When The Weatherbot Says It's Raining…

It appears as though the arguments of linguists and philosophers are about to be answered, and that our language is to be regulated. I read in New Scientist that weathermen have been roundly condemned. A bit Wittgensteinian, but it appears that they were deriving entirely different conclusions from the same data. Apparently, their language was too fluffy, resulting in ‘morning’ varying from midnight to midday and evening taking up the whole afternoon and night, with conditions described in, well, cloudy language.

So big business, which needs accurate weather predictions to ensure the safety of its oil rigs (and their personnel, of course; there can be very expensive lawsuits if someone dies) stepped in, and now weather data is fed straight into a computer which has been programmed with a fixed syntax, meaning that morning, evening and so on are all decided and regulated. No more of “nones” varying with the dawn, now all our words must be scientifically defined. As a philosophy and economics student, I’m both happy and sad; we need concrete definitions for efficiency but we also need accuracy, which I worry about; as a writer I worry about the richness of language that is lost as the loose beauty of words is drawn down.

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