Is insistence on the use of Iupac nomenclature diluting the rich traditional language of chemistry?
Q Is insistence on the use of Iupac nomenclature diluting the rich traditional language of chemistry?
A As a historian of chemistry I regret the disappearance of the traditional ’trivial’ names of chemical compounds in favour of the undoubtedly logical but sterile Iupac nomenclature. Why did we ever allow sulfuric acid to replace oil of vitriol, or lead acetate to replace sugar of lead? Chemistry would be a richer, albeit much more arcane, science if we had retained the really old nomenclature.
Harold Goldwhite, California State University Los Angeles, US
A No amount of Iupac exhortations will persuade me to trade in acetic acid for ethanoic acid. My Concise Oxford English Dictionary states that acetic is an English word of Latin origin meaning ’pertaining to vinegar’. This is important practical and cultural information about the compound. The drift of the practice of chemistry away from everyday experience and into abstractions is not improving its public image.
Tom Swaddle, University of Calgary, Canada
A The important thing is for the nomenclature to be unambiguous. Iupac provides rules for generating unambiguous names, often more than one depending on the approach selected. Trivial names are often convenient, but may need explaining unless a semi-systematic name is used.
Gerry Moss, president of Iupac Division VIII (Chemical Nomenclature and Structure Representation)
A There is no longer any need for rigorous treatment of Iupac nomenclature in undergraduate classes. Various computer programs can be utilised to provide the name of a ChemDraw structure. Students must know the basic rules of nomenclature but this leaves plenty of room to talk about compounds such as isopropanol, acetone, and aniline.
Bob Stick, University of Western Australia, Crawley
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