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Old 01-04-2013, 01:21 AM   #106
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BadBilly View Post
http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dic...lish/subniveal

You didn't look very hard. It's the third Google result.
Also here:

http://phrontistery.info/s.html

Subniveal: under snow
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Old 01-04-2013, 02:51 AM   #107
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Originally Posted by BadBilly View Post
http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dic...lish/subniveal

You didn't look very hard. It's the third Google result.
As I said in a previous post, dictionaries vary, and they are not always accurate. While the parts of the word do translate to 'under snow,' it's 'meaning' is quite a bit more.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BelleZora View Post
Also here:

http://phrontistery.info/s.html

Subniveal: under snow

Wow! That certainly is where I'd go to look for a word... not.

You're right, I didn't look very hard. I didn't need to. It's not an uncommon word. If you use it to mean 'under snow,' someone who has no idea of the meaning will look it up. But anyone who uses the term regularly would scratch their heads and say 'gee, I wonder why they don't know any better.'

It's a common word in Biology, and most people who pay attention to Earth Sciences or winter woods walking, winter wildlife watching, etc., use it often, because it's important to the winter habitat of fox, wolf, and several other predators. They rely on the animals that move through the subnivean layer for their food. You can often see where one has jumped up and down, crushing the snow mass above to try to catch a rodent traveling THROUGH the subnivean zone.

However... should YOU wish to use it to mean 'under snow,' by all means do. But don't be surprised if you see people scratching their heads. It's entirely up to you.


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Last edited by Stitchawl; 01-04-2013 at 02:59 AM.
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Old 01-04-2013, 03:00 AM   #108
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Originally Posted by rkomar View Post
Let me give a different example. Some worms are subterranean, some aren't. They are all worms. The difference is that the first kind are usually found in the ground, and the others aren't. If the term becomes the same as "underground", then you lose the information about whether the worms belong there or not. It would also mean that you could say that a worm pulled out of the ground is not subterranean, which could be confusing (which definition do they mean?). That is why I think it's advantageous to keep the definitions precise.

As to re-purposing the adjectives from general to specific, I don't know that it was done that way. Maybe it was the other way around.
But the fundamental point, as ApK rightly says (and it is a very good point), is that simply because a word has a "technical" meaning in one field, that doesn't prevent its general use in everyday speech. For example, in the field of cosmology, the adjectives "hot" and "cold" are used to refer to particles moving respectively close to (or at) the speed of light, and slowly relatively to the speed of light. That doesn't mean that even cosmologists object to using the words "hot" and "cold" in their everyday usages.
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Old 01-04-2013, 03:56 AM   #109
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That doesn't mean that even cosmologists object to using the words "hot" and "cold" in their everyday usages.
Is it a question of 'objecting' to the use of words, or a question of using words that clarify meaning rather than obscuring it, even if accidentally? I always thought the purpose of 'communication' was to communicate, rather than obfuscate.


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Old 01-04-2013, 04:00 AM   #110
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Originally Posted by Stitchawl View Post
Is it a question of 'objecting' to the use of words, or a question of using words that clarify meaning rather than obscuring it, even if accidentally? I always thought the purpose of 'communication' was to communicate, rather than obfuscate.


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The previous poster appeared to me (although I may have misunderstood his meaning) to be objecting to the use of the word "subniveal" on the grounds that the word has a specific meaning in the field of biology.
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Old 01-04-2013, 04:11 AM   #111
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
The previous poster appeared to me (although I may have misunderstood his meaning) to be objecting to the use of the word "subniveal" on the grounds that the word has a specific meaning in the field of biology.
In fact, it does have a specific meaning. Although the Latin background of the parts of the word do translate to 'under snow,' you have a large vocabuary, I have a large vocabulary, but you never heard the word and looked it up, while I've heard it just about every winter since I was a teenager, but never once heard it used any other way!

However, although there is nothing that says one can't use a word in a different context, when I read the originally posted sentence with it, it made no sense to me, as someone quite familiar with the word. To me, it just seemed as if the writer had used a Thesaurus to find some fancy-sounding word associated with 'under the snow' and found that one! And there is no doubt that is is associated with 'under the snow,' but doesn't really mean that, but the writer didn't know that.

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Old 01-04-2013, 04:18 AM   #112
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Originally Posted by Stitchawl View Post
And there is no doubt that is is associated with 'under the snow,' but doesn't really mean that, but the writer didn't know that.

