Sulfur, Sulfa ----- Sulphur?

Jim McKenney
Wed, 09 Nov 2005 18:51:03 PST
Lee Poulson did a bad thing in that last post. I'll probably spend the rest
of the evening Googling the names of elements for their etymologies. I've
found this site, an ample hole to fall into for the rest of the week:

It's interesting to see that the chemists have had the same problems which
the botanists have had in naming things. The early chemists often used names
derived from classical Latin or Greek. When they ran out of classical names,
they made up names and modeled their form after the form of classical names.
Since the classical languages are not taught identically in every country,
there was plenty of room for squabbles there. They also practiced the cozy,
lazy, mutual back-scratching of naming elements for one another. And of
course, there were those who rejected all the conventionally accepted rules
and did it their own way. 

I learned this evening that aluminum/aluminium was originally named before
it was discovered, that the original name was, at first, alumium, eventually
modified by the original author under pressure to aluminum. Aluminium
resulted from the effort to give the name a form which followed that of so
many other elements. the chemists have a "law of priority". Do they have an official
date for the beginning of their nomenclature? Or do they just duke it out at
international conferences?  

Look what you started, Lee.

Jim McKenney  

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