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RE: English 101

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Bill:

Your question:
Do you understand the word "aseismic" to mean "seismic" or
"non-seismic"?

Short answer:
YES.

Long answer:
I, personally, do not use the term "aseismic design" when I mean
"design for seismic resistance."  And yes, Roger is correct that
seismologists use the term aseismic to mean "not related to
earthquakes."

However, there is a long history of researchers using the term
"aseismic" to mean "anti-seismic" as Fred mentioned.  I searched the
National Information Service for Earthquake Engineering (NISEE) web
site for earthquake engineering abstract using the keyword "aseismic"
and got 200 hits--all related to design for seismic resistance.  I've
noticed in the past that most of the people who use "aseismic" in this
sense are not native English speakers; however, there are some
exceptions to this observation (J.M. Kelley, for example).  One highly
regarded leader in the earthquake engineering field, Emilio
Rosenblueth, selected "A Basis for Aseismic Design of Structures" as
the title of his 1951 Ph.D. thesis at the University of Illinois.

The grammarian in me insists that "aseismic design" should not be used
to indicate "design for seismic resistance," but we shouldn't forget
that others have intended that meaning.  By the same token,
"earthquake engineering" is probably not the best grammatical
construct to describe what many of us do; my dictionaries indicate
that "earthquake" is always a noun and thus shouldn't be used as an
adjective.  For those most involved in the profession, "earthquake
engineering" is the accepted term--right or wrong.

-Mike
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Michael Valley, P.E., S.E.                   E-mail: mtv(--nospam--at)skilling.com
Skilling Ward Magnusson Barkshire Inc.              Tel:(206)292-1200
1301 Fifth Ave, #3200,  Seattle  WA 98101-2699      Fax:        -1201