‘Parented to’

Language morphs in interesting ways. Fields of endeavor adopt various words from the general language as terms of art. But of course, the metaphors break down around the edges and the terms morph to reflect that.

In computer science, the terms ‘tree’, ‘parent’ and ‘child’ were taken to talk about a certain way of structuring data, presumably because when you draw diagrams of this structure, it looks similar to a diagram of a family tree you might draw in genealogy. But often, when implementing this, it’s sensible for the node to have a ‘parent’ property rather than just the parent having a ‘children’ property. In those cases, it’s more natural, then, to English a line of code like “A.parent = B;” as “node A is parented to node B”, rather than “node A is made a child of node B”. They mean the same thing in the computer science nomenclature, but you’d probably never hear someone saying “Joe is parented to Jane” in genealogical terms.

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