Is it wise to redefine words that are already in use, to accommodate new notions?
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05-05-2014, 12:58 PM
RE: Is it wise to redefine words that are already in use, to accommodate new notions?
(03-04-2014 04:01 AM)living thing Wrote:  What do you think is most adequate?
I think you are trying to describe the abstract, which "exists" in the inference of thought, and recorded into tangible instruments in language and text.

Humanism - ontological doctrine that posits that humans define reality
Theism - ontological doctrine that posits a supernatural entity creates and defines reality
Atheism - political doctrine opposed to theist doctrine in public policy
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05-05-2014, 01:55 PM
RE: Is it wise to redefine words that are already in use, to accommodate new notions?
(05-05-2014 12:58 PM)TrainWreck Wrote:  
(03-04-2014 04:01 AM)living thing Wrote:  What do you think is most adequate?
I think you are trying to describe the abstract, which "exists" in the inference of thought, and recorded into tangible instruments in language and text.
Not quite. The way I described existence, abstract entities do not exist because they do not occupy any volume anywhere; they occur as the things that do occupy some volume move in relation to one another.

But the point in the thread wasn't about the notion of existence itself, I've already written a fair amount about that in other threads. It was about the convenience of making up new terms as new notions appear vs. reusing terms that are already in use. What are your thoughts?

Thanks for your contribution!
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06-05-2014, 01:27 PM
RE: Is it wise to redefine words that are already in use, to accommodate new notions?
(05-05-2014 01:55 PM)living thing Wrote:  It was about the convenience of making up new terms as new notions appear vs. reusing terms that are already in use. What are your thoughts?

You need a standardized knowledge classification system to determine if the notion is new. do you have any examples of the mistakes in actual debate and commerce?

Humanism - ontological doctrine that posits that humans define reality
Theism - ontological doctrine that posits a supernatural entity creates and defines reality
Atheism - political doctrine opposed to theist doctrine in public policy
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06-05-2014, 01:54 PM
RE: Is it wise to redefine words that are already in use, to accommodate new notions?
(06-05-2014 01:27 PM)TrainWreck Wrote:  You need a standardized knowledge classification system to determine if the notion is new. do you have any examples of the mistakes in actual debate and commerce?
I'm not sure of what you mean by "actual debate and commerce", but I have already mentioned how the word "atom" is currently linked to the notion of a complex structure that cannot be decomposed by chemical processes, a notion that appeared when Thomson discovered how to decompose so-called atoms by physical processes, although strictly speaking, he didn't discover the mechanism; his contribution was realising that cathode rays discovered by others were streams of structures each simpler than an atom.

In my view, the correct reaction to such discovery should have been: "Guys, it turns out Dalton was wrong; chemical units are not atomic after all" and then coin a new term to describe chemically indivisible structures. For example, chemicons. But instead, he chose to redefine the term "atom" so that it stopped meaning "indivisible". Whether that generated debate or not, I don't know, I wasn't alive then.

Other redefined words are "democracy" or "freedom".
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06-05-2014, 02:32 PM
RE: Is it wise to redefine words that are already in use, to accommodate new notions?
(06-05-2014 01:54 PM)living thing Wrote:  
(06-05-2014 01:27 PM)TrainWreck Wrote:  You need a standardized knowledge classification system to determine if the notion is new. do you have any examples of the mistakes in actual debate and commerce?
I'm not sure of what you mean by "actual debate and commerce", but I have already mentioned how the word "atom" is currently linked to the notion of a complex structure that cannot be decomposed by chemical processes, a notion that appeared when Thomson discovered how to decompose so-called atoms by physical processes, although strictly speaking, he didn't discover the mechanism; his contribution was realising that cathode rays discovered by others were streams of structures each simpler than an atom.

In my view, the correct reaction to such discovery should have been: "Guys, it turns out Dalton was wrong; chemical units are not atomic after all" and then coin a new term to describe chemically indivisible structures. For example, chemicons. But instead, he chose to redefine the term "atom" so that it stopped meaning "indivisible". Whether that generated debate or not, I don't know, I wasn't alive then.

Other redefined words are "democracy" or "freedom".

He didn't actually redefine the word as much as correct the understanding of what the word referred to.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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06-05-2014, 02:56 PM
RE: Is it wise to redefine words that are already in use, to accommodate new notions?
Hello Chas, how are you? I hope you had a wonderful time with your family in your birthday.

(06-05-2014 02:32 PM)Chas Wrote:  He [Thomson] didn't actually redefine the word ["atom"] as much as correct the understanding of what the word referred to.
That's a little presumptuous, don't you think? So the Greeks who coined the term "atomos" using the negative prefix "a-" plus a form of the verb "temnō", apparently meaning "I cut", didn't really know what the word referred to, did they? Of course "atoms" are cuttable, everybody knows that except for those ignorant ancient Greeks! "Atoms" can be cut into protons, neutrons and electrons, what were they thinking of?

