Tuesday, July 18, 2006

What language is H2O

Everybody with some general knowledge will know that H2O is the chemical formula for water. This formula is the same in at least all the languages that I speak. Now as there are so many languages that could use the same code, it would be a folly to repeat this and all the other chemical formulae for all the languages. However, it would be equally foolish not to have them at all.

Yesterday I was pleasantly surprised by a WiktionaryZ newbie who informed me about the existence of three special ISO-639-3 codes. They are und for undetermined content, mul for multiple languages and zxx for no linguistic content. As is usual for the language codes, I created a portal page for these codes. The question is; what code to use. I would opt for the zxx code because it is not really linguistic content and it seems to be a universal standard.

I am eager to learn what you think..


Blogger Angela said...

That's interesting. I'd not come across those codes before. I wonder if I should have put rtl.wikia.com at mul.wikia.com instead (it's a wikia for multiple right-to-left scripts).

6:35 pm  
Blogger Minh Nguyễn said...

Well, chemical elements tend to have Latin names: H for hydrogenium, the -ium suffix for a majority of elements, and systematic IUPAC names such as ununhexium. But I think zxx would be a lot better than lat. :^)

4:02 am  
Anonymous Muke Tever said...

As a pure symbol, H₂O might be 'zxx.' However it is not always used as a pure symbol; sometimes it does have linguistic content. (There is the poem with many variants that goes: Johnny was a chemist, but Johnny is no more / What Johnny thought was H₂O was H₂SO₄.) In a way it is like those CJK words with multiple readings: one might read "aitch two oh", "water", "aqua", etc., just as 中国 is read by some as "chuugoku", others as "zhongguo", or as X is read by some as "ecks", others as "equis", others as "ix". I would say the symbol "H₂O" would go in whatever category you would place "中国" or "X" in by themselves. (Longer chemical formulae, which may not correspond to anything in spoken language and are not prone to being spelled out in full might be zxx, however...)

1:17 am  
Blogger bact' said...

i'm thinking about trademark,
e.g. "Coke" (Coca-Cola) .. what's the language it is ?

4:17 pm  
Blogger Denis said...

This trademarks and symbols still have etymologies and different pronunciations depending on the language. Abbreviations are another thing that varies across languages. For example "Coke" is not used in Continental French but is in Canadian French.

11:24 pm  

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