Colloquial Quandaries: Referencing the Sun

January 8, 2013 by Categorized: Natural Reflections, Restorying the Sacred.

This is a new addition to a set of non-linear series first addressed in Blog Beast. Colloquial Quandaries is a sub-series of Cultural Quandaries in that it specifically addresses the colloquial in our culture – our way of speech.

East Bluff Dawn by Rua Lupa

In this addition of Colloquial Quandaries the topic of referencing the sun will be discussed, particularly the common phrases ‘sunrise’ and ‘sunset’.

The Cosmos series narrated by Carl Sagan in episode 10, minute 44. (It is best viewed from minute 32 to have a good understanding of the circumstances of the time in reference and its influence in modern times.) Tells of how a Greek philosopher by the name of Aristarchus (310 BC – ca. 230 BC) deduced that the earth turns on an axis and goes around the sun along with the other planets. But the people of the time suppressed this revelation which later had been brought up again and credited to Copernicus (19 February 1473 – 24 May 1543) which referenced Aristarchus in his manuscripts, but suppressed the reference in the published version. It has been 2200yrs since Aristarchus’s time and we still reference our world as if the earth is the center of it. We talk of the sun rising and the sun setting. Our language still portends that the earth does not turn.

Am I making a big deal out of nothing? That is a possibility. Yet I argue that terms and their associations can have unintended profound impacts on society. History already shows this with Aristarchus and the lack of acknowledgement of his findings – ‘the sun rises, everyone knows that’. Its not too hard to imagine this to occur again when so many people already easily forget world influencing history. History has a habit of repeating itself when not ingrained in the cultural memory. Sunrise and Sunset is what is still ingrained in the cultural memory. Most everyone under the age of 13 (perhaps even 14) believes that the sun rises and sets, and don’t question otherwise because that is what everyone around them says. There are also a surprising number of adults who have forgotten this not long after their school years, slipping into accepting what is said – the sun rises. Hypothetically, if there were to be a sudden global catastrophe (i.e. An asteroid) or societal crash (i.e. The Dark Ages) where society would have to build up again like that from the loss of the Library of Alexandria, at least there would be less to build up from if the colloquial terms are accurate to reality. The commonality of these phrases in our language make it another hurdle in learning about how our world works. And it is an unnecessary one.

I believe that a new phrase or term, what ever it may be, that is true to the nature of things will greatly aid in our society connecting to the greater world and universe. Having a better intrinsic understanding from early on in life gives an early start to being able to grasp the bigger picture – one less wall to climb in having to reassess our world view of how things work. There is much more to gain than lose in such an endeavour.

Should we not try to encourage our language to be accurate to what is really happening?

What word or phrases could we use instead?

Are there other terms used with regards to the sun, earth, day or night, that are misleading?

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40 Responses

  1. There’s no need to change the way we refer to these because we’re describing what we see from Earth. Government agencies use the terms “sunrise” and “sunset” — which are defined by scientists — in tables giving the times of those phenomena. Our perspective here on the earth has meaning, and it doesn’t mean we believe the sun is revolving around the earth. It means we recognize when the day of light begins and ends.

    • Currently environmentally conscious people who view things holistically are tending toward phrases that are more eco-centric rather than anthropocentric. This is no different except that it is instead Earth Centered vs Sun Centered in our view of the universe.

      “it doesn’t mean we believe the sun is revolving around the earth”
      I’m not saying everyone believes the sun is revolving around the earth. I’m saying that there is a barrier to learning and understanding how our world works by speaking this way. Without looking it up, what is sunrise/sunset?

      • Arguably, the terms “sunrise” and “sunset” refer to the specific event of the sun rising above or sinking below the horizon line from the perspective of a particular point on the surface of the earth.

        In other words, the event itself is place-specific, it is necessarily related to a particular location and the perspective of (e.g. the horizon as viewed from) that location. It would be nonsensical to talk about the event of the sun in relation to the horizon without referring to a specific location.

        So I’m not clear how you plan to replace these words/concepts with terms that are place-nonspecific. The very attempt to do so is a kind of ideological blinder, an attempt to universalize what is inherently and by definition a localized event.

        Also, see: Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. ;)

        • “the terms “sunrise” and “sunset” refer to the specific event of the sun rising above or sinking below the horizon line from the perspective of a particular point on the surface of the earth.”

          This here is my point – the sun doesn’t rise above or sink below the horizon. It is the horizon itself that crosses the sun’s disk.

