Friday, December 04, 2009
It's time to change the English name of the planet in between Saturn and Neptune back to Ouranos. Here are the reasons.
1) All the planets in the Solar System are named after Roman gods, except one. In spite of that, for some reason we have gone with the Latinized spelling (Uranus) of the original name of the god, Ouranos (Οὐρανός). There is no more reason to go with a Latinized spelling of the name than there is to go with an Arabized spelling of the word Persian (which would make it Fersian or Farsian). We also do not call Poseidon Posidon. Yes, English does use Apollo instead of Apollon, but this does not resemble any other English word.
2) Due to the Latinized spelling the planet has long been the brunt of a stale joke, and any news about the planet is quickly swamped with irrelevant puns.
3) There is already some precedent for preferring terms in astronomy - technically the adjective for Venus is Venerean (Latin Venus (-eris, f.)), but Venusian has become the norm due to the word venerean having largely the same meaning as venereal.
4) English has no governing authority and we can begin to call the planet Ouranos right now. It would also take little effort to do so - simply begin using the name Ouranos (with Uranus in parenthesis the first time to explain which planet you're talking about) and bring up the subject every now and then.
So here's step one: join the group Ouranos, not Uranus on Facebook. Ouranos is far too large and interesting a destination to be the target of such a stale joke all the time.
Also, how would it be pronounced in English? It would sound like oar-in-os (final os rhymes with most), and the stress would be on the first syllable. Not oh-rahn-os. The adjective would be ouranian, or oh-rain-ee-in. The alternate spelling Oranos would also be acceptable.