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RoadRunner
2008-Jul-31, 12:07 PM
Hi.
I'd like to clarify something because I don't like to be propagating bad science and bad astronomy.
One thing which niggles me is how respected scientists talk about the possibility of finding other inhabited Solar systems.
The way I understand it, this is an impossibility because there is only ONE Solar System. After all, no other sun is called Sol, right ?

We won't find Lunar rocks on Phobos, now will we ?

Am I correct in my assertion that "Solar" is specific to our sun only and that the correct term to use in reference to other suns is "stellar" ?
Thus, many stellar systems, only one Solar system.
Right or wrong ?

Thanks.

Paul..
The RoadRunner..

RegisteredUsername
2008-Jul-31, 12:12 PM
In my understanding, finding other Solar Systems meant finding another planetary system similar to our own.

Neverfly
2008-Jul-31, 12:21 PM
Hi.
I'd like to clarify something because I don't like to be propagating bad science and bad astronomy.
One thing which niggles me is how respected scientists talk about the possibility of finding other inhabited Solar systems.
The way I understand it, this is an impossibility because there is only ONE Solar System. After all, no other sun is called Sol, right ?

We won't find Lunar rocks on Phobos, now will we ?

Am I correct in my assertion that "Solar" is specific to our sun only and that the correct term to use in reference to other suns is "stellar" ?
Thus, many stellar systems, only one Solar system.
Right or wrong ?

Thanks.

Paul..
The RoadRunner..
There's another thread that asks about how our moon is Moon yet we call other planets satellites moons too.
Our moons NAME is Moon.
Well, it's because of the same thing that's happening with the name "Solar System."

But to me, something referred to as "Solar" refers to the Sun. Other stars are suns like ours, just as other planets moons are moons like ours.
The definition of the name seems to have expanded to include all others like- same as all humans are Human.
I don't see a problem with referring to other planetary systems as "Solar Systems"- that's just language evolution.

RoadRunner
2008-Jul-31, 12:42 PM
There's another thread that asks about how our moon is Moon yet we call other planets satellites moons too.
Our moons NAME is Moon.

Really ? I thought our moon's name was Luna and that "moon" was the generic term for the natural satellites of planets.

Even the Wiki talks about our own star system as the Solar system and gives no indication that the term would refer to any other system. However, it doesn't specifically state that it does not.


The definition of the name seems to have expanded to include all others like- same as all humans are Human.

:confused:



I don't see a problem with referring to other planetary systems as "Solar Systems"- that's just language evolution.

In my opinion, it's the imprecise use of language which leads to poor understanding. Such as "dark-side of the moon" when someone really means the "far-side". We could simply excuse that term and say it's just the evolution of language, couldn't we ? But... that's just bad astronomy, isn't it ?

Paul..
The RoadRunner..

GOURDHEAD
2008-Jul-31, 12:54 PM
But... that's just bad astronomy, isn't it ?More like imprecise semantics.

Jeff Root
2008-Jul-31, 01:13 PM
I agree with Neverfly.

The "name" of the Moon in English is "The Moon". It has been called that
in English since before it was known that other moons exist. The "name"
of the Moon in Latin is "Luna". It has been called that in Latin for an even
longer time. Other languages which are derived from Latin, including Italian,
French, and Spanish, have "names" for the Moon similar to "Luna".

Similarly, the Sun has been called "Sol" in Latin since long before it was
realized that the stars are distant suns.

Calling other solar systems "solar systems" is no more imprecise than calling
any big city "the city". It is a generic term.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

eburacum45
2008-Jul-31, 01:40 PM
A better term than solar system is planetary system
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planetary_system
this is more generic than solar system, and is also better than 'star system' which can refer to a systems with stars in it but no planets.

01101001
2008-Jul-31, 03:16 PM
Hi, Road. Welcome to BAUT Forum. You might want to catch up on some recent topics that concern language. These sorts of things get discussed often, it seems.


Really ? I thought our moon's name was Luna and that "moon" was the generic term for the natural satellites of planets.

