How the Names of Chemical Elements Represent Knowledge


The names of chemical elements constitute a certain microcosm – a closed but rich sign system, particularly interesting as it has taken a lot of time for it to arrive at its current form. Its oldest lexical units had been known long before the very notion of chemical element was introduced in 1661 in The Sceptical Chymist by Robert Boyle (words like złoto [gold], węgiel [carbon], or siarka [sulfur] have been present in the Polish language from time immemorial), and the newest ones have only just come into existence, like the lexemes designating transuranic elements, which were not discovered and named until the 20th century [...]