Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Bifurcation vs. Articulation

We have buses here in Seattle that carry me from one county to another. They are usually wonderful, warm, comfortable places to be in traffic or otherwise. Lately, and after some rather harrowing bus rides, I'm finding the bifurcated buses not as comfortable. It's beginning to flavor my decisions on how I get home. I prefer to wait for a non-bifurcated bus.

The buses are not actually called bifurcated. They are called articulated. I've attached the dictionary definitions to these two words. Essentially, bifurcation means pretty much just one thing - divide or fork into two branches. That's it. That's what these buses are like. They are two part buses - with the back end swinging separately from the front to enable it to negotiate corners more effectively.

Articulated - this throws me for a loop. What does articulation have to do with a two part bus? I mean these buses belch. But, they don't speak. They don't use language at all, never mind articulating clearly. Okay, the belch counts - but is that truly articulate?

So why, for gods sake, are these buses called articulated buses and not bifurcated?

I do understand why, in today's liberalist society, we do not call these buses "jointed". That term may never work (with a straight face).

Have I whined about this already? That's how much this bothers me...

Bifurcation = to divide or fork into two branches.

Articulation = 1.uttered clearly in distinct syllables.
2. capable of speech; not speechless.
3. using language easily and fluently; having facility with words: an articulate speaker.
4. expressed, formulated, or presented with clarity and effectiveness: an articulate thought.
5. made clear, distinct, and precise in relation to other parts: an articulate form; an articulate shape; an articulate area.
6. (of ideas, form, etc.) having a meaningful relation to other parts: an articulate image.
7. having parts or distinct areas organized into a coherent or meaningful whole; unified: an articulate system of philosophy.
8. Zoology . having joints or articulations; composed of segments. (Oh - this it. Hmmm, still don't like it.)


  1. So, lemme see if I can articulate this properly... if I climb a tree, I can sit in the bifurcation, then?

  2. Just don't be smokin' a Joint (in front of a cop).

  3. My wife loves to use the word "bifurcate".


  4. Articulate is the common word used when speaking of mechanical things which work like that.
    It may be one of those words like "robust" which became ubiquitous(another one) in the last few years. Split chassis, or bus and a half seem adequate terms to me. Bifurcated implies a stationary fork, so I must object. It doesn't encompass the swinging tail syndrome.

  5. bus and a half. Much better. The swinging tail...My brain produces a totally different picture.

  6. Generally speaking, a bifurcation is a qualitative change in the structure of an attractor, as a control parameter is a good choice.