On the translations of Karl Ernst von Baer’s Latin doctoral thesis On Estonians’ Endemic Diseases (1814) into other languages
Karl Ernst von Baer (1792–1876), who is considered one of the most renowned natural scientists of the 19th century, graduated from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Tartu (then the Imperial University of Dorpat) in the summer of 1814 by defending his doctoral thesis On Estonians’ Endemic Diseases. According to the requirements at that time, the thesis was written in Latin. In the Middle Ages, Latin was a language of science and culture in a number of European countries; it was also the language of tuition at universities. The following disruption in the natural development of Latin made it a dead language. This may also be considered one of the reasons that have hindered researchers from thoroughly studying Baer’s doctoral thesis.
The materials of Baer’s 180th birth anniversary conference arranged in Tartu were gathered into the collection Folia Baeriana I, published in 1975. As the interest in Baer’s works persists nowadays, a decision was made to publish his original works in Estonian translation. The above-mentioned collection was the first to contain the full Estonian translation of Baer’s doctoral thesis (translated by Ü. Torpats). The thesis was also printed as a separate book in 1976 and 2013. Thus, it has been possible for everyone who knows Estonian to read the Estonian translation of Baer’s doctoral thesis for nearly 40 years. During this time, the significance of English as the language of science has essentially increased in the world. No answer could be found, however, to the question whether Baer’s doctoral thesis is available for researchers in English, either in full or partially. To overcome this possible deficiency, we present in this article, the English translation (by I. Anvelt) of the chapter from Baer’s doctoral thesis where he gives an overview of Estonians’ body build and mentality, as this is of interest from the viewpoint of anthropology.
It might be hoped that by the 190th anniversary of the discovery mammals’ (including humans’) ovum by Baer, the full English translation of Baer’s first research paper, his doctoral thesis, would be available for researchers.