I got an email yesterday from John Bachner at the National Lighting Bureau with a press release about something the NLB is fighting – the use of the phrase “Artificial Lighting.” The NLB is not happy with the way that ‘artificial’ and ‘lighting’ get used together. From the press release:
“This is not the first time we’ve attempted to eliminate ‘artificial lighting,’” said Bureau Executive Director John Bachner. “But no matter what we do, we see it every day.” He’s not talking about the illumination systems that make contemporary living possible – think how little would get done well or at all without lighting – but rather the term “artificial lighting.”
“‘Artificial lighting’ is a misnomer; it makes no sense,” Bachner said. “Artificial things aren’t real. Artificial leather is not leather. It may look like leather, it may feel like leather, it might even smell like leather, but it’s not leather. And the same could be said about artificial glass, artificial wood, and even artificial foods, like artificial crab and artificial cheese. They may be real something, but they’re fake whatever it is they’re trying to appear or taste or smell to be. That’s not the case with lighting.”
Bachner should know whereof he speaks. A National Lighting Bureau staff executive since 1976, he is a Harvard English major who has been published extensively on a variety of subjects, including proper use of the English language.
“The light we get from electric illumination systems is real light,” Bachner said. “There’s nothing artificial about it.” He suggested that the term “artificial” was applied to distinguish electric and other types of man-made lighting from “natural lighting.” “‘Natural lighting’ is also referred to as ‘daylighting,’” Bachner said, “but not all natural lighting is ‘daylighting,’ or – more appropriately – sunlight. The light we get from the moon is natural, as is the light we get from the stars and even swamp gas and lightning. Man-made lighting is predominantly electric, of course, but gas lighting is still used in places, as are torches made from tree limbs and kerosene-soaked rags, at least in the movies.”
Like many things in our lives, semantics means everything when it comes to the opinion of the masses. What do you all think of this?
Read the entire NLB press release here: