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Re: c.d.theory lexicon overview

From: Alan <alan_at_erols.com>
Date: Thu, 22 Apr 2004 15:55:34 -0400
Message-ID: <c697vm$9loci$1@ID-114862.news.uni-berlin.de>


Well you've made some excellent arguments- to the point of convincing me that you have the right idea. I guess the CS field has matured to the point where it needs to create its own specific terminology. Might as well do what the doctors, lawyers, and botanists did- use latin words :)

So, I offer this first expression. It is what should be said to testers upon delivering the first beta version for testing, or alternatively, at least in the comments:

"Minutus cantorum, minutus ballorum, minutus corborata descendum pantorum."

Google "Minutus cantorum" for translation.

"Senny" <sennomo_at_hotmail.com> wrote in message news:IPUhc.1343$17.159406_at_news1.epix.net...
> Alan wrote:
>
> > I have not read your entire treatise
>
> It's actually the tip of the iceberg, but I didn't feel like going off on
> specifics.
>
> > I think it is not possible (or correct) to declare that a particular
word
> > (e.g., function) have one and only one definition for the entire CS
> > paradigm.
>
> Counterexamples: 'Canis rufus' (bio.: "red wolf"), 'neurofibromatosis'
> (med.: look it up), 'Nolle Prosequi' (leg.: from Latin "not willing to
> proceed"). These terms each have one and only one definition for their
> respective fields (and these fields have been around a lot longer than
> ours). One word -> one meaning is the very goal of terminology.
>
> > A particular word has a correct meaning within its context, and
> > the context assigns the meaning.
>
> This would be fine if the contexts didn't overlap. In perhaps the worst
> case, a VB 'function', an Caml 'function', a JavaScript 'function', a
> mathematical 'function', and a colloquial 'function' might appear in the
> same discussion. I can tell you with great frustration that as a
> programmer I regularly have to deal with *at least three* *very different*
> meanings of _function_ when I write an application with a database. The
> following (rather obtuse) sentence contains the most common three: "The
> function of this function is to get the tuples from B that are
functionally
> dependant on A."
>
> > Just like language.
>
> But it's not just like regular language. Terminology, nomenclature, is a
> specific subset of language that doesn't follow the usual willy-nilly
rules
> of regular human language. Look at legalese and medical terminology.
They
> don't behave just like regular language--that's what makes them work (and
> sound really weird to the uninitiated).
>
> > The problem occurs when a word is used incorrectly, but that happens in
> > the normal use of any language.
>
> When a surgeon misuses medical terminology, dire consequences may result.
> When lawyers misuse legalese, they may lose their case. This points back
> to the fact that they have arcane terminology because precision matters.
> Our lack of precise terminology results in bad programming and time lost
on
> debating the meaning of our words. We can't eliminate misuse, but we
could
> reduce it greatly.
>
> > The solution is not to create more words to describe a specific
> > idea in a specific context.
>
> I agree that we should not create more words than we need. OTOH, why do
we
> have 'bit', 'function', 'drive', etc.? Did we need to create any of the
> words we have now? Can one assume that just because we don't have a
> certain word today, we don't need it? New terms are being created right
> now, even--badly. A recent addition is 'aspect' as in 'aspect-oriented
> programming'.
>
> > An argument can be made that this only creates
> > an opportunity for additional words to be used incorrectly. This idea is
a
> > quasi-corollary (just made that up) to William Safire's, "Never use a
big
> > word when a diminutive one will do." Or, another way to look at it, "You
> > can lead a programmer to order, but you can't make him think" (apologies
> > to Dorothy Parker).
>
> It sadly does create such an opportunity, but it does not *only* create
such
> an opportunity. I don't think botanists have run amuck because they have
> so many words to play with.
>
> > Getting everyone to agree on and use specific terms is just about
> > impossible, IMO. Back in the early 80s, I argued with a fellow video
> > engineer about whether the word was "digitize" or "digitalize". I
insisted
> > on "digitize", because you are turning something into digits, not
> > digitals. Looks like I won, but he is probably still trying to correct
> > people. He was pretty stubborn.
>
> Well, that demonstrates part of the problem. A lot of our choices are
> arbitrary. It's often hard to say what's better. For example, the
> JavaScript 'function' is closer to the original meaning of the word than
> the mathematical 'function', so why do "purists" scoff at JavaScript's
> definition?
>
> I wouldn't care about all this if it didn't matter. I'm tired of butting
> heads with coworkers because of individual words. I'm tired of the
> unchecked proliferation of horrible new terms ('webcurity', 'DMZ'),
> especially ones based on badly used existing terms ('post-relational',
> 'object-oriented').
>
> The situation will only continue to get worse unless a concerted effort is
> made to rehash our nomenclature. I don't know if the community is up to
> it, though. Programmers, unlike lawyers, seem to be fine with ad-hockish
> kluges.
>
> So, to summarize, your arguments are all correct in reference to everyday
> language. (In fact, I appreciate your understanding.) However, they do
> not apply to terminology, where the quest for precision overrides
> colloquial behavior.
>
> --Senny
>
Received on Thu Apr 22 2004 - 14:55:34 CDT

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