THE VOCABULARY OF SCIENCE by Lancelot Hogben

THE VOCABULARY OF SCIENCE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

When not explaining mathematics for the laymen, the distinguished scientist, writer, and lecturer Lancelot Hogben enjoys nothing so much as expounding on the roots of our mother tongue as they have been absorbed, altered and articulated over the centuries. This language ""besides its substratum of Teutonic words. . . has acquired a considerable infusion of corrupt Latin through the Norman conquest and Plantagenet campaigns, of classical Latin through church law and scientific scholarship, a by no means trivial equipment based on Greek roots, a small battery of Moorish and Persian ingredients through Moslem science and the Crusades, together with a miscellany of Indian, Chinese, and African words incidental to trade and colonization."" In brief introductory chapters and an epilogue Hogben records the history of these processes with sharp humor and concision, acknowledges the world's scientific debt to Linnaeus and Lavoisier and deplores the increasing bastardization of scientific vocabulary through the well-known processes of erosion, ambiguity, and ignorance. In between he sets forth extensive glossaries of root forms of Greek and Latin origin for English words in common and scientific parlance, along with highly condensed rules of grammar and conventions of transliteration and spelling. Undoubtedly many scientists and doctors have absorbed the root meanings of words in their fields, but for students, word buffs, or amateur etymologists there is much of value here and the introductory and concluding remarks are charming insights into the linguistic accidents in the history of science.

Pub Date: May 13th, 1970
Publisher: Stein & Day