Wordsmith.org: the magic of words

Wordsmith Talk

About Us | What's New | Search | Site Map | Contact Us  

Page 1 of 2 1 2 >
Topic Options
#131989 - 08/23/04 10:56 PM Efflux
norgatem Offline
stranger

Registered: 08/23/04
Posts: 1
I work in a lab studying heavy metal transport in the body, and we use the word 'efflux' to describe the active transport of metal out of a cell. My problem is that people have started talking about cells 'effluxing metal', which i do not believe is correct. Unfortunately, my use of English is largely based on instinct, so i cannot contrive a convincing argument against it. I am afraid this phrase will spread throughout the scientific community (as 'quantitate' has) if I do not stifle their creative instinct now. Can anyone offer a grammatical explanation for why this word can't be converted in this way?


Top
#131990 - 08/23/04 11:06 PM Re: Efflux
tsuwm Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 10524
Loc: this too shall pass
we'd just be wasting our collective time and energy, as there is absolutely nothing in the known universe that will stop this from coming to full flower.


Top
#131991 - 08/24/04 01:35 AM Re: Efflux
Father Steve Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/06/00
Posts: 2788
Loc: Seattle, Washington, USA
Efflux is a perfectly innocent noun that got converted into a verb without its consent. As a noun, it describes a process -- the process of effusion -- or the stuff that comes out itself -- the effluent.

There remains hope. The verb form of this noun is intransitive. Therefor, it is the effluent which effuxes, not the container, or, in your case, it is the heavy metal which effluxes, not the cell.

Try this. It may not, as tsuwm wisely observes, save the day nor the language, but it will irritate the hell out of the scientific types who are misusing it, which may be the consolation (and only) prize.





Top
#131992 - 08/24/04 04:46 AM Re: Efflux
Wordwind Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/30/01
Posts: 6296
Loc: Piedmont Region of Virginia, U...
In reply to:

Efflux is a perfectly innocent noun that got converted into a verb without its consent. As a noun, it describes a process -- the process of effusion -- or the stuff that comes out itself -- the effluent.


"The process of effusion..." This made me think of a friend from years gone by who was accustomed to describing overly garrulous types as 'effusing' on various topics. I suppose that cell could 'effuse metals,' couldn't it, Father Steve?

I do agree with tsuwm that if people decide to describe the process of a cell's loss of metals as 'effluxing'--for want of a more convenient word that would as readily subsume the concept of a substance moving from one place to another--there's not much to be done to fight the movement, incorrect or not. Your explanation, Father Steve, makes very good sense, but when has good sense changed a bullheaded backward movement in the language? "A cell effluxes metal? Ah, yeah! I get it! The cell gets rid of the metal as an effluent! Cool! I, the ignorant, can get across that entire process and communicate it simply by saying, 'A cell effluxes metal,' and I'll be clearly understood, niceties aside," says the General Population.

It would be interesting to know how many misunderstandings have wormed their way into the language, from ghost words on up through stunning errors and even more specialized ones such as this one. If there were no such word as 'efflux'--if there were simply a simple synonym, such as 'flow,' I wonder whether we'd have the same error at all: "A cell flows metal." Sounds poetic...but the error probably wouldn't have otherwise occurred.


Top
#131993 - 08/24/04 05:21 AM Re: what the L?
Buffalo Shrdlu Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/24/02
Posts: 7210
Loc: Vermont
the process of effusion -- the effluent.


all very effusive, and elusive... but whence comes the L?

_________________________
formerly known as etaoin...

Top
#131994 - 08/24/04 06:25 AM Re: Efflux
Faldage Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/01/00
Posts: 13803
Basing grammatical arguments on the way a language used to be is the linguistic equivalent of building a house on sand.


Top
#131995 - 08/24/04 08:12 AM Re: Efflux
plutarch Offline
veteran

Registered: 10/10/01
Posts: 1385
I work in a lab studying heavy metal transport in the body, and we use the word 'efflux' to describe the active transport of metal out of a cell. My problem is that people have started talking about cells 'effluxing metal'

I have heard of this type of "transport", norgatem, in connection with an ion exchange between metals and other toxins, including bacteria, in human and animal cells and molecules of diatomaceous earth [DE] ingested by the person or animal in their daily diet.

The so-called diatoms of DE sequester the metals within their three dimensional structure and so pass the toxins out of the body in the feces. [The DE also has the additional benefit of drastically reducing the number of flies attracted to livestock feces in the barnyard.]

This ion exchange phenomenon is also exhibited by particles of volcanic ash having a 3D structure similar to DE, but trace elements in the volcanic ash [the technical name for the material escapes me now*] are not considered suitable for human consumption.

On the other hand, DE from some sources is recognized as "food grade" quality by U.S. regulatory authorities and it is sold in the U.S. as an "anti-caking" agent in livestock feed.

In Europe, I understand it is fairly common for people to take a teaspoon or tablespoon of DE every day, but the practice is little known in North America.

Most DE I have read about is about 80% silicon dioxide [which is very good for the bones] but only a very few source deposits are recognized as "food grade" quality.

