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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index S > Georg August Schweinfurth Quotes

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Georg August Schweinfurth
(29 Dec 1836 - 19 Sep 1925)

German botanist and ethnologist who travelled in the interior of East Africa (from 1868) and studied the inhabitants together with the flora and fauna of the region


Science Quotes by Georg August Schweinfurth (14 quotes)

.…yes, sitting on the bank of the Kibali itself and philosophizing about river systems with the much-traveled Abu Ssamat and his people, … I caught him out there and then in blatant contradictions and inaccuracies. Well then, I finally said, quite beside myself, so show me how you speak of rivers: here is the Kibali, show me with your hand: where does it come from and in what direction does it flow? To which all pointed eastwards and said: it is flowing in that direction, and then pointing west: it comes from there, that is how we say it. I could have gone through the roof. No, I cried, you Moslem, you have everything confused and mixed up, what must it be like inside your heads!
— Georg August Schweinfurth
In August Petermann, Petermann’s Geographische Mittheilungen (1871), 135. As quoted and cited in Kathrin Fritsch, '"You Have Everything Confused And Mixed Up…!" Georg Schweinfurth, Knowledge And Cartography Of Africa In The 19th Century', History in Africa (2009), 36, 94. Fritsch comments on their misunderstandings caused by “different spatial conceptions [and] language barriers.”
Science quotes on:  |  Blatant (4)  |  Confusion (61)  |  Contradiction (69)  |  Direction (181)  |  Flow (87)  |  Inaccuracy (4)  |  Philosophy (394)  |  Point (583)  |  River (136)  |  Show (348)

A terrible wilderness of mountainous country constitutes the immediate environment of St. Paul’s. It is a precipitous cliff into the abyss, a gate of hell, more horrible than the fantasy of Dante could express it.
— Georg August Schweinfurth
St. Paul’s Monastery is located 300-km southeast of Cairo, on the southern edge of a desert mountain range, adjacent to the Gulf of Suez
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Although I have several agents who know the Niam-Niam country, I did not dare to make anything of their unreliable statements before I could orient myself. These Nubians are unpredictable to a high degree, they have a very poor memory for names and practically no human idea of the points of the compass; the agents of the merchants of Khartoum who are entrusted with such great journeys are to the last man absolute liars, braggarts and habitual fibbers.
— Georg August Schweinfurth
In August Petermann, Petermann’s Geographische Mittheilungen (1870), 20. As quoted and cited in Kathrin Fritsch, '"You Have Everything Confused And Mixed Up…!" Georg Schweinfurth, Knowledge And Cartography Of Africa In The 19th Century', History in Africa (2009), 36, 93-94. Fritsch comments how at that point in his travels, thus far, Schweinfurth “did not appear to understand their geographical orientation and with his European prejudice he chose to view all Nubians as braggarts and liars.
Science quotes on:  |  Absolute (149)  |  Agent (71)  |  Compass (37)  |  Country (261)  |  Dare (52)  |  Habitual (5)  |  Journey (47)  |  Know (1526)  |  Liar (7)  |  Memory (140)  |  Merchant (7)  |  Name (346)  |  Niam-Niam (2)  |  Nubian (6)  |  Orient (5)  |  Statement (146)  |  Unpredictable (18)  |  Unreliable (4)

Geographical concepts of the Nubians … differ from our own…. Amongst other things,… the Nubians refer to the … country between the lower course of two rivers that flow together … always … as an island.
— Georg August Schweinfurth
In August Petermann, Petermann’s Geographische Mittheilungen (1871), 135. As quoted and cited in Kathrin Fritsch, '"You Have Everything Confused And Mixed Up…!" Georg Schweinfurth, Knowledge And Cartography Of Africa In The 19th Century', History in Africa (2009), 36, 91.
Science quotes on:  |  Concept (234)  |  Differ (86)  |  Geography (38)  |  Island (48)  |  Nubian (6)  |  River (136)

I now collect all sorts of itineraries from other travelers from the local companies and am able to fill many a gap in the map between Djur and Bahr el Jebel.
— Georg August Schweinfurth
From Letter in August Petermann, Petermann’s Geographische Mittheilungen (1870), 20. As quoted and cited in Kathrin Fritsch, '"You Have Everything Confused And Mixed Up…!" Georg Schweinfurth, Knowledge And Cartography Of Africa In The 19th Century', History in Africa (2009), 36, 93. Fritsch comments, “Thus indigenous African knowledge found its way directly into modern nineteenth-century maps of Africa.”
Science quotes on:  |  Collect (17)  |  Company (62)  |  Fill (65)  |  Gap (36)  |  Local (24)  |  Map (48)  |  Traveler (32)

It was indeed very difficult to explain the concept of a lake as a large body of fresh water which fills a whole district. In Egypt and the Sudan there is no expression for it: birket, fula, tirra etc. refer rather to pond, rain pond, marsh etc.
— Georg August Schweinfurth
Their Arabic had no word for lake. In August Petermann, Petermann’s Geographische Mittheilungen (1871), 13. As quoted with implied citation, in Kathrin Fritsch, '"You Have Everything Confused And Mixed Up…!" Georg Schweinfurth, Knowledge And Cartography Of Africa In The 19th Century', History in Africa (2009), 36, 94. Fritsch comments on their misunderstandings caused by “different spatial conceptions [and] language barriers.”
Science quotes on:  |  Concept (234)  |  Difficult (256)  |  Egypt (31)  |  Explain (325)  |  Expression (178)  |  Lake (35)  |  Language Barrier (2)  |  Marsh (9)  |  Pond (17)

It [the nineteenth century] was the time of those classical explorers who set out into the unknown [of Africa], without the expense of a large expedition, alone or with only a few companions, for whom traveling was an end in itself, unselfish and harmless, with little money and with no blood sacrifice other than their own.
— Georg August Schweinfurth
From obituary by Schweinfurth for famous African explorer Gerhard Rohlfs. In Konrad Guenther, Georg Schweinfurth-Lebensbüd eines Afrikaforschers (1954), 57-58. As quoted and cited in Kathrin Fritsch, '"You Have Everything Confused And Mixed Up…!" Georg Schweinfurth, Knowledge And Cartography Of Africa In The 19th Century', History in Africa (2009), 36, 89. Fritsch clarifies that traveling “alone” referred to absense of other Europeans, but would be joined up with “indigenous travelers as soon as possible or hired knowledgeable locals.” Also, “unknown” refers to most Europeans, but travel was in fact, “through settled areas, sometimes also traversed by ancient trading routes,” and typically not true wilderness.
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Moreover, I am now well-informed about that part of the country to be traversed, as I can acquire the most exact information from the Nubian leaders, who are truly well-versed in regional knowledge, and thus supported in my route I could determine positions with the greatest certainty. I could not do this before, as one only learns how to interpret the statements of the Nubians by undertaking such a journey.
— Georg August Schweinfurth
In August Petermann, Petermann’s Geographische Mittheilungen (1871), 16. As quoted and cited in Kathrin Fritsch, '"You Have Everything Confused And Mixed Up…!" Georg Schweinfurth, Knowledge And Cartography Of Africa In The 19th Century', History in Africa (2009), 36, 94. Fritsch comments on his changed “acknowledgement of the quality of indigenous knowledge.”
Science quotes on:  |  Certainty (179)  |  Determine (147)  |  Exact (74)  |  Information (172)  |  Interpret (22)  |  Journey (47)  |  Knowledge (1610)  |  Leader (48)  |  Learn (652)  |  Nubian (6)  |  Position (81)  |  Region (40)  |  Route (16)  |  Statement (146)  |  Truly (117)  |  Well-Informed (7)

Neither the natives of Munsa [chief of the Mangbetu] nor the people of Kifan who came to me knew anything of the existence of a great lake, even though I undertook a positively detective investigation in order to discover any possible political intrigues. All of the statements of different people were noted and then compared; they agree as to names etc., which put my mind at rest.
— Georg August Schweinfurth
On the necessity of compiling map data by comparisons between interviews with locals. In August Petermann, Petermann’s Geographische Mittheilungen (1871), 13. As quoted and cited in Kathrin Fritsch, '"You Have Everything Confused And Mixed Up…!" Georg Schweinfurth, Knowledge And Cartography Of Africa In The 19th Century', History in Africa (2009), 36, 93.
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On principle no European traveler, especially the natural scientist, should travel otherwise than in the company of a native. This is essential, especially in view of his inability to make himself understood, to threaten to summon reinforcements when molested, or to recover forgotten pieces of clothing.
— Georg August Schweinfurth
In Konrad Guenther, Georg Schweinfurth-Lebensbüd eines Afrikaforschers (1954), 317. As quoted and cited in Kathrin Fritsch, '"You Have Everything Confused And Mixed Up…!" Georg Schweinfurth, Knowledge And Cartography Of Africa In The 19th Century', History in Africa (2009), 36, 88.
Science quotes on:  |  Clothing (11)  |  Company (62)  |  Essential (203)  |  Europe (48)  |  Forget (123)  |  Inability (11)  |  Native (41)  |  Natural Scientist (6)  |  Principle (522)  |  Recover (12)  |  Reinforcement (2)  |  Summon (11)  |  Threat (34)  |  Travel (120)  |  Understand (634)

Talking to the Monbuttu was very laborious as the conversation required double interpretation. I spoke in Arabic to a Niam Niam and he spoke in his language to a Niam Niam who understood Monbuttu or to a Monbuttu who understood Niam Niam.
— Georg August Schweinfurth
On the language barriers. In August Petermann, Petermann’s Geographische Mittheilungen (1871), 13. As quoted and cited in Kathrin Fritsch, '"You Have Everything Confused And Mixed Up…!" Georg Schweinfurth, Knowledge And Cartography Of Africa In The 19th Century', History in Africa (2009), 36, 95.
Science quotes on:  |  Arabic (4)  |  Conversation (46)  |  Double (17)  |  Interpretation (88)  |  Laborious (17)  |  Language (303)  |  Language Barrier (2)  |  Niam-Niam (2)  |  Require (223)  |  Speak (235)  |  Talk (104)  |  Understand (634)

The most striking difference … from our way of expressing things is in the identification of the direction in which rivers flow: the Nubian custom is exactly the opposite of our own. The people say the Nile goes to the mountains, not: it comes from the mountains…
— Georg August Schweinfurth
In August Petermann, Petermann’s Geographische Mittheilungen (1871), 135. As quoted and cited in Kathrin Fritsch, '"You Have Everything Confused And Mixed Up…!" Georg Schweinfurth, Knowledge And Cartography Of Africa In The 19th Century', History in Africa (2009), 36, 91.
Science quotes on:  |  Custom (44)  |  Difference (347)  |  Direction (181)  |  Express (189)  |  Flow (87)  |  Identification (18)  |  Mountain (196)  |  Nile (5)  |  Nubian (6)  |  Opposite (107)  |  River (136)

The Nubians never remember the native name for a river; thus their statements are of little value to geographical criticism. Hence they never speak of the River Bah or Ibba, for example, but always say the “Penio’s river,” because this is the name of the district head whose seat is on this river. In other places they are quite helpless…. This is a dreadful fact. Were the well-traveled and well-informed Arab leaders able to remember the names of the rivers, it would be wonderfully easy to draw a map of the entire country.
— Georg August Schweinfurth
In August Petermann, Petermann’s Geographische Mittheilungen (1871), 137. As quoted and cited in Kathrin Fritsch, '"You Have Everything Confused And Mixed Up…!" Georg Schweinfurth, Knowledge And Cartography Of Africa In The 19th Century', History in Africa (2009), 36, 92.
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There appears to be a total absence of place names [in southern Sudan]; there are indeed names for regions, areas, but all hamlets (there are scarcely any villages) bear the name of their headman or district head…, which is as ephemeral as the existence of the bearer himself in this unquiet country. Furthermore, residences are shifted every few years, in order to have fresh farmland; added to this the frequent wars, many deaths etc. In contrast, all bodies of water, even the most insignificant ditches, are permanently named. These will be the only guides if future travelers follow my path in this country or wish to trace it.
— Georg August Schweinfurth
On the diffuse difficulties and contradictions in placing permanent names on the maps was making. In August Petermann, Petermann’s Geographische Mittheilungen (1871), 137. As quoted and cited in Kathrin Fritsch, '"You Have Everything Confused And Mixed Up…!" Georg Schweinfurth, Knowledge And Cartography Of Africa In The 19th Century', History in Africa (2009), 36, 91.
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