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Review of Languages of Science in the Eighteenth Century
EDITOR: Britt-Louise Gunnarsson TITLE: Languages of Science in the Eighteenth Century PUBLISHER: de Gruyter Mouton YEAR: 2011
Rolf Kemmler, Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro / Centro de Estudos em Letras, Portugal
As the editor Britt-Louise Gunnarson (University of Uppsala, Sweden) states in her pre-introduction, ''most of the chapters this volume were originally presented as plenary lectures or section papers at the Symposium on Languages of Science in the Time of Linnaeus, held in Uppsala in June 2007'' (p. xi). The Symposium was held on the occasion of the tercentenary of the birth of the 18th century Swedish scientist Carl Linnaeus, also known as Carl von Linné or Carolus Linnæus (1707-1778), who is acknowledged to have devised the basics of modern biological zoological classification. Four years after this symposium the results are presented in a printed edition by Mouton de Gruyter, uniting seventeen articles.
After an introduction by the editor which serves both to inform on the general theme of languages in the 18th century (with a focus on the Swedish reality) and on Carl von Linné, she continues with a brief synopsis of the individual articles, which are organized in four sections.
Section 1: The forming of scientific communities
In the article ''Church, state, university, and the printing press: Conditions for the emergence and maintenance of autonomy of scientific publication in Europe'' (pp. 25-44), Charles Bazerman focuses on scientific printing in a time when knowledge in the natural sciences increasingly came to be a matter of state and of independent scholars and less of the church dominated universities. Comparing the advent of printing in China and in Europe, Bazerman puts into evidence what could be called a secularization of knowledge in learned societies and academies since the 16th century as well as in scientific journals due to liberal access to printing. While in the 18th century research activity all over most of Europe didn't necessarily have to be linked to a university, this began to change with the German university reforms from the mid 19th century on.
In the article ''Philology in the eighteenth century: Europe and Sweden,'' (pp. 45-61), Gunilla Gren-Eklund offers an overview over 'philology' in eighteenth century Sweden. Given that the term 'linguistics' is used nowadays mostly for synchronous linguistics and that the article focuses on a historiographic view of the scientific dedication to linguistic thought (even in a pre-linguistic period), it seems more adequate to use the term 'linguistic historiography' and 'Sprachwissenschaftsgeschichte' in the sense of E. F. Konrad Koerner. It seems quite natural that in 18th century Swedish universities there was not yet any regular philological (or linguistic) activity, except for studies concerning the oriental language, which actually coincides with the general picture before the introduction of philology and language studies in the early and mid-19th century.
In the article ''The Swedish Academy of Sciences: Language policy and language practice'' (pp. 63-87), Ulf Teleman dedicates himself to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (''Kungliga Vetenskapsakademien'', KVA), founded in Stockholm in 1739. As a learned society that was created emulating the British ''Royal Society of London'' and the French ''Académie Royale des Sciences'', the KVA's focus from the beginning was exclusively dedicated to Science (as opposed to the Humanities). From its beginning the academy opted to use the Swedish language exclusively in its publications, so it could not avoid dedicating itself to linguistic topics such as the choice of German/Swedish vs. Latin typeset in its publications, the orthography of the Swedish language or the policy regarding the use of foreign words in Swedish normative aspects. Teleman undertakes a brief linguistic survey, sampling some articles published in the KVA proceedings (some of which have Latin counterparts published in the proceedings of the Uppsala Society) by some authors from 1739 to 1775. In his results it seems quite convincing that the Academy, while not being able to establish any formal general norms before the advent of the more linguistically oriented Swedish Academy (''Svenska Akademien'') in 1786, at least contributed to the evolution of the Swedish scientific language as a substitution to the formerly all-dominating Latin.
Section 2. The emergence of new languages of science
In her article ''Scientific literacy in eighteenth-century Germany'' (pp. 91-106), Renata Schellenberg takes a look at a singular aspect of intellectual culture and languages in 18th century Germany, concentrating on the public scientific dispute of biological and philosophical nature between the German Caspar Friedrich Wolf (1734-1794) and the Swiss Albrecht von Haller (1708-1777) in books and scientific periodicals since 1758. While the discussion began in Latin publications by both authors, the dispute was soon held in German in order to be understood by a broader audience. After the initial dispute ended with Haller's death, further contributions were made in German by other scholars.
The article ''From vernacular to national language: Language planning and the discourse of science in eighteenth-century Sweden'' (pp. 107-122) by Anna Helga Hannesdóttir focuses on Swedish language planning in the 18th century. A significant part of the article is occupied by a thorough explanation of the ideas of the American linguist Einar Haugen (1906-1994) on language planning and the application of Haugen's model on the Swedish reality (pp. 107-115). Less than 4 1/2 pages (pp. 115-119) are dedicated to what was supposed to be the article's main concern, namely the various types of contribution Linnaeus made to the Swedish language. As the author concludes that Linnaeus, apart from contributing enormously to the creation of a Swedish scientific prose as well as the introduction of many new lexemes for the Swedish dictionary, did not take part in any language planning per se, the relationship between Haugen's model and Linnaeus's role in 18th century Swedish linguistic politics seems somewhat forced as his role clearly was that of a contributor to the internal evolution of the Swedish language.
