Antennae vs. antennas

Liz Day lday at
Wed Oct 21 00:41:49 EDT 1998

> >What lepidopterists say			What they _should_ say
> >
> >Oviposit				Lay eggs
> Oviposit literally means "place eggs."  "Laying eggs" would presume
> that they are placed on an upward surface (which is often not the
> case.)  I think oviposit is generally better.

Well, it always confused me.  Because it sounds like "deposit" and I
picture an actual ovipositor inserting the eggs into something.  There are
bugs (like bumblebees) that AFAIK lay eggs without having an ovipositor.
And I truly doubt anyone will ever get confused by the upward surface
aspect.  I think this is a perfect case of the technical term being no
better for laypeople than the casual term.

 > >Proboscis 					Tongue

 > > Completely different, anatomically.

Yah huh.  In regular English, 'proboscis' means a snout, like an
elephant's trunk, or the human nose.  Anyone who knows that meaning will
be confused by its lepidopteran meaning.  Those who don't know either
meaning will be confused too.  I rest my case.  I bet a lot more laypeople
realize that the butterfly tongue is anatomically different from the human
tongue (it's obvious) than know what 'proboscis' means in any sense of the

Technical terms are precise because precision is needed for technical
discussions.  IMO, it is not helpful in lay discussions.  I know it seems
like it ought to be, but my experience has been that it isn't.

Oh well.

Liz Day

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