions can change over even a single generation, let alone centuries or millennia.

_________________
And now there was no doubt that the trees were really moving - moving in and out through one another as if in a complicated country dance. ('And I suppose,' thought Lucy, 'when trees dance, it must be a very, very country dance indeed.')

C.S. Lewis


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 266 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1 ... 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18  Next

All times are UTC - 6 hours


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group
[ Time : 0.108s | 15 Queries | GZIP : On ]
(dh)