The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0180 Wednesday, 15 March 2006
From: Bill Arnold <
Date: Tuesday, 14 Mar 2006 13:48:38 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 17.0171 Ideas on the Internet
Comment: Re: SHK 17.0171 Ideas on the Internet
Norman Hinton quotes me, "There seems to be little doubt that history
records the honor goes to the first discoverer . . ."
Then Norman Hinton writes, "It would be nice if things worked that way,
but they don't. A famous example in historical linguistics: the set of
sound changes describing the regularity with which certain consonants in
Primitive Germanic departed from the Indo-European norm is known as
Grimm's Law. The 'law' is credited to Jacob Grimm, of the famous
Brothers G. However, the changes which make up Grimm's law were first
announced and published by a Dane, Rasmus Rask, well before Grimm wrote
his version. ...Grimm's Law is one of the foundations of historical
linguistics-it would have been nice if Rask got his due."
Well, what you write proves my point: truth wins out in the end. If
you, a scholar, know better, and you tell the truth, then *the truth be
There are cases all over the board, including the woman behind the math
of Monsieur Einstein! Every Englishman knows that if Airy had looked,
then the English would have *seen* Neptune and the credit would not have
gone to Galle of Germany. However, Englishman Adams had done the
mathematics and sent it to the English observatory before LeVerrier got
Galle to look. We are only interested in historical truth in the
framework of this discussion.
Emily Dickinson wrote, "Opinion is a flitting thing, / But Truth,
outlasts the Sun--"
Because *history* does not give out any rewards, other than recognition,
you have noted that *history knows it IS Rask's Law,* or perhaps, adding
the popularizer, it IS the Grimm/Rask Law. If I might add, the reason
that scholarship thrives IS precisely for this reason: to rewrite
history until it is written right!
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