"heterogeneous" vs. "heterogenous" in HList and HMap documentation #233

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andycook opened this Issue Sep 18, 2014 · 9 comments

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@andycook

I guess this might be nitpicking, and rather minor, but a friend was telling me about the HList in shapeless, and it launched into a discussion of "heterogenous" versus "heterogeneous". While "heterogenous" is an accepted common alternate spelling of "heterogeneous", it's also a separate word in its own right, referring to something originating from outside an organism or system (literally "other (hetero-) in origin (-genous)"). While shapeless is heterogenous to Scala, its HList seems better described by "heterogeneous", which basically means nonuniform in composition.

@andycook andycook changed the title from "heterogeneous" vs. "heterogenous" in HList documentation to "heterogeneous" vs. "heterogenous" in HList and HMap documentation Sep 18, 2014
@Blaisorblade
Contributor

I came from Twitter, hoped for more bikeshedding :-(. This seems relatively easy. Assuming others buy the evidence below, would you submit a pull request?

While "heterogenous" is an accepted common alternate spelling of "heterogeneous"

My trusted "Garner's Modern American Usage" (if you want to read why it's so authoritative, David Foster Wallace wrote an essay about what's cool about it) has an entry on the topic, which strongly agrees with you — except that it is more strongly against "heterogenous". Of course this is not exactly hard sciences, and different authors might have different opinions, but this is about as certain as it can get. He also quotes the Oxford English Dictionary (2nd. ed. 1989), which has somewhat similar conclusions and some variant of which seems your source (I've looked up in the edition included in OS X).

To quote what I find most relevant:

Because heterogeneous is about 40 times as common in print sources as _heterogenous, the latter ought to be considered a _needless variant* [the term is defined elsewhere]. Still, it does appear with some regularity in otherwise well-edited publications [...]
__Heterogenous* is also an obsolete medical term describing foreign tissue.[...]
Language-change index: __heterogenous* for heterogeneous: Stage 1 [meaning "Rejected"].

(If you wonder, I'm no native speaker, but I have to care about good writing to write papers. These are of course minor issues).

@milessabin
Owner

@Blaisorblade shapeless is written in traditional rather than simplified English, however. The OED trumps Garners ;-)

@milessabin
Owner

BTW, please don't spend time on a PR ... it's not likely to be accepted ;-)

@Blaisorblade
Contributor

Fair point! But they agree here (I have nothing so good for traditional English).

BTW, please don't spend time on a PR ... it's not likely to be accepted ;-)

Oh. Why?

@travisbrown
Collaborator

👍 from me but I'd also prefer LabeledGeneric so what do I know.

@milessabin
Owner

I wasn't aware of the possible pun, but if I had been I would have chosen the current spelling deliberately rather than accidentally: as well as being non-uniform, shapeless's HLists are, metaphorically, "foreign tissue".

And look at that foreign tissue! Look at the spelling in the description!

@milessabin
Owner

@travisbrown don't hold your breath ;-)

@milessabin
Owner

On the other hand, Oleg says heterogeneous, but the pun is the clincher for me.

@milessabin
Owner

It was fun while it lasted ... closing now.

@milessabin milessabin closed this Oct 3, 2014
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