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

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Sat Aug 22 16:41:27 EDT 2020


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
> >
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