Dalton mistakenly believed chemical units to be indivisible, so he mistakenly referred to them as "atoms". Far from correcting the situation, Thomson confused it further by changing the notion attached to the word instead of replacing the word when he had the chance. Hence, science provides us with two different meanings for atomicity. In physics and chemistry, atomicity is related to the level of structure of complex arrangements of protons, electrons and most often neutrons. In mathematics and computing, atomicity retains the notion of indivisibility. If you ask me what notion I would keep attached to the word, I would go for the morphological one because the negative prefix "a-" is still in use in the English language; an atheist, for instance, is someone who is not a theist.

I appreciate your skepticism, Chas, I really do. But covering up science's mistakes does not help in the process of scientific self-correction. In order for science to be self-correcting, we need to accept that it may hold mistakes, and we need to correct them once they are found. Closing our eyes to them so that science looks like it is never wrong will not help in our collective understanding of the universe around us.

Do you understand what I mean?

Thanks nonetheless for sharing with us your view. Have fun!
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08-05-2014, 04:10 PM
RE: Is it wise to redefine words that are already in use, to accommodate new notions?
I think it depends on the subject nature, that's what should determine whether a new term be coined. Having said that descretion should be applied. Communication is not very useful when it is not efficient. Having a plathora of words in a language risks communication being inefficient. Either way there are self regulating systems that are naturally embeded language. If there are too many words to remember, people will weed out those least used. Ever looked in a dictionary and seen "archaic use" and an explanation for the out dated use of a word? That's the weeding out I'm talking about.

There are many devices in language that we have at our disposal. Lets not forget context before we get our creative caps to churn out new words. In science, theory means almost the direct opposite of what it means in ordinary language parlance. It is the graduation point of an idea having been tested and independently verified. The results of which have proven to be consistant. In ordinary language, theory can mean conjecture. What I'm trying to demonstrate here is that the context and subject matters!

Stipulative definitions are important but we must ensure that the meaning is understood. If stipulative definitions are too broad we can use precising definitions. That is to more narrowly define a word or topic without the need to invent a new word.

8000 years before Jesus, the Egyptian god Horus said, "I am the way, the truth, the life."
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09-05-2014, 05:45 AM
RE: Is it wise to redefine words that are already in use, to accommodate new notions?
Hello BlackMason, thanks for your interesting remarks.

If I have understood your words correctly, I think I agree with most of them; in the end of the day, what is relevant about words is if they manage to convey ideas from one brain to another.

Although I am not sure having a larger number of words necessarily implies language inefficiency. When I was younger I spent a school year in Texas and I did a research paper on the history of the English language. I can't remember the sources I used, but I seem to recall that English is one of the major languages with a highest number of available words. I don't really know if that is true, but I wouldn't be surprised if it were for three reasons.

One is, of course, the history of the language. When the Normans arrived to Hastings, they didn't just take their large horses with them; they also took their French language, much of which eventually merged with the local language. Still today, many notions can be referred to by their Anglo-Saxon name as well as their French name (although often with changes in both cases). People may raise pigs and cows, but they eat pork and beef.

Another reason is the relative simplicity of the grammar. English has grammatical rules, of course, but it has few verb tenses, no grammatical gender, no declensions, etc. However, it often achieves the same goals as other languages through the use of more words. For example, in languages with grammatical gender, such as Spanish, the same word can have different meanings through the use of a masculine/feminine article. "La radio" is the radio, whereas "el radio" is something's radius or the chemical element radium. And that does not seem to be a problem; human beings appear to be able to memorise thousands of words without great trouble recalling them.

The third reason is the language's flexibility. French speakers, for instance, seem fairly strict when it comes to new incorporations to their language, whereas English speakers don't seem to care that much; as long as notions are conveyed, they don't seem that fussed about the words used. In English, you can google stuff meaning that you search for it on the internet; other languages don't yet have a single word meaning "looking for something on the internet using a search engine". The language seems to grow daily and, even if that implies the ability to construct sentences using fewer words (language economy may be one of the goals behind the flexibility) it also implies that the number of words available in the English vocabulary keeps growing, although it is true that the most archaic forms are often unknown to the youngest speakers.

In all, I wouldn't be surprised if the English language had one of the largest vocabularies, although I don't really know; hopefully someone with more knowledge in linguistics will be able to shed some light on this issue. But the point is that, if it is, that does not seem to imply its inefficiency.

I agree with most of your contribution, but I don't think it addresses the point I raised. There is a notion ("occupying a volume at some distance and in some direction from some reference location") that I would like to call "existence" because it then allows me to distinguish real entities from non-real entities based on their existence; real information consists of things occupying some volume in space, whereas information that is not real consists of change happening over time. Real things exist, whereas entities that are not real don't exist.

However, the verb "exist" is already in use and the notion attached to it is often something along the lines of "being the subject of a thought or discourse"; for example when someone claims that unicorns exist in our minds. So I wonder if I should insist on my definition of existence, or maybe just make up a new word. For example, "besistence". Things that besist are located somewhere in relation to other things that besist, and things that don't besist aren't located anywhere in relation to anything. Gods may exist in our minds, but they don't besist like real things do. That way, I might be able to convey complex ideas based on the notion of real things being somewhere, without wasting time arguing about the meaning of existence.

