A SEQUOIAN MYSTERY
Stephan Ladislaus Endlicher was a bit of a polyglot: an Austrian native, he developed great interests in the studies of everything from coins to linguistics to China to plants. However, it's his curiosity for botany that mattered most, as he decided to categorize a newly discovered tree species as a genus, contrary to the simple species its discoverer (an English botanist) had identified. Endlicher called this a sequoia, and the word has stuck in English to today. However, Endlicher did not leave any reasoning behind the name origin, which is problematic. Perhaps he just wanted to mess with future etymologists. The predominant theory is that he named it after Sequoya, an Amerindian who created a writing system for the Cherokees, which would make sense, taking into account his interests in language. Well, that's literally all we know.
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Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.