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Discussion in 'Science' started by TCSC47, Dec 28, 2016.

  1. TCSC47

    TCSC47 Star commenter

    When teaching physics many years ago I remember having to make sure that my students didn't use the term "ampage" when referring to electric current, because I had seen from exam mark schemes that it would loose them the credit for an otherwise correct exam answer. I never liked this because although "ampage" is most definitely an incorrect term, it is still, all the same, frequently used by professional and hobby practitioners of electrical engineering.

    So if a student used the term, it actually indicated to me that they had gone outside my lessons to pursue something concerning electricity or physics. where they had picked up extra curricula knowledge and vocabulary. Whilst such misconceptions have to be dealt with and corrected, it always seemed to me that the penalty for showing interest and initiative in cases like this far outweighed the "sin". It went very much against my personal mantra throughout my teaching career of "do no harm" or be very careful not to put a student off my (or anybody else's for that matter) subject.

    The reason I am writing this today is that I have just learnt a new, to me, term after 45 years of electrical engineering of "Ampacity", https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ampacity . Initially I thought this term belonged in the "ampage" camp, but it turned out to be correct terminology (At least in the USA anyway, but they have shown us how stupid they are by voting Trump for president!)

    Does this marking situation still exist? Do you agree or disagree with me on this, and has anybody else got any examples like this where they think the punishment outweighs the crime?
  2. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    Ampage and amperage seem to be unusual synonyms for current. Ampacity seems to be a useful term for the ability of a conductor to take a current.
    I've never had a student use the term ampage. I'm torn between sympathy for kids who find stuff out versus the need for correct use of modern terms and the feeling that the candidate is probably making stuff up to conceal ignorance. I have come across this.
  3. neddyfonk

    neddyfonk Lead commenter

    Do not get me started !. I refuse to buy donuts, cookies, Snickers or Starburst which USA has corrupted from doughnuts, biscuits, Marathon and Opal Fruits. Nor do I accept Sulfur, check (cheque) or jello. My study tutor advised us not to use references from wikipedia as they are not regarded as being academically reliable.
  4. Skeoch

    Skeoch Star commenter

    Is there an official Institute of Physics publication on terminology?
    Alternatively check in Signs, Symbols and Systematics (The ASE Companion to 5 - 16 Science) which is ISBN 9780863573125
  5. DavidAWood

    DavidAWood New commenter

    I was with you on sulfur, up until I checked IUPAC guidance. Sulfur it is: http://www.nature.com/nchem/journal/v1/n5/full/nchem.301.html
  6. Skeoch

    Skeoch Star commenter

  7. neddyfonk

    neddyfonk Lead commenter

    If the IUPAC is only guidance - then I declare the winner of the debate to be the full Oxford English Dictionary but maybe the time has come for all the advocates of phonics / texting to make life easier and standardise all spellings. I wil fone a frend and brake the news. spel it how u lik til ve neu dikshonery is compleet.
    needabreak likes this.
  8. Skeoch

    Skeoch Star commenter

    The OED offers both, suggests the -f- spelling is "now US." Offers the -ph- form from 1393 and the -f- form from 1380; however the -ph- form is the only one listed from 1595 onwards.
    Curiously the OED doesn't have ampage but does have ampèrage, with citation from 1894, 1924 and 1941, so not such a neologism as we thought!
  9. DavidAWood

    DavidAWood New commenter

    From the link I shared:

    "For those who defend the 'ph' version of sulfur, there is little in the way of support in etymological arguments. In general, the use of 'ph' as an 'f' sound occurs in words that are derived from Greek — the 'ph' replaces the Greek letter 'phi' ([​IMG]). A good example of this substitution can be found if we move just to the left in the periodic table and consider element 15, phosphorus, which means 'light-carrier' in the original Greek. Element 15 also has its spelling woes — an additional 'o' often creeps in to make it 'phosphorous'.

    A fascinating and detailed account3 of the history of the name of element 16 can be found elsewhere, but the bottom line is that sulfur is not a Greek loan word and so there is no 'phi' that needs to be replaced with 'ph'. The Greeks called element 16 'theion', which is similar to the prefix 'thio' that we commonly encounter when describing sulfur-containing compounds today.

    The word 'sulfur' can be traced to Latin, where the oldest form seems to be sulpur, which, over time, became sulphur and then finally sulfur — the first example of the latter spelling is thought to date back the third century. Only in English did the 'ph' remain for the 'f' sound — in other European languages the 'f' won through: azufre (Spanish), schwefel (German), soufre (French), zolfo (Italian). Interestingly, why the change from 'sulphur' to 'sulfur' occurred in the United States during the early part of the twentieth century remains something of a mystery, as other 'ph' words have persevered in American English.

    Language is our servant, not our master and it evolves to meet our needs. And in the case of sulfur, there seems to be no good reason to continue using the 'ph' form other than perhaps a mistaken sense of spelling jingoism"
  10. neddyfonk

    neddyfonk Lead commenter

    True - that is why the campaign to prevent regional variants/dialects and exclusively have the Queens English used on the BBC failed. There was even a book published on the subject. The French also failed to preserve the purity of their mother tongue when everyone ignored the ruling that they could not say "le weekend" anymore.
    wanet likes this.
  11. scilady

    scilady New commenter

    Physics teaching uses the standard SI system : your exam board should issue a symbol and equation list
  12. Orion

    Orion New commenter

    I think the point is..

    current is measured in amps
    potential difference is measured in volts

    That is all.

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