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Thread: Who gave sciences their names ?

  1. #1
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    Post Who gave sciences their names ?



    It is often said that English and other European languages have a lot of word from Greek. This is only partly true. In fact many of the Greek word were coined by British, French or German thinkers and scientists, not by people from Greece. This is true for most of the scientific fields.

    Only a few basic field have an etymology going back to ancient Greece. For example :

    - meteorology : the term was first used by Aristotle in 350 BCE.
    - geography : first used by Eratosthenes (276-194 BCE)

    Mathematics, astronomy or history are also ancient, and so old indeed that it is pointless to try to guess who invented these words.

    The names of most of the other fields of science and medicine were first coined from the Renaissance onwards.

    16th century

    - psychology : first coined in mid-16th century Germany

    - optics : first used in the modern scientific sense in 1579

    - anthropology : first used in English in 1593

    17th century

    - physiology : first used in the scientific sense in 1615

    - chemistry : first used in the modern scientific sense (as opposed to alchemy) in 1646

    - pharmacology : first appeared in 1648

    - zoology : first mentioned in 1663

    - neurology : first appeared in 1664

    18th century

    - physics : first used in the modern sense in 1715

    - philology : first attested in 1716

    - cosmology : first used in 1730 by German philosopher Christian Wolff

    - geology : first used in 1735, but the term was popularised by Denis Diderot in his Encyclopedie published in 1751.

    - obstetrics : term first used in 1742

    - dermatology : term coined in 1777

    - ethnology : coined by Slovak historian Adam Franz Kollár in 1783

    - aeronautics : first used in 1784

    - homeopathy : term coined by German physician Samuel Hahnemann in 1796

    19th century

    - biology : suggested in 1802 by German naturalist G. Reinhold Treviranus and introduced as a scientific term that year in French by Lamarck

    - psychiatry : the term was first coined by the German physician Johann Christian Reil in 1808

    - genetics : coined 1831 by Carlyle

    - neuropsychiatry : first used in 1846 in France

    - gynaecology : first used in 1847 in France

    - linguistics : first attested in 1847

    - thermodynamics : term coined by James Joule in 1849

    - oncology : first used in 1857

    - ecology : coined by German zoologist Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919) in 1873

    - osteopathy : term coined by Andrew Taylor Still in 1874

    - biochemistry : first used in 1882, but first proposed as a scientific term by Carl Neuberg in 1903

    - pediatrics : term first attested in 1884

    - psychotherapy : term first used in 1890

    - psychoanalysis : coined by Sigmund Freud in 1896

    20th century

    - geriatrics : the term was proposed in 1909 by Austrian-American Dr. Ignatz Leo Nascher.

    - geopolitics : term coined by Swedish political scientist Rudolf Kjellén in the early 20th century
    Last edited by Maciamo; 09-05-09 at 11:30.

  2. #2
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    This is very interesting
    Thank you!
    If u are interested in what the root words mean in Greek I can help with that.

    In most of these words the 2nd part is -logy and it comes from the greek word λόγος (logos) meaning speach.
    So for example psychology comes from the words ψυχή (psychi) that means soul and λόγος that means speach and as a whole it means the science that talks about the soul

    I will type the root words written in greek, then in the brackets how they sound in Greek, their meaning and then the meaning of the whole word
    - geography : γή (gi) = earth + γραφή (grafi) = text = writing about the earth
    - anthropology : άνθρωπος (anthropos) = human + λόγος = talking about humans
    - pharmacology : φάρμακο (pharmako) = medicine = talking about medicines
    - meteorology : μετέορος (meteoros) = hanging from the air = talking about what is in the air
    - neurology : νεύρο (nevro) = nerve cell = talking about nerves
    - philology : φιλος (filos) = friend = friend of the speach
    - cosmology : κόσμος (cosmos) = world = talking about the world (world in greek has a general meaning not just earth)
    - geology : (same word as geography) = talking about earth
    - dermatology : δέρμα (derma) = skin = talking about the skin
    - ethnology : έθνος (ethnos) = people of a specific country = talking about people of a specific country
    - aeronautics : αέρας (aeras) = air + ναύτης (naftis) = sailor = sailing on air
    - homeopathy : όμοιος (omios) = same + παθος (pathos) = to cause = to cause the same thing
    - biology : βίος (bios) = life = to talk about life
    - psychiatry : ψυχή (psychi) = soul + ιατρός (iatros) = doctor = healing the soul
    - gynaecology : γυναίκα (gyneka) = woman = talking about women
    - thermodynamics : θερμός (thermos) = warm + δύναμη (dynami) = power = the power of heat.
    - oncology : όγκος (ogos) = tumor = to talk about tumors
    - ecology : οίκος (ecos) = house = to talk about our house (the earth)
    - osteopathy : οστό (osto) = bone + πάθος (pathos) = to cause = problems caused in bones
    - pediatrics : παιδί (pedi) = child + ιατρική (iatriki) = medicine = healing the children
    - psychotherapy : ψυχή (psychi) = soul + Θεραπεία (therapia) = cure = to cure the soul
    - psychoanalysis : ψυχή (psychi) = soul + αναλύω (analio) = analyze = to analyze the soul
    - geopolitics : γή (gi) = earth + πολιτική (politiki) = politics = politics about earth.

    I hope I didnt make you dizzy with all those Greek words :P

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    Thanks for your feedback. I am sure it will be useful to people reading this topic.

    Well, you didn't make me dizzy (it takes a bit more ). I learned most of these at school when I was 10 or 11 years old. I am not sure it was part of the curriculum but our teacher made a point teaching it anyway as he thought it was fundamental to understand the roots of words.

    It must have sunk pretty deep in me as one of the first things I did when I started learning Japanese was to find the Sino-Japanese kanji equivalent for these prefixes and suffixes. For example, -logy is almost always translated as 学 (gaku, meaning "study of"), geo- is 地 (chi, also meaning "earth"), bio- is 生物 (sei butsu meaning "life being"), phycho- is 心 (shin, meaning "heart/mind"), etc. There is usually a 理 (ri = logic) in between to show that it is a science. So psychology is 心理学, geology is 地理学. Biology is just 生物学 without 理 as it is already long and clear enough.

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    I love japanese! I just started learning but sometimes it's confusing... :P

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    Interesting, Thank you I learned A lot!

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    This is a very good thread.

    - psychoanalysis : coined by Sigmund Freud in 1896
    Many Psychologist will deny Psychoanalysis the status of Science... however, it is interesting to know from where these name came.

    Regards.

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