          “I’m not clear how you plan to replace these words/concepts with terms that are place-nonspecific.”

          I don’t have a plan other than to ‘brainstorm’ with others to come up with a possible way to approach this. Not giving out my own ideas right away avoids just receiving agreements or disagreements without any suggestions. I have been trying out “revertosol” (turn back to sun) and “avertosol” (turn from sun) but wanted see if there were better suggestions out there. In which I do like Asrik’s suggestion of Dayturning and Nightturning.

          In both of these examples you can see that there is no conflict with the place event.

  2. Dayturning/nighturning for new words?

  3. Well, in The Book of the New Sun, Gene Wolfe consistently fulfills your request.

    “He removes the ancient cultural concepts ‘sunrise’ and ‘sunset,’ replacing them with phrases acknowledging that it is the Urth who turns her face toward the sun and away from the sun: ‘the west was lifted to cover the sun’; ‘Urth’s laboring margin has climbed once more above the red disk’; ‘Urth had turned almost her full face to the sun.’ Soft and subtle, yet this shows a culture which has finally incorporated the Copernican Revolution and maintains this as a stubborn relic even as decline has returned it to a medieval level.”

    Of course, that’s set in the far future. I don’t see this change coming any time soon.

    (quotation from Earth Is But a Star)

  4. I haven’t heard of any ecocentric folks raising objections to the terms sunrise/sunset — in fact, this is the first I’ve heard of it being a problem. I happen to agree with “Nobody” in the first comment above.

    Acknowledging that humans have a particular perspective and that human language will reflect that perspective is not inherently anthropocentric.

    Artificially trying to surpress our natural, intuitive relationship with our surroundings by adopting constrained language is unlikely to fix the problem, either, in my opinion. Language is itself a living, evolving thing, not a construct that we can meddle with and manipulate as we like. That’s not to say that trying to craft more conscientious language isn’t sometimes helpful, but I have my doubts about how effective it would be to try to force unnatural/awkward phrasings into the language to replace ones that already serve perfectly well. Words, like organisms, fill niches when they are needed, and a word without a niche to fill is not going to survive for very long.

    I’d also point out — and this might be rocking the boat a bit — that for most of the hundreds of thousands of years since the evolution of the human species, we’ve largely been ignorant of the facts of modern science. But that has not necessarily resulted in us being worse human beings, or even worse animal citizens of the planet. We don’t worry if the coyote has a coyote-centric perspective on the world, and we tend to assume that it does and that this is perfectly fine. In fact, we can’t help but have a view of the world that is defined by our own humanness — trying to have any other kind of view would be, well, inhuman. And one thing the planet does not need us to be is any more inhuman than we already act. (So many of our screw ups have come from us thinking that we can engineer ourselves into being better humans than the species the planet made us.)

    Let’s root out the actual ideologies that are problematic and destructive and put our energies into deconstructing those, rather identifying our humanness itself as the problem.

    • I hadn’t said that eco-centric folk were objecting to sunrise/set only that
      This is no different except that it is instead Earth Centered vs Sun Centered in our view of the universe.” But since you bring it up, I do know a number of ecocentric folk preferring to use Dawn and Dusk in place of sunrise/set because of it being more accurate.

      Like you point out, sunrise/set is describing the world in a human centered way.

      I don’t see how suggesting a different word use would be in any way suppressing those who wish to continue to use these conventional terms. Who ever wishes to attempt to change their word use shouldn’t be condemned for doing so either. Much like how the word gay has been reformed to mean what it is currently understood as today. The same has happened with Pagan no less. So it very much is “a construct that we can meddle with and manipulate as we like.” The question becomes to what extent.

      In response to your point of “our screw ups” I believe a great number of people would agree that is more likely because we were too human centered. My argument is that with a better understanding of how the world works and reinforcing that with how we speak about it, we are less likely to, as you put it, ‘screw up.’

      Where have I stated that humanness is a problem? Or are you objecting to the ecocentric view in general?

      “Let’s root out the actual ideologies that are problematic and destructive and put our energies into deconstructing those”

      What would you suggest? Personally I like to focus on Constructing rather than Deconstructing.

  5. Interesting. Should we then cease to refer to constellations by name, since the stars are in their own place and calling them by how they appear from our place is incorrect? I’m at least partially serious with that. I don’t think the question is one of language- we all know that language is misleading because it can only in rare situations capture what is happening on multiple levels. How far would the change spread, if a change occurred? I find it easier to refer to things based on where they seem from my place simply because I can not grasp any other frame of reference quickly or reliably enough to portray the situation with the same clarity. It is possible that future generations could be re-educated so that this barrier would not be a problem. What then? How many human (and indeed Western Hemisphere) centric ideas have taken root? It is a point worth pondering, and it is certainly worth taking a fresh look at the way we view the world. I don’t know if we should go changing language yet, though.
    Sorry, that rambled a bit, but I think it all made sense.

