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AW: Help with meaning "Urschwinge" for name Archaeopteryx

--- Ben Creisler <bcreisler@gmail.com> schrieb am Fr, 18.1.2013:

> Von: Ben Creisler <bcreisler@gmail.com>
> Betreff: Help with meaning "Urschwinge" for name Archaeopteryx
> An: dinosaur@usc.edu
> Datum: Freitag, 18. Januar, 2013 20:38 Uhr
> From: Ben Creisler
> bcreisler@gmail.com
> I've been researching the early history of the name
> Archaeopteryx and
> am trying to find the source for the following passage in
> the
> Wikipedia article about Archaeopteryx. In the discussion of
> the
> original fossil feather under "History of discovery," the
> following
> statements are made without providing a source:
> "In German, this ambiguity is resolved by the term Schwinge
> which does
> not necessarily mean a wing used for flying. Urschwinge was
> the
> favored translation of Archaeopteryx among German scholars
> in the late
> 19th century. In English, "ancient pinion" offers a rough
> approximation."
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archaeopteryx
> There is nothing equivalent in the German or Dutch Wikipedia
> version
> of the article. This paragraph is also rather confusing. The
> German
> noun Schwingfeder means a  flag-feather, quill, pinion,
> primary
> feather, while Schwinge means a wing. "Urschwinge" would
> mean
> something like "primitive wing" rather than "ancient
> pinion"--which
> might be something more like Urschwingfeder.

Usually "Schwungfeder", though this may vary acording to dialect. I have never 
seen "Urschwinge" in the 19th-century literature. May have instead been a 
favorite term in mid-late 20th century pop-science works, they used it to 
translate whatever term the English "How and why" volume 5033 ("Prehistoric 
Mammals") uses: 
http://books.google.de/books?id=8zd4X_v_MHkC&pg=PA15&lpg=PA15&dq=urschwinge and 
I doubt that these translators came up with it themselves; certainly it was 
generally understood by 1970 or so.
(I remember reading the term somewhere, must have been the 80s. Possibly an old 
school textbook; I never had *this* "How and why" volume, only the one with 

e German technical term for a remex (any sort); vernacularly it means just what 
you wrote (primary remex, quill etc). It is usually understood as such today, 
but some people might at first think it's a technical term for some sort of 
spring (as in physics). 

"Schwinge" OTOH is rather obsolete; it is old-fashioned and/or poetic. It's a 
word Goethe or Schiller would have used[*]. Many people in Germany today do 
understand it, but I'd guess to the post-postwar generation it's already quite 
unfamiliar and many younger people would understand it only in context if at 
all ("Schwinge" also means a motorbike's swingarm, and this use today probably 

Being a poetic or figurative term probably clears up the meaning of "this 
ambiguity is resolved...": "Schwinge" is the only German term for a wing that 
is etymologically directly related to a term used for a remex. Hence 
"Urschwinge" does express the ambiguity of "pteryx" if not directly then very 
closely to some sort, and in any case does express it *vetter* than any other 
word: "Flügel" (standard German term for "wing") is etymologically not even 
close to "Feder" ("feather"); their divergence pre-dates the Germanic languages 
as far as it seems.

(The standard German terms would literally be "flight-thing" and "feather", 
respectively, in English: 

Whereas "Schwinge", "Schwungfeder" and "wing" all derive from the same PIE root 
as does "wind" 
http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Appendix:Proto-Indo-European/h₂wéh₁n̥ts )

So "Urschwinge" is the *only* way to translate "archaeo-pteryx" into German and 
*not* completely obliterate the fact that "pteryx" can mean a whole wing or 
just a remex. Possibly that's why it was chosen by whoever introduced it.

(FWIW "Urschwinge" in the 19th century was a regionalism meaning "the coarsest 
part of a bunch of flax prepared for spinning", but the etymology of this term 
was different)

Hope that helps. I 
ury literature (Ngrams, as we have seen, misses the occasional 
hapax/dis/tris... legomenon).
But if I had to definitely test this, I would force myself to read through 
Haeckel, who did write about Archie quite a bit and had a tendency to use 
somewhat archaic/poetic language (he was in a way the last "natural 
philosopher", as opposed to "biologist", especially in his later works).



* "Ach, um deine feuchten Schwingen, West, wie sehr ich dich beneide..." 
(Goethe: "Suleika")

** See 
 - the Ngrams corpus increases in time, so if the usage remains about even 
acording to Ngrams, it has actually declined somewhat in the real world. But it 
is not complete; for some reason they don't get the "How and why" "Urschwinge".