[Ads-l] Antedating of "Martian" (Noun)

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Sat Oct 17 23:20:45 UTC 2015

Welcome to Peter Reitan. Congratulation on your great work on "whole
nine yards"; thanks for sharing it, and thanks to Fred for pointing to
Peter's 1877 citation for the noun Martian.

With the movie "The Martian" currently in theaters this is a fun topic.

Below is the pertinent OED definition for "Martian". Also, below is a
new citation in January 1870 for the noun "Martians" which includes a
clever proposal to communicate with the hypothetical beings. The
passage includes a bonus instance of "Jovians" which antedates the
1929 citation in the OED for "Jovian" (imagined inhabitant).

[Begin OED excerpt]
B. noun 1. a. Science Fiction. An (imagined) inhabitant of Mars.

1883 W. S. Lach-Szyrma Aleriel III. iii. 109 He..brought with him
another Martian, differently attired.
[End OED excerpt]

[Begin OED excerpt]
Draft additions 1997
An (imagined) inhabitant of the planet Jupiter.

1929   S. Leslie Anglo-Catholic xv. 209   Mary and Julius emerged with
the supreme British condescension of Jovians or Neptunians visiting a
minor planet.
[End OED excerpt]

Date: January 27, 1870
Newspaper: Watertown Daily Time
Newspaper Location: Watertown, New York
Article: Scientific
Quote Page 2, Column 5
Database: GenealogyBank

[Begin excerpt]
A Frenchman proposes to the Academy of Sciences to establish
communication with the peoples of the planets, if any such there be.
His notion is to mount a great mirror upon the earth, and give
flashing signals to Mars and Jupiter. He thinks that if these are
repeated regularly, in batches of a certain number, the Martians or
the Jovians, as the case may be, will come to discern that they mean
something, and will return them: and that thus a code will eventually
be agreed upon, so that we may talk across the solar system just as we
do across a field.
[End excerpt]

This astronomical proposal was probably mentioned earlier in other
periodicals and journals. The terms "Martian" and "Jovian" may have
accompanied the earlier discussions of the proposal. (I've only looked
in GenealogyBank.)


On Sat, Oct 17, 2015 at 4:42 PM, Shapiro, Fred <fred.shapiro at yale.edu> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Shapiro, Fred" <fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      Antedating of "Martian" (Noun)
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> The OED's first use for _Martian_, n. is dated 1883.  Peter Reitan, on his =
> Early Sports and Pop Culture History Blog, has the following antedating:
> 1877 _Cornhill Magazine_ Oct. 421-22  Thus the light given by the farther o=
> f his two moons varies from one two-hundredth to one three-hundredth part o=
> f our moon=92s.  This part, then, of the Martian moonlight is but small in =
> amount, and certainly cannot go far to compensate the Martians (as compared=
>  with us Terrestrials) for their greater distance from the sun.
> Fred Shapiro
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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