    • That made sense. The constellation point would be more of the equivalent of me suggesting to rename the sun itself. Constellations are fine in that its naming the positions of stars and there are already many lexicons of constellations from different cultures out there.

      “How far would the change spread, if a change occurred?”

      Good question. Don’t know but I think it would be fun to explore.

      One very common way language is deliberately changed is through text books in the education system. A good example is Venereal Disease(VD) known to those prior to the 80′s and unfamiliar to most young adults today, then it became Sexually Transmitted Disease(STD), known to most of us, but unfamiliar to the next generation coming who are learning the term Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI). All new terms that become quite familiar to each generation but are unknown by the rest.

      “I don’t know if we should go changing language yet, though.”

      I’ve been hearing that a lot. Why not now? If not now, then when? I just think its worth genuinely exploring in depth. I mean, what’s there to be afraid of? What’s there to actually lose?

      • I admit I had not thought about textbooks as a vehicle for language change. I think the VD > STD > STI transition has been fueled by efforts to be more politically correct. I suppose the same logic could be applied. I also note that the folks who learned one phrase or another first tend to cling to that one. I think you may be experiencing that same phenomenon in the conversation here. We are all accustomed to hearing our day-night experiences referenced in a certain way and we aren’t quite ready to alter something as fundamental as speech.

      • Oh, and it occurs to me that if we’re really trying to play with words and think outside of our perspective-based box… why not think in terms other than the sun? If we’re on the side of the Earth currently facing the stars then perhaps we’re currently Outfacing. Daytime becomes Infacing. Or something. It made me smile, so I thought I’d share.

  6. I disagree that “sunrise/sunset” is problematic.

    To be clear before I begin, I have no qualms with actually changing the terms. There is no emotional attachment there, and if something different does develop in my lifetime, then I’ll simply use the new ones.

    Now, my disagreements with what has been said in the OP:

    Language is constantly changing; in as little as a few centuries English might not even exist, or may exist in an unrecognizable form. It’ll probably take longer then that, but we have no idea how the future will turn out.

    So in the grand scheme of things, which includes those hypothetical societal and natural disasters, I feel this “sunrise/sunset” issue is moot, because it assumes the current form of English will still be in existence through both time and disasters.

    Also, assuming that the idea that the sun literally rises and falls is an actual belief for most children under 13 (which, as an statistic without a source, makes me highly skeptical of the truth in it and makes me wary of the mental expectations placed on children), if they are fortunate enough to live in a place where they can go to school on a regular basis, they’ll probably find out soon enough, and easily enough, that the Earth revolves around the Sun. It’s no longer the worldview-shattering fact that it was in the past (and honestly, all we ever hear about is how the Church got upset about the revelation, we hear little about how much the common people cared, which, IMO would be hardly at all). If, as adults, they continue to truly believe the terms literally and refuse to accept the other information, then they have problems that go beyond “sunrise/sunset” which will not be solved with replacement terms.

    If there are studies available regarding how literally and how strongly people with access to education believe the sun literally rises and sets, rather than understanding that it’s just a limited visual, THEN I may be inclined to agree that the terms are problematic and should be changed. But so far, as an ecologist, I’ve yet to have them actually interfere with my worldview. All they are for me are points in time, and nothing more.

    IMO, the terms are no more anthropocentric than a growling stomach inviting us to eat food is. The sun is in the visible sky, then the sun is not. The sun’s movement is the same regardless of which organism sees her because we’re all watching from the same point: Earth. Humans had to go beyond the senses like our vision to deduce the Earth’s movement, so I feel it’s unfair to suggest that a logical reaction (i.e. I see the sun going up in the sky, I’m going to call that “sunrise”) with our natural senses is anthropocentric.

    On the flip side, one can argue that EVERYTHING humans do and think is anthropocentric, because even the ecological concepts that are assumed to be natural and outside of us are still understood through a human perspective. We cannot assess reality in any other way, we don’t have the ability to body and mind-swap with other organisms. Which means that an “ecocentric” worldview is still an anthropocentric worldview based on logical conclusions of ecological systems we have seen so far. The very fact that we’re discussing about terms themselves is anthropocentric, since as far as we know we’re the only ones with this sort of oral-visual form of communication. So once again I fail to see how the sun terms negatively impact an “ecocentric” worldview.

