phenology
Posted: 06 January 2017 06:28 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I rarely run across words new to me any more, other than recondite dialect terms and the like, but I wasn’t familiar with phenology ‘the study of cyclic and seasonal natural phenomena, especially in relation to climate and plant and animal life.’ Is this a perfectly ordinary term I’ve somehow missed all my life, or a niche specialty most people haven’t heard of?  My access to the OED is temporarily down, so I can’t check that resource for dating and citations.

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Posted: 06 January 2017 07:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I’d never heard of it, but the OED has it with several citations ranging from 1884 to 1990.  The root is the same as that in phenomenon, with relates to appearing rather than cycles, so I don’t think it’s well constructed for the meaning, but they never asked me.

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Posted: 06 January 2017 09:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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No reason why any of us should be familiar with phenology; it seems to be a relatively new branch of science, which has only been getting up steam during the past few years.  In the USA, much of the steam seems to be generated in and around the University of Arizona.

I don’t care too much for the name, because it’s too close to phrenology, a ridiculous pseudo-science which flourished a couple of hundred years ago (famously made fun of by Captain Marryat in “Mr. Midshipman Easy”). But there you are (they should have asked Dr. Techie). Phenology is clearly a well-established branch of science with an organization, a budget, a multidisciplinary team and a purpose. May it prosper!

Edit: my struggles with Internet addresses at wordorigins. org make me feel like a sort of comic Laocoön. Oh well. I hope this one works........................

[ Edited: 06 January 2017 10:09 AM by lionello ]
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Posted: 06 January 2017 05:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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The term is used a few times in the regular publications of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and that is how I encountered it. It has become a more prominent field in the past 30 years as climate change has become a major issue. Modern researchers pore over the phenological records of nature nerds of the early 20th century in order to establish baselines for tracking temperature change.

OED’s first cite is from the journal Nature, 1884.

This piece indicates that the word was coined (in the French language) by Charles Morren.  “The term was first used in a public lecture at the Académie royale des Sciences, des Lettres et des Beaux-Arts de Belgique’ in Brussels on 16 December 1849, and simultaneously in the December 1849 issue of volume V of the Annales de la Société royale d’Agriculture et de Botanique de Gand.”

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00484-011-0442-5

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Posted: 06 January 2017 05:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Never hoid of it, but one more word to be tucked away in the data bank.

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Posted: 07 January 2017 06:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I don’t care too much for the name, because it’s too close to phrenology

That was my reaction as well!  Thanks, all; it’s odd that a word invented in the mid-19th century is only now picking up steam, but the world is full of oddity.

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