It occurs to me, norgatem, that you might be familiar with the properties of DE in your work and that you might also be able to provide me with the technical name of the volcanic ash material I have described.

I am aware that that volcanic ash material has been tested in feed for pigs where its efficacy has been demonstrated in accelerating the weight gain and general health of animals on the diet.

The deleterious trace elements in the material, including aluminum, are not considered a problem by researchers because the pigs are destined for slaughter. Whether or not these deleterious materials could end up in a human who consumes a pig raised on this diet is another matter, of course, but that is beyond the scope of my question.

Happy to have you aboard, norgatem. There is more to this "efflux" issue than semantics.

Aha! Now I remember the name of the volcanic ash material. It is "zeolite".


Top
#131996 - 08/24/04 10:29 AM Re: Efflux
jheem Offline
veteran

Registered: 01/06/04
Posts: 1474
Loc: California
people have started talking about cells 'effluxing metal', which i do not believe is correct.

Is the problem you're having with (a) a noun being turned into a verb? (a common enough occurence in English and one that seems to disturb some because it doesn't take any sort of derivational morphology, i.e., suffixes, to do like in German or Russian). Or (b) that the newly minted verb is being used in a transitive manner?

As to the latter, let's look at some history: effluxus is the past participle of Latin effluo 'to flow out of, to go forth, to issue from' (effluere). So, we have an English noun, efflux, being derived from what was essentially a Latin verbal adjective. Likewise with effluent, it's from the present participle effluens. Good for us, many Latin verbs have made it into English from Latin past participles: e.g., participate, coordinate, obfuscate. The verb effluo was intransitive in Latin, but it seems to have been used with the ablative in much the same way we used the prepositions 'out', 'of', etc. with flow. Are your colleagues not comfortable with using the verb to flow out of? For example, "The heavy metals are flowing out of these cells"? Discharge might be better: "The cells in question are discharging metals." The thing about to efflux is that it seems to be working for these people. And efflux has a certain meaning for them. Why not go with it? English will survive the innovation. It always has in the past. I'd use the new verb like this, however: "The heavy metals efflux from the cells." Rather than the other way round. I see you're probably trying to attribute some kind of agency to the cells in that they are the ones doing the discharging, and not the metals, but it just sounds better to me.


Top
#131997 - 08/24/04 02:50 PM Re: Efflux
Father Steve Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/06/00
Posts: 2788
Loc: Seattle, Washington, USA
Basing grammatical arguments on the way a language is abused is the linguistic equivalent of building a house without a foundation.


Top
#131998 - 08/24/04 10:09 PM Re: Efflux
Jackie Offline

Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 11610
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky
Faldage
(Carpal Tunnel)
Sat Aug 21 18:05:59 2004
63.186.72.99
Re: the law of intellectual property

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

If property is theft what is intellectual property?

Father Steve
(old hand)
Sat Aug 21 18:21:05 2004
67.136.129.247
Re: the law of intellectual property

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

If property is theft what is intellectual property?


If crankcase oil is John O' Groats, what is philately?

********************************************************************

Faldage
(Carpal Tunnel)
Tue Aug 24 06:25:07 2004
63.186.201.150
Re: Efflux

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Basing grammatical arguments on the way a language used to be is the linguistic equivalent of building a house on sand.

Father Steve
(old hand)
Tue Aug 24 14:50:20 2004
67.136.131.211
Re: Efflux

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Basing grammatical arguments on the way a language is abused is the linguistic equivalent of building a house without a foundation.


Awwright, what's going on with you two galoots?? You gotta be up to somethin'...

ANYway--welcome aBoard, norgatem. I have to say I agree with tsuwm: I strongly doubt that there's anything you can do to stop the spread.
'quantitate': [shudder emoticon]




Top
Page 1 of 2 1 2 >

Moderator:  Jackie 
Forum Stats
8759 Members
16 Forums
13812 Topics
215885 Posts

Max Online: 3341 @ 12/09/11 02:15 PM
Newest Members
sstone, BikerVet, MSusanElizabeth, Sumac, cocozh421
8759 Registered Users
Who's Online
0 registered (), 39 Guests and 4 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Top Posters (30 Days)
wofahulicodoc 118
LukeJavan8 105
endymion6 100
A C Bowden 27
Tromboniator 13
Storymom 1
tsuwm 1
Jackie 1
Top Posters
wwh 13858
Faldage 13803
Jackie 11610
tsuwm 10524
Buffalo Shrdlu 7210
LukeJavan8 6699
AnnaStrophic 6511
Wordwind 6296
of troy 5400
BranShea 5282

Disclaimer: Wordsmith.org is not responsible for views expressed on this site. Use of this forum is at your own risk and liability - you agree to hold Wordsmith.org and its associates harmless as a condition of using it.

Home | Today's Word | Yesterday's Word | Subscribe | FAQ | Archives | Search | Feedback
Wordsmith Talk | Wordsmith Chat

© 2014 Wordsmith