As evolutionists, sans phrase I do not call to mind among the biologists more than Asa Gray, who fought the battle splendidly in the United States ; H

Tenos

Senior Member
Arabic
In an article about the reception of Origin of Species, the writer mentions scientists and authors who supported the book and the theory, saying:

As evolutionists, sans phrase I do not call to mind among the biologists more than Asa Gray, who fought the battle splendidly in the United States ; Hooker, who was no less vigorous here ; the present Sir John Lubbock and myself.

I can't understand what he wanted to say by introducing the sentence by "as". Is that just like evolutionists, biologists blah blah; and in this case what would "sans phrase mean"?
 
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    'Sans phrase' means without having to qualify it in some way - "without a sentence". So they just are evolutionists. They are not evolutionists in some special or restricted sense.

    The punctuation should have either two commas around 'sans phrase', or none. (Afterthought: If the punctuation is correct, I don't know how he's applying the words.)
     
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    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    As evolutionists, sans phrase I do not call to mind among the biologists more than…
    = The only biologists I can think of who were among the evolutionists are…

    sans phrase — without more words, without exceptions or qualifications.

    (The Oxford Essential Dictionary of Foreign Terms in English)

     

    Szkot

    Senior Member
    UK English
    You can rephrase it as: Among the biologists I can only think of [those named] as being 'evolutionists', i.e. supporters of evolution theory.
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    OED:
    sans phrase n. [after la mort sans, the alleged words of Sieyes in giving his vote for the death of Louis XVI] without more words, without circumlocution, without exceptions or qualifications.
    1976 Times Lit. Suppl. 26 Mar. 337/1 A. J. P. Taylor is the representative historian of our century... He is a historian sans phrase, not a man using history as the vehicle for other gifts.

    As evolutionists, sans phrase I do not call to mind among the biologists more than Asa Gray, who fought the battle splendidly in the United States ; Hooker, who was no less vigorous here ; the present Sir John Lubbock and myself.

    Sans phrase [I can state directly and without qualification (that)] I do not remember [anyone] among the biologists who, as evolutionists, was more [greater] than Asa Gray; Hooker; the present Sir John Lubbock and myself.

    (Sans phrase "crossposted".)
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    I understand it as "there were no more than us four" who could truly be called evolutionists, that is 'more' in the usual sense. But it is not entirely clear.
     
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