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Old 06-25-2003, 09:26 AM   #19
Dave Miller
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Dojo: UCO Budo Society
Location: Oklahoma
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 204
The value of universal terms:

As a biologist, I often find it necessary to explain to folks why we name everything in Latin. The answer is quite simple, it gives every scientist around the world, from any language group, an immediate handle with which to hold this critter. When I was in Japan, I was walking through a botanical garden with my wife and some friends. I couldn't read a word of Nihongo but I could tell what most of the plants were by their Latin names.

There are two classic examples of the Felis concolor and Equus caballus. The first animal, in North America, has over 200 local or common names. They range for "mountain lion" and "puma" to all the various names assigned by every native american group that encountered it. The second animal is called a "cheval", "el caballo", "pferd", "horse" and many others depending on what language you speak. Having one single Latin for any given animal takes away any confusion as to exactly what a person is talking about.

The same thing applies to the techniques of Aikido (or any martial art). We could come up with various name for them in every language in which people practice Aiki-budo. Then, when we tried to talk amongst ourselves, we would have to re-translate them into the language of the person to whom we were speaking. The end result of this would be extreme confusion. However, by having one name in one language for a technique (or set of techniques), it lessons this confusion considerably. Granted, still might have to explain which sort of ikkyo you're doing, but at least we know, essentially, what is meant by ikkyo.

As far as most Aikido terms coming from a "dead" portion of the language, one of the advantages of using Latin in science is that it is a "dead" language. This means that none of the words are going to shift their meanings due to usage changes and such. We often criticize the Japanese terms of Aikido because the ordinary Japanese person doesn't know what they mean. However, if you were to walk up to the average Roman today and speak Latin, they would probably just look at you funny and write you off as a silly tourist.
Charles Hill wrote:
There is never a need to name any techniques.
Will all due respect, Charles, that's just plain silly, IMHO. If you don't have some sort of name for a technique then you are severely limited in being able to teach it to someone else. Not to mention the fact that you will give it some sort of designation, if only in your mind, so that you can recall and perform it.

Last edited by Dave Miller : 06-25-2003 at 09:38 AM.


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