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Why is it not possible to use google translate for the lain words of elements of the periodic table?
Question Date: 2017-12-12
Answer 1:

You can! However, the success of the translation depends on the element. For example, if you go to the wikipedia page for the element lead, you will see its periodic table symbol, Pb, comes from is the latin word plumbum. If you put the word plumbum into google translate latin-->english it will translate it to lead.

BUT

Remember, not all elements have a latin root! For example, the element lithium, comes from the greek word lithos, which means stone. Of course in that situation, you cant google translate latin-->english starting with a greek word.

Hope that helps!
lead
lithium


Answer 2:

A lot of the elements' names aren't in Latin. For example, various higher elements are named for famous scientists or their labs or countries. When I put words like 'carbon' or 'oxygen' in the Latin google translate, it gives me the English translations of carbon and oxygen.

For 'Natrium', the English translation is 'Sodium,' so the Latin google translator seems to have worked for me.


Answer 3:

Some of the Latin-looking words for the elements may actually come from Greek or other languages such as Spanish. For the words that are really based on Latin, most of them take a Latin root - "root" meaning a small part of a word, a base/platform that already had some meaning in Latin - and add prefixes/suffixes or even change the form a little so that typing the word directly into Google doesn't give back the meaning of the original root or base. The other reason is that Google Translate is not comprehensive in terms of all the possible meanings and combinations of meanings in Latin. This tool is meant to be a fast resource for everyday usages of commonly occurring languages, but not for detailed studies of languages. However, Google Translate does have some. For instance, the name for the element silicon comes from the Latin word "silex", which in Latin means "flint". Typing "silex" into Google Translate, translating from Latin to English,will give you the meaning "flint", but typing "silicon" in will only get back the word "silicon".

In short, part of the reason is that we're not using the right roots, and part of the reason is the nature of Google Translate. The other thing to point out is that we have names for elements that are different from their abbreviations. An example is tin, which has the abbreviation of Sn. Sn is an abbreviation for "stannum", which means "tin" in Latin, but we don't say "stannum" in English for this element. Languages are complex, the translation between languages is oftentimes difficult, and science is no exception to the quirks of languages.


Answer 4:

Great question! Elements and their abbreviated symbols are mostly determined by the belement discoverer. In today's world, elements and their symbols must be approved by the IUPAC (International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry). The full acceptance criteria can be found on the IUPAC : website .

Many element names are derived from Latin, but many are also derived from Greek, French, Russian, Swedish, Italian, English, and others. Some names are derived from other words, and are not based on a specific language at all. Elements named in Roman time used the suffix (or word ending) "-um," and that practice is continued today with the suffix "-ium." Thus the element aluminum would not translate from its Latin word "alumen." Language is further complicated because the Latin word alumen is based on the root "alum" which translates to "bitter salt."

The key point is that element names are based on words, but rarely use the actual word. So element names are internationally recognized and do not translate to any other words. You have to understand what the root word is to be able to translate an element's name.

There is a long and rich history of how elements got their names, and a great summary can be found in this BBC Science article:
how we name them . This article from Scientific American also provides a great explanation for how element symbols are determined: abreviations .


Answer 5:

Because the makers of the Google search engine didn't program it to be able to translate elements of the periodic chart. Fortunately, if you want to look up the origins of the words for the various elements, Wikipedia can do what Google can't (Wikipedia is not an authoritative source, but it will have links to the references that are).



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