Some questions regarding technical terms

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by kira, Oct 15, 2011.

  1. kira Valued Senior Member

    Hi, I am not an English native speaker, I have some questions about technical terms that I must use in an academic report. I am writing the report (which I wish to finish by Tuesday) while posting here, so until then I will add more questions to this thread.

    Say, I have an instrument which can be used for sampling of gases. Originally the sample inlet is a hole with an inside diameter of 1.6 mm. The manual book is in German, so the English term that I can think of for what I did with the 1.6 mm "hole" or "inlet" or "opening" is:

    "An additional stainless steel T-joint was place and connected to the sample inlet which originally is a hole with an inside diameter of 1.6 mm".

    Then, I want to continue with describing what I did with the T-joint: "One opening of the T-joint was connected to the original sample inlet, the opposite opening was connected to a 1 m teflon tube connected to a nitrogen tank, and the third opening which is perpendicular to the other openings was capped with a septum and served as the new sample inlet".

    Is that about right? Thanks in advance.
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  3. kira Valued Senior Member

    I'll add some simple drawing
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  5. kira Valued Senior Member

    Here is more or less a simplified illustration of what I wanted to explain:

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  7. kira Valued Senior Member

    Question #2.

    In writing my report (ok, please don't laugh, but I do really trying to write an article for a journal, I am a student), there is somewhere written in the "instruction for the author", that whenever I use an abbreviation, I must explain what is the full phrase of the abbreviation when it firstly appears in my text. Of course I have no problems writing for example Gas Chromatography (GC). But, do I really have to write in full form "1.6 mm inside diameter stainless steel", or can I just write 1.6 mm ID stainless steel? Also for OD (outside diameter).

    And whether I have to use capitalization for stainless steel (Stainless Steel) or not?

    What about the T-joint? "T-joint" or "t-joint"? I've seen some examples, both are applied. Does that mean I can use any?
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2011
  8. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    For question 2... my understanding is that the use of abbreviations, no matter how common or obvious, should be written in full the first time - with the abbreviation in parenthesis afterward. This is how it was explained to me many years ago.

    I have never capitalised "stainless steel", nor can recall seeing it capitalised.

    I have also only ever used "T-joint" - with a capitalised "T" - purely due to the shape of the T matching the joint in question.
  9. kira Valued Senior Member

    Thank you for your response, Sarkus, I'll take your suggestion.

    I have more questions:

    Question #3. Which one is correct:

    "it eliminates the need of oven and vacuum",


    "it eliminates the need for oven and vacuum"?


    Question #4 (related with #3):

    I want to say in my conclusion "the proposed method is ovenless and vacuumless". Can I use those words to convey my meaning in #3?

    Or is it "oven less and vacuum less"?

    Or, "oven-less and vacuum-less"?
  10. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Since I am an editor and have taught English to non-native speakers, I have taken the liberty of annotating your posts.
    a native English speaker
    for sampling gases
    A hole is an empty space within a surface or an object, so if it is a round hole it has only one diameter. If you're speaking of a more complex construction like a nipple or a tube, which has both an inside and outside diameter, then you should call it what it is, rather than a hole.
    The manual is in German
    A "term" is very short, one or two words, three or four maximum, describing a single concept. "The term for the feeling you described is 'anxiety'." "The term for that twelve-beat dance music rhythm with very little syncopation is a 'country shuffle'."

    What you're describing is a phrase, or even an entire sentence.
    This is the past perfect tense so it must be a past participle: "was placed."
    No, the inlet is not just a hole in the T-joint. The picture shows it to be a fitting. There's probably a better word than "fitting," but I'm not an engineer so I can't think of it. A fitting has both an outside and inside diameter, and there is, indeed, a hole in both ends.
    Use commas here: "the third opening, which is perpendicular to the other openings." But more importantly, this is a little difficult to read. I had to read it twice to make sure I understood it. It's not the English translation that's the problem, it's the geometry. You start with "one opening" and leave the reader guessing which one it is. If I look at the picture briefly and imagine that you're starting with the one at the top of the picture, I get confused quickly. You might just say, "the opening on the left in the illustration...", although, again, I would just say "the fitting" instead of "the opening," or whatever more proper term an engineer might use for that particular kind of fitting. I automatically assume that when you say "opening" you actually mean the hole in the fitting, when in fact you're talking about the fitting itself.
    In English we usually put the period inside the quotation marks, not outside.
    I am really trying. This is the present progressive tense. "Do" as an auxiliary verb takes the infinitive: I do try, she did try. "Be" takes the present participle: I am trying, they were trying.
    somewhere in the "instructions [I'm sure that was plural)] for the author" it was written,
    whenever I use an abbreviation, I must define it
    when it first appears. -- "Firstly" is not a real word. Some people use it, and our democratic American dictionaries have started to list it just like they list "snuck" and "dove" (the verb, not the bird) but they're wrong.
    I have no problem
    I'm not an engineer but even I know what ID and OD mean. Nonetheless, I would hope that the rules for authors would include this one. Speaking as an editor, when in doubt, it's better to provide something I don't want than to omit something I do. It's a lot easier for me to delete words than to write them.
    It's not a trademark like Teflon. Many words originally were trademarks, like Aspirin or Heroin, and when the trademarks expire (or in the case of aspirin and heroin, stolen from Bayer A.G. as the spoils of World War I), people are already in the habit of capitalizing them and don't realize it's time to stop.
    "For" is correct. As you study foreign languages, one day you will realize that prepositions have almost no meaning, and the choice of the correct one is simply a matter of tradition. You have to learn each use of each preposition (and most of them have twenty or more uses) individually. I always joke that the only purpose of prepositions is to help us identify foreign speakers.

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    Why do we say "in English" but you say auf englisch ("on English")? It's almost random!
    If we didn't know you were German, we'd know it now! That is the German way of forming new words. Of course we do it in English too, but not so freely. We can't make one up for a particular situation, it has to be a consensus of the whole country. Look in and you'll see that ovenless and vacuumless are not real words. (My spell-checker just told me the same thing!)

    If you're speaking colloquially, you can make words up so long as you're certain that the person you're speaking to will understand you. But don't do it in a university paper. I would not allow it in the documents I edit.

    You'll have to find another way to say what you want to say. It's better to stick with "the proposed method eliminates the need for an oven or a vacuum." (And don't forget the indefinite article, although since "vacuum" is not a countable noun you might get away without using it there.
    Definitely not. "Hopeless" and "hope less" do not mean the same thing!
    If you're inventing new words in a letter to a friend, you could spell them that way. But not in a university paper. If you are a respected expert in your field and your research is going to enrich civilization, then you're allowed to invent new words, so you could write "ovenless" and "vacuumless."

    Using a hyphen is more acceptable if you are actually joining two words that can stand alone. "Sugar-free" and "labor-intensive" are okay because both "free" and "intensive" are words. But "-less" is just a suffix. (Yes, "less" is also a word, but it has a different meaning than the suffix.)
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2011
  11. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Kira -
    Is German also a foreign language for you?
    Give us the German words, we'll see if we can help you via those.
  12. kira Valued Senior Member

    Fraggle, :worship:

    I have no idea how to thank you. As I read your reply yesterday, I read it carefully, but could not manage to write my response back, because I was under stress with the deadline. Also, after I read your comment, I feel that my confidence somewhat dropped into a very terrible degree

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    . For a moment, I feel like everything I wrote in the manuscript was awkward. It was indeed awkward, but I had no time to worry, so I just finalized my manuscript and sent it to my professor 10 minutes ago for a correction. I included that phrase "fitting" and some other things that you suggested.

    Right now I feel really exhausted, so I would not reply your post words by words. Anyway, within 2 weeks I have another manuscript deadline (it's my 3rd year and it has been very slow). I haven't finished making the draft yet, I still need to work on a spreadsheet, but in some days I might be back to this thread to post my next questions. Indeed I have many questions (also for the draft that I already sent just now), but I have to stop today.

    THANKS A LOT, wish you a great time! Is there anyway I can help you back? I don't think so, but I am here if you'd like to ask any info about my country (not sure you need that either :-O).

    @ Signal: yes, German is also a foreign language for me, my native languages are Indonesian and Sundanese (the language that is spoken at home).

    Thank you, all, for your time and kindness.
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2011
  13. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    I appreciate your expression of gratitude. But there is no need to repay the help. In America we have a saying, "When someone does you a favor, don't pay it back, pay it forward. So the next time you find someone who needs help, help them! Don't worry about their ability to repay the favor, because it will be you who are repaying a favor you already received. Then in the future that person can pay it forward to someone else.

    When I was young, many people helped me. Now it's my turn to help others. This is how we enrich civilization.
  14. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    As I understand it, the 'opening' that's perpendicular to the remaining two is called 'the Lateral' or 'the lateral port', so perhaps a succinct way of conveying the information without resorting to a diagram could be to use something lke:
    "A T-joint was used, with the new sample inlet was connected to the lateral, which had an internal diameter (ID) of 1.6mm. The original sample inlet, and the nitrogen gas supply were connected to the remaining ports, with the nitrogen gas being suplied via a 1.5m Teflon connector tube."

    Of course, that assumes the reader has sufficient prior knowledge to understand which of the three connections is the lateral, which isn't neccessarily a valid assumption.

    Calling them connector or connection might be better than calling them ports, I'm not 100% certain though.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2011
  15. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    • 1. I would hope that anyone reading this knows enough about the domain to understand the terminology.
    • 2. He could digress for a moment and define "lateral port," which would of course suggest giving us the names of the other two ports as well, something we're all probably now eagerly awaiting.
    And you thought I had an easy job, being a technical writer? I never get to edit articles about things I know, like linguistics or aviculture.
  16. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    It is a person with no integrity who does not feel indebted to the person who has done them a favor.

    If, after someone has done you a favor, you ask them what you can do to repay them, and they tell you to pay it forward - that is one thing, and that is what you should do.

    But to feel no indebtedness to the person who has done you a favor - that is another thing.

    Unless FR is talking about situations where strangers do eachother favors and where a conversation about repaying the favor is not possible (ie. someone holds the elevator for you, lets you skip the line when you're in a hurry and such).

    This latter was not the case in this thread. Kira was right to ask about what she can do to repay the favor.
  17. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    I understand. And what Kira can do is to be kind to someone else. That will make me very happy!
  18. kira Valued Senior Member

    Thank you, Fraggle, I will do my best

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    Thanks for your input, Trippy. To my surprise, the detail about the T-joint thing was deleted by my Professor, he said it was too detail, yet unnecessary. He replaced the whole paragraph with just one sentence where it was mentioned that a new sample introduction system was built to allow a controlled environment using nitrogen as a carrier gas. The paper is already submitted for review.

    I love this place

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  19. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    too much detail--in speech you could say "too detailed" but not in formal writing.
    and unnecessary. "Yet" implies a contradiction.
    That's perfect. Speaking as an editor, it's always better to give your editor more text than he needs, so all he has to do is delete it. If you don't give him as much as he wants, he's going to return it to you and tell you to write more!
    To create a controlled environment. To "allow" something means that it will happen by itself if you don't prevent it.
    Stick around. New members like you make it even better!
  20. kira Valued Senior Member

    Thank you, Fraggle!
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2011
  21. kira Valued Senior Member

    I have a question. I had look up several examples, but I don't know if they are right or not.

    If I would like to explain something step by step, which one is ok to explain the sequence:

    (1) firstly,..., secondly,... , thirdly,...., and finally,....
    (2) first of all, ....., secondly,....., thirdly,.... and finally,....
    (3) first, ....., second,.... third,.... and last,....

    @_@ In google, somewhere it is said, firstly is not formal. So I took the (2). Am I right?
  22. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member

    (1) - Not in the US. It sounds antiquated.

    (2) is a less formal than (3). When in doubt, I would pick (3).

    In some formal writing, such as legal writing, it is more concise to enumerate within a single sentence, by separating the enumerated clauses in outline form: The writer shall (a) bring one pencil; (b) bring one sheet of paper; and (c) complete the draft no later than 5:00 PM.

    That's about as formal as it gets!
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2011
  23. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    I had to look up several examples.
    Firstly, secondly, etc. are not real words. They're probably in the dictionary now because English is a democratic language that is not controlled by a government department or an academy of scholars, but this is bad English and you should not learn to speak or write that way.
    This is too informal. In a work of scholarship, just say "first."
    Yes, as Aqueous pointed out, this is the correct way to write it. The series of words first, second, third, etc., function both as adjectives and adverbs. There is no need to add the -ly inflection. "At the office this morning, Charles arrived first, Susan arrived second, and I arrived last."
    "Firstly" is not just "not formal." It is wrong! Don't ever use it. As I have explained to another member, when you're using someone else's language, you should strive to use it more correctly than they do. And you misunderstood the article. It is not just "firstly" that is wrong. The entire series is wrong. There is no such word as "secondly," "thirdly," or "six hundred thirty-fifthly."

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