Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Language/2010 September 14

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September 14[edit]

"knowledgeable of a certain field"[edit]

What is an english word for "knowledgeable of a certain field"?

"field" is defined as "area, subject", not a farmer's field.

I don't want the words "specialist" or "expert", because the meaning should not mean that the person has had certification.199.126.224.245 (talk) 07:28, 14 September 2010 (UTC)

I think "specialist" and "expert" are the best words for this. They don't necessarily imply any kind of formal qualification. Incidentally I think it's more idiomatic to say "knowledgeable in a certain field". AndrewWTaylor (talk) 07:42, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
  • maven?--Shirt58 (talk) 07:44, 14 September 2010 (UTC) "Maven" is pretty slang-y, and not part of your average shmo's (yes, I see the irony) vocabulary.
One might also use "guru" although this is not as professional sounding as any of the others. Dismas|(talk) 07:46, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
For the leader in a field, without necessarily any qualifications, there's doyen. "A doyen of topiary once told me that one day he would like to grow a maze." 213.122.59.149 (talk) 08:26, 14 September 2010 (UTC)

"Familiar with" ? "Conversant with" ? DOR (HK) (talk) 10:04, 14 September 2010 (UTC)

Pundit is a good one. By the way, I'd agree with AndrewWTaylor that "knowledgeable in" is more idiomatic than "knowledgeable of". DuncanHill (talk) 11:13, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
"Pundit" implies speaking or communicating about that area of knowledge, not simply understanding it. I agree that "expert" or "specialist" are the best terms for general use, and give no implication of qualification. Ghmyrtle (talk) 13:23, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
Subject matter expert. Note that one doesn't necessarily need to have "certification" to be "knowledgeable of a certain field". Mitch Ames (talk) 12:32, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
Enthusiast may be a good choice, depending on your context. Pay no attention to our article enthusiasm however, as this does not cover the usage I am talking about. The Hero of This Nation (talk) 12:57, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
Even farmers can be outstanding in their field. Astronaut (talk) 16:04, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
Similar to enthusiast without certification is buff. ---Sluzzelin talk 16:06, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
Isn't it the current slang (in the U.S. at least) to use geek rather than buff, as in "She's an astronomy geek"? Deor (talk) 17:32, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
Connoisseur, cognoscenti, whizz kid. Bus stop (talk) 17:37, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
I can see you're no cognoscente of singular nouns. DuncanHill (talk) 19:27, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
Some things are just not cognoscible to some people. -- Jack of Oz ... speak! ... 19:36, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
The buff/geek distinction depends partly on subject matter, I think. I don't think many people would use sports geek to describe anybody outside a few of the most obsessive sabermetricians, and I've seen both words used for someone who's into astronomy or interested in wine (interestingly, beer is decidedly geeky rather than buffed). Cars are for buffs, and most (but not all) TV is for geeks. I'm sure other examples abound. ☯.ZenSwashbuckler.☠ 19:59, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
It might help to jog our minds if we knew what field the hypothetical person has their knowledge in. Different terms might apply. "Green thumb" if your special touch is with agriculture. "Good with his hands" if we are talking about auto mechanics, plumbing, and light duty carpentry. "Good eye" if you are an art collector or an interior designer. Bus stop (talk) 00:14, 15 September 2010 (UTC)
Depending on context, "professional" may work for you. Master (as e.g. in master craftsman) also seems to be missing from the list, so far. 99.11.160.111 (talk) 05:38, 15 September 2010 (UTC)

I have not read all of the discussion, but the first few answers were nouns, but I am looking for an adjective, or the adjectival form of the nouns provided, or adjectival forms yet to be provided.199.126.224.245 (talk) 10:44, 15 September 2010 (UTC)

Unfortunately, all these entries, and I appreciate them, require some sort of certification. If you look at the articles, for example, master and professional, there are criteria which defines such ... titles, as some people would call them.199.126.224.245 (talk) 10:55, 15 September 2010 (UTC)

As earlier comments made clear, words adjectives like "expert" and "specialist" - and many of the others mentioned here - do not impute any qualification or certification whatsoever. Ghmyrtle (talk) 11:00, 15 September 2010 (UTC)
Is this word expected to be applicable to any field? Or can its applicability be narrowed to any degree? Skilled craftsman might work well in relation to primarily manual tasks. Primarily cognitive tasks might employ such words as connoisseurship and savant. But even my division into manual and cognitive is being imposed by me arbitrarily on this question. Can the OP shed any further light on what role the sought word is expected to fulfill? Bus stop (talk) 15:33, 15 September 2010 (UTC)
OK, adjectives? Need to add prepositions as necessary, but these should all mean something like "expert in..." without denoting a professional qualification (some more suitable to certain fields than others): conversant, versed/well-versed, handy, capable, proficient, savvy, learned, informed. If you're still thirsty for words, type some of these into this thing here and see what comes up. ☯.ZenSwashbuckler.☠ 18:27, 15 September 2010 (UTC)

