Skip to Main Content
Watch your Language: Consequences of Linguistic Uncertainty for Insect ManagementAuthor(s): Theresa M. Cira; Kathy Quick; Robert C. Venette
Source: American Entomologist
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Northern Research Station
Download Publication (269.0 KB)
DescriptionThis is a call to entomologists to consider the uncertainty introduced into our works through the language we use. Albert Einstein remarked, "Everything depends on the degree to which words and word-combinations correspond to the world of impression," which makes language a "dangerous source of error and deception" (Hawking 2007). Scientists usually research and deliberately choose the language they use to propose new concepts or terminology. Often, however, terms slip into the lexicon through less systematic means. Words may seem to have meanings so obvious that broad understanding of the term may be taken for granted, but individual contexts are diverse, and to assume that a word's meaning is unchanging across time and space is to overlook the uncertainties of language. Thus, communication through even the most common entomological vocabulary can fail. Language is a mutable, uncertain, and imperfect way of representing the world. Because language is integral to science and yet inherently imprecise, it is important for scientists to recognize and address uncertainty in the language of our works.
- Check the Northern Research Station web site to request a printed copy of this publication.
- Our on-line publications are scanned and captured using Adobe Acrobat.
- During the capture process some typographical errors may occur.
- Please contact Sharon Hobrla, email@example.com if you notice any errors which make this publication unusable.
- We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
- This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
CitationCira, Theresa M.; Quick, Kathy; Venette, Robert C. 2019. Watch your Language: Consequences of Linguistic Uncertainty for Insect Management. American Entomologist. 65(4): 258-267. https://doi.org/10.1093/ae/tmz068.
- Chapter 4: Language in the recreation world
- Pyroganda: creating new terms and identities for promoting fire use in ecological fire management
- The language of nature matters: we need a more public ecology
XML: View XML