What’s in a name? Scientia Natura

I chose the name SciNatura for a couple of reasons. It’s a blend of science and nature, obviously, and while this completely fits the scope of my blog, it is actually a little more complex than that. SciNatura is actually the blend of two Latin words, scientia and natura.


Scientia f (genitive scientiae); first declension Pronunciation (The Classical not Ecclesiastical)

knowledge; body of knowledge

Natura f (genitive naturae); first declension Pronunciation

the natural world (as well/alternatively: the nature of a thing; character)


Therefore, the full and complete name of my blog is actually Scientia Natura.

If you listen to the pronunciation found in the links above, you’ll note that both words, in Latin, are pronounced quite a bit different than their English descendants. I know that most people who read the title will pronounce SciNatura with the expected Sci (as in the word ‘sigh’) Natura (nature with an “ah” ending), and that’s ok. But, it’s really supposed to be:

 

Sci (as in to go ‘ski’ing) Natura (with a long a, hard t, and a rolled r). I will actually admit that I myself kind of blur English and Latin pronunciations when I say/think SciNatura, and pronounce the Sci like the standard English word ‘Science’, but the Natura with the proper Latin ‘purr’. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. The idea, that it is a mix of science and nature, is the main point, and no matter if you see Latin, English, or a mix of the two, I think that idea comes across clearly enough.

Why I Chose Latin

I was a Classics double major in undergrad, and I really loved Latin (Ancient Greek…not so much). There’s just something beautiful, and dare I say, FUN about Latin.

However, I will fully admit, I kind of like the snobby prestige of Latin as well. I mean it’s Latin! 

Personal feelings aside though, I do think that having a pseudo-Latin title is fitting for a science blog as Latin is pervasive throughout modern science. The Ancient Greeks were arguably the founders of modern science , at least along the Western-historical tract of modern history. As they were great scientific thinkers, we find extensive scientific vocabulary in Ancient Greek, and later its daughter language Latin. Latin is one of the predominant parent languages of English and most all of those ancient words found there way into our modern scientific lexicon.

Thus, I felt that a Latin name was both personally exciting, and academically fitting for my environmental science/personal journey in academia blog. No matter how SciNatura is actually pronounced.


As an aside: If you have access to JSTOR, or other journal repositories, there’s an interesting article by  George Steffanides that discusses the role of Greek and Latin in Science:

Steffanides, G. (1965). The Role of Greek and Latin in Science. The American Biology Teacher, 27(10), 785-789. doi:10.2307/4441190


 

Now, for real Latin grammar buffs who may read this, be kind to my part of speech choice. I debated whether a genitive singular, or maybe even plural was more appropriate, Scientia naturae? …or maybe a dative? Accusative? In the end I decided to just stick with nominative singular for both the scientia and natura, because I felt that was correct enough and because I have been out of my formal Latin education for 5 years and I’m not 100% certain of my abilities to properly judge which would be the correct form(s). 

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