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Re: Where does the term "element" come from?

  • From: B Tommie Usdin <btusdin@mulberrytech.com>
  • To: "Costello, Roger L." <costello@mitre.org>, <xml-dev@l...>
  • Date: Thu, 24 Dec 2009 11:23:33 -0500

Re:  Where does the term "element" come from?

At 7:27 AM -0500 12/24/09, Costello, Roger L. wrote:
>This is a book element:
>
>    <book>...</book>
>
>Why "element"?
>
>Who decided to call it element?
>
>When was the term first used?
>
>There is the Periodic Table of elements. Is that where the term comes from?
>
>In hindsight, is there a better term?


The developer(s) of anything new have several options:
  * keep it as the idea of one and only one person, or
  * find a way to communicate about it.

Words are the way our species communicates abstract ideas, and that 
means when there is something new to talk about, or a new distinction 
to be made, they must either:
  * make up new words, or
  * adopt/adapt existing words.

Both are confusing. New words are hard to remember, pronounce, and 
spell consistently. Adopted/adapted words can be misleading because 
people already have meanings for them.

It is my opinion that the jargon of any field will seem silly and 
confusing to those new to it, and to some extent arbitrary even to 
those familiar with it.

And what prompted me to state the obvious? Your request for a better 
term. There could have been other terms, but any other term for this 
concept would either be a made-up-word or a re-purposed word, and 
could prompt the same question. There simply aren't good options for 
naming new things.

-- Tommie
-- 

======================================================================
B. Tommie Usdin                        mailto:btusdin@mulberrytech.com
Mulberry Technologies, Inc.                http://www.mulberrytech.com
17 West Jefferson Street                           Phone: 301/315-9631
Suite 207                                    Direct Line: 301/315-9634
Rockville, MD  20850                                 Fax: 301/315-8285
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   Mulberry Technologies: A Consultancy Specializing in XML and SGML
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