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Why be cyrptic about chemisty?

Use this forum to discuss the philosophy of science. Philosophy of science deals with the assumptions, foundations, and implications of science.
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Alun
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Post by Alun » October 18th, 2009, 6:49 pm

hallam, I really don't think elitism is the reason for scientific language; it is complicated only because it needs to be in order to communicate everything.

wanabe, I am a chemist of some kind, yes. I don't really want to get too specific on a public forum with strangers though, sorry. Inorganic molecules can sortof be represented by pictures like that; I mean, wikipedia has this picture of carbonate:
Image
Whereas simplifying that would just take out the big "C." Most inorganics also form crystal structures as solids, and we use them in their solid form a lot, so it's usually helpful to have a more 3-dimensional picture. E.g. sodium carbonate has a crystal structure made of sheets like this:
Image
Where you can see that every other carbonate has a sodium (purple sphere) above it--and the ones that don't have one below.

And obviously trying to capture all of this in a name is very difficult, but the crystal structure above is determined by the charge of carbonate (and the size of carbon/oxygen vs. sodium) so that is another reason to have the carbonate name so strongly emphasize charge.

Edit: Clarity.
Last edited by Alun on October 19th, 2009, 10:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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hallam
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Post by hallam » October 19th, 2009, 10:04 pm

I wouldn't call it elitism only but maybe more job security especially for the more academic/basic research chemistry jobs. I would say that there is at least an element of elitism which contributes to language creation within a certain vain of every scientific field.

But then also my argument was for a consistency across spoken languages too.

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Post by tmv » October 20th, 2009, 9:26 pm

I don't know if this has been answered but I think its pretty much because the C2H3O2 tells you what the molecule is made of but it does not tell you the arrangement and that's why there are different names that you can only learn from memorization.

There's still patterns to even those names though

The difference between Chlorate and Chlorite is Chlorite has one less Oxygen, and Hpyochlorite has one lass than that. So there are still easy to see patterns.

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wanabe
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Post by wanabe » October 21st, 2009, 7:12 pm

CO_3^2 = carbonate...correct? (yes)

If that is the case(which it is) why can't we write:

(Carbon_1 Oxygen_3)^2+ that does = CO_3^2+ and that does =carbonate

Except carbonate is the only one, where one has to learn hybrid English-chemistry. Its pretty much chemist slang that they force people to use. The proper way to write CO_3^2+ is CO_3^2+....otherwise the name (the name is only descriptive if you know CO_3^2+_(s)=carbonate) its not all that descriptive.

So basically it boils down to shortening up: common compounds or big ones, by using a few "rules"; with tons of exceptions.

Its elitist out of practical necessity.
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hallam
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Post by hallam » October 21st, 2009, 7:35 pm

wanabe wrote:
Its elitist out of practical necessity.
But it is not practical to those who do not speak English. Take Japanese, you will never see carbonate in their language. First because they don't have the letter c at all. they use k for everything. The first r wouldn't be alone also. It would most likely be followed by an a since all consonants are tied to vowels accept for a couple of special cases. So you would have a romanization that looks like karabonate. That is significantly different. It would sound differently too; something like kara-bon-a-te Further, the Japanese wouldn't use romanization. They would just use katakana because that is the written characters for foreign words. Most people can't read katakana.

However, CO_3^2 can be read by everyone.

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Post by Alun » October 21st, 2009, 8:00 pm

wanabe wrote:Except carbonate is the only one, where one has to learn hybrid English-chemistry.
What about phosphate, sulfate, etc.?
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Post by wanabe » October 22nd, 2009, 10:42 pm

That style of writing(carbonate) was being the example for all of them(your etc.).
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~
hallam, you have a point. Japanese have to learn the western words to communicate in what originally developed as a western language (chemistry).

However, It like saying its unfair that the people who formalized chemistry spoke English (which it is, but that doesn't change the way things are, and life isn't fair).

To write CO2 there is still a C being written that the Japanese wouldn't know. So no method is fair fro any language that doesn't use the a-z alphabet in some form.
~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~
It seems unnecessary to teach slang(ex: carbonate) and proper grammar(CO_3^2-) at the same time, to one who is just leaning the language of chemistry. It would be much more effective to teach all "formal grammar", master it, and then learn "slang".