    • “it assumes the current form of English will still be in existence through both time and disasters. ”

      Its not so much the English but the terms. The meaning of the words often carries beyond the language and the new words that come with it. Like my example in previous comments of VD,STD,STI. The root meaning of what it is referencing is the same, the changes had tweaked the meaning to be more accurate. I’m suggesting tweaking to be more accurate.

      “…assuming that the idea that the sun literally rises and falls is an actual belief for most children under 13 (which, as an statistic without a source, makes me highly skeptical of the truth in it and makes me wary of the mental expectations placed on children)…”

      I do agree that most everyone who has been through secondary school understands that the earth revolves around the sun; and if asked how does the earth and sun move in relation to each other would answer correctly. Our society has been thoroughly well educated in this to the point that those who have yet to be formally educated have been exposed to it well enough. You can ask how day and night happen and most would answer accurately, but asking what is sunrise and set and then there is a sudden shift in world view for that particular event. That is the point I am trying to address.

      Go to anyone 13 years old and younger and ask what is the sunrise/sunset? Most would not have encountered the teaching of the movement of celestial bodies yet so their answers would likely be off. Anyone older than that is likely to have formal education in this. Ask them the same question. Have the answers changed? There will likely be very little difference in the responses when it should be otherwise following the education they’ve received. Here it is more “preaching to the choir” so it may be difficult to comprehend how this can be. In all seriousness, please ask a wide variety of people this basic question as a simple survey to see if my point has any merit and leave a response to your findings.

      Of course we see things from a human perspective and that won’t change. When things are excessively human centered is where the major problems lie in terms of our environment, and likely others. So the ecocentered approach as been encouraged to balance that out. We’ve been moving away from thinking of other animals as not worthy of consideration when impacting them, to a view of them being worthy of mutual respect. We are beginning to relate to other species in a way that doesn’t expect them to relate in a human way. Relationships become respectful of each way different species interact. Anthropocentric, is in other words, egocentric and probably should be used instead for better understanding.

      Growing up our world starts with ourselves, then those we directly relate to and our home we live in, then the neighbourhood, the town/region, the country, then the continent and world. At each stage of ‘our world’ that we know, we are in a deep connection with it. We are better able to engage and expand, in our knowledge and lifestyles when we have a better understanding of our place in the universe. Most everyone views themselves as a citizen of a nation. Currently there are more and more people who are viewing themselves more as a citizen of earth. I say the next stage is citizen of Sol – our solar system. Perhaps later even the Orion arm of the galaxy, then the Milkyway. Far out right? Perhaps too far? I bet going from a citizen of France to a citizen of Europe seemed a bit far fetched when first proposed too. Before that it was fiefdoms and prior to that villages. It wouldn’t surprise me to one day have a settlement on Mars, which would be the full flip to a Sol centered view I think. So it is less about negatively impacting an ecocentric view, and more about expanding it.

  7. I don’t quite agree still, but I can better see where you are coming from now.

    Regarding English, I was referencing how the language does change over time, in line with your STD/STI example (and the example with the term “gay”). I tend to be a big picture sort of person, so that’s probably why I don’t see a problem with the current terms, because they’ll likely be tweaked anyway in the future given how language terms and/or their definitions have changed relatively rapidly in the past.

    • That’s the thing. I know of some who are already looking for better words and decided to throw that out there and maybe have some fun with it. I like playing with words. Just for kicks, any ideas?

      • Nope. Anything I think of ultimately relates back to the sun’s visible position in the sky to our eyes. Even “day/night” does that, so I’m honestly quite stumped.

        • I don’t think it possible to completely remove the aspect of ground perspective, otherwise there would be no point what so ever. I see your point though. Regardless my curiosity persists, I would still love to hear them, there may even be a hidden gem. Either way, I appreciate that you’ve taken the time to think of them. :D

  8. Thoughts on Daybrink and Nightbrink?

    • ‘The day is brinking’ just doesn’t quite have the same turn of phrase to it.

      I think one of the issues with sunrise and sunset is that from a language point of view, they lend themselves well to prose and poetry. ‘Sun rising’ and ‘sun setting’ is more aesthetically appealing than ‘day turning’ (which doesn’t really apply, since the day is always turning, technically, and that could be applied at any point during a period of sunlight), or ‘day brinking.’

