Darwin-L Message Log 2:166 (October 1993)

Academic Discussion on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences

This is one message from the Archives of Darwin-L (1993–1997), a professional discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences.

Note: Additional publications on evolution and the historical sciences by the Darwin-L list owner are available on SSRN.

<2:166>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu  Sun Oct 31 14:52:02 1993

Date: Sun, 31 Oct 1993 15:58:08 -0400 (EDT)
From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu
Subject: Pronouncing "palaetiology"
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Organization: University of NC at Greensboro

Well, George, I'd type in the OED's pronunciation, but most of the characters
in it are non-ASCII.  :(  Have to get by with one of those phonetic spellings
like they use in elementary school books: pal-ee-tee-'AW-luh-djee.  I make it
six syllables altogether, with accent on the first "o".  It certainly doesn't
roll off my tongue, but maybe those who speak British English can do it more
easily?  Whewell himself didn't seem to have any trouble:

"A philological writer, in a very interesting work, (Mr. Donaldson, in his
_New Cratylus_, p. 12) expresses his dislike of this word, and suggests I must
mean _palae-aetiological_.  I think the word is more likely to obtain currency
in the more compact and euphonious form in which I have used it.  It has been
adopted by Mr. Winning, in his _Manual of Comparative Philology_, and more
recently, by other writers."  (Whewell, Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences,
second edition, p. 638.)

Oh well.  "Palae-aetiological" is what Whewell _did_ mean etymologically: the
palaetiological sciences are the sciences of historical causation.  The
Donaldson reference is one I forgot to mention in my previous post.  I have
not seen it, but found a wonderful quotation from it in another source; the
citation and sample quotation are:

Donaldson, John William.  1850.  _The New Cratylus; or Contributions Toward a
More Accurate Knowledge of the Greek Language_.  Second edition, London.
(Whewell must be referring to the first edition, but I couldn't its date.)

"The study of language is indeed perfectly analogous to Geology; they both
present us with a set of deposits in a present state of amalgamation which
however may be easily discriminated, and we may by an allowable chain of
reasoning in either case deduce from the _present_ the _former_ condition, and
determine by what causes and in what manner the superposition or amalgamation
has taken place."  (Donaldson, 1850:14)

Could any of our Classicists possibly explain the significance of Cratylus in
this context?

Bob O'Hara, Darwin-L list owner

Robert J. O'Hara (darwin@iris.uncg.edu)
Center for Critical Inquiry and Department of Biology
100 Foust Building, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Greensboro, North Carolina 27412 U.S.A.

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