opened book


English: A multi-volume Latin dictionary (Egid...
English: A multi-volume Latin dictionary (Egidio Forcellini: Totius Latinitatis Lexicon, 1858–87) in a table in the main reading room of the University Library of Graz. Picture taken and uploaded on 15 Dec 2005 by Dr. Marcus Gossler. Español: Diccionario de latín (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Nomenclatura” is a Latin word that refers to the “assigning of names to things.” Merriam-Webster, ​Nomenclature, Word History​, Dictionary (2024), (last visited Jun 2, 2024). It’s something that we often overlook, but it is very important.

The names that we assign to things tell us something about them and sometimes also tell us something about ourselves. I’m one of the first people to kind of blow off a debate over words. But I spend a lot of my time acting as a translator between senders and receivers.

That’s perhaps a little bit unfortunate. I think that fighting over terms just to fight about them is pointless and unhelpful. However, agreeing on a common nomenclature means that people can better communicate with each other. Unfortunately, sometimes a term will fall into use, and we’re worse off for it.

Wednesday, on Twitter, I asked:

I asked this question because a “hard bounce” is ill-defined, as is a “soft bounce.”

Think about this. What is a “hard bounce?” Sometimes, it’s defined as an email returned with an error code that begins with a “5.” Other times, it’s a specific error code or set of codes, such as “address does not exist” and/or “relay access denied,” and everything else is a “soft bounce.”

If you want to discuss hard bounces, you’ll first have to start by finding out what the person you’re talking with thinks a “hard bounce” is. Only once you have calibrated what constituted a “hard bounce” can you begin to have a productive discussion.

Why shouldn’t we consider eliminating terminology that has to be defined every time it’s used and replacing it with something that’s more easily understood? On Wednesday, I suggested using “temporary” and “permanent” instead, but I’m sure there are other terms that might be as good or better.

Now, please understand that I’m not suggesting that we get rid of the entire nomenclature, much of which is useful within the industry. Rather, I’m suggesting that some parts of it are less-than-productive, even if they aren’t counterproductive. We should be willing to change those things to make better communication possible.

Mickey Chandler