Wednesday, January 13, 2016

''Anthrocene'' or ''Anthropocene''? Which term is best for headlines, daily speech?

Dear Voting Tabulations Unit:

  1.   My vote is for "anthrocene."   It's parallel to Holocene and Pleistocene -- and the same number of syllables as other eras, three, like Jurassic, Cretaceous and Cambrian "Anthropocene" may be more precise, but it's too long; you couldn't make a movie called Anthropocene Park.  Also, I'm not a linguist, but I think that "po" sound in the middle of a word is uncommon in our English language, and the tongue stumbles on it. -- Dr. Ed Rubin, Vanderbilt University, law professor

2.  ''Personally, I prefer "anthrocene"; yes, 3 syllables reads/sounds better. Shorter words also easier on character count!'' -- NYC word maven, Yale alum

3. --- "'Anthrocene' might be better than 'anthropocene' but maybe the train has left the station and it is hard to change tracks now." - Says a top Stanford Univ scientist.''

''Anthrocene'' or ''Anthropopopopopopopopocene'' ?

Which term is best for headlines, daily speech?

Because AnthroPOPOPOPOPOPOPOPOPOcene (4 syllables, count them!) is harder to say in speech because of the PO sound breaking up the anthro and the cene. And harder to say than the melifuous AN-THRO-CENE, just three short syllables. In a headline and in speech, key words need to be short and sweet, as much as possible, that is.

The term ANTHROCENE coined in 1992 in a book written by a veteran journalist who knows the power of words to impact readers in print, online and in conversation (and at international forums)...... OR...... ANTHROPOCENE, coined by academics with PhDs who sometimes go too far with technical language and make up words that are too long for normal headlines and subheads?

Perhaps we should recall the words of H.W. Fowler who long ago called some terms that were coined by good classical scholars (read: ''academics'') as a "regrettable barbarisms" and an indication that even "good classical scholars" such as
​Sir Charles Lyell
should have requested a philologist's help first before coining some of words he coined. So from a headline writer's perspective and from a word coiner's sense of the right word for speech and news articles, perhaps ANTHROCENE is a better choice than the longer and "[regrettably] barbaric" ANTHROPOCENE?

YOUR point of view? This blog is canvassing people worldwide on this.

''Anthrocene'' or ''Anthropocene''?

Andrew Revkin's 1992 book where he first coined the term ANTHROCENE:

Revkin wrote in 1992:

[Biologist Eugene Stoermer wrote: ‘I began using the term “anthropocene” in the 1980s, but never formalized it until Paul [Crutzen] contacted me’. About this time other authors were exploring the concept of the Anthropocene, although not using the term. More curiously, a popular book about Global Warming, published in 1992 by Andrew C. Revkin, contained the following prophetic words]:

 ‘‘Perhaps earth scientists of the future will name this new post-Holocene period for its causative element — for us. We are entering an age that might someday be referred to as, say, the Anthrocene . After all, it is a geological age of our own making..


NOTE to all copyeditors and headline writers and word coiners of the world:

The name Anthrocene is a combination of Greek roots: anthro- (Greek: ἄνθρω) meaning "human" and -cene meaning "new". All epochs in the Cenozoic Era end in "-cene".


1. ''Personally, I prefer "anthrocene"; yes, 3 syllables reads/sounds better. Shorter words also easier on character count!''

2. ''Anthropocene" sounds like an anti-seizure or antidepressant medication. ''=P


  1. Dan Bloom @Cli_Fi_Books 16 小時前 Conducting survey. Anthrocene 10 letters or Anthropocene 12? Which best to write and speak in daily life (not academic life)? Yr POV?
    1. 16 小時前 2/2 ; for example, newspaper headlines, mag cover titles, NPR segments, blog heds, web news sites and Twitter posts. I am veering toward ANTHROCENE. short and sweet. good for heds!

    1.  4/4 andy revkin coind 3 syllable term in 1992 book as journalist (not as academic). for news, short and is best. Yr take? Is 4 sylls 2 long for news headlines and subheads and magazine covers?

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