What would your advice be?

Thanks, and have fun!
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09-05-2014, 06:59 AM
RE: Is it wise to redefine words that are already in use, to accommodate new notions?
(06-05-2014 02:56 PM)living thing Wrote:  Hello Chas, how are you? I hope you had a wonderful time with your family in your birthday.

(06-05-2014 02:32 PM)Chas Wrote:  He [Thomson] didn't actually redefine the word ["atom"] as much as correct the understanding of what the word referred to.
That's a little presumptuous, don't you think? So the Greeks who coined the term "atomos" using the negative prefix "a-" plus a form of the verb "temnō", apparently meaning "I cut", didn't really know what the word referred to, did they? Of course "atoms" are cuttable, everybody knows that except for those ignorant ancient Greeks! "Atoms" can be cut into protons, neutrons and electrons, what were they thinking of?

Dalton mistakenly believed chemical units to be indivisible, so he mistakenly referred to them as "atoms". Far from correcting the situation, Thomson confused it further by changing the notion attached to the word instead of replacing the word when he had the chance. Hence, science provides us with two different meanings for atomicity. In physics and chemistry, atomicity is related to the level of structure of complex arrangements of protons, electrons and most often neutrons. In mathematics and computing, atomicity retains the notion of indivisibility. If you ask me what notion I would keep attached to the word, I would go for the morphological one because the negative prefix "a-" is still in use in the English language; an atheist, for instance, is someone who is not a theist.

I appreciate your skepticism, Chas, I really do. But covering up science's mistakes does not help in the process of scientific self-correction. In order for science to be self-correcting, we need to accept that it may hold mistakes, and we need to correct them once they are found. Closing our eyes to them so that science looks like it is never wrong will not help in our collective understanding of the universe around us.

Do you understand what I mean?

Thanks nonetheless for sharing with us your view. Have fun!

You are being incredibly pedantic there.
The etymology of the word is interesting, but even when the concept of splitting the atom was introduced, there was simply no reason to coin a new word - the concept of atom was well beyond the strict adherence to etymology.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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09-05-2014, 09:41 AM (This post was last modified: 09-05-2014 09:48 AM by TrainWreck.)
RE: Is it wise to redefine words that are already in use, to accommodate new notions?
(08-05-2014 04:10 PM)BlackMason Wrote:  I think it depends on the subject nature, that's what should determine whether a new term be coined. Having said that descretion should be applied. Communication is not very useful when it is not efficient. Having a plathora of words in a language risks communication being inefficient. Either way there are self regulating systems that are naturally embeded language. If there are too many words to remember, people will weed out those least used. Ever looked in a dictionary and seen "archaic use" and an explanation for the out dated use of a word? That's the weeding out I'm talking about.
Pretty good chance he has done so - the subject of the thread is a little in depth to not realize that he has done so, and we're active on forums where we wind up referring to the dictionaries and encyclopedias - you should get a spell checker extension on your browser.

I'm glad to see that you recognize that misnomers exist, but how do people recognize when they are engulfed in an inefficient vocabulary of too many words and not knowing which words are appropriate?

(08-05-2014 04:10 PM)BlackMason Wrote:  There are many devices in language that we have at our disposal.
You make it sound like there is an endless list of linguistic tools for organizing a language.

(08-05-2014 04:10 PM)BlackMason Wrote:  Lets not forget context before we get our creative caps to churn out new words. In science, theory means almost the direct opposite of what it means in ordinary language parlance. It is the graduation point of an idea having been tested and independently verified. The results of which have proven to be consistant. In ordinary language, theory can mean conjecture. What I'm trying to demonstrate here is that the context and subject matters!
Yeah, have you ever looked in a dictionary and realized that they have several different definitions enumerated - those are applicable to your notion about context. The problem is that the enumeration is not systematic, otherwise we would be familiar with as a tool for sorting the problem that the OP is trying to identify. I believe there is a scientific order that can be assigned to the enumeration, and I have identified some of the collation system that will lend to the eventual demarcation of the possible contexts for words.

(08-05-2014 04:10 PM)BlackMason Wrote:  Stipulative definitions are important but we must ensure that the meaning is understood. If stipulative definitions are too broad we can use precising definitions. That is to more narrowly define a word or topic without the need to invent a new word.
Some words refer to broad collections of categories, for instance:
  1. Reality
  2. Nature
  3. Technology
  4. Life
  5. Society
  6. Culture
  7. Time

  1. processes
  2. systems
  3. applications
  4. beings
  5. organizations
  6. abstractions
  7. property


Other words get very specific:
  1. Scientists
  2. Technicians
  3. Physicians
  4. Sociologists
  5. Philosophers
  6. Cosmologists

Humanism - ontological doctrine that posits that humans define reality
Theism - ontological doctrine that posits a supernatural entity creates and defines reality
Atheism - political doctrine opposed to theist doctrine in public policy
I am right, and you are wrong - I hope you die peacefullyCool
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