The eighteenth century is an important period both in the history of science
and in the history of languages. Interest in science, and especially in the
useful sciences, exploded and a new, modern approach to scientific
discovery and the accumulation of knowledge emerged. It was during this
century, too, that ideas on language and language practice began to change.
Latin had been more or less the only written language used for scientific
purposes, but gradually the vernaculars became established as fully
acceptable alternatives for scientific writing. The period is of interest,
moreover, from a genre-historical point of view. Encyclopedias, dictionaries
and also correspondence played a key role in the spread of scientific ideas.
At the time, writing on scientific matters was not as distinct from fiction,
poetry or religious texts as it is today, a fact which also gave a creative
liberty to individual writers.
In this volume, seventeen authors explore, from a variety of angles, the
construction of a scientific language and discourse. The chapters are
thematically organized into four sections, each contributing to our
understanding of this dynamic period in the history of science: their themes
are the forming of scientific communities, the emergence of new languages of
science, the spread of scientific ideas, and the development of scientific
writing. A particular focus is placed on the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus
(1707-1778). From the point of view of the natural sciences, Linnaeus is
renowned for his principles for defining genera and species of organisms and
his creation of a uniform system for naming them. From the standpoint of this
volume, however, he is also of interest as an example of a European
scientist of the eighteenth century.
This volume is unique both in its broad linguistic approach - including studies
on textlinguistics, stylistics, sociolinguistics, lexicon and nomenclature - and
in its combination of language studies, philosophy of language, history and
sociology of science. The book covers writing in different European
languages: Swedish, German, French, English, Latin, Portuguese, and
Russian. With its focus on the history of scientific language and discourse
during a dynamic period in Europe, the book promises to contribute to new
insights both for readers interested in language history and those with an
interest in the history of ideas and thought.