• A
  • A
  • A
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
Regular version of the site
vision user

Article

Science and Terminology in-between Empires: Ukrainian Science in a Search for its Language in the nineteenth century

History of Science. 2018. P. 1-28.

Ukrainian science and its terminology in the nineteenth century experienced a number of twists and turns. Divided between two empires, it lacked institutions, scholars pursuing it, and a unified literary language. One could even say that until the late nineteenth century there was a possibility for two communities with two literary languages to emerge - Ruthenian (Habsburg Empire) and Ukrainian (Russian Empire). Eventually, both communities and languages merged. This article tracks the meanderings of this process, arguing that scholarly publications played a crucial role in shaping the standard for the scientific language. The article follows the biography of the naturalist Ivan Verhrats'kyi (1846-1919), the author of the first dictionaries of naturalist terminology in Ruthenian in 1860, a translator and author of textbooks, and the head of the Mathematical-Naturalist-Medical Section of the Shevchenko Society in L'viv. He thus shaped many Ruthenian, and then Ruthenian-Ukrainian scholarly projects. Initially successful with his approach to making the Ruthenian scientific language vernacular, in the 1890s his approach was losing ground to the internationalization of vocabulary and to the growing pressure toward the unification of Ruthenian and Ukrainian. Finally, in the beginning of the twentieth century, Verhrats'kyi became marginalized within the Ukrainian scholarly community. By discussing the history of a minority language within imperial structures, I argue that the media in which scholarly work was published requires special attention. In the Ruthenin-Ukrainian case, they determined the standard for scientific language. Lacking professional journals, Ruthenian scholars published in the 1860s-late 1880s in popular newspapers and in school textbooks, requiring them to use a language that was near to the spoken tongue of the Habsburg province. Once the political situation changed, favoring Ruthenian-Ukrainian unification, and scholarly journals appeared and transgressed the imperial boundary, the favored language had to be transimperial, ousting out the vernacular.