Yeah, Luna -- in Italian, maybe others. But, not English.

See topic Does Our Moon Have A Real Name? (http://www.bautforum.com/questions-answers/76353-does-our-moon-have-real-name.html) (2008 July 7).

There, find Cornell University: Ask an Astronomer: What are the names of the earth, moon, sun, and solar system? (http://curious.astro.cornell.edu/question.php?number=289)


The name of our planet is the Earth. The name of our moon is the Moon. The name of our solar system is the Solar System.


In my opinion, it's the imprecise use of language which leads to poor understanding. Such as "dark-side of the moon" when someone really means the "far-side".

Been there. Thanks. I'll keep using the poetic phrase that employs a non-lighting meaning of "dark": secret, hidden -- one used also in such common phrases as "kept in the dark", "dark horse", "dark secret", "dark matter", and "dark energy".

See topic Does darkside of the moon ever reciece sunlight? (http://www.bautforum.com/questions-answers/76802-does-darkside-moon-ever-reciece-sunlight.html) (2008 July 17).

Neverfly
2008-Jul-31, 09:12 PM
In my opinion, it's the imprecise use of language which leads to poor understanding. Such as "dark-side of the moon" when someone really means the "far-side". We could simply excuse that term and say it's just the evolution of language, couldn't we ? But... that's just bad astronomy, isn't it ?

Paul..
The RoadRunner..

I agree with you here;)
Although Solar System as an example may be an argument in semantics, there are an Awful Lot of terms like "Dark Side of the Moon" and "Big Bang" Theory that mislead.

Not just that, but sentences that describe things, like if a scientist says, "Evolution has determined that..."
It makes it sound like Intelligence is involved and that evolution is just another belief system.
It may just be semantics at times, but it's important to point them out all the same.

Van Rijn
2008-Jul-31, 09:36 PM
I don't see a problem with referring to other planetary systems as "Solar Systems"- that's just language evolution.

Language evolution is exactly what it is. Until recently, it wasn't even an issue. Oh, we assumed there were other systems with worlds, but it's only fairly recently that we had direct evidence of that.

We're having to think about the definitions of lots of words - what should be the definition of "planet," "solar system" or "moon"? I think that it's amazing and wonderful that we live in a time where we have to ask these questions.

RoadRunner
2008-Jul-31, 11:01 PM
Thanks to those who have taken the time to answer and for the links to areas where similar topics have been discussed.
I'm not entirely convinced of the validity of referring to other star systems (with or without planets) as "solar", but......

Here's my take on the answers and explanations I've read so far.
Much of this is purely my interpretation or opinion based in my understanding of the facts.

Our galaxy isn't really called "The Milky Way". The term refers to an observable phenomenon in our night sky which just happens to be caused by our viewpoint. It's much like pointing to my arm, calling it an arm then suggesting that all of me is called "Arm". Nah... That analogy is pants. It doesn't quite say what I'm trying to illustrate. It's maybe a little like pointing at a mirror and teaching your child that it's called "a mirror" and the child then points to herself and calls herself "a mirror". Still can't quite manage it... The light at the end of the tunnel... But when you get there, that light is the next town.... Gah... My brain hurts !

Proper nouns aren't generally preceded by "the" (although I do acknowledge that there are a few cases of "the" appearing within a proper noun, such as names of pubs - The Dirty Duck, The Horse and Hounds etc and within descriptive nouns such as The Empire State Building).
Thus, our planet is called "Earth" and others include "Mars", "Saturn", "Uranus", "Jupiter" etc.
Do we talk of sending probes to the Mars ? Or the Saturn ? No, we don't.
Do we look into the sky and say "Moon is rising." ? No, we say "The moon is rising".
But, given that I could equally use such sentences as "The Dirty Duck is closed", I guess I'm not proving much, am I? I guess I'm really only poking about with semantics but my interpretation of the word "moon" has always been in the context of "natural satellite".
We talk about "the Moon" and "the Galaxy" in the same way as we'd refer to the "most immediate generic".
Q: "Where is your car ?"
A: "I parked it on the road instead of the driveway."
The implication would normally be that the car is parked right outside.
In the case of some ambiguity, someone might then ask, "Which road ?"
The answer might be something like...
A: "Right outside on Albert Street next to the newsagent."
Again, acknowledging that the town contains a number of newsagents but those conversing know that the driver is referring to the shop across the road rather than any other.

