Old 16th February 2013, 05:59   #1
sgtfuzzbubble011
 
sgtfuzzbubble011's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 60,826
"Solar systems"

(I apologize in advance for the length of this post.)

Semantic debates are about as bad as political and religious debates. I unfortunately got involved in one a few weeks ago, and I've been trying to just get over it, but it's been grating on me ever since. As you can probably tell from the subtle hint in the thread title, it's about the misuse of the term "Solar system." I was told I was wrong, and I want to know why...

So it starts off by me reading a short article on a sci-fi/fantasy/literature blog about the possibilities of other planets orbiting other stars being able to harbor life if they're in the so-called "Goldilocks Zone," and how different factors determine it's actual definition. In the article, the author refers to other planetary systems as "Solar systems." I posted a reply:
Quote:
"Solar system" refers to our planetary system. Our star's name is Sol, hence Solar system. Other planetary systems are not "Solar systems."
Another person replies stating that Sol is simply Sun in Latin (which it is), and that this is purely a semantic debate which depends on whether I will give other moons distinct names from our Moon (which makes little sense now that I think about it). He goes on to say that it's a matter of convention, there is no right and wrong, and some publications go one way while others go the other way.

I reply:
Quote:
I'm afraid there is a right and wrong in this case. Other stars have names (Polaris, Aldebaran, Sirius, etc). Our star's name is Sol. ( wiki link here ) The word "Sun" isn't a generic term for just any star. It's our star. You're right that some publications go one way while some go the other, but that just means that some of them are right and some are wrong. Also, our moon is named Luna as well.
He replies:
Quote:
No. They don't have it "wrong". There is no "official" convention for the terminology that everyone should follow.

Also, Luna is a Latin name for the Moon, not the name. It's like insisting that anyone who doesn't call a cat felis domesticus is just mistaken. Comprehend that a single object or entity can possess multiple names for different contexts and purposes. Insisting that one of them is inheritly "right" and all others are "wrong" is nothing more than ignorant prescriptivism.
Now that I've reread that a couple times, I realize that he's basically contradicting the opposite of what I'm saying. I'm saying that one specific term does not refer to multiple things while he's saying that one specific thing can have multiple terms that refer to it. My brain is now full of fuck.

Here's my next reply:
Quote:
This is exactly why our language is going down the crapper. Allowing more and more casual misuses of words and terms for things that aren't correct, but letting them slide by anyway, gives me a headache. This is almost as bad as people that refer to engines as "motors." There's a difference, and you don't have to tell me to look it up in the dictionary, because they're wrong as well. You're right about Sol and Luna being the Latin names for the Sun and the Moon. Don't forget that the English language (as with many others) is based on Latin. Sol and Luna are THE names for the Sun and the Moon. That's where they originated. Sun and Moon are the English language's current proper names for them. I don't bother correcting people that refer to any automobile as a "car" simply because it's entirely too much of a pain in the ass to tell them that I drive a truck rather than a car. Despite that, it doesn't mean they're right. At any rate, I'm not going to debate this further.
As the other person points out in his next reply, I was indeed wrong about the origins of the English language. At some point in my life, either I was taught incorrectly that English was based on Latin, or I happened to misread something that led me to believe that. I honestly can't remember, but in reality, it doesn't affect my original statement either way.

He replies:
Quote:
Prescriptivism is to linguistics what Creationism is to biology. As an actual student of actual philology, it irritates and upsets me when ignorant prescriptivists insist that they know what "true" language is and take offense when people won't conform to their arbitrary rules. Because that is what language is: arbitrary. Linguistics is study of language-use in real-world context. Prescriptivism is insistence that there is some sort of "true" language complete separate from humanity and people need to be educated to use the "correct" form. It is also worthless bullshit.

English is also not a Romance language! English is a part of the Germanic (or possibly Nordic) language family, and while it has a whole bunch of Latinic loanwords, it is in no way "based" on Latin. Outright misinformation is taking your case even further in the crapper, as you put it.

Believe or not, people outside Indo-European language-families have names for celestial bodies, as well, and they are, in fact, not wrong for having those names. Sol and Luna are Latin names, nothing more or less. They are not Chinese, Bantu or Finnish names of the same objects, not even English.
Language is not completely arbitrary. I don't care how many people use "ain't" in everyday conversations. It's still not a proper word. Just because millions of people say something doesn't make it correct. I understand that languages evolve and grow over time. New words are created when the need arises (such as when the television was invented, it needs a word). Taking a word or term from one thing and using it to describe something else completely is just ignorant to what the term actually means and only leads to confusion and dilution of the true meaning of the word or term. We're talking about the English language here. If insisting that "there is some sort of true language complete separate from humanity and people need to be educated to use the correct form" is "worthless bullshit," then I'm sure every English teacher I've ever known would like to have some words with you, sir.

As far as other languages and cultures having their own names for the Sun and Moon... I never said they didn't. I never said they were wrong. They can call them whatever they want. They're not what I'm discussing. I'm discussing ENGLISH. In the English language, the word "Solar" is based on the name "Sol," which just happens to be the Latin name for OUR SUN. It's one, distinct object. It doesn't matter where the name came from. It doesn't matter if it's Latin, or German, or Nordic. What matters is that right now in the English language (which is what I'm talking about), the word "Solar" refers to one thing, and one thing only. Therefore, referring to other planetary systems as "Solar systems" is WRONG. Other stars are not named Sol.

When I read his last reply, I did a little research and found out that I was indeed wrong about the origins of the English language. I apologized about being incorrect on that point, but I never got another reply back. Even though I was wrong about that one thing in particular, I still stand by the rest of my statements. I want to know why he thinks I'm wrong. I would like other people's points of view as well. Thoughts?
sgtfuzzbubble011 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 21st February 2013, 05:07   #2
swingdjted
DRINK BEER NOW
(Forum King)
 
swingdjted's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Northern West Virginia
Posts: 9,990
Send a message via AIM to swingdjted Send a message via Yahoo to swingdjted
calling an engine a motor is usually the result of never being taught correctly

saying ain't instead of isn't is usually lazy disregard for what one was taught correctly

Wiktionary seems to support the other person's position, while respecting your view too:
Quote:

Noun

solar system (plural solar systems)
  1. Any collection of heavenly bodies including a star or binary star, and any lighter stars, brown dwarfs, planets, and other objects in orbit.  [quotations ▼]
Usage notes

  • As Sol is the name of our star, this phrase is usually used to refer specifically to our own sun and planets (the Sol system), in which case it is used with the and generally capitalised (as the Solar system or the Solar System). Other systems are then known as star systems or planetary systems, or specified by the name of the individual star (the Alpha Centauri system).
Therefore, if following Wiktionary as a guideline, I would be accepting of someone using the non-proper-noun version of the term to refer to other star or planetary systems, but I wouldn't capitalize the words in the term unless referring to the one I'm in.

Now, that said, I usually don't like to base a serious opinion on just one source. Therefore, I pulled out the World Book Dictionary that came with my 1991 encyclopedia set. It's a giant 2-volume dictionary, alongside a 29-volume encyclopedia set. It says:

Quote:


solar system [lower cased], the sun and all the planets, satellites, comets, and other heavenly bodies, that revolve around it. See picture below on next page.

[of course the next page has an illustration showing the sun (lower cased), 9 planets by name (including the listing of Pluto as a planet), and the asteroid zone/belt]
This entry seems to support just your position in the debate.

Looking at the encyclopedia entry from this set, it's far too long to type out, but I did actually read the whole thing to see whether it would make mention of any other systems. It does not. It keeps the sun and the words "solar system" all lower cased while only making mention of the system we live in and many details about it, its contents, it's history, its properties, etc.

That's the same encyclopedia set I used as a backdrop for a beer picture, but really I do use it occasionally for reference; not sure why.

Honestly I do dislike a lot of cases of term mis-usage because they lead to not being able to be specific enough when it becomes necessary while also leading to too many synonyms, making many words redundant. In this case, I'm not sure how I'd react. It all depends on the setting.

For example, in a counseling session, I let the client/student say what he/she needs to say without correcting him/her, so that he/she can have some flow to their communication so that they don't lose their line of thought. At that place and time I have a need to get the message more than I have a need to get specific words. Then I repeat it back to them in my words in a paraphrasing way (with corrections slipped in there) to see if they agree that I understand what they're saying. After handling the issue, then I might add some corrections to what he/she said, as I am a school employee and need to teach what is correct, but I wait until the presenting concern is addressed first.

In a classroom, I correct more quickly, as it's not a situation where the line of thought can be lost so easily, and a place where the correction is more appropriately handles that way.

When having a casual discussion with other adults, I usually either let it slide or I restate back in the way I see correct in a backhanded sorta way, without really pointing out that I'm correcting them. Well... unless it's something like the engine vs. motor thing, in which case I usually make a pretty entertaining rant about it. e.g. [size=infinity][bold as fuck][underlined in an eleven-stroke scribble]"for the last fucking time, motors make motion out of electricity! engines make motion out of fuel!"[/size][/b][/u]


Don't forget to live before you die.
swingdjted is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 22nd February 2013, 08:06   #3
Sabine Klare
Forum Queen
 
Sabine Klare's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Berlin, Germany
Posts: 2,492
Thank You for the thread with this very interesting definition...
I lived my youth very different from the other teenagers. I know Star Trek since 1978 and Stars Wars since 1979 (many years later I learned to know Babylon 5 and Stargate). I knew already, which topics I shouldn't talk about in the school. 1980 my interests began not only for Electronic Music, also for UFOs & Parasciences and for astronomy, which is the topic here...
I read many books and I watched many TV-serials about astronomy, but I visited also many scientific lectures in the planetarium in the West-Part of Berlin for many years. I know this planetarium already since 1974. Sometimes the scientific lectures were very monotonous and dry, but I got many knowledge, although only a little bit as an amateur and not professional. The planetarium had amateur astronomers in that time. To become a professional astronomer, the person has to study physics and mathematics. But these are not normal mathematics at the university. The person has to learn the higher mathematics with very complicated mathematical formulas, which I myself never understood. I can understand only the simple mathematics, which I had learned until the 10th class, before I should learn the higher mathematics for the last 2 and a half years. Many students don't understand the very complicated formulas and fail. But I can only say, the astronomy is very interresting, also without understanding these formulas. Later I had less time to visit the planetarium. 1992 I learned to know also the other planetarium in the East-Part of Berlin, which had another kind of events, not so monotonous and dry, that's much better for families with children, who are more interested for the live show effects than for scientific lectures. The technologies of the planetariums have become much better since 1974, and the planetariums are also a very good place for Electronic Live Concerts...
I have watched also the scientific episodes "Alpha Centauri", part of "Space Night", not only the musical episodes "Space Night Earth Views". Fortunately the very popular Space Night of the Bavarian TV-broadcaster BR Alpha will come back with new GEMA-free music from artists without a GEMA-membership. And the other German TV-broadcaster Phoenix has many TV-documentations also about nature, not only about politics and history, mostly as a serial with a few episodes. I watched the very great and fantastic TV-serials "The Blue Planet" and "Planet Earth" and many other TV-serials about nature, also about astronomy and lifeforms on other planets...
Back to the topic, not only our own Sun has planets, also many other stars in our galaxy. Our galaxy has millions of stars, and our universe has at least milliards of galaxies, maybe much more. Why shouldn't a planet contain lifeforms? The lifeforms can be very different from us, but they can still exist. I don't want to talk about UFOs & Aliens here, but I want to mention the possibility for other lifeforms on other planets. And everything about astronomy and also the other physics is still interesting...
Greetings from Sabine Klare Aka Sternenmaschinebine

Last edited by Sabine Klare; 22nd February 2013 at 09:10.
Sabine Klare is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 22nd February 2013, 22:38   #4
Warrior of the Light
Forum King
 
Warrior of the Light's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: The Netherlands
Posts: 4,068
As usually, I'll stay away from long posts:

The Solar system is a star system.
The sun is a star - there is only one sun, so only one sun-(solar)-system

Jesus loves you [yes, you] so much, he even died for you so that you will not need to die, but live forever
Warrior of the Light is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24th February 2013, 03:54   #5
sgtfuzzbubble011
 
sgtfuzzbubble011's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 60,826
Quote:
Wiktionary seems to support the other person's position, while respecting your view too
I have a feeling that the people who wrote the Wiktionary entry for it are people like the guy I was arguing with. The usage notes seem to mostly be correct, but differentiating between capitalization and lower-case still doesn't make it right to use the term for other systems. The word is still based on the name Sol, so "solar" and "Solar" still refer to our star. Personally, I would capitalize "Solar system," but I wouldn't bother capitalizing "solar panel" simply because it's not a proper noun.
sgtfuzzbubble011 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24th February 2013, 04:23   #6
swingdjted
DRINK BEER NOW
(Forum King)
 
swingdjted's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Northern West Virginia
Posts: 9,990
Send a message via AIM to swingdjted Send a message via Yahoo to swingdjted
So, would you still call a solar panel a solar panel if it were used near and powered by another star? I suppose you would, considering you could argue that even if powered by another star, it was still initially invented to make use of the sun.

Don't forget to live before you die.
swingdjted is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28th February 2013, 06:23   #7
sgtfuzzbubble011
 
sgtfuzzbubble011's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 60,826
I'd call it a photovoltaic panel.
sgtfuzzbubble011 is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply
Go Back   Winamp & SHOUTcast Forums > Community Center > The Bitchlist

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump