Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Is "Earth" The Right Name For Us?


Philosophy break.  No particular theme or reason this week. Just pondering.

I always thought "Earth" was an odd name. Our world's crust is roughly 70% ocean, 30% above-water landmass that is habitable to We The Species who like to go about naming things. So hey, if we’re trying to be descriptive, shouldn’t we be named for "Water" instead?

I posed this question on one of the many blog forums about which I infrequently lurk, figuring my solar system questions are often something of a breather between religious wars and political rants. This particular discussion yielded some thought-provoking responses I thought I would share with a larger crowd.

Planet Water
Language History:
Greek era , Old German erda, Indo-European roots akin to Crimean Goth airtha, Old English eorthe, Middle English erthe

Greek hydor or hudor, Latin unda wave, Old English wæter; akin to Old High German wazzar

The Greek word for water now survives as the prefix hydro- as in words like hydrogen or hydration. But with the widespread ‘borrowing’ of languages, perhaps we might even be Wazer or Wave? I bet if more had been known about the planet’s properties during the time of its ultimate naming, we might be.

If we changed our planet name now, what would be more descriptive?

Yourfindit: If we rename it then the Aliens will have to go through a long process of correcting and updating their records of us.

Legbamel: Mess?

LolitaV: I always though the name should start with Sector; like Sector Z8474895-AJ1248_X. Babylon 5 would do also.

Aningenious: I'd go with Skaron 6 it's quite cool and any aliens would have to be mad to attempt to invade a planet called Skaron 6.

Nothingprofound: It's always fascinated me that we're the one planet NOT named after a Latin deity.

Exit2013: It doesn't matter... sooner or later this planet will be a waterworld. Seriously.

PetLvr: We have friends that named their chihuahua "Paul" because they heard someone on a TV show make fun of people who name their pet dogs human names... we can do that for the planet Earth. I vote for "Planet Melvin".

3Percent of Earth's water is drinkable

Theresa111: Beauteous Globe ? Earth's just fine by me, kinda used to it. I have given the name some thought throughout my existence and figured someone simply named it before being privy to the rest of the planets elements.

Sam1982: Who had the naming rights anyway?

DeRexBowles: Planet Awesome.
JennOfTwoNs: Yeah, Planet Awesome...I can see the t-shirts already.

kdawg68: We should probably ask the insects what they think, since they do outnumber us vastly. Or, we could just go with "Insectia".

Animemania: f we gave a poll to change the planet's name...that would be just awful. We'd be stuck calling Earth "Planet Stupid" or something.

crazyTsu: But mud is everywhere (well in most places), not only here. What's in a name? we name things according to what we are familiar with. Our familiarity has not evolved so much and I aint no marine creature either so no oceanworld for me.

Flamingpoodle: The 71/29 split only applies to the earth's surface. Besides, we call it earth because we largely live on the earth part.

Well, if we're going to split hairs, it's actually 70.78% to 29.22% -- but who's counting? ;) I originally rounded because the point of the exercise was "early colloquial assumptions versus current knowledge." If we really wanted a descriptive name, we’d have to include core material, and we aren't about to call our planet "Giant Ball of Mostly Molten Iron."


Anonymous said...

"Earth" was named before we knew what we were naming. At the time, there was the ground underfoot, the water over there beyond the beach, and the sky above. So: earth, sky, water.

When we realized that what we lived on wasn't an endless flat plane, but a planet, the name stuck.

I like the old Latin name, Terra. Of course, it simply means "Earth". Or we could, in the spirit of naming planets after deities, call ours "Gaia" after the concept of the entire biosphere having an overarching sentience.

Anonymous said...

we have called it "Earth" in millions years so let´s keep calling it what our ancestors named our planet