The Adaptation of French Engineer Collignon’s Kinematics Book to Ottoman Turkish: Margossian’s Lecture Notes on Fenn-i Mihânik-i Riyâzi (Science of Mathematical Mechanics)Alp Eden, Semiha Betül Takıcak
Aram Margosyan completed his university education at the École des ponts et chausséés (EPC) in France. He held high-level bureaucratic positions in the Ottoman Empire. At the same time, he was one of the first civilian teachers of the Hendese-i Mülkiye Mektebi (HMM), the first civilian engineering school in the Ottoman Empire. The book Fenn-i Mihânik-i Riyâzî (FMR) was written by Margosyan to be taught in HMM. Margosyan’s book was examined within the scope of this study. We compared the work of Margosyan with the French kinematics books published before 1883. As a result of this research, we found extensive overlaps between the work of Margosyan and a book on kinematics by Collignon, both in form and content. Collignon, a French engineer, taught at the EPC to the class of which Margosyan was a member. Margosyan, who did not refer to Collignon’s work in his book, did not translate Collignon’s work verbatim but only adapted nearly half of the content into Ottoman Turkish. In his notes, Margosyan incorporated most of the geometrical explanations given in Collignon’s book and tried to overcome the difficulties of the period in technical writing in Ottoman Turkish. Since Collignon’s book had one of the most detailed geometric descriptions among its peers, this feature of the book might have played an important role in Margosyan’s choice to adapt it for his course.
Fransız Mühendis Collignon’un Kinematik Kitabının Osmanlıca Uyarlaması: Margosyan’ın Fenn-i Mihânik-i Riyâzî Ders NotlarıAlp Eden, Semiha Betül Takıcak
Üniversite eğitimini Fransa’daki mühendislik okulu École des Ponts et Chausséés’de (EPC) tamamlayan Aram Margosyan, Osmanlı Devleti’nde üst düzey bürokratik görevler yürütmenin yanı sıra, Osmanlı’nın ilk sivil mühendislik okulu olan Hendese-i Mülkiye Mektebi’nin ilk sivil hocalarından biridir. Margosyan’ın bu okulda okutulmak üzere kaleme aldığı Fenn-i Mihânik-i Riyâzî (FMR) kitabı bu çalışma kapsamında incelendi. Söz konusu kitaba kaynaklık edebileceğini tahmin ettiğimiz 1883’ten önce basılmış Fransızca mekanik kitaplarının kinematik bölümlerini Margosyan’ın eseriyle karşılaştırdık. Bu inceleme neticesinde EPC’de Margosyan’ın öğrenci olduğu dönemde hocalık yapmış Édouard Collignon’un eseriyle Margosyan’ın eseri arasında hem şekilsel hem de içerik olarak büyük örtüşmeler tespit ettik. Collignon’un eserine kitabında hiç atıf yapmayan Margosyan, Collignon’un eserinin birebir çevirisini yapmamış ve sadece yarıya yakın kısmını Osmanlıcaya uyarlamıştır. Konu anlatımında Collignon’un kitabında verilen şekillerden ve geometrik açıklamalardan büyük ölçüde yararlandığını gösterdiğimiz Margosyan, Osmanlıca teknik kitap yazmadaki dönemin zorluklarını bu şekilde aşmaya çalışmıştır. Emsalleri arasında geometrik anlatımın en yoğun olduğu Collignon’un kitabını uyarlamak için seçerken bu özelliğinin rol oynadığını düşünüyoruz.
Between 1874-1877, Aram Margosyan (Margossian in French) attended the French engineering school l’École des ponts et chausséés (EPC) in Paris. After graduating from EPC, he worked as an engineer in the Ministry of Public Works on different railway projects in the Ottoman Empire. In the 1880’s he became one of the first nonmilitary professors of the engineering school Hendese-i Mülkiye Mektebi (HMM) which started admitting nonmilitary (civilian) students and faculty in 1883. The engineering school in Constantinople was modeled after EPC and was a natural fit for Margosyan as a (part-time) teacher. In HMM, Margosyan was best remembered as a mathematician who wrote lecture notes in analysis. In these notes, he used the tools of infinitesimal analysis instead of the more rigorous analytical tools. Even though Margosyan has taught various courses in HMM, only two of his lecture notes survived physically. In this work, we have analyzed his lecture notes on Fenn-i Mihânik-i Riyâzi (FMR, Science of Mathematical Mechanics).
At that time, a standard course in mechanics (in France) included three main topics: statics, kinematics, and dynamics. Margosyan’s lecture notes deal only with the topic of kinematics. This could be a deliberate choice by the author since kinematics can be treated using mathematical analysis without recourse to physical laws.
A physical copy of the lecture notes was available in Istanbul Technical University’s library. We transliterated the text into Ottoman, including all the figures furnished in the notes. Afterward, we translated the text into modern Turkish.
It was natural to assume that Margosyan had the inspiration from his lecture notes from a French textbook on mechanics published before 1884. Most of the better-known French books on mechanics are now available in internet archives. However, we have restricted our search mainly to the textbooks available in Turkish libraries. During this search, we realized that Margosyan’s lecture notes had an extensive overlap with the kinematics book of Édouard Collignon published in 1853. Collignon was a professor in EPC and gave an applied mechanics course to the class “élevé exterior”. This class included Margossian as a student. Collignon had published three books on mechanics, and the first volume was on kinematics. We have carefully compared the two texts. Margosyan’s lecture notes left out many topics treated in Collignon’s book on kinematics. The whole section on mechanisms is left out from FRM, as well as all the numerical examples and the topic of numerical integration. It would be fair to conclude that Margosyan was not keen on the practical applications of the subject. Also, Margossian’s lecture notes left out discussions of Newton’s physical laws (and the concept of force) by considering the movements of bodies without recourse to their origins.
Although Margosyan’s lecture notes are not a verbatim translation of the kinematics book, it is a shorter and slightly less analytic version of the latter. Margosyan, whenever possible, preferred geometric discussions combined with infinitesimal analysis to make a point. This style of argumentation predates Lagrange’s analytical treatment of mechanics and is closer to a more classical rendering of the subject. It would be unfair to say that Margossian did not utilize analytical tools at all, but he certainly has tried to avoid them as much as possible.
The founder of the field of kinematics is Gilles Roberval, a precursor of Newton, had combined the tools of infinitesimal analysis with synthetic geometry to study the properties of various space and plane curves. It is no coincidence that Roberval’s Method has an important place in Margosyan’s lecture notes and is applied to various plane and space curves. By the end of the nineteenth century, the field of kinematics evolved under differential geometry and is treated more as a mathematical subject.
We examined some of the kinematics books of French scientists written before Margosyan’s book that were not in Lagrange’s analytical mechanics tradition. In these books, geometric expressions and analytical expressions are almost equally weighted. Among these books, Collignon’s book stands out as the book that places the most emphasis on geometric representations. In his lecture notes, Margosyan seems to have tried to find some solution to the scientific terminology and notation problems in Ottoman Turkish with the universal language of geometric representations and preferred Collignon’s book among its peers for this reason.