vague / onde

SisterLuna--

SisterLuna--

Can anyone clarify whether there is a rule for usage of the words 'vague' and 'onde' (both meaning 'wave'). I was under the impression 'vague' was for waves on the sea, and 'onde' was in the scientific sense, however i just noticed that you can say 'vague de chaleur' (heatwave).. so now i'm not sure whether my rule is right.. can anyone clarify?! Perhaps they are interchangeable.. thanks!
toru e

toru e

Hi SisterLuna, you have it right. *Onde* is used in a "scientific" sense, but I'd also refine this further and say that it's used in a mathematic or calculational sense/application. *Vague* is used for day to day "representations" of a wave-like behavior, i.e. things that have a notional (inexact), cyclical or periodic rhythm (ocean waves, waves of crowds exiting a station with the arrival of trains, etc.). It may help you to think of *onde* as used for discrete wave forms/phenomena that can be represented by a mathematical equation (like sine wave=l'onde sinusoïdale or wavelength=longueur d'ondes) instead of "figurative" waves. A heat wave is an ecologic/climatic phenomenon, but it is not a mathematic one. [i.e. the phenomenon can't be represented as a graphical equation where you can determine a certain value (say, temperature) based on its position on the curve].
SisterLuna--

SisterLuna--

Hi torusan, You're a star! thanks so much, i understand now. Your tip about understanding 'onde' as being represented by a mathematical equation is extremely useful. Thanks again!
toru e

toru e

No problem! One of the courses I teach is "Optics and Waves", so I've grilled my tutors aplenty on these kinds of science-related terms and jargon. :)
SisterLuna--

SisterLuna--

Ah i see! :)

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