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Your Favorite Words That Mean Something Specific In Your Field


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What are your favorite words that people misinterpret because it means something specific in your field, or in that context?

 

Here are some of my (recent) favorites:

  • When I say I'm taking an algebra course to my friends outside my major, they think I mean high-school level algebra. I'm taking abstract algebra. It's not the same. :P
  • I mentioned needing to take an architecture course for a breadth requirement to my mom. She was like, "What? You'll be designing buildings?" The course is systems architecture; it's a computer science / electrical engineering course!
  • I've been in classes where we use the word "function" to mean three different things in the same lecture. One was about functions in coding, one was about mathematical functions, and one was just the classic english word that essentially means "how something operates". I call this a "bucket word ambiguity", though there's probably an actual term for it. ;)
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Significant or significance.  You can't just throw those words around willy-nilly in a paper since in my field, the word actually has a number to go with it ie significant at the p=.05 level or significant with 95% confidence.  

 

Oddly enough, another word is Geography.  Oh you're studying Geography?  So do you know where *insert city name* is?  No, Geography is not the study of where stuff is.  lol

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My field in general, geoarchaeology. Haha. People have no idea what that is. Some words:

  • Sediment - It has a specific meaning, weathered rock (parent material) broken down by chemical and physical reactions
  • Soil - Specific to post-deposition alteration/weathering of that sediment during periods of landscape stability.
     

Also, there's no such thing as dirt. 

Edited by DigDeep
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1) ANTIsocial - it doesn't mean introverted; it's the opposite of PROsocial behavior (i.e. positive/beneficial behavior towards others) - e.g., stealing, violence.

2) schizophrenia/schizophrenic - doesn't mean multiple personalities; it is a psychotic disorder (i.e. features symptoms that involve being out of touch with reality - e.g. delusions and hallucinations)

3) bipolar - doesn't mean loving someone one minute and hating them the next (that's characteristic of Borderline Personality Disorder); refers to a disorder featuring episodes of mania or hypomania and depression - these are mood episodes (vs. rapidly fluctuating interpersonally-driven emotions)

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I can only think of a bunch of terms we have to describe things that other people take for granted. e.g.:

 

 C47 - a clothes pin

 Cold Open - the part of a TV show that comes before the credits

 

Ooh, Here's one that means something different.

 

 "Laying Pipe" -- to retro engineer the structure of a script

 

:P that's all I can think of for now.

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There are SO many weird terms in the film industry that make no sense.. whenever I'm talking about work to non-actors/film people, I feel like I need a translator. 

 

Honey wagon- the production trailor at Base Camp

 

Base Camp- basically a parking lot where all the trailors are parked/teemsters are staitoned/ lunch happens/holding area.

 

Teamsters- drivers.

 

Crafty- craft sevices/snacks.

 

Dood- "day out of days". Basically a schedule that tracks who's working when.

 

Slate - State your name and character (at auditions)/ that.. I don't even know what else to refer to is as other than a slate... thing that is clapped before each take.

 

The list goes on forever. There should really be a dictionary... hah, there probably is somewhere.

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I can only think of a bunch of terms we have to describe things that other people take for granted. e.g.:

 

 C47 - a clothes pin

 Cold Open - the part of a TV show that comes before the credits

 

Ooh, Here's one that means something different.

 

 "Laying Pipe" -- to retro engineer the structure of a script

 

:P that's all I can think of for now.

 

 

 

C47! Hah... Ima use that one. Too cool.

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Intersectionality: A term coined by sociologist Kimberle Crenshaw (*swoon*) and made popular by Patricia Hill Collins (*double swoon*), intersectionality refers to "the study of intersections between different disenfranchised groups or groups of minorities; specifically, the study of the interactions of multiple systems of oppression or discrimination."

 

For example, you can't properly address feminism without examining the intersections of race and feminism & class and feminism.  You can't fully gauge obesity without looking at race, class, and family.  You can't wholly assess sexual harassment in the medical field without also examining race, class, gender, and sexuality.  Google Chrome and Microsoft Word seem to think that this word doesn't exist, but this word is everything to sociologists.  

 

(Statistical) Significance: This means that your data can be generalized to the entire population you are studying.  It also means that p < .05.  It should not be conflated with "substantial" or "important."

 

I'll let you know when I think of more ... 

Edited by gingin6789
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Actual conversation I had with a doctor during a fairly....umm, uncomfortable, part of my physical:

 

Doctor: "So what are you studying?"
Me: "Astronomy, specifically, the planets!"

Doctor: "Oh, I have always been really interested in that field."
Me: "Cool."
Doctor: "Yeah, I think Jupiter is in retrograde right now, and that's the reason for all of the Arab Spring events." [This was in 2012]. 

Me: "Oh...yeah......." 

 

:(

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There are SO many weird terms in the film industry that make no sense.. whenever I'm talking about work to non-actors/film people, I feel like I need a translator. 

