Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Etymology of Anthropology

Today we're going to have a little fun. I thought I'd put up some history of the word anthropology and those terms related to it. Basically I've focused on the traditional four fields of American anthropology. I recognize that there are many, many fields out there. Thanks to the Online Etymology Dictionary for providing the roots of today's discussion.

Anthropology: "science of the natural history of man," 1590s, coined from Gk. anthropo- + -logia "study of." In Aristotle, anthropologos is used literally, as "speaking of man." Related: Anthropological (1825); anthropologist (1798).

Archaeology: c.1600, "ancient history," from Fr. archéologie, from Gk. arkhaiologia "the study of ancient things," from arkhaios "ancient," from arkhe "beginning" (see archon). Meaning "scientific study of ancient peoples" first recorded 1837. Related: Archaeologist (1824).

Physical: (as in Physical Anthropology) mid-15c., "of or pertaining to material nature," from M.L. physicalis "of nature, natural," from L. physica "study of nature" (see physic). Meaning "of the body, corporeal" is attested from 1780. Meaning "characterized by bodily attributes or activities" is attested from 1970. Physical education first recorded 1838; abbreviated form phys ed is from 1955.

Social: 1505 (implied in socially), "characterized by friendliness or geniality," also "allied, associated," from M.Fr. social (14c.), from L. socialis "united, living with others," from socius "companion," probably originally "follower," and related to sequi "to follow" (cf. O.E. secg, O.N. seggr "companion," which seem to have been formed on the same notion; see sequel). Meaning "living or liking to live with others, disposed to friendly intercourse" is attested from 1729. Meaning "pertaining to society as a natural condition of human life" first attested 1695, in Locke. Social climber is from 1926; social work is 1890; social worker 1904. Social drink(ing) first attested 1976. Social studies as an inclusive term for history, geography, economics, etc., is attested from 1938. Social security "system of state support for needy citizens" is attested from 1908.

Cultural: 1868, in ref. to the raising of plants or animals, from L. cultura "tillage" (see culture) + -al (1). In reference to the cultivation of the mind, from 1875; hence, "relating to civilization or a civilization." A fertile word among anthropologists and sociologists: e.g. Cultural diffusion, in use by 1912; cultural diversity by 1935; cultural imperialism by 1937; cultural pluralism by 1932; cultural relativism by 1948. Related: Culturalization (by 1929); culturally (1889).

Linguistic: 1856; The use of linguistic to mean "of or pertaining to language or languages" is "hardly justifiable etymologically," according to OED, but "has arisen because lingual suggests irrelevant associations."

Linguist:1580s, "a master of language, one who uses his tongue freely," from L. lingua "language, tongue" (see lingual). Meaning "a student of language" first attested 1640s.

Ethnology: 1842, from ethno- + -logy. Related: Ethnologist. Ethno- : comb. form of Gk. ethnos "people, nation, class" (see ethnic), used to form modern compounds in the social sciences.

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