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Etumos Apistos, “Truly Doubtful”: Confounding Etyma in Scientific Nomenclature

12 pagesPublished: February 23, 2017


From the early 16th century, Western European science systematically resorted to Latin and Greek, the two fundamental languages of its culture, to construct their terminology. The various Renaissance anatomical atlantes, the early 18th century zoological and botanical taxonomies, the neo-Hellenisms of the late Ancient Régime chemists … scientific nomenclature at large, systematically relied upon the premise of a shared cultural soil, regardless of nation of origin, mother tongue or field of knowledge. The neologism, the neo-Greek and/or neo-Latin construct shall, thus, be a common reference to all Western European languages and, consequently, the eventual linguistic mediator would not have to worry about transmission values except for lesser (spelling, phonetic, morphological, syntactical) adaptations and for fine, even subtle adjustments of the technical or the semi-technical terms. And yet, that confidence does not always turn out to be trustworthy and there are too many instances in which the source language etymon and the target language etymon do not match and the linguistic mediator, the translator or interpreter, is forced to rethink the inferred ‘univocal’ nature and the referential invariability of the terminology that is to be transferred.

Keyphrases: contraste multilingüe, etimología, terminología científica, traducción

In: Chelo Vargas-Sierra (editor). Professional and Academic Discourse: an Interdisciplinary Perspective, vol 2, pages 354--365

BibTeX entry
  author    = {Juan Jos\textbackslash{}'e Calvo},
  title     = {Etumos Apistos, "Truly Doubtful": Confounding Etyma in Scientific Nomenclature},
  booktitle = {Professional and Academic Discourse: an Interdisciplinary Perspective},
  editor    = {Chelo Vargas-Sierra},
  series    = {EPiC Series in Language and Linguistics},
  volume    = {2},
  pages     = {354--365},
  year      = {2017},
  publisher = {EasyChair},
  bibsource = {EasyChair,},
  issn      = {2398-5283},
  url       = {},
  doi       = {10.29007/lkss}}
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