In the article ''From Latin and Swedish to Latin in Swedish: On the early modern emergence of a professional vernacular variety in Sweden'' (pp. 123-138), Lars Wollin takes a statistical look at the evolution of the relationship between Latin and Swedish in the lexical area up until modern times. As in other European languages, the direct use of Latin, so typical for scholarship until the 18th century, came to be substituted by an increased use of loan words and Latin lexemes.
Under the title ''Science and natural language in the eighteenth century: Buffon and Linnaeus'' (pp. 141-155), Richard Sörman explores linguistic aspects of the scientific controversy between the Frenchman Georges-Louis Leclerc, Count of Buffon (1708-1788), who in his ''Histoire naturelle générale et particulière'' (36 vols., Paris, 1749-1789) rejects Linnaeus's taxonomic approach to classifying nature. Considering that the article is meant to be an objective scientific text, it seems unusual that the introduction ends with the following anticlimax: ''The main conclusion, however, is that Buffon's critique of modern scientist's use of language is far from out of date and that it raises the general and ahistorical question of the effective value of abstract language as a tool for understanding and describing reality'' (p. 142). From the historian's point of view, such an attitude as displayed by the author might be considered dubious, as his main role should be to describe and not to judge. Essentially, Buffon's difficulty with Linnaeus's method seems to be a different perception of how the extralinguistic nature might be described by linguistic means, and what style would be more adequate. In conclusion of this seemingly more literary than linguistic study, one question remains unanswered -- did Linnaeus comment on Buffon's criticism? If so, what was his reply?
The last article in this section is entitled ''From theory of ideas to theory of succedaneum: The Linnaean botanical nomenclature(s) as 'a point of view on the world' '' (pp. 157-168), by Philippe Selosse. Based on the term ''succedaneum'' which is frequently used by Linnaeus with the approximate meaning of ''substitute,'' the author offers a more philosophical than purely linguistic approach to Linnaeus's taxonomy.
Section 3: The spread of scientific ideas
In the article ''Linnaeus’s international correspondence: The spread of a revolution'' (pp. 171-191), Ann-Mari Jönsson offers an outlook on the scientist's correspondence as one of the means used by Linnaeus to divulge his scientific results. Dedicated to Linnaeus's scientific revolution, the real content of the article is, not so much dedicated to linguistic aspects but rather to the history of science.
Under the title ''The influence of Carl Linnaeus on the ''Encyclopaedia Britannica'' of 1771'' (pp. 193-206), Rosemarie Gläser takes a look at the influences of Linnaeus's work on the first edition of the ''Encyclopaedia Britannica''. After short considerations on Linnaus's British connections, Gläser offers some information on the first edition of the ''Encyclopaedia Britannica,'' trying to situate this Scottish encyclopaedia project. Even though there seems to be some confusion with regard to the French ''Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers,'' which, contrary to the author's reference (p. 196), did not include the term ''française'' in its title, the proof the author offers for Linnaeus's influence on the ''Encyclopaedia Britannica'' seems convincing.
The article ''Linnaeus and the Siberian expeditions: Translating political empire into a kingdom of knowledge'' (pp. 207-226) by Kenneth J. Knoespel is dedicated to Carl Linnaeus's response to the findings of the expeditions to Siberia from 1724 on. After the presentation of some ''Russian dissertations'' associated with Linnaeus (p. 210-219) it becomes evident that while the biologist's interest was getting to know new species his linguistic goal was their naming.
In the last article of the third section, Palmira Fontes da Costa offers an outlook on ''The introduction of the Linnaean classification of nature in Portugal'' (p. 227-243). Beginning her considerations with the Marquis of Pombal's reform at Coimbra University (1772), where Linnaeus's works were mandatory in the newly created studies of natural history, the author duly mentions the Italian Domenico Vandelli, as well as Félix Avelar Brotero, who, while also adhering to Linnaeus's classification, voiced his misgivings about the limitations of his classification. While the former, who even corresponded with Linnaeus, can be said to have initiated academic science at Coimbra University, Brotero is held as the father of Portuguese Botany. The fifth and last section of the article is dedicated to ''Classification and the Muses.'' Whereas the reflex of Linnaeus's work in Portuguese poetry might be interesting for Portuguese studies, this is clearly not a linguistic but a literary chapter. This might not be deemed problematic. The same, however, cannot be said if we consider that throughout the book any citation of non-English text is duly translated in relation to the original texts (although not all of the translations appear similarly adequate, but it seems acceptable that they serve foremost for understanding what otherwise wouldn't be understood by all readers). It appears somewhat problematic that the article's author refers to English titles when talking about the works of Portuguese authors (p. 228). The references, however, show that the referred works really have Portuguese titles. Any translations of such source texts should have been (but are not) accompanied by the original text.