To 01101001, your explanation for "dark-side" equating to "hidden side" is interesting and I'd be inclined to accept your use of "dark" as defined , however, I don't accept fully some of the examples you gave.
In the phrase "dark secret" the term "dark" usually refers to the unpleasantness of the secret, that it has aspects of which one would not normally be proud. It's not a secret secret, is it ? I might accept that it's a hidden secret... just. Can you think of an example where someone might talk of a "dark secret" which doesn't have such connotations? At the moment, I cannot.
Things which would normally be considered joyous surprises "He's getting married" or "his wife's pregnant" wouldn't generally be referred to as a dark secret except in playful sarcasm...
Joe: "Ohhh... Have you heard Tim's dark little secret ?"
Bill: "No, what's that Tim ?"
Tim: "I'm going to be a daddy..."

Agree or disagree ? Can you provide an example of a dark secret which fits this kind of scenario ? Whereby the secret is not really something to cause shame or embarrassment ?

"He's a dark horse."
Does that mean he's a hidden horse ? Or a secret horse ?
Not really. It's a metaphor, one of those daft sayings we have.
In Chinese someone might talk of someone else wearing a green hat, but it has nothing at all to do with the colour of their headwear or that he has any interest in horticulture or ecology.

"Dark Matter".
Well, my understanding of that term has always been that it is "dark" because, unlike just about everything else in the Universe it's mass for which we cannot account by observation. One might suggest that the term means hidden and I might agree until I consider that (almost) everything in the Universe that we have really been able to account for so far has either radiated energy or reflected energy thus it is illuminated to our eyes and instruments. Now, calculations are showing that there is probably a lot more mass than we have so far been able to detect.
It's neither emitting nor reflecting energy and thus is dark.
Astronomy has been a cursory interest for me, kind of like background music in my life. Occasionally, I'll turn the radio up and enjoy the experience and often, I'll turn it back down and get on with other things.
I'm no expert at all. Hence my coming here to ensure that I have some facts straight. So my interpretation of the concept of dark matter and why it is so named could be a complete misunderstanding.

"Kept in the dark." I would have said was just another metaphor but I would certainly accept that there is a correlation here because if one is in the dark, one cannot see. What one cannot see is hidden.
(One's not kept in the secret or kept in the hidden, true ?)

"Dark Energy".
Said in a mock-Spanish accent..... "I know nuuuuuuuthing."
If someone pressed me for an answer about this, I'd guess that it is so defined because like dark matter, we cannot account for it by observation, but we extrapolate its presence from calculations. Just a guess though.
I'd guess at the etymology of the term as being coined after the term dark matter.
Am I wrong on this ?

I'm not sure I completely agree with Jeff Root.
We don't call any other arbitrary city, "New York" and any city which we might refer to as "The City" usually has its own name. Again, this is a use of "the most immediate generic" and is akin to my perception of our use of "the Moon" or "the Sun", in that they all do have their own names.
A New Yorker only ever comes from New York, not any other city.
Lunar rocks only come from Earth's moon and by my understanding, solar flares only come from our sun, Sol, any other star would have stellar flares.
Hmmm.... Would solar panels work in any other star-system ???? :lol:
Perhaps that would partly depend upon the colour temperature and intensity of the light.

However, you raise a very important point, Jeff. One that I'd not considered previously.
The English term is "the moon" and was in use before any knowledge of other moons (I trust this to be true without spending a long time trying to determine the accuracy of the claim).
Generic terms aren't created as generic terms when there is only knowledge of a single instance. Thus, the term "moon" is highly unlikely to have been generic originally.

