Humanist Discussion Group

Humanist Archives: Oct. 18, 2022, 6:21 a.m. Humanist 36.216 - 'relate' and 'interaction'?

              Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 36, No. 216.
        Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
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        Date: 2022-10-17 13:37:08+00:00
        From: Willard McCarty <>
        Subject: 'interaction'?

The Mirriam-Webster Dictionary of English Usage notes for the word
'relate' the following:

> The sense of intransitive relate that means "to have or establish a
> relationship, interact" seems to have had its origins in the jargon
> or shoptalk of psychology and sociology. It established itself in
> general use during the 1960s as something of a vogue word. It has
> received unflattering notice in Strunk & White 1972, 1979, Perrin
> Ebbitt 1972, Ebbitt & Ebbitt 1982, Bremner 1985, and Harper 1975,
> 1985. A few of these find it a tad more tolerable when relate is
> followed by a to phrase.

Dooes anyone here know of any studies in the language of sociology,
psychology and related disciplines that might prove useful in pursuing
this claim?

I am primarily interested in the curious history of 'interaction' and
variants, apparently little used if at all in English until the 19C--it
does not occur in Dr Johnson's Dictionary-- then primarily if not
exclusively in natural philosophy. It enters the computational fields in
the 1950s under the influence of cybernetics and computing, then at some
point it crossed over into the vernacular. I would dearly like to find
someone enthusing over it as a way of talking about how people relate to
each other.

Any help greatly appreciated!


Willard McCarty,
Professor emeritus, King's College London;
Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews;  Humanist

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