Dear Frank et al.
Just back from Greece, I have a dessert to offer on the origin
of terminology, notably with regard to pseudsections. I advocate
a praise of liars and hence truth.
Pseudo derives from a particularly fertile Greek root, all to do
with falsehood, but I propose to be blunt and simply link it to
O PSEVDIS -- the liar.
Section of course links to secare -- to cut.
Apart from the unfortunate fact that "pseudosection" lumps a Greek
root with a Latin one, there is much to recommend the term.
Frank points out that pseudo has acquired a negative connotation:
>In my dictionary, the adjective "pseudo" means "an imitation intended
>to deceive or mislead" (i.e. fake, counterfeit, spurious, bogus,
>phoney, false). Is this the connotation we wish for these types of
Yes, frankly, this is the connotation I wish, for it is true and
well known that these diagrams can deceive. Frank even quotes the
example of tie-lines crossing in a pseudosection, even where they
do not touch in full chemographic space. The problem, as I see it,
is that LIARS are discredited in our society, even when they state
that they are liars. Greek culture is different in this regard, as
its society embraces the liar as a reality, to be received with humour.
Thus, a person called PSEVDIS need not fear for his or her reputation.
I call a man on Syros my friend who is known to the whole community
as "o Yannis o psevdis" (John the Liar), he is an phantastic story-
teller, proud of it and of his name.
To me, there is nothing negative to being explicit about truth and
falsehood. For example, by appreciating the prefix pseudo- as a
warning flag, we (and our students) are better equipped than with
"a more benign term" (advocated by Bob Tracy). Not only in the
context of pseudo-sections...
At a more philosophical level, it is well entrenched that every
account, written or spoken, of any part of reality, is ultimately
a lie, in that words cannot capture all of it. In that sense, any
diagram is a pseudo-representation.
P.S. I realize only now that John Schumacher had already started
etymologizing. Oh well, there's usually room for two desserts.
Martin Engi, Min.-petr. Institute, University of Bern
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