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Re: cases

From:Yoon Ha Lee <yl112@...>
Date:Tuesday, September 12, 2000, 12:12
On Mon, 11 Sep 2000, Marcus Smith wrote:

> Tom Wier wrote: > > >> I agree, but I didn't invent the terminology! :-) That's the > >> terminology I've seen in every description of Romanian I've read. > > > >Well, then. A thoughtful linguist would change it. > > And divorce himself from the previous literature. I don't think so. Rarely > happens, even with the more rediculous names, such as the "classifiers" in > Navajo which don't classify anything, unergative verbs that have nothing to do > with ergativity - the list is long. Consistent nomenclature is important for > communication. IMHO changes should only be made when the current terminology > leads to confusion. An inappropriate label for a case is not such a > situation. It is, after all, only a label, and nothing important hangs on it.
Sort of like physics. :-) My physics teacher said once that he had contemplated changing around all the notation and numbers and who knows what that go with electrons being marked as negative even though its their presence that gives negative charge, or something like that. And some wag in honors mechanics (college) asked if they could write down pi as the answer to every question on a prelim and get credit. The prof said, "Sure--if you redefine *every* physics constant and unit in appropriate terms such that pi comes out as an answer, for each question." The wag gave up. I guess there's a certain amount of inertia involved in terminology. YHL