Doesn't change my situation though, because thats how its done for now; and eliminating slang would be near impossible.
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Post by hallam » October 23rd, 2009, 7:17 am

wanabe wrote: hallam, you have a point. Japanese have to learn the western words to communicate in what originally developed as a western language (chemistry).

However, It like saying its unfair that the people who formalized chemistry spoke English (which it is, but that doesn't change the way things are, and life isn't fair).

To write CO2 there is still a C being written that the Japanese wouldn't know. So no method is fair fro any language that doesn't use the a-z alphabet in some form.
Are you going to make the Japanese do this? Are you going to make the Chinese? No you are not. Further, chemistry was not born in Western world (but this shouldn't be debated here) and it certainly isn't contained by the Western world now. Look at any one of the STEM programs and you will see more and more Chinese and Indian researchers (and not necessarily Americans either). They further the science now just as much as the West.

Chemistry is going to stick with the Chemistry language they have now because all chemists speaks that language now. The shortenings are for layman. They serve a purpose to those who are not chemists. Biology has this too with the biological names and common names. There is no real need for your suggestion for only using shortening or for all chemists to revert back to and learn one language which didn't even found chemistry. They have one language and it is in symbols.

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wanabe
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Post by wanabe » October 23rd, 2009, 4:41 pm

Hllam,
Non-western speaking languages have adapted to using western symbols for chemistry.(obviously not contained in the west, nor is the west most apt in the practice of chemistry)

Chemistry was formalized in the west, not born in the west, I know.

There is one official language for chemistry (symbols), but there are also others that are used as well(English nomenclature).
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hallam
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Post by hallam » October 23rd, 2009, 7:25 pm

wanabe wrote:Hllam,
Non-western speaking languages have adapted to using western symbols for chemistry.(obviously not contained in the west, nor is the west most apt in the practice of chemistry)

Chemistry was formalized in the west, not born in the west, I know.

There is one official language for chemistry (symbols), but there are also others that are used as well(English nomenclature).
They relate findings in symbols yes but they are not changing there common language to afford your desire for everyone to use English.

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wanabe
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Post by wanabe » October 23rd, 2009, 8:12 pm

:roll: ok they would obviously say the element name in there native toung.

I didn't want everyone to speak English ever, and now i see the reasoning behind having names for chemical formulas/compounds.

Ultimately though if anyone is using (accepted) chemical symbols; then they are using English (western symbols, even if they are modified).
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hallam
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Post by hallam » October 23rd, 2009, 8:57 pm

wanabe wrote::roll: ok they would obviously say the element name in there native toung.

I didn't want everyone to speak English ever, and now i see the reasoning behind having names for chemical formulas/compounds.

Ultimately though if anyone is using (accepted) chemical symbols; then they are using English (western symbols, even if they are modified).
The premise of this thread was for everyone to stop using the symbols and just go with the common names. If they are going to just say these names in their common language then it is not a common chemistry language.

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Post by wanabe » October 24th, 2009, 5:58 pm

You misunderstood the premise. It wasn't just an assertion, it was a question also... Yea I'm done talking to you.
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hallam
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Post by hallam » October 24th, 2009, 7:42 pm

wanabe wrote:You misunderstood the premise. It wasn't just an assertion, it was a question also... Yea I'm done talking to you.
You can walk away all you want but that wont change the fact that you said
It seems like a lot of time and energy could be saved by simply calling the elements by their names and adding respective scripts when "translating" chemistry to English.
This premise is the make everyone use the common names which wouldn't work for all languages as my example showed.

Then you said this comment
Japanese have to learn the western words to communicate in what originally developed as a western language (chemistry).
As if the Western world is going to force these countries to change there languages so that you can use the common words in English words too for your own laziness.

I got your premise. It just will never happen. It was also selfish and lazy. I am sorry that I don't cao cao to ideas that only enforce old outdated stereotypes.

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Post by wanabe » October 25th, 2009, 5:22 pm

The premise is to allow people to learn one way of leaning to speak chemistry. Before adding a bunch of jive with nomenclature names in a respective language.

the Japanese as a matter of fact use the same chemical symbols as us (the old stereotypical westerners) http://www.jergym.hiedu.cz/~canovm/vyhl ... japan.html ...They had to! learn some English.

I'm sorry you get lost in political correctness before you see the real point.
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