Thursday, August 03, 2006

(madison) c thru

One commonly-used word of my academic vocabulary is "transparent," as in "I would prefer if the author made the details of the coding scheme used in the manuscript more transparent." A colleague of mine in his sixties heard a similar usage of "transparent" today and said, "You know, I keep wondering how it came to be that people use 'transparent' for that. When I was younger, people would say the same thing and instead say 'visible' instead of transparent." Especially intriguing because, of course, visible and transparent are quasi-acronyms, and, at least when the sentence includes "details of the" as above, it's a pretty easy argument that visible is the more straightforward metaphor.

6 comments:

Rhymes With Scrabble said...

Um, acronyms?

jeremy said...

Antonyms.

alan said...

In step with this need for clarity in our writing, I sometimes see comments like "the thinking here is somewhat opaque" -- but opaque is certainly more visible than transparent!

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't have used 'transparent' in that sense. Instead the sentence would have read "I would prefer if this manuscript were more transparent, so I could get a better idea of the details of the coding scheme." As if we were looking through the manuscript at the coding scheme.

Charles said...

Clear? Fewer letters. Relatively transparent, and found in most dictionaries.

Winston said...

...and somewhere between opaque and transparent/visible/clear, we find the little used translucent. But that doesn't fit here. That obscrures details while letting in some light. Or is it letting in some dark?

Limpid? naaahhh... Lucid? better... Oh, here's one that is perfectly opaque in its transparency: transpicuous...