Friday, 12 August 2011

"Quinian" vs "Quinean"

Usually, people write "Quinean". But Quine's only use of an adjectival form in his works (as far as I know) is "Quinian":
... any more than there need be some peculiarly Quinian textural quality common to the protoplasm of my head and feet. (Quine, 1960, Word & Object, p. 171.)
Also, Quine was a bit of a language maven. Maybe he had some reason for writing "Quinian" instead of "Quinean".


  1. he wanted to combine our Main Op. Officer's name with his. ;)

  2. Ian - ha. Could be ...

    Hi Gabriele, yes, that seems the right way. So, it always made me wonder why Quine chose "-ian". Usually, if there's no "e" at the end of the name, we use "-ian", as in "Kantian" or "Newtonian". If we have an "e", "-ean" seems right, as in "Humean". So, it's puzzling.
    Because Quine was a language maven, I'm sure he had some reason, had he ever been asked, but it remains secret. So, I follow Quine on the adjective for his name, and always give this Quine quote as my justification.
    Maybe one of Quine's colleagues from Harvard through the 30s - 80s knows why he chose it.

  3. This reminds me of Quine's righteous use of 'singulary'. That sure caught on...

  4. The Oxford English Dictionary (1987) only lists "Quinean" and cites Beer (1966), Kate (1972), and Hookway (1978) as the sources.

  5. Many thanks, Douglas. Yes, the established usage is "Quinean" ...


  6. This seems like the two trends for Deleuze: Deleuzean or Deleuzian.

  7. Isn't it telling that the only authority that ought to matter has been set aside by tradition? If nothing else, this ought to serve as an illustration for a discussion within the Philosophy of Language