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European Hellenism and Greek Nationalism: Some Effects of Ethnocentrism on Greek Linguistic Scholarship Brian Joseph Greek scholarship, especially in the nineteenth century, has, in certain theoretical disciplines at least, been linked to various ideological trends prevailing in Europe. Among these disciplines, as argued by Herzfeld (1982), is that of folklore studies. As Herzfeld points out, Greek scholars reacted to the romantic image of Greece1 that European Hellenism had projected and thus embedded folklore studies in an ideological context involving ethnocentrism, a search for a national identity, and the building of a nation-state. In particular, they "constructed cultural continuity [with Ancient Greece] in defense of their national identity . . . [but] not ... in defiance of the facts. Rather, they assembled what they considered to be the relevant cultural materials and used them to state their case" (4). Moreover, they developed what Herzfeld calls an "externally directed ideology, ever responsive to foreign comment and criticism" (7-8). Such a linking of scholarship with ideology was not unique to the Greeks ofthe time; as Herzfeld points out (11), similar trends are evident in nineteenth century Finnish folklore studies. Nor is it the case that bnly folklore research experienced such an infusion of ideology . Indeed, other disciplines can be shown to demonstrate such tendencies , and in particular Greek linguistic science in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries offers a picture quite parallel in many respects to what Herzfeld has shown for folklore. Thus, in what follows, some examples are presented which show the effects ofthe general intellectual Zeitgeist induced by this "exter- 'Some representative works of relevance here, from the sizeable literature on this subject, include Butler, Stern, Larrabee, and Webb. I am indebted to Vassilis Lambropoulos for bringing these works to my attention. 87 88 Brian Joseph nally directed ideology" on the interpretations Greek linguists have given to facts and questions about the Greek language. It remains a task for future research to provide, as part of the writing of the full intellectual history of Modern Greek scholarship, the detail needed to understand fully how individual scholars in Greece and elsewhere figured in these developments.2 An interest in the study and analysis of language and languages, especially the Greek language, has a long tradition among the Greeks.3 For example, the Sophists and Plato were concerned with a debate over phúsei (by nature) versus the'sei (by convention) as the reason for words having the meanings they did, and in addition attempted to arrive at etymologies, fanciful though they may have been in some instances.4 In addition, Aristotle and later the Stoics defined some of the basic concepts of grammatical analysis, for example the "parts of speech," which serve linguists well even today. Still, as Jespersen (1964:2) has observed, "real insight into the nature of language made little progress . . . with the Alexandrians . . . and etymology still remained in the childlike stage." In the nineteenth century in Greece, though, an interest in linguistics in general and in Greek linguistics in particular arose in the Greek scholarly community. The motivation behind this interest is somewhat akin to the forces which drove Plato and others centuries ago, i.e., a curiosity about linguistic origins and a concern for language as a human and social phenomenon; but the basic principles and methods of investigation were now quite different, largely as the result of the introduction into Greek intellectual and academic life of ideas and methodologies from Western Europe. For example, two of the founding fathers of Greek linguistics, Jean Psicharis (1854-1929) and George Hatzidakis (1848-1941), were both influenced by European