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.)
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