Today we forego the Voices from the Past to publish an editorial by Charlie Barfknecht, a retired academic who has penned some sensible words on the subject.
When I taught pharmacy students, I would tell them that persons need to be using the same definitions for terms in order to communicate. Pharmacists and students are cursed, because they need to know several definitions for some terms and to use the specific definition with particular persons or groups.
For example, laypersons use “pill” to define any solid pharmaceutical dosage [tablet, capsule] they are taking. There is a specific, obsolete, solid dosage form called a pill which 99.9% of the population have never taken. Another example is “sodium”. Laypersons, MDs & nurses use sodium when they mean sodium ion or sodium +1. To scientists sodium is elemental sodium or sodium zero.
In angling circles some people consider that a “flaptail” is a Heddon lure and do not use the term to refer to a category of surface baits with a large blade on the back. I happen to collect musky-size flaptail lures which are made by a reasonable number of companies and basement-type operations. A “jerkbait” to a bass fisherman is what a musky fisherman calls a minnow or twitchbait. A musky jerkbait [rise & dive or glide bait types] is a completely different and distinct lure type.
Other terms where there is no universally accepted definition include “torture” [hot topic in Washington DC] and “decimate” [sports writer or Latin scholar]. I rest my case that communication requires the participants to use the same definitions of terms.
Your survey results on what “vintage” means to different lure collectors supports my contention. Unless one has independent evidence that the definition came down from a mountain written on a stone tablet, one should assume that there is more than one valid definition for a term.
Charlie Barfknecht, 01/17/09
Thanks Charlie! A lucid and logical response to a question that has driven people nuts of late.
-- Dr. Todd