As the end of lecture five of the Agriculture course approaches it seems as if Rudolf Steiner is in a rush to finish before all the faces before him at Koberwitz go totally blank. It is as if he bolts on a quick paragraph about valerian, ‘if you can still bring yourself to do one more thing….’. He says that if valerian is ‘applied to the manure in a very fine manner it will stimulate the manure to relate in the right way to the substance we call phosphorus,’ (Creeger & Gardner) or, ‘If this highly diluted juice of valerian is added to manure, it can arouse in it a proper behaviour towards phosphorous substances,’ (Kolisko & Wachsmuth) or, ‘Then you will stimulate it to behave in the right way in relation to what we call the “phosphoric” substance,’ (Adams) (… insbesondere in ihm dasjenige hervorrufen, was ihn anregt dazu, sich gegenüber demjenigen, was man Phosphorsubstanz nennt, in der richtigen Weise zu verhalten. )
Note the progression as one moves through these translations. In the first it seems to be that the chemical element phosphorus is specified. In the second, ‘phosphorous’ (adjective -ous, not noun -us) is used and the plural ‘substances’ is used. Adams goes further to distance himself from over-associating the translation from the chemical element phosphorus by saying ‘what we call’ and using inverted commas around the adjective “phosphoric”.
A chemist may well wonder what all that mealy-mouthed lack of precision is about?