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What's in a Name? A Linguistic Proposition

April 24, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 161

According to Shakespeare, a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet. What's in a name, right? Wrong! As academics, lost people, and general lay persons across the world will tell you, everything's in the name! Kensington Gardens is not the same as Kensington Avenue, strawberry tart isn't as many calories as strawberry cheesecake, and car oil is not the stuff you want to be frying your chips in! The name -- or rather having the correct variation of it -- is actually rather important indeed.

So why does the world persist in calling so many different things by the same, miserable, worn out names. Perhaps we're running out of words to call things in the world. Surely not?!

Perhaps we need to invent a new, mathematically based language. Or rather not a new language; a way to amend our language with some much needed mathematical precision. Perth in Scotland and Perth, Australia. Now, which Perth do you mean? Why, Perth2 of course! Nobody visits Perth1 at this time of year. Yes, alright I admit it. Bad idea. This level of unattractive precision is perhaps a step too far. Common sense gone mad on itself, and turning us mad in the process.

But then maybe this is the problem! Common sense has led to the issue of so many nouns sharing the same name. And usually, it isn't really all that confusing. Car oil and cooking oil are both genuinely types of oil after all, and they join scores of others. Rarely when we ask for a pear in the fruit store does the sales assistant ponder, confusedly: of what? Addresses are more of a problem, but with the introduction of sat navs at least all we need to do is remember the postcode.

Many instances of shared names relate to objects or places of an entirely separate description. Take sun tunnels. What is a sun tunnel? A tunnel burrowing through the sun? Sadly not. There are no such things as sun squirrels, storing away sun nuts for the cold winter. Sun tunnels are either a distinctive type of roof window, or Sun Tunnels is a major work of public sculpture, by American artist Nancy Holt, located in the Great Basin Desert. The work consists of four large concrete tunnels, each of which reacts differently to the sun. The Sun Tunnels question the viewer's sense of space, as seen from different aspects, and also provide a space for shelter from the effects of the sweltering sun itself.

More commonly of course, it is the roof window or skylight that is meant by the term sun tunnel. This type of sun tunnel are also of a cylindrical, tunnel like shape, and are meant as a flat roof solution to allow sunlight to enter into a home - through the clear window fitted at the roof, and subsequently through the tunnel itself, to the other end.

So there you are. That's what's in a name! Not much I'm afraid. Barring the adoption of the tentatively advised approach of a mathematical upheaval of the English language, should you ask for sun tunnels for your birthday, you've still got no way of knowing whether you'll get an innovative roof lighting solution, or a plane ticket to the Great Basin dessert to visit some concrete art.

Source: EzineArticles
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