Sunday, May 23, 2010

Weird Words: Wattage, Architect

Some words bother me. Maybe I'm showing my age, I know. But consider.

Wattage - The better word is "power" or "power rating". A 60 Watt light bulb has a 60 Watt power rating. A 10 Watt bulb is a low power bulb.

On the other hand, "wattage" is a parallel of "voltage", and I don't have the same reaction to that word. The "correct" words would be "potential" or "electromotive force".

Then why don't we say "amperage", "ohmage", "faradage", or "henryage"? Actually, I do hear "amperage", but not commonly.

[We seem to have some confusion between a quality (power) and the unit used to measure the quality (the Watt). In economics, there is something similar. The currency system may be called Stirling or RenMinBi, while the unit is the Pound or the Yuan. In the US, alas, we can only say "the Dollar" for both.]

Architect - When did we start using "architect" as a verb? I think I noticed it first in the computing world in the late 1980's. Why isn't "design" good enough? Maybe we IT gurus want to give the impression that we are a cut above traditional engineering professions? (Alas, the opposite is more often true.)

That's all for now from your local curmudgeon shop.
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