[Ads-l] nature or nurture

Fri Mar 19 14:29:14 UTC 2021

Note that Garson’s 1602 example is essentially the modern use, asking whether aspects of character arise from genetics or environment.  The legal use, in contrast, simply refers to guardianship that can arise either from a blood relationship or from an adoptive or similar relationship.

Francis Galton’s popularization of the phrase probably derives primarily from his 1895 book, English Men of Science:  Their Nature and Nurture, https://archive.org/details/bub_gb_CCepY1AJYNQC (see esp. p. 9).  But he had earlier used the phrase in an 1874 paper, “On Men of Science, their Nature and their Nurture,” https://books.google.com/books?id=_uE-bpGo2N4C&pg=PA227.

John Baker

From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> On Behalf Of ADSGarson O'Toole
Sent: Friday, March 19, 2021 9:33 AM
Subject: Re: nature or nurture

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Interesting topic and valuable citation, Stephen. The Early English
Books Online database has a 1602 work containing the phrase "either in
nature or nurture". I do not know if the terms are meant to be
disjoint / oppositional in denotation or connotation.

Year: 1602
Title: A decacordon of ten quodlibeticall questions concerning
religion and state wherein the authour framing himfelfe [sic] a
quilibet to euery quodlibet, decides an hundred crosse interrogatorie
doubts, about the generall contentions betwixt the seminarie priests
and Iesuits at this present.
Author: W.W. (William Watson), 1559?-1603.
Publication info: [London] : Newly imprinted [by Richard Field]
Collection: Early English Books Online 2


[Begin excerpt]
. . . it is to be proued (as apparantly is to be seen) out of sundry
places of holy Scripture with the approbation of the Churches, canons,
constitutions and decres, for such as are to be admitted into holy
orders: as that they should not haue any notable defect either in
nature or nurture, or other mischance in them . . .
[End excerpt]


On Fri, Mar 19, 2021 at 9:06 AM Stephen Goranson <goranson at duke.edu<mailto:goranson at duke.edu>> wrote:
> Francis Galton (1822-1911) is often credited with coining "nature versus nurture." Or "nature or nurture."
> But google books has "guardianship by nature [,] or nurture" as a legal phrase going back to at least 1820, and maybe (in heinonline or elsewhere) yet earlier.
> SG
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