 

Honey wagon- the production trailor at Base Camp

 

Base Camp- basically a parking lot where all the trailors are parked/teemsters are staitoned/ lunch happens/holding area.

 

Teamsters- drivers.

 

Crafty- craft sevices/snacks.

 

Dood- "day out of days". Basically a schedule that tracks who's working when.

 

Slate - State your name and character (at auditions)/ that.. I don't even know what else to refer to is as other than a slate... thing that is clapped before each take.

 

The list goes on forever. There should really be a dictionary... hah, there probably is somewhere.

 

 

 I could go ON and ON about terms used to describe film/tv/story structure and some from set (alas, I never spent as much time on set as I'd have liked), but yeah the dictionary. that can happen.

 

OH and don't even get me started on circus terms.

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Significant or significance.  You can't just throw those words around willy-nilly in a paper since in my field, the word actually has a number to go with it ie significant at the p=.05 level or significant with 95% confidence.  

 

Oddly enough, another word is Geography.  Oh you're studying Geography?  So do you know where *insert city name* is?  No, Geography is not the study of where stuff is.  lol

 

I had someone try to tell me that the term "statistically significant" was ambiguous and open to interpretation... that was corrected most ricky-tick.

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Teleology. In evolutionary biology we try to avoid teleological thinking, which means thinking that organisms evolve towards some "perfect" goal.

 

I'm so happy to find out that teleology is a recognized concept in the natural sciences!

 

The confusion between signified and referent in literary fields is actually pretty common even in published work. But then, in literature, nobody actually knows what any of the words mean anyway.

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My field in general, geoarchaeology. Haha. People have no idea what that is. Some words:

  • Sediment - It has a specific meaning, weathered rock (parent material) broken down by chemical and physical reactions
  • Soil - Specific to post-deposition alteration/weathering of that sediment during periods of landscape stability.

     

Also, there's no such thing as dirt. 

 

High fives all around! Dirt is just soil that you can't be bothered analyzing. :P

 

I'm in mortuary archaeology, so I've picked up funny words from forensic folks, first responders, & archaeologists. I think morgue techs, paramedics + EMTs, & archaeologists have great senses of humor that help us all get through long, taxing days. I'm biased, of course, but here are some of my favorites that I've heard over the years. Warning: some of these are totally gross.

  • Gravy: the byproducts of putrefaction. Not the kind of stuff you want to put on your dinner.
  • Soap: adipocere; grave wax. Too much of the worst word in the world: moist.
  • Soup, smoothie: a messy scene that will give you a case of the Mondays for the rest of the week.
  • Black book, diary: field journals. Makes serious field work feel more like an episode of a terrible "reality"/dramatic TV show.
  • Cans, buttons, charred wood, broken plates, glass bottles: to an archaeologist, namely an historic one, these are some of the most exciting things ever. Seriously. If you want to get us all hot & bothered, start talking lead solder vents & solarized glass.
  • Ritual: when in doubt or utterly confused, this is what any object, set of remains, or feature is until you get more funding so you can actually figure it out.
  • Dinosaurs, aliens: NO.
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Calorie vs calorie.  A Calorie (capital C) is actually a Kilocalorie, and is what most people refer to when talking about a "calorie."  So we use "kcal" to be clear what we are talking about.

 

Diet.  Technically diet is whatever you eat/consume as food and drink.  But in popular culture it means changing your eating habits so as to promote weight loss.  But your diet is just what you eat and drink, it doesn't have anything to do with weight loss.

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I just thought of some!

 

 cats: a cat walk. and not a modeling cat walk, but the series of metal platforms hanging above a stage that allow access to lighting, rigging, etc.

 rake: a stage that has a gradient from downstage (the front near the audience) to upstage (the back, towards off-stage)

 up: upstage, towards the back

 down: downstage, towards the audience

 left: stage left, the left of the actor facing the audience

 right: stage right, the right of the actor facing the audience

 house: the lobby of the theatre, or the seating area of a theatre, or the audience themselves (as in we played to a series of poor houses OR there's a packed house tonight)

 good luck: a curse ensuring that someone will have terrible luck

 Macbeth: "the Scottish Play," another curse.

 shop: the scene shop or costume shop where scenery and/or costumes are made.

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Guest Gnome Chomsky

My field in general, geoarchaeology. Haha. People have no idea what that is. Some words:

  • Sediment - It has a specific meaning, weathered rock (parent material) broken down by chemical and physical reactions
  • Soil - Specific to post-deposition alteration/weathering of that sediment during periods of landscape stability.

     

Also, there's no such thing as dirt.

So I'm a what-bag?
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So I'm a what-bag?

 

Are you comfortably amorphous, colored an ugly neon 90s color (maybe, chartreuse), and awkwardly placed in a corner next to a stack of Jock Jams and/or NOW cds? If so, perhaps the answer is bean

Edited by DigDeep
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