Why is a table called a ‘table’?

Why is table called a 'table'?

Qu: Why is table called a table?

Qki: Ok let’s say we don’t like calling a table by name ‘table’ but we want to call a table by name ‘chair’. Now let’s imagine you go to a shop to buy a table – keep in mind you don’t like calling table a table – you call it chair.

You: Give me a chair…

Shopkeeper: Here are the various types of chair sir…

You: No No No. Not this…I want a chair with four legs and on which you can keep things…

So the shopkeeper gets you a chair with arm rest where you can keep things…

You: No No No. This is not a chair…

Shopkeeper: But this is a chair sir…

You: No No…I want that thing where you can sit and eat food…on which you can keep a TV…

Now shopkeeper is confused…

Shopkeeper: Sir please look around…I have all the types of furniture…you please tell me what you want…or you show me a photo of your requirement…

So you look around…point to a table and say that I want that…

Shopkeeper: Then sir you should ask for a table…

You: No that’s a chair…

Imagine the confusion…

To solve that confusion all of us agree that what will be called as table…if all of us call a thing by whatever name that we like then there will be so much confusion and no work will get done…

So someone in distant past either saw a table kind of thing lying somewhere i.e. he made an “observation” or that someone tried making something to help him put something lying on floor and got table as an output i.e, he did an “experiment”. Once that person got “table” (either through observation or an experiment) he started thinking what should it be called…after lot of analysis he reached a conclusion that this thing is best called a “table” (this is called theorizing)…so you see/observe something and then make a theory to explain that observation. Now because that someone was probably very popular…very big person…to whom everyone used to listen to…so everyone agreed to call a table a ‘table’…probably that someone had a rationale as to why a table should be called a table…but that rationale has to be researched and discovered because that someone who named table a ‘table’ didn’t write anywhere as to why he named a table a ‘table’…so there are people who study origin of words…they are called etymologist…so those people study the history of words, their origin, and how they evolve over time.

The point we are trying to make is that probably at some point in past someone thought of having something like table and then he decided to call it table because the word “tabula” in Latin meant a plank/tablet kind of thing.

Now this is the interesting part – this is the basic process that gets followed in every stream of knowledge including Science.

Let me give you another an example…you see sun everyday glowing yellow…so that’s an observation you have made. Now the question is why that happens? Where does sun gets all its light from? So you think think and think more…then suddenly it strikes you that the light in your house comes from a bulb…so may the sun is made up of a large bulb that emits light…this explanation is your theory. Now is this correct? Today you will straight away say it’s wrong – but imagine when people had no idea what Sun is all about. So to prove whether you are right or wrong something more has to be done. In other words some more experiments/observations have to support your theory.

So what happens next…then someone observes that the rising and setting sun are however red in color…so if there is a bulb in the sun then how does color changes through the day…so your theory is now not  able to explain this new observation. So what do you do? You modify the theory or make a new theory.

So let’s assume your new theory is…in sun there are two bulbs – red and yellow…in the mornings and evenings the red bulb is switched on and in the afternoons the yellow one is switched on. Now this theory explains the new observation.

But then another guy makes another observation…in the house bulb there is a glass casing around the filament…but if you observe the sun carefully you find no evidence of glass there…so how do you explain that…

So this process keeps on going on…an observation leads to a theory…and the theory has to support new observations…as long as it supports new observations it remains a valid theory…when it cannot it needs to be modified or replaced by a new theory.

Just like the word ‘table’…if I now look in the hindsight there may not be a valid reason to call it a table. So what should be called a “”folda” (four legged dead animal) is called table…but in language a wrong theory doesn’t harm us because the whole reason of having a language is to communicate…so as long as you can get your message across it’s fine…in other words I don’t need to change the words to fit the meaning correctly. But in science that does not work…theories explain the working of nature…and that knowledge is used to make new devices to improve our lives…so if you make a machine for heart with a wrong theory you will probably kill someone. Therefore in Science theories keep on changing as we make new observations or conduct new experiments and discover new things.

So to sum up – the process of science (or let me say process of discovering knowledge) is as follows:

Observation/Experiment => Theory

Thus you see theories are nothing but leaps of imaginations. And this is why experiments are so important…in the absence of an experiment to validate a theory anyone can make any theory and if that person is popular/powerful then the wrong theory will also be accepted. There is another reason also…doing correct experiments is very difficult…it requires a lot of skills, patience and perseverance. But let me talk about it another discussion.

We suggest our readers to read the succeeding discussion to this one to get a complete perspective. Click here to read the succeeding discussion.

 

About Us

DreamNobel is an education initiative to teach Science subjects to kids in a way that “original & independent” thinking becomes an integral part of their personality. We have developed a unique and revolutionary course whereby a kid can be taught broadly all the Science subjects (Physics, Chemistry, Biology & Geology) that she will learn during her entire schooling life, through a unique story and rationalization led pedagogy.

www.dreamnobel.com

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *