Some Problems In Prosody -- By: Herbert W. Magoun
BSac 60:237 (Jan 1903) p. 33
Some Problems In Prosody
It has been shown repeatedly, in the scientific world, that theory must be supplemented by practice. In some cases, indeed, practice has succeeded in obtaining satisfactory results after theory has failed. Deposits of Urate of Soda in the joints, caused by an excess of Uric acid in the blood, were long held to be practically insoluble, although Carbonate of Lithia was supposed to have a solvent effect upon them. The use of Tetra-Ethyl-Ammonium Hydroxide as a medicine, to dissolve these deposits and remove the gout and rheumatism which they cause, is said to be due to some experiments made by Edison because a friend of his had the gout. After scientific men had decided that electric lighting could never be made sufficiently cheap to be practicable, he discovered the incandescent lamp, by continuing his experiments in spite of their ridicule.1
Two young men who would not accept the dictum of the authorities that phosphorus . . . cannot be expelled from iron ores at a high temperature, ... set to work . . . to see whether the scientific world had not blundered.”2 To drive the phosphorus out of low-grade ores and convert them into Bessemer steel, required a “pot-lining” capable of enduring 2500° F. The quest seemed extraordinary, to say the least; nevertheless the task was accomplished. This appears to justify the remark that “Thomas is our modern Moses”;3 but, striking as the figure is, the young
BSac 60:237 (Jan 1903) p. 34
men doubted a negation, and the conspicuous thing about them, after all, was their faith.
Goodyear, Morse, and Field approached their tasks from the practical side. The marvelous, almost human, machines of the Shaw Stocking Company are the product of years of painstaking experiment. In short, the extent to which this is true of all modern inventions, even of those that have grown out of scientific progress, can hardly be imagined. A supposed Thomas may turn out to be a Moses; and yet it is but fair to remember that he appears only after Science has given him something to doubt
Theory and practice are the two hands of progress, granting that one (always the other one) is the left hand. The man with a spade must now be reckoned with by the philologian, when it comes to material things; and it is not impossible that other problems in linguistic studies can be approached with profit from the practical side. In Prosody there are still unsolved riddles; and it seems legitimate to ask whether anything further can be learned in this fie...
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