Thursday, 8 October 2009

Railway History & More on Hamaxosticus

Obviously we have recently been considering the Latin for railway. That naturally leads on to a consideration of the history of railways. The Oxford Dictionary of World History says that horse powered wagon-ways were used from the 16th century. In the 1500s and much later the use of Latin was still common in certain fields, including administration and science, which may well have been interested in the early railways. Whether they were or not, and what vocabulary they used, is something that I'll have to leave to experts, I don't have the software or the reference books necessary for searching this, although the Latinists who invented hamaxostic(h)us might well have done this.

The first steam engine on rails is believed to have been built by Richard Trevithick in 1804, and even then men of science may well have discussed it in Latin, and the word "railway" in Latin must have been used by Acta Apostolicae Sedis from time to time in reference to Papal journeys, the Vatican Railway Station, etc. I am sure that the word "hamaxosticus" is well considered and attested.

After typing yesterday's entry I had settled down to read "Outside the Empire: The World the Roman's Knew" by NHH Sitwell and there came across the following:
"The Sarmatians are often mentioned in Greek and Latin writings under the general name of Hamaxobii or Hamaxoeci, both of which terms mean 'waggon-dwellers'"
One day you've never heard of hamax- the next day you're falling over them.

"railways, history of" A Dictionary of World History. Oxford University Press, 2000. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. The Open University. 8 October 2009

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