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The Collins dictionary disagrees with you; the Oxford dictionary disagrees with you (both give a simple meaning of "under the snow"), so perhaps we should simply agree to disagree on the matter.
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Old 01-04-2013, 04:40 AM   #113
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Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
The Collins dictionary disagrees with you; the Oxford dictionary disagrees with you (both give a simple meaning of "under the snow"), so perhaps we should simply agree to disagree on the matter.

That would probably be best.


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Old 01-04-2013, 09:13 AM   #114
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Originally Posted by Stitchawl View Post
I've heard it just about every winter since I was a teenager, but never once heard it used any other way!
Seriously? Because YOU only heard it used in one context, that must be the only correct way to use it? Have you considered you might be a blind man describing an elephant? Maybe rather than calling everyone else wrong, you might consider the possibility that you just learned something new.
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Old 01-04-2013, 09:52 AM   #115
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Seriously? Because YOU only heard it used in one context, that must be the only correct way to use it? Have you considered you might be a blind man describing an elephant? Maybe rather than calling everyone else wrong, you might consider the possibility that you just learned something new.
I don't think you need to be so dramatic. I didn't say everyone else is wrong. (If I did, please show that to me.) I said that in my life it's a very common term, not one that needs a dictionary to understand. And I said that although both Harry and I have large vocabularies, he had never heard of the word at all, and although I have, and often, I had never heard it used any other way. Have you?

Have you heard it used before this thread? Or is this a new word for you too? It's not new for me. I've been hearing it and using it for almost 50 years. So have my colleagues and friends involved in wildlife ecology and biology. If I may quote you; you might consider the possibility that you just learned something new. Or, you might decide that your dictionary is always correct. Book usage or Real Life usage. Your choice. A lot of people will choose the book usage. That's OK. And people who know and use the word commonly will laugh as I did, because 'the map is not the terrain.' And as Harry said, I think we can agree to disagree.


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Old 01-04-2013, 10:00 AM   #116
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Originally Posted by Stitchawl View Post
I don't think you need to be so dramatic. I didn't say everyone else is wrong. (If I did, please show that to me.) I said that in my life it's a very common term, not one that needs a dictionary to understand.
I should clarify that I merely looked it up in the dictionary out of interest. Although it wasn't a word I'd come across before, its meaning was clear both from its Latin roots (I have a pretty good knowledge of Latin) and from the context of the sentence in which it was used.
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Old 01-04-2013, 10:30 AM   #117
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I should clarify that I merely looked it up in the dictionary out of interest. Although it wasn't a word I'd come across before, its meaning was clear both from its Latin roots (I have a pretty good knowledge of Latin) and from the context of the sentence in which it was used.
... and that's where the trouble began.
In my first post I said that the Latin roots translate to 'under snow.' But the translation isn't the usage. It's only the translation of the Latin roots. It would similar to saying 'the fertilizer is sub rosa.' While correct in that the fertilizer would be found under the rose, I highly doubt we would see 'sub rosa' used in that fashion. Of course... I could be wrong. It really could be secret fertilizer.


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Old 01-04-2013, 10:47 AM   #118
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I highly doubt we would see 'sub rosa' used in that fashion. Of course... I could be wrong. It really could be secret fertilizer.

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Hmm...<running off to trademark a fertilizer brand name....>
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Old 01-04-2013, 10:52 AM   #119
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... and that's where the trouble began.
In my first post I said that the Latin roots translate to 'under snow.' But the translation isn't the usage. It's only the translation of the Latin roots. It would similar to saying 'the fertilizer is sub rosa.' While correct in that the fertilizer would be found under the rose, I highly doubt we would see 'sub rosa' used in that fashion. Of course... I could be wrong. It really could be secret fertilizer.


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I'll start worrying about the meanings of words in technical fields when one of my cosmologist friends accidentally interprets a "hot babe" to mean an attractive lady moving at close to the speed of light .
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Old 01-04-2013, 11:09 AM   #120
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Or, you might decide that your dictionary is always correct. Book usage or Real Life usage.
Respected dictionaries, if not "correct" by some standards, accurately document word usage.
So if Oxford documented that people use it that way, then people use it that way

Your personal "I never heard it used that way" plus your biology focus, plus you being a random anonymous stranger on the Internet, needs to be weighted against Oxford appropriately.
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