Section 4. The development of scientific writing
The articles in this section can summarily be described as text linguistic studies of 18th century texts. As these articles will be mostly of interest to specialists in Swedish linguistics, I will limit myself to a brief characterization of each article.
The first two articles are dedicated to some linguistic aspects of Carl Linnaeus's works. In his article ''Linnaeus as a connecting link in Swedish language history'' (pp. 247-261), Bo Ralph offers some insight into stylistic aspects of Linnaeus's contributions to Swedish language history, based on the scientist's notebooks and travel records, ending by an overview of those whose style his writing might have influenced.
In a slightly different approach, but also analysing works of the Swedish scientist, Han-Liang Chang takes a look into the conventions ''Calendar'' and ''aphorism'' in Linnaeus's Latin works ''Philosophie Botanica'' and ''Fundamenta Botanica'' in his article ''Calendar and aphorism: A generic study of Carl Linnaeus’s ''Fundamenta Botanica'' and ''Philosophia Botanica'' (pp. 263-278).
In his text linguistic article ''The reflective cultivator? Model readers in eighteenth-century Swedish garden literature'' (pp. 279-301), Andreas Nord provides an analysis of 18th century garden literature. Using the concepts of ''social semiotics'' and ''appraisal theory,'' his aim is to characterize the analysed texts according to being action-oriented or knowledge-oriented in relation to the ''model reader.''
The last two articles by Britt-Louise Gunnarsson (''The linguistic construction of scientificality in early Swedish medical texts,'' pp. 303-332) and Päivi Pahta (''Eighteenth-century English medical texts and discourses on reproduction,'' pp. 333-355) are dedicated to medical texts. Whereas the former offers a focus on medical treatises in the Transactions of the Royal Swedish Academy, the latter focuses on reproduction in English texts.
The book ends with a subject index (pp. 357-365), which is to be applauded, as proceedings normally do not tend to offer such an index.
This volume is remarkable in its broad linguistic approach, both promising and offering new insights. It falls, however, short of fulfilling the promise made by its title. For someone specialized in 18th century linguistics, a publication dedicated to ''Languages of Science on the Eighteenth Century'' must have a strong attraction, even more so considering the advertising message divulged in LINGUIST Llist 22.4199. But although the publisher concedes that ''a particular focus is placed on the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778)'', the further affirmation ''The book covers writing in different European languages: Swedish, German, French, English, Latin, Portuguese, and Russian'' is not really matched by the book's contents: as a matter of fact, fourteen (!) of the texts are related to Sweden, Swedish, or to Carl Linnaeus, whereas only three are dedicated to other countries or languages.
While it seems evident that such a reference might have been omitted for marketing purposes, the Swedish domination of the collective of individual articles should have been more obvious. The lack of a subtitle that explains the ''Swedish Connection'' could mislead potential buyers as well as readers and the absence of any reference to Sweden or the Swedish language on the back cover blurb reinforces this impression.
The various parts of the books cannot really be regarded as chapters of what would be a monographic publication, but simply as articles by seventeen authors from Sweden (8), the US (3), France (2), China/Taiwan (1), Finland (1), Germany (1) and Portugal (1). Obviously, the fact that the volume in reality constitutes the proceedings of an academic symposium is not problematic. As there is an increasing tendency to deprecate proceedings in evaluations of academic publications, the editor's choice of a publication as a collection of individual articles seems wise and cannot be criticized.
Aside from the fact that throughout the whole book there is a multitude of unproven affirmations concerning information that is not public domain, most of the articles do, however, show the quality and scientific seriousness that is to be expected of such a publication.
It may seem that the book contributes but little to our knowledge of language history and linguistic historiography of 18th century Europe as a whole. There can, however, be no doubt that it should prove quite useful and interesting for anybody interested diverse aspects of the history of the modern Swedish language especially since the 18th century.
Alorna (Marquesa de), Leonor d'Almeida Portugal Lorena e Lencastre. 1844. Obras poeticas de D. Leonor d'Almeida Portugal Lorena e Lencastre, Marqueza d'Alorna, condessa d'Assumar e d'Oeynhausen, conhecida pelo nome de Alcipe, tomo IV, Lisboa: Na Imprensa Nacional.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Rolf Kemmler is an auxiliary researcher in the field of Portuguese
linguistic historiography with the Centro de Estudos em Letras (CEL),
University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro (UTAD, Vila Real, Portugal). He
received his doctorate in Romance Philology from Bremen University
(Germany) in 2005, with a thesis entitled 'A Academia Orthográfica
Portugueza na Lisboa do Século das Luzes: Vida, obras e atividades de João
Pinheiro Freire da Cunha (1738-1811)', published in 2007. His research
interests focus on the history of Portuguese orthography as well as the
history of Portuguese and Latin-Portuguese grammar.