Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 82.djvu/277

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273
THE LANGUAGE OF METEOROLOGY

the name "isogram" itself. The latter, denoting a line that represents equality of some physical condition on a map or diagram (the isotherm and the isobar being the most familiar examples, is a convenient generic term, the need of which must have been often felt long before it was invented, in the year 1889, by Francis Galton. Yet to this day it is unknown to most meteorological writers, who continue to use an awkward periphrasis to express this every-day idea.

Several meteorologists have drawn lines connecting places of equal evaporation; very few have ventured to give these lines a name. There is no inconvenience in referring once or twice in a scientific memoir to a "line of equal evaporation." Suppose, however, one needs to mention the same thing fifty times. One is almost driven to the necessity of substituting a single word for this long phrase; and thus certain writers have, in fact, coined the terms "isoatmic line" and "isothyme"; but neither of these has gained currency in the habitual vocabulary of meteorologists.

In all, some eighty meteorological isograms have been named; but of their names less than a score are generally familiar, and many are almost completely forgotten.

During the last two or three years the recognition of the importance of the "barometric tendency" in weather forecasting has made us tolerably familiar with the "isallobar"; but what of the "isallotherm"? Lines of equal temperature-change have been drawn on forecast charts for a great many years. Their name, however, has just been invented, and is hardly yet known to the practical forecaster.

There is a marked reluctance on the part of contemporary men of science to contribute to the scientific vocabulary. This is perhaps due to the growing ignorance of the principles of etymology to which I have already referred; though it may be also the token of a reaction from the pedantry of an older generation, which cumbered the language with terms too labored for daily use, and often with names of things that might well have been left nameless.

I have in mind a number of lexical curiosities that furnish diversion to any one who chances to read a memoir by A. Piche, "La Météorologie dans le Département des Basses-Pyrénées." From this work we learn that "meteorologistotheory" is the branch of science dealing with meteorologists; that "meteorologistopiry" has to do with experiments in the training and organizing of meteorologists; that "meteorologistonomy" relates to meteorological administration; that "meteorologistotechny" is the art of applying the laws relating to the production of meteorologists, their arrangement into groups, and the development of their labors; that "meteorologistosophy" is the philosophical study of meteorologists; etc. In short, M. Piche has stuck pins through his meteorologists as if they were so many butterflies, and has made them the subject of a new branch of natural history. His