I'd kind of agree with "Planetary System" but then I went to look at Wiki and found this:


"Solar systems" redirects here. For the planetary system of the Sun, see Solar System. For the solar power company, see Solar Systems (company).

A planetary system consists of the various non-stellar objects orbiting a star such as planets, moons, asteroids, meteoroids, comets, and cosmic dust.
The Sun together with its planetary system, which includes Earth, is known as the Solar System.

:(
The first thing which hit me was the use of the term "the Sun".
The Dirty Duck or the most immediate generic ?
I think there must be a name for proper nouns which contain "the". Hmmmmm.. We talk about "The Queen" or "The King", don't we ?
Unless we know which country we're in (or discussing) we need to guess which particular monarch might be under discussion.

The next thing which struck me was that the Wiki (Cough Cough !!) defines planetary system as all of the NON-STELLAR material. It doesn't include the star or stars. I must admit, I wouldn't have given that definition if asked. I'd have considered it to be a star system with planets, including the star(s).
Most interesting.

Given that the English language doesn't have a regulatory body to ensure standardisation as many countries do (although there are often standard accepted references, eg The Oxford English Dictionary) and that if I started to call a spade a "digging-frog" and it found its way into popular use, it may eventually become accepted as standard English, I guess that using such terms as "solar system" as a generic isn't exactly breaking any rules in everyday speech.
When we consider the technical and scientific uses of the terms, I figure that the standardisation is set by such organisations as the IAU.
I went to have a look on their website to see how they define the term and whether or not they define "solar" as equivalent to "stellar" but I couldn't find anything which looked as if it might point me in the right direction and I don't have a membership.

Again, I thank you all for taking the time to help me out and reading my ramblings.


I think that it's amazing and wonderful that we live in a time where we have to ask these questions.
I couldn't have said it better myself !

I guess that for the moment, even though I'm pedantic enough to avoid using "solar" in the generic fashion, I'll refrain from bashing those who aren't.

The Paul..
RoadRunner..
:whistle:

01101001
2008-Jul-31, 11:51 PM
Does that mean he's a hidden horse ?

Yes. A dark horse isn't a black horse. A dark horse isn't a poorly illuminated one. It isn't just an idiom. It's a specific, common usage of one meaning of the word "dark" applied to a race horse.

For instance, Wiktionary (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/dark_horse):


Etymology Originally an allusion to an unknown horse winning a race

Unknown. Like: of hidden reputation. Secret. Like: the dark side of the Moon.

If you don't appreciate fun pedagogic examples, will a simple definition do?

Excerpt from Merriam-Webster online :: dark (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dark):


4 a: not clear to the understanding b: not known or explored because of remoteness <the darkest reaches of the continent>
[...]
6: secret <kept his plans dark>

RoadRunner
2008-Aug-01, 12:54 AM
Yes. A dark horse isn't a black horse. A dark horse isn't a poorly illuminated one.

:D



It isn't just an idiom. It's a specific, common usage of one meaning of the word "dark" applied to a race horse.

Well, you showed me something I didn't know. I stand corrected and accept your example.



If you don't appreciate fun pedagogic examples, will a simple definition do?

I didn't reject your usage given your definition of "dark" as "hidden" and I hoped I'd made that clear in my previous post. I was just uncomfortable with some of your examples. I accept your correction of my ignorance regarding the dark horse, however.

My thanks.

Paul..
The RoadRunner..

Van Rijn
2008-Aug-01, 01:08 AM
As I mentioned in the other thread, if I say "dark side" when referring to the moon, I'm talking about the side that is in lunar night. I will never refer to the far side as the "dark side." That's just a great way to promote confusion. (Actually, I don't use the term at all, except in discussions like this.)

RoadRunner
2008-Aug-01, 02:46 AM
As I mentioned in the other thread, if I say "dark side" when referring to the moon, I'm talking about the side that is in lunar night. I will never refer to the far side as the "dark side." That's just a great way to promote confusion. (Actually, I don't use the term at all, except in discussions like this.)

