[FOM] Prenex

Thomas Forster T.Forster at dpmms.cam.ac.uk
Mon Nov 26 06:50:50 EST 2007

Thanks to all who replied.  I should clearly have looked at the OED before 
opening my mouth: it has an entry for `prenex'!   It hadn't occurred to me 
to look, thinking as i did that the word was too technical.

But some puzzles remain.  The etymology provided:

 	post-classical Latin praenexus tied or bound up in front
 	(3rd or 4th cent.), past participle of praenectere (though only
 	recorded in past participle) < classical Latin prae- PRE-
 	prefix + nectere to bind, connect (see NEXUS n.).

....seems perfectly reasonable.  But we don't know who coined the word! 
The OED finds an occurrence of it in an article by Kalmar in the JSL in 
1939 and that is the earlies that any of my correspondents have suggested 
but for all I (or they?) know there could be earlier occurrences. And then 
comes the thought: if we don't know who coined it, how do we know that 
this etymology is correct?!  It might have been coined by someone who knew 
no latin and assembled the syllables from somewhere totally different!

    Does anyone know of any use of this word before Kalmar in 1939? (In the 
JSL article the token of the word `prenex' is accomapnied by a footnote 
citing Hilbert-Bernays (Grundlagen der math. 1924) but i haven't got a 
copy of it.)


URL:  www.dpmms.cam.ac.uk/~tf; DPMMS ph:
+44-1223-337981. Mobile +44-7887-701-562.

More information about the FOM mailing list