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March 09, 2012

Which English Do You Use?

This might be true of every language, but doesn't it seem that English has about a cajillion regional, local or industry related dialects, meanings and specific vocabularies? Some might even be...


For example, in my first sentence I used the word "cajillion". It's a word I use often, and as I think about it, I realize that it might be true that I have never heard any other person use it - except in response to my use of it. (Actually I don't think it has a literal meaning. I use it to mean "some uncountable huge number" of whatever it is I might be talking about.

Other categories of life require considerably more precision. The sciences, for instance, use their own vocabulary, but they also use what we might consider "standard" terms but with specialized meanings.

The word "sign" for most of us means something like an indication or marker, perhaps something like a traffic or roadside sign. In the scientific realm, it is likely to mean either a positive or negative mathematical marker.

The word "skeptic" among most us non-scientists, means something like a critic or opponent, but to a scientist, a "skeptic" is someone who wants proof of every assertion. In a discussion of something like climate change, we should all be "skeptical" but we should follow where the evidence leads.

Here's a chart with a fairly extensive list of words that demonstrate this distinction hidden within a common vocabulary - http://blogs.agu.org/mountainbeltway/files/2011/10/table.jpg.

And here's the article that got me thinking about all this - http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2011/10/19/scientists-are-from-mars-the-public-is-from-earth/.

And, to completely change the subject, if you have an absolutely great story suitable for children, consider sending it to David Fickling Books.

David Fickling Books is a story house, and they only publish 12-20 titles a year. They are a small outfit with a worldwide reputation! They look carefully at everything that is sent to them. Check them out here - http://www.davidficklingbooks.co.uk/davidficklingbooks_submissionsguidelines.asp.

Until next time,


Posted by mmorf at March 9, 2012 10:29 PM


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