Post by Arnaud Fournet Post by Peter T. Daniels Post by Arnaud Fournet Post by Peter T. Daniels Post by Arnaud Fournet Post by Peter T. Daniels Post by Arnaud Fournet Post by Peter T. Daniels Post by Arnaud Fournet Post by Peter T. Daniels Post by DKleinecke
Back when DD first started posting in sci.lang I quoted someone
etymology is a science in which the consonants count for very
little and the vowels for nothing at all"
It appears to be a precise description of his technique.
Leonard Bloomfield quotes Max Muller quoting Voltaire. Muller gives no
reference for the Voltaire attribution, and it has remained undiscovered
among his voluminous writings.
C'est une science où les voyelles ne sont rien, et les consonnes fort peu de chose.
It sounds like something Voltaire might have written.
Why do you say that?
Post by Arnaud Fournet
But indeed, it cannot be found in Voltaire's works and letters.
So where did you find a French version? It was, as far as anyone can
discover, first written in English, by Max Muller.
google.books provide books in English as early as 1846 where the sentence "the vowels count for nothing and the consonants for very little" is attributed to Voltaire.
As usual, your claims are just plain false and invented.
And, exhibiting your typical grasp of scholarship, you do not cite any
book "as early as 1846" making that claim. It's entirely possible that
you have accidentally transposed the digits of the 1864 date of Max
Muller's book in a desperate, unconcscious need to justify your false claim.
As usual, you wretched piece of senile shit, you are exposed as entirely false in your claims, and then, you show up just as arrogant as before, parading amid your ocean of shit, nonsense and lies.
Nothing new, alas.
We've been thru that, several times already.
Now, now, M. Tourette, just admit you were too stupid to look at the
endnotes, and too dishonest to provide the information about your
claimed "1846" source.
"the information about your claimed "1846" source"
=> my source is google.books, you wretched piece of senile shit.
And this Tourettist expects people to consider him a scholar?
He probably didn't find any such phrasing at all, whether from 1864 or from
1846, and thought he could pull the wool over everyone's eyes just as he does
by "publishing" articles and even books at vanity web sites with no consideration
by knowledgeable persons at all.
Note that he can't even provide the phrase he "searched at google books" because
he knows that such a search would not replicate his "finding."
I don't understand the point of writing 10 lines of crap, when it's easy to check in google.books that I'm right.
The Athenæum: A Journal of Literature, Science, the Fine Arts, Music, and the Drama, Volume 1
Éditeur J. Francis, 1842
This book is even older than the previous date and contains the sentence.
Got it, senile?
Max Muller has nothing to do with this sentence. It's probably a kind of sarcastic aphorism that already existed in the 18th century, and was attributed to Voltaire in the 19th, because it sounds like Voltaire's style.
As usual, anytime you make a concrete statement, your incompetent crap is provably false.
Thanks for the reference. I didn't find the Athenaeum quote, but
searching for it led me to a couple of interesting things.
There's a fairly recent paper:
"Les voyelles ne font rien, et les consonnes fort peu de chose": On the
history of Voltaire's supposed comment on etymology
Considine, John. Historiographia Linguistica Vol. 36, Iss. 1, (0, 2009): 181-189.
A widely quoted claim made in a lecture in 1863 by Friedrich Max Muller, alleging that "Voltaire defined etymology as a science in which...les
voyelles ne font rien, et les consonnes fort peu de chose" (vowels count
for nothing and consonants for very little), has provided a mystery for historians of linguistics as nothing in Voltaire's writings corresponds
to this statement, although numerous possible 18th- & 19th-century sources
have been found for similar thoughts &/or wordings. An examination of existing scholarship suggests that Muller found the French saying in a similar form & scholarly function, although not attributed, in Hensleigh Wedgwood's anonymous 1833 review of Grimm's German grammar; it is August Wilhelm von Schlegel, however, who, writing in German in 1847, claimed Voltaire as its source.
Similar thoughts have been expressed by various 18th-century writers as a serious proposal for etymology, not a satirical comment; among the latter is Antoine Court de Gebelin (1775), whom Voltaire knew well. J. Hitchcock
[I don't know who Hitchcock is -- professional abstract writer?]
Anyhow, more unexpected was this from the _Oriental Herald and Colonial
Review_, v.3, issue 12 (December 1824).
"On the affinity of the Sanscrit, the ancient language of India, to the
Greek, the Latin, and other ancient languages of Europe", by James Silk
This is a fascinating paper in itself, a very early exposition for a general
audience of the comparative method and Indo-European in particular. It makes me want to know more about Buckingham. (Wiki has a bit.)
But the sentence of direct interest to this thread is:
"It is the more necessary to pursue this long and laborious operation, as
it is undeniable that etymology has hitherto been, as Voltaire says, a
science, in which the consonants are of _small_ importance, and the vowels
of _none whatever_." (p.486)
Since little Max Müller was celebrating his first birthday that month, it
seems safe to conclude that he was not the originator of the Voltaire attribution.