      That isn’t to say there aren’t hidden gems out there, they would just need to be extraordinarily competitive from a prose point of view. In poetry, the theme of sunset and sunrise has been addressed countless times and – in their brevity – are clear linguistic winners in terms of appreciability in the English language (though not necessarily accuracy).

      • That and how most people don’t like change, regardless of what it is. Some people have expressed more liking to some of these newer phrases than the old standby, so it may be a case of “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” type thing. So the argument of being able to lend themselves well to prose and poetry could be debated.

        I like your point on day turning. I don’t think the the Daybrink would be phrased to say Day Brinking though, like how some other common English phrases are. i.e. crashing versus collision, you wouldn’t say collisioning.

        I am open to other ideas and hope to see more.

  9. This is a very thought provoking question. I think this comes down to word choice on the individuals part. I like how the idea has spawned such lively conversation; a sign you might be on to something. I like dawn and dusk, but Daybrink and Nightbrink has a nice ring to it.

    • Hi Glen I was wondering when you’d join us :D

      I don’t mind if there is a consensus on which phrase to use. I just like to hear all the options out there that are accurate to our relationship with the sun. I like Avertosol/Revertosol, Dayturning/Nightturning, Daybrink/Nightbrink, Dawn/Dusk, and Daybreak (not too sure about “nightfall” though). But I am sure there are more out there and would love to hear them and see if any become popular.

      I’ve often received such responses when bringing this topic up – mixed in stance. So I figured it must be worth talking about.

      Thanks for your input :)

      • I apologize for my belated contribution.

        I am glad you did. I think it is important to evaluate our language and how we use it. It often ruffles a few feathers, or at least gets some eyebrows raised.

        I quite admire that you create new words I do the same thing. I like to call it my sacred neolexicon.

        This remind me of a rant I have about the whole clockwise and counter-clockwise issue in Wicca and modern witchcraft, which I have been meaning to write about.

        • I’m glad we share views on language. And I too have pondered a fair bit on the clockwise, counterclockwise topic and considered writing on it aswell. I would love to see what you have to say on it and discuss it further then. Perhaps we could even share our lexicons sometime :)

  10. Newcomer here. I find this quite interesting. Firstly, language is more than just a way to convey information. Metaphor is often more true and clear than fact. If I tell you my heart is broken that is clearer than if I go on about levels of chemicals in the brain and hormonal activity. Also, while you discuss anthropocentrism you are doing it in English. In Latin sunrise is solis ortus – the sun becomes visible. In Serbian it is izlazak sunca – the coming out of the sun. And most charmingly, in Irish Gaelic it is eiri greine – the becoming of the sun. I do agree that how we talk about things has a definite relationship with how we see the world. But I do not think that accuracy is necessarily the best yard stick. Have you read “Through the Language Glass” by Guy Deutscher? or heard this Radiolab episode that includes a portion on an Australian aboriginal language:http://www.radiolab.org/2011/jan/25/birds-eye-view/

    • I wouldn’t say metaphor is more true and clear than fact, but that metaphor can elaborate and draw out emotional associations. The problem with metaphors is that they often don’t translate well. Hence many good jokes going over the heads of those it is translated to. Simple short phrases can cover much more ground and be better understood across languages when translated. Metaphor also has the problem of misinterpretation over generations. Like understanding the subtle meanings that would be understood in myths during their origin. But over the many generations, even with the myths changing to suit the times, a lot of the original meanings are lost. Not to mention when things were interpreted as metaphor become interpreted as real by later generations. But, like in phrases, if the meaning hangs on, anyone from the outside of the cultural sphere is completely confused by it. i.e. “pot calling the kettle black.” which originated when it was normal for both these items to be black, but now it doesn’t make sense unless you’re in the cultural sphere that originated it.

      Yes, metaphors are fun and make for great story telling and emotional stimulation. But they also have their challenges that can make them more a hindrance than a solution depending on its use.

  11. This is why translation is an art and why one has to choose one’s translations carefully, particularly when it comes to poetry. Translation requires sensitivity to both tongues. Language is so useful for understanding another person. We reveal so much with the language that we use including what is important to us. For example, in the Piraha language (Amazon tribe) there are no fixed words for colors and the Navajo use the same word for blue and green. In Serbian there is only one word for either leg or foot. What do these choices say about what is crucial information and how much precision is required in a particular facet of life? I do understand your desire for technical accuracy but I think a good deal would be lost if we all used the exact same words for everything.

