To Diss or not to Diss?
    By Robert H Olley | February 15th 2012 02:27 PM | 2 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Robert H

    Until recently, I worked in the Polymer Physics Group of the Physics Department at the University of Reading.

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    There recently appeared on Scientific American Blogs an article by Jennifer Ouellette

    Don’t Be Dissin’ the Bohr Model!

    in which she deplores the frequent occurrence, among those who have recently progressed to a more advanced understanding of the atom, of sneeringly dismissing the Bohr Model.

    This is a most excellent article, and if you are pushed for time, I recommend that you read it rather than continuing with this one.

    However, there are two tangential threads I will take up.  The first is that is quite a good model for use by students in the later years of High School.  However (and this is where I start to fulminate) it is execrable when a widely used school textbook shows a lithium atom something like this:

    The second thread is about the use of the word diss.  According to the Wiktionary, it originated in Jamaican Vernacular English, and means to put (someone) down, or show disrespect by the use of insulting language or dismissive behaviour.

    Now a school in Sheffield, England, has banned pupils from using slang in school.  One wonders how they will police the pupils: in the bad old days, when boys had to use Latin at all times even in the playground, there would be planted among them a lupus (wolf) to spy on them.  Certainly, they will not be allowed to use the word diss.

    However, many of the people commenting were opposed to the school’s practice, and some of these were taking the attitude “language evolves – so just let it”.  Now if one reads the excellent book by Guy Deutscher The Unfolding of Language: An Evolutionary Tour of Mankind's Greatest Invention, one can see how much the English language has evolved since the time of Shakespeare, with changes in pronunciation that are hidden by spelling.   I do, however, find his laissez-faire attitude somewhat irksome.  Would he have applied the same attitude to 19th century Capitalism?

    Whad y’all think?


    I got no dog in the lithium atom fight but...

    (See?  Slang!)'s her blog, she can say diss.  She wrote The Physics of the Buffyverse so she can write anything she wants in her blog, IMHO.

    (See?  I did it again!)

    Dated slang for dated science, innit?