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Re: Help with meaning "Urschwinge" for name Archaeopteryx
From: Ben Creisler
Many thanks to David for helping clarify some tricky issues in
I hope dwelling on this translation issue won't annoy other people on the DML.
Translating older scientific works can be challenging at times. What
Hermann von Meyer meant in his two early descriptions of Archaeopteryx
in 1861 is still controversial, and I have seen different English
I, of course, defer to a native German speaker on current meanings.
It's not so much what current German usage is but how best to get the
author's idea into English in its original context.
I was aware that fortshreiten is used metaphorically, but its original
etymology comes from schreiten "stride, march" as I understand it.
See these older English definitions for fortschreiten in this 1906
book on German verbs in Google Books.
Fortschreiten (sep., *), to step, stride on; to go onward; to get
along, proceed; progress.
Translating "forthüpfen" here is a bit tricky. The word is not in any
of the dictionaries I have at home and I could not find a formal
definition as-such online.
My main thought here is that the literal meaning "hop away" in English
in this context sounds wrong. The author (Bruno Geinitz?) is referring
to a type of behavior common in birds--hopping with both feet
together. I've often seen crows do it on the ground--it's not really
escape behavior (they can always fly away). It's more often a kind of
foraging behavior--or maybe it's just fun (I've seen crows do things
that look like play).
The supposed Archaeopteryx tracks (later attributed to Rhamphorhynchus
and even Compsognathus) go in a straight line. It doesn't seem to be a
situation where the animal was supposedly "hopping away" from
I would think, given the meanings cited above for fortschreiten, that
something like "hopping on, hopping onward" could be understood for
forthüpfen. It's hopping in a particular direction. For me at least,
"hopping along" sounds close to what the author was thinking.
Note that "along" here does NOT mean "along" as a preposition in the
physical sense such as "walking along the seashore" but rather "along"
as an adverb of motion meaning "forward, onward." Think of English "I
was walking along, minding my own business" or "The girl was skipping
along, singing to herself."
I think in this sense, "hopped along" seems close to what the author
had in mind--it's movement in one direction rather than necessarily
away from some place or some thing.
The animal appears to have hopped along with both feet at the same
time, as birds are in the habit of often doing;