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    I am a secondary school teacher. I teach my students how to name chemicals based on what the UK A level specifications tell me is the 'right' way of doing things. Which in turn is based, largely, on what IUPAC says. I teach ethanoate, cm3, propan-2-ol and mol dm-3 etc etc etc.

    Every year, universities get students who have been taught this way and the lecturers spend so much time and effort re-training those students with acetate, ml, isopropyl alcohol and M etc etc etc.

    Every year they bang their heads against the wall, repeating the same battles and they do this over and over again, year after year after year. They must know they are never going to win. Surely it is time that they just accept what they are getting supplied with and rather than, yet again, try to change these students, change themselves and the way they teach/talk.

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    (Original post by Pigster)
    I am a secondary school teacher. I teach my students how to name chemicals based on what the UK A level specifications tell me is the 'right' way of doing things. Which in turn is based, largely, on what IUPAC says. I teach ethanoate, cm3, propan-2-ol and mol dm-3 etc etc etc.

    Every year, universities get students who have been taught this way and the lecturers spend so much time and effort re-training those students with acetate, ml, isopropyl alcohol and M etc etc etc.

    Every year they bang their heads against the wall, repeating the same battles and they do this over and over again, year after year after year. They must know they are never going to win. Surely it is time that they just accept what they are getting supplied with and rather than, yet again, try to change these students, change themselves and the way they teach/talk.

    [/rant]
    I agree to some extent, but non-systematic names certainly have a place. Any but the very simplest molecules have names that are both long and hard to remember and so non-systematic names are more useful. In my experience the places where non-systematic names are most prevalant is in the lab, Acetone is universally used in preference to propanone and "Ether" is equally universally understood to mean Diethyl ether. This is true of virtually every research lab in the English speaking world.

    Equally, the non standard namings used often provide more intuitive insight into the reactivity of a molecule and indeed how it may be constructed.

    t-butyl for example, automatically invokes thoughts of sterics in whatever reactions might be occuring, to me 2-Methylpropan-2-ol isn't (without drawing it) as obviously going to undergo SN1 as T-butyl alcohol is, .

    This naming for reactivity, rather than for the sake of it, sees further use when relatively complex groups are used in passing in synthesis, as an example:

    Trivially one might use Tosyl Chloride to improve the leaving ability of an Oxygen atom. (tosylation)

    standard naming would have us use 4-methylbenzenesulfonyl chloride. Again any chemist will be able to work out what that means, but why bother when everyone with any experience knows and understands tosyl?

    In general a chemistry degree is going to teach students in the hope they go on to academic research, as such, there is absolutely no motivation for lecturers to use only IUPAC naming, when these names are not what is used in the lab!

    I guess my view boils down to the question of what the purpose of naming molecules is.

    If the idea is simply that each molecule have a name, then IUPAC is great.

    But if the name is meant to be more intuitively informative about the reactivity of a molecule, then I feel some of the less systematic names achieve that more effectively.

    In my view, very basic knowledge of the IUPAC system can be useful, but using it all the time would be nothing but a pain. At the end of the day, this can cause some slight frustration for incoming students, but the names academics use work well and naming compounds in the official way is not something that academic chemists are interested in, particularly if a simpler, trivial name, can convey the same (or better) understanding of the compound and its reactivity
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    I think IUPAC is a necessary equaliser.

    Added to which, the systematic naming system is clunky for a whole range of species, and doesn't link to the historic names all across chemistry which are well established (like acetylation, etc).

    They don't really spend ages banging their heads on a wall. They just call it X and in time you get used to it (talking as a recent chemistry graduate). I don't feel like it used up an undue amount of time. No one tells you off if you say propan-2-ol, it's just easier to say IPA. My uni were fervent adherents to cm3.
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    (Original post by MexicanKeith)
    I agree to some extent...
    And I agree with everything you said, especially with regards to common names of most things and I often think to myself how much easier it would be to just use tert and iso instead of the horrible prefixes that the A level specifications demand.

    But my point wasn't that it should be IUPAC all the way as it is far far far too long-winded and clumsy to name more easily named things. It is the things like acetone and molarity, which could easily be trained into the university staff ONCE, rather than each year re-teaching the multitude of students who start courses.

    There is no advantage to referring to it as concentration in mol dm-3 over molarity in M, or vice versa. So, why push water up hill? Why no just go with what they are already trained to do?

    IMO acetone is an inferior name to propanone. And why is ethyl acetate a better name than ethyl ethanoate? If it isn't a better name, why not go with the masses, i.e. the noobs?
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    I noticed this when I started studying chemistry at uni, but soon got used to it without there being much head banging. In time I was pretty much converted to it and as a PhD student I now use names like IPA, ether, acetone, ethyl acetate etc all the time in the lab.
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    (Original post by Pigster)
    And I agree with everything you said, especially with regards to common names of most things and I often think to myself how much easier it would be to just use tert and iso instead of the horrible prefixes that the A level specifications demand.

    But my point wasn't that it should be IUPAC all the way as it is far far far too long-winded and clumsy to name more easily named things. It is the things like acetone and molarity, which could easily be trained into the university staff ONCE, rather than each year re-teaching the multitude of students who start courses.

    There is no advantage to referring to it as concentration in mol dm-3 over molarity in M, or vice versa. So, why push water up hill? Why no just go with what they are already trained to do?

    IMO acetone is an inferior name to propanone. And why is ethyl acetate a better name than ethyl ethanoate? If it isn't a better name, why not go with the masses, i.e. the noobs?
    In terms of the molarity/ mol dm^-3 business, I think pretty much everyone I know uses them completely interchangably. Labels on lab bottles will normally say M, but that rarely causes any confusion or difficulty for anyone.

    The main one I remember causing a bit of a nuisance when I arrived at university was the use of the word Acetone, I would certainly have agreed then that Propanone would be better.

    I suppose since then I've become a little attached to it, atleast in the sense that I like the name Acetone now.

    Ethyl Acetate likewise, having got used to using it, I now prefer the name, although thinking about it I really don't know why.

    I think the reason for stubbornness is that the people who use the old names are in charge, both of the labs and the lectures, and so as far as they are concerned, it is easier for students to have to learn a handful of trivial names, than for them to relabel all those bottles :P

    On top of that, in the long run, learning those few names is not a big issue for any student. In the grand scheme of a chemistry degree, memorisation takes many more taxing and tiresome forms (by the end of my third year I had an index of 200 named organic reaction mechanisms from the Aldol and the Barton-McCombie Deoxygenation, through to the Wittig rearrangment and Zaitzev elimination).

    So yeah, I do agree it is a pain and there is an element of laziness involved, but it doesnt cause any significant issues, certainly not enough to motivate any attempt at a solution
 
 
 
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