Yes, that would promote confusion wouldn't it ?
I think that I'm more likely to use "night-side" when referring to the side which is not illuminated. Given the time to apply some forethought to what I am trying to say, I seek to use terms and constructions which reduce the potential for ambiguity or false impressions.

I'm a firm believer that with the correct language, the right information can be passed.
One day, a friend and his wife were supposed to be coming over to visit me and another friend. My friend's wife had been ill and it was uncertain as to whether or not she would visit and I had been reminded to ask him if she was coming along too.
When he telephoned to let us know that he was on his way, at the end of the conversation I hung up without asking whether or not he was bringing his wife too.
My flatmate frowned at me and said, "You forgot to ask !"
"Oh, so I did. It's okay though, he's coming on his own."
"Eh ? How do you know ?"
I replied, "Because he said, I am about to leave, not we are about to leave."
I knew and understood my friend's pedantry well enough to be quite sure that he was arriving alone.

Oh... I laughed out loud at your disclaimer, by the way.


Paul..
The RoadRunner..

Hornblower
2008-Aug-01, 11:52 AM
This appears to be much ado about semantic oddities that do not necessarily amount to bad science.

Astronomy is loaded with questionable choices of words. Astronomers still refer to B stars and M stars as "early" and "late" respectively. M stars commonly are called red, even though they are more of a pastel orange. All elements above helium are called metals.

If we are immersed in the field of astronomy we know the lingo and there is no confusion. When introducing it to novices it behooves us to explain these oddities to prevent such confusion.

mugaliens
2008-Aug-01, 07:05 PM
In Chinese someone might talk of someone else wearing a green hat, but it has nothing at all to do with the colour of their headwear or that he has any interest in horticulture or ecology.

The Paul..
RoadRunner..
:whistle:

If that's a metaphor referring to the content, or perhaps the biological nature of one's brains, my green hat is off to the Chinese for their cunning.

RoadRunner
2008-Aug-02, 03:49 AM
If that's a metaphor referring to the content, or perhaps the biological nature of one's brains, my green hat is off to the Chinese for their cunning.

I'm not so sure that it is. If I remember my wife's description accurately, it suggests that the guy doesn't know that his wife is being unfaithful.
In which case, being devoid of green headgear sounds like a desirable situation. ;)

Paul..
The RoadRunner..

Jeff Root
2008-Aug-02, 03:00 PM
I have no problem with a definite article (the word "the") before proper
nouns, as appropriate, such as "the Earth", "the Sun", and "the Moon".

For generic nouns, I expect that you don't have a problem, either.
In my household we had two scissors, which we referred to as "the
big scissors" and "the little scissors". So I would ask, "Do you know
where the big scissors is?" I never asked, "Do you know where big
scissors is?" If one is lost in White Plains, one can ask, "Which way
to the city?" and get directions to New York City. I might turn the
radio on, but I dont "turn radio on".

For examples of proper nouns, I have been through the Minneapolis
Institute of Arts, to the top of the Empire State Building, under the
Brooklyn Bridge, crossed the Continental Divide in the Rockies, flew
over the Grand Canyon, got my feet wet in the Pacific Ocean, saw
the Milky Way with my naked eyes, and saw the Sombrero Galaxy
through a 16" telescope.

On the other hand, I have visited Kennedy Space Center on Cape
Canaveral in Florida, staying in Orlando, crossed Lake Michigan on a
ferryboat, seen Old Faithful geyser erupt in Yellowstone National Park,
and am sitting at home now in Minneapolis.

So some proper nouns take a definite article, and some dont, and
there is no obvious pattern as to when an article is needed. Similar
to how, in French, some nouns take a masculine article and some
take a feminine article.

It's all in how the terms developed, historically.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

JohnD
2008-Aug-02, 08:08 PM
When you consider the number of places named after towns 'back home', I'm sure that there will be Londons and New Yorks on extraterrestrial planets one day, and Mumbais and Beijings. So why not another Solar System?

Though of course the new one should be named New New York.

John

RoadRunner
2008-Aug-02, 08:24 PM
All kinds of tasty bait to a pedant with an interest in language including...
"Do you know where the big scissors is?"
... which sure ain't a common construction round these parts ;)

I'm not so sure I want to be pulling this too far off topic here but I would like to continue to discuss it with you. I'd continue here with a moderator's permission or elsewhere (preferably in public so that other interested parties may also continue) if that suits.



It's all in how the terms developed, historically.

I think I'm in agreement with you there, it's all in the etymology and governed by whatever standards are necessary to achieve the objective and such standards may be maintained by regulatory bodies when applicable.

Is there any disagreement that in this particular issue, the naming of celestial objects and phenomenon, the internationally recognised regulatory organisation is the IAU ?

On a purely etymological basis, your explanation of the term "moon", in all probability preceding the knowledge of further moons, would suggest that its use as a generic would have been a development. Such developments often set the precedents on which other cases may be evaluated.

Nouns which are preceded by "the" (including descriptive nouns such as "The Empire State Building") readily lend themselves to becoming generic.
One might talk of The Empire State Buildings (if they'd have built two).
Yet, we are unlikely to talk of such concepts as the Jupiters except in quite unusual, wildly hypothetical or ficticious circumstances.

We have our Sun. Other stars are also suns.
Likewise with our Moon... Only, of course, they're not suns... They're moons. :D
We have our Solar system and I'm trying to establish the official position on the use of the term in the generic sense as well as a few others.
For example, many would tell us that we live on the Earth and by some quirk of serendipity, if such language is officially acceptable it lends itself to the possibility of discussing quite naturally, the concept of other earths. The term implying maybe, that it is a planet which does or could support the kinds of organisms which currently exist on our own planet.

For me though, there is only one (just now) - our own, amazing Mother Earth and my quest is to determine the official position on the use of terms which I think might be questionable, or at least interesting to investigate from the point of view of a pedant with an interest in language.

EDIT:

When you consider the number of places named after towns 'back home', I'm sure that there will be Londons and New Yorks on extraterrestrial planets one day, and Mumbais and Beijings. So why not another Solar System?

You wrote this while I was constructing my reply.
We certainly are thinking along the same kind of lines, good Sir... ;)

Paul..
The RoadRunner..

JohnD
2008-Aug-03, 04:28 PM
But much more succinctly.

Jeff Root
2008-Aug-03, 05:18 PM
RoadRunner,

If you were referring to my use of the construction "scissors is" rather than
"scissor is" or "scissors are", that may be a personal idiom. When I learned
what that cutting tool is called, I learned that it is a scissors. Which is
obviously an abbreviation of "a pair of scissors". I consider a scissor to be
the same thing as a pair of scissors, but I'm far more accustomed to calling
the thing "a scissors" than "a scissor" or "a pair of scissors". The fact that
I've thought about this in the past may be why "the big scissors" came to
mind as an example of something that takes a definite article, but it wasn't
conscious and I didn't notice that the number of the verb I used conflicted
with the number of the noun. It is similar with "pliers", but I'm a shade less
comfortable saying "the pliers is" than "the scissors is".

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

laurele
2008-Aug-03, 05:42 PM
"Is there any disagreement that in this particular issue, the naming of celestial objects and phenomenon, the internationally recognised regulatory organisation is the IAU ?"

I personally contest the IAU being accorded that right, as they have demonstrated highly flawed processes in their decision making, and of late, several of their decisions have been very problematic and controversial. Also, there may be a rival group to the IAU forming in the near future, which leads to the question, which group gets to decide?

kleindoofy
2008-Aug-03, 07:05 PM
... languages which are derived from Latin, including Italian,
French, and Spanish ...

[slightly beside the topic]

Errr, "related to," perhaps even "influenced by," but certainly not "derived from."

[/slightly beside the topic]

Jeff Root
2008-Aug-03, 07:21 PM
Yeah, when I was writing that, I was suddenly at a loss for the right term
to describe the relationship between the languages, and I ended up saying
less than if I'd said nothing.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

Gillianren
2008-Aug-03, 07:32 PM
Nouns which are preceded by "the" (including descriptive nouns such as "The Empire State Building") readily lend themselves to becoming generic.
One might talk of The Empire State Buildings (if they'd have built two).

But they didn't, and they aren't likely to; the name is inextricably linked to one specific building. The difference, I think, is that there were other buildings before there was an Empire State Building; before we named the Moon, we did not know that there were other moons. (This is verifiable by the fact that Galileo discovered the moons of Jupiter, and the word "moon"--or its equivalent in other languages!--obviously predates that.) Ergo, we are likely to call one sole building an Empire State Building, but we have learned that there are many objects in the sky that share characteristics with our Moon.

AndreasJ
2008-Aug-03, 07:51 PM
[slightly beside the topic]

Errr, "related to," perhaps even "influenced by," but certainly not "derived from."

[/slightly beside the topic]

Er, what? Are you claiming that French, Italian, etc aren't descended from Latin? They most certainly are.

Jeff Root
2008-Aug-03, 10:17 PM
Well! I see that my dictionary uses exactly the same term I did!


Romance ... any of the languages derived from Low Latin; Portuguese,
Spanish, Catalan, Provenšal, French, Rhaeto-Romanic, Italian, and Romanian

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

RoadRunner
2008-Aug-04, 02:46 AM
The difference, I think, is that there were other buildings before there was an Empire State Building; before we named the Moon, we did not know that there were other moons.

Yes. I think you are providing reason why I would consider such nouns which are descriptive (The Empire State Building, The National Health Service, The Oval Office) as akin to generic nouns. They are based on generic nouns.
The [descriptive] [something generic].

As Jeff has managed to slam home, Moon, Sun, Earth are examples of nouns which have aquired usage in the generic sense and this is connected with something which has interested me for as long as I can remember.

I'm sure most people can think of a product which they might call by a "trade name" even when they're referring to the generic item.

A glass of coke (cola).
A brand new hoover (vaccuum cleaner).
A battery-powered dremmel (small hobbyist drill).
Or a slightly more modern one... Google it !

If any bunch of boffins are going to slap a name on a phenomenon, it would be linguists, I'd have thought. So what is the name of this phenomenon ?

I'm working on making sure that my terminology is correct in another astronomical/astrophysical project at the moment, so I've another thread I'd like to start. A much simpler question though, I think.

Jeff, yes.
I rarely hear anyone talk of things like scissors, pants, trousers, glasses (spectacles) in the singular. Thanks for your quick explanation of how you came to use the term.

IAU or not IAU ??
Betamax or VHS, anyone ?

Paul..
The RoadRunner..

Noclevername
2008-Aug-05, 01:25 AM
Language changes with common usage, otherwise we'd all be speaking Early Neanderthal. So even though it hurts to admit it, "solar system" (not capitalized) has come to be a semi-acceptable lay reference to another star's planetary system. Don't say it to an astronomer, however.

clint
2008-Aug-05, 02:10 AM
..."solar system" (not capitalized) has come to be a semi-acceptable lay reference to another star's planetary system...

Both work fine for me,
but couldn't planetary system also mean one particular planet and its moons?
Solar system may be less ambiguous, since there has to be a star involved.

Otherwise, what would be the generic term for a "planet-and-its-moons" system?
(such as Jupiter's or Saturn's)

Drunk Vegan
2008-Aug-05, 06:24 AM
I vote for keeping "solar system" as a generic for "star with objects orbiting it" and Sol System as the specific term for our eight planets and moons, asteroids, etc.

It's slang, but it's common vernacular now and it will not go away.

Also, Vote Quimby.

Jeff Root
2008-Aug-05, 12:44 PM
Everything goes away eventually.

I hate that.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis