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View Diary: Let Them Eat Metaphors, Part 1: The Indo-European Hypothesis (69 comments)

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  •  thanks for this, gecko! (14+ / 0-)

    This is great stuff! Thank you for sharing this information.

    Also, your comment that Latin teaching has been "dominated by classicists rather than by historical linguists" strikes a chord for me, too, because a lot of the teaching of the history of English is done by scholars of medieval literature, some (although not all) of whom have very little background in linguistics.

    Thanks again!

    •  a plague on all literature! (11+ / 0-)

      Well, that's extreme, I guess. I've never studied the history of English, didn't know about the literature people dominating that until recently. It's the same in Classical Greek, though, and in a very strong way.

      Not the same for Old Icelandic (aka "Old Norse"), though, even though there's a considerable (if rather gruesome) literature there. But one of the early modern champions of that was the same Rasmus Rask that you mention in your diary. He also developed the spelling system for modern Icelandic. It bridges the gap between the medieval and modern languages, but makes the language look more conservative on the page than it actually sounds.

      Thanks, also, for posting another link for Lyle Campbell. He's been one of my linguistic heroes ever since his evisceration of Joseph Greenburg. It's hard to forgive him the parrot, though.

      •  Speaking a little out of my area, but (13+ / 0-)

        I can't imagine someone getting a job in medieval Russian without at least a strong linguistics background.  My sense, if accurate, is that there are two reasons for this:

        1. Slavic studies is still very strongly philological in a way that Western academia considers passé.  Most students come out with some linguistics even if they're not going into an area where it's strictly necessary.  To which I might as well add:

        1b. that Slavic linguistics has its own academic heritage (and baggage), so it's not quite a fair comparison;

        2. nearly all the written material from medieval Russia is in OCS, a strictly literary (rather than spoken) and notoriously difficult language to wrestle with.  I can't imagine approaching it all without some linguistics, even if I were just to study the literature-as-such.  It's about as close as we can get to the theorized proto-Slavic, but it's not the Thing Itself, because it's full of all kinds of borrowings to accommodate the translation of religious texts, which was the main reason it was created in the first place.  Theorizing about a proto-Slavic puts us in the same realm of unease as PIE, even though it's much, much more recent.

        Anyway, my two cents.  It's funny to me to hear that there are so few linguists in English and Classics.

        Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

        by pico on Mon Apr 29, 2013 at 02:25:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The two cents of anyone who quotes Ambrose Bierce (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          pico, ER Doc, kyril, Judge Moonbox

          is always welcome wherever I am. :-)

        •  Ah, Stankievich! (6+ / 0-)
          1b. that Slavic linguistics has its own academic heritage (and baggage), so it's not quite a fair comparison;
          I studied Slavic linguistics as part of my graduate studies in linguistics. Stankievich was all God to all who studied.
          2. nearly all the written material from medieval Russia is in OCS, a strictly literary (rather than spoken) and notoriously difficult language to wrestle with.  I can't imagine approaching it all without some linguistics, even if I were just to study the literature-as-such.  It's about as close as we can get to the theorized proto-Slavic, but it's not the Thing Itself, because it's full of all kinds of borrowings to accommodate the translation of religious texts, which was the main reason it was created in the first place.  Theorizing about a proto-Slavic puts us in the same realm of unease as PIE, even though it's much, much more recent.
          And I studied OCS, in depth. The professor was a Serbian priest, a real hoot in the classroom!

          Thanks for bringing all that back to me. I haven't heard anyone talking about such things since 1969...

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