From J. V. Carus 31 October 1872
Oct 31st. 1872
My dear Sir,
Many thanks for your kind,—almost too kind letter.1 There is another etymological point, on which I beg to draw your attention. p. 104 you say: “This action (viz. the inflation of the body with toads”) must have been observed during the most ancient times, as, according to Mr. H. Wedgwood, the word toad expresses in all(!) the languages of Europe the habit of swelling” Now looking to the old languages “φρύνη’ refers to colour and has nothing to do with swelling the same is the case with “rubeta”, akin to ruber. Bufo is doubtful, but cannot be brought into genetic connection with any other word, meaning to swell or inflate. The other greek word φύσαλος or φύσαλις does not occur before the second century after Chr. (Lukianos).2 Again, all the Germanic or Teutonic languages have words, (meaning a toad), which are derived from a root signifying to tread, (the latin gradi) or walk clumsily: so in German Kröte, so in Swedish, Danish and Dutch (padde).3 The dialectic form “Protze” (for Kröte) reminds of the Italian botta;4 and in the same way ‘toad’ may be connected with the danish ‘tudse’ and the dialectical form ‘trote’. As far as I can see there is only the French ‘crapaud’ which leads to ‘crepare’.5 I think therefore it might be safer to say in the above passage: ‘in some languages of Europe’ instead of “in all”. Unluckily I did not notice it while I was translating the sheet containing the passage Now I have it before me in proof, so that I cannot ask you for permission to alter it. However I beg your pardon for having done so. I corrected: “in some languages.”6
Just now I got the 8th. sheet in proof, so that I hope to get the book out in the middle of November.
Pray don’t trouble yourself by writing expressly for this. Perhaps some other occasion will come where you might give me absolution. | Believe me | My dear Sir | Yours ever sincerely | J. Victor Carus
JVC questions accuracy of Hensleigh Wedgwood’s statement that the word for a toad in all European languages expresses the habit of swelling [see Expression, p. 104]. Has changed "all" to "some".
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8587,” accessed on 29 March 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-8587