ERIC Number: ED276283
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1985-Jun
Reference Count: 0
The Transition from Latin to German in the Natural Sciences--And Its Consequences.
Little is known about the transition from the use of Latin to the use of German in scientific literature. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Latin texts by Albrecht Durer and Johannes Kepler were bestsellers while the German versions were unpopular. German mathematics became acceptable only after 1700, with the work of Christian Wolff. Christian Thomasius, a Wolff colleague, was the first to announce a lecture in German. In 1680, for the first time, more titles were printed in German than in Latin in Germany, and by 1800, no more than four percent of all books printed there were in Latin. Germany appears to have lagged behind Italy, France, Holland, and England in the adoption of the vernacular for the sciences. The transition was part of an overall process of nationalization of the sciences in Europe, which was then forming its modern nation states. However, this opening of horizons had some costs: there was no longer a universally understood language; the sciences became a national, and sometimes nationalistic, enterprise; science became a tool of political power; the language of science lost its pliability and unambiguousness; scientific literature gained the potential for misinterpretation by non-scholars; and in some cases, science became mythologized into doctrine. (MSE)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at a Conference on Vernacular Languages for Modern Societies (Bad Homburg, West Germany, June 11-15, 1985).