[Ads-l] "If a tree falls..."

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Sat Aug 22 17:41:29 EDT 2020


Great finds.

Was "philosopher" still likely to cover "scientist" in 1849?

JL

On Sat, Aug 22, 2020 at 4:41 PM ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com>
wrote:

> Here is a thematic match in the same time period. This 1849 citation
> implicitly considers the question of whether a thunderclap
> accompanying a lightning bolt exists even if "no one hears it". The
> piece suggests that "philosophers" suppose that the thunderclap does
> exist.
>
> [ref] 1849 May 14, Newark Daily Advertiser, Section: Correspondence of
> the Newark Daily Advertiser, Title: New York Anniversaries, Date: May
> 12, 1849, Quote Page 2, Column 1, Newark, New Jersey. (GenealogyBank)
> [/ref]
>
> [Begin excerpt]
> On the contrary, I observed one speaker—a celebrated traveller in the
> Orient, who from his warm gesticulation, and other infallible
> symptoms, was evidently overflowing with intelligence, and on fire
> with his subject, yet from feebleness of the vocal organ was little
> better than a lump of latent heat; or, perhaps, a specimen of that
> summer evening lightning which is supposed by philosophers to be in
> fact accompanied by a report, though no one hears it.
> [End excerpt]
>
> Garson
>
> On Sat, Aug 22, 2020 at 4:08 PM Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> > The tantalizing 1853 item discovered by JL shows up a bit earlier here:
> >
> > Eastern State Journal, White Plains, NY, May 6, 1853, p. 1, col. 4
> >
> https://fultonhistory.com/Newspapers%2023/White%20Plains%20NY%20Eastern%20State%20Journal/White%20Plains%20NY%20Eastern%20State%20Journal%201852-1855/White%20Plains%20NY%20Eastern%20State%20Journal%201852-1855%20-%200167.pdf
> >
> >
> > On Sat, Aug 22, 2020 at 3:59 PM ADSGarson O'Toole <
> adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com>
> > wrote:
> >
> > > Jonathan Lighter  wrote:
> > > > A little earlier:
> > > >
> > > > 1853  _Green Mountain Freeman_  (Montpelier, Vt.) (June 23) 4:  "If a
> > > tree
> > > > falls, and no one hears it, does it make a noise?" The above
> question was
> > > > announced in the _Rondout Courier_,  for discussion, last evening,
> in the
> > > > debating wing of the Lyceum of that village.  Three disputants were
> named
> > > > on each side.
> > > >
> > > > Credited to the _Poughkeepsie American_.
> > > >
> > > > That's entertainment!
> > >
> > > Excellent finds, JL.
> > >
> > > Way back in 2005 (before I was a member of this list), Fred Shapiro
> > > posted an inquiry on this topic.
> > > http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/ads-l/2005-May/049340.html
> > >
> > > Stephen Goranson mentioned the pertinence of Bishop Berkeley's "A
> > > Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge" (1710) which
> > > did discuss the imagination, perception, and the existence of a trees.
> > > http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/ads-l/2005-May/049341.html
> > >
> > > Benjamin Zimmer noted that Berkeley "didn't say anything about the
> > > sound of falling trees". Ben listed some citations beginning with June
> > > 1883.
> > > http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/ads-l/2005-May/049346.html
> > >
> > > The Yale Book of Quotation has an entry which refers to the philosophy
> > > of George Berkeley and presents the June 1883 citation and later
> > > citations.
> > >
> > > Wikipedia has an entry which refers to Berkeley's 1710 treatise and
> > > lists the June 1883 citation together with later citations.
> > > https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/If_a_tree_falls_in_a_forest
> > >
> w.americandialect.org
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>


-- 
"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."

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