But here’s a fun little historical linguistic puzzle:
What was the first use of the word Zettelkasten in a predominantly English language setting?
In my own notes/research the first occurrence I’ve been able to identify in an English language setting is on Manfred Kuehn’s blog in Taking note: Luhmann’s Zettelkasten on 2007-12-16. He’d just started his blog earlier that month.
Has anyone seen an earlier usage? Can you find one? Can you beat this December 2007 date or something close by a different author?
Google’s nGram Viewer doesn’t indicate any instances of it from 1800-2019 in its English search, though does provide a graph for German with peaks in the 1850s, 1892 (just after Ernst Bernheim’s Lehrbuch der Historischen Methode in 1889), 1912, 1925, and again in 1991.
Twitter search from 2006-2007 finds nothing and there are only two results in German both mentioning Luhmann.
My best guess for earlier versions of the appearance zettelkasten in English might stem from the work/publications of S. D. Goitein or Gotthard Deutsch, but I’ve yet to see anything there.
For those who speak German, what might you posit as a motivating source for the rise of the word in the 1850s or any of the other later peaks?