    • “I think a good deal would be lost if we all used the exact same words for everything.”

      no doubt, I don’t intend on suggesting the exact same words. Just accuracy to what the words mean, even if there are several different words for it. If accuracy wasn’t important, then I don’t think we would have as many words as we do. Let alone the technology, science and medical advancement we currently take advantage of. There is a reason why science tends toward specific names for things, so it can be better understood and less confusion through language – hence the scientific language. It brings practices and people together in ways that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. All I’m saying is that this phenomenon can become described in such a way as well. Not that you have too, just that it can and can be beneficial.

  12. Colours come to mind here. I think about the fact that what humans call ‘red’ may not actually appear as red to other animals, and that red is a very subjective word and that scientifically it is far more accurate to simply say 635 nanometres. (Actually it’s probably most accurate to say ‘approximately 635 nanometres.’)

    Scientifically, it would be far more accurate to simply say ‘the earth is rotating underneath the sun, which creates the states of day and night,’ but it lacks a certain appeal. The reason we don’t talk in scientific terms a great deal of the time is not because we are uneducated (in public schools, for example, the rotation of the planets is often covered in early primary school in Australia), but because we are artistic creatures, drawn to aesthetically appealing words that express a commonly held idea.

    In this case, the commonly held idea in contemporary society regarding sunrise – for example – is, I hazard, something along the lines of this: ‘I am viewing a sunrise, it is the illusion of the sun rising above the horizon as the earth turns and specific to me on this point that I currently occupy.’ About the only people who I think would not share in this collective appreciation of the term, are those who are seriously under-educated, folks with certain cognitive disabilities, and perhaps a few children who will learn about earth rotation just as they may learn about colour spectrum nanometres in highschool physics.

    Now that’s not to say that words shouldn’t be explored, evolved, appreciated, changed. I love that words grow and shift, in fact that’s exactly what I love about the words sunrise and sunset which is that as a dual group of words, they no longer mean the ignorance they once used to, and speak to a profound evolution, even if the letters themselves have stayed the same. Humans do like brevity in language, anything that replaces sunrise and sunset would have to be linguistically acceptable (i.e. pleasing to the ear), and short. Whether it’s an appealing acronym or an invented word.

    Scientific language can be immensely disappointing, and I say that as someone who loves it. I don’t know many people who gaze up in awe at a rainbow and then say ‘oh wow, look at that colour spectrum that represents the visible nanometres to the human eye.’ Most people just say ‘look at that rainbow.’ Scientific language can be – in certain circumstances – clunky. Not only that, but sometimes scientific language can be harder to understand. I find it second nature to talk in taxonomic names when referring to plants and animals, but most people simply prefer ‘dog’ and ‘cat’ or ‘Australian magpie.’ And that’s fine too. We share the same idea. I know that a Gymnorhina tibicens is the same as an Australian magpie. But more people will understand ‘Australian magpie’ even though – actually – the Australian magpie is not *technically* a magpie.

    So the balance must be struck between scientific accuracy and the appreciation of the arts and creativity that drives many humans to experiment with words in the first place.

    In the meantime, I hope you’re able to find a term, or terms, that work for yourself and others. I’m sure they’re out there.

    • Thanks for your comment Ravenari and I agree much with it. I’m the same way when it comes to using the scientific names for things, especially when it come to things like your example of the magpie that’s not technically a magpie. One example is saying Typha, instead of Cattail. Which is shorter to say as well and transfers across the globe in understanding its meaning. Wildlife Technician work often comes across the trouble of surveying folks and encountering conflicts of common names where one region calls it one thing and another region calls it by another name. Which can be a headache at times.

      I agree that a short concise name that has strong associations with the imagery would work best. I look forward to seeing what may crop up with those enthusiastic about this kind of approach. Right now it is a fun mixed bag of ideas that are interchangeable and may remain so – which is quite enjoyable in its self.

      Hope you are enjoying this transition period into the equinox!

  13. The Earth is revolving around the Sun and the Sun is revolving around the Earth. The principle of relativity demonstrates that both of these statements may be true, depending on your point of view. Describing the Earth as revolving around the Sun isn’t “correct” or “accurate”; it’s just the most parsimonious explanation which also takes into account the movement of the other spheres. But, since most of us live on earth, not in outer space, and most of us don’t track the other planets, then speaking of the Sun as revolving around the Earth is the explanation which is more consistent with our experience. I don’t see any reason, in everyday parlance, we should privilege the mathematically-parsimonious account over the more phenomenological account.

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Continuing the Discussion

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