Academic Exams[edit]

Hello. If exams issued in the middle of a semester are called midterms, then what are exams called if issued third-way through the semester? Thanks in advance. --Mayfare (talk) 19:20, 14 September 2010 (UTC)

Midterms. 'Mid' in this sense just means 'during' not 'in the exact middle of'. --Ludwigs2 19:42, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
In my experience "midterms" don't have to be quite at the middle of the semester (they're often a bit later), but there won't be more than one of them. If there are multiple equal-weighted exams, they're just called exams. Looie496 (talk) 22:40, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
When I was at university, our school year was divided into two semesters and three terms. Any exams, therefore, issued a third-way through the semester, would be the exact middle of the first term, or the end of the second term, depending on which semester. In these cases, I would have said midterm exams and end-of-term exams respectively. --KägeTorä - (影虎) (TALK) 23:05, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
I have a class with a Midterm and a Final, and one with two Midterms and a Final. It really just means during. Grsz11 22:11, 15 September 2010 (UTC)
At my school (A U.S. university), any exam that's not a final exam is a mid-term exam, no matter when it occurs or how many of them there are. Buddy431 (talk) 19:23, 16 September 2010 (UTC)

Apostrophe confusion[edit]

What is the proper (if any) way to contract (using an apostrophe) such expressions as:

  • The boy is short or,
  • The priest is Caucasian or,
  • That kid is noisy... Thanks hydnjo (talk) 22:14, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
  • The boy's short
  • The priest's Caucasian
  • That kid's noisy.

--KägeTorä - (影虎) (TALK) 22:20, 14 September 2010 (UTC)

Of course, depending upon where you come from - Yorkshire or the North East of England, for instance - you might also contract to:
  • T'boy's short
  • T'priest's Caucasian
  • Tha' kid's noisy. --Tagishsimon (talk) 22:27, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
  • OK, so except for Tagishsimon's whimsical response the apostrophe ('s) is commonly used to replace (is) even in non-possessive phrases. Ouch, my palms still hurt from parochial school where the apostrophe was meant to mean possessive. Thanks, hydnjo (talk) 23:12, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
That's right. Dont forget you're apostrophe's. Their important. --KägeTorä - (影虎) (TALK) 23:34, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
Also, they're important  ;-) hydnjo (talk) 00:23, 15 September 2010 (UTC)
Ahh... my joke was lost.... --KägeTorä - (影虎) (TALK) 00:29, 15 September 2010 (UTC)
Nah, I was just pretendin'.... hydnjo (talk) 00:33, 15 September 2010 (UTC)
Yes, my teachers hated anything but possessive apostrophes. Even trying to convince them that a Beatles song called Cannot Buy Me Love would sound silly didn't work. HiLo48 (talk) 23:23, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
"It Is Only Love" may have doomed them! hydnjo (talk) 00:55, 15 September 2010 (UTC)
Why do we not do it in the road? Deor (talk) 01:02, 15 September 2010 (UTC)
You definitely win (I think)! hydnjo (talk) 01:08, 15 September 2010 (UTC)
BTW, do you mind my using that as the title of my next short story about an inept foreign agent (you of course get 50% of the royalties)? hydnjo (talk) 01:17, 15 September 2010 (UTC)
Like many questions of usage, this is a matter of register. In formal writing - such as schools concentrate on, or used to - contractions are not appropriate, so the only apostrophes will be possessive ones. In transcribing ordinary speech, contractions are normal, and written with apostrophes. --ColinFine (talk) 23:50, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
Thanks ColinFine for that contextual explanation. hydnjo (talk) 00:18, 15 September 2010 (UTC) addendum And thanks for the link. :-) hydnjo (talk) 00:30, 15 September 2010 (UTC)
But even such a school would surely have taught the difference between the possessive pronoun its (which doesn't take an apostrophe) and the abbreviation it's (which does). (Jack of Oz = )202.142.129.66 (talk) 01:45, 15 September 2010 (UTC)
Not back in the days when I was at Saint Agnes school, an apostrophe was very possessive. Period. Which adds to my confusion even today - the youthful mind ... well you know. hydnjo (talk) 02:02, 15 September 2010 (UTC) Addendum And I can imagine SB's confusion depending on what he was taught. It wasn't my intent here to bring up C3 but he has little respect for how we were ingrained regarding the apostrophe - very little respect. hydnjo (talk) 02:19, 15 September 2010 (UTC)
Well, nobody forced you bring that conflict up. But since you did, SB has no confusion as far as I can tell; he knows the theory, but he just likes creating his own rules and sticking rigidly to them. Top marks for the latter thing. -- 202.142.129.66 (talk) 02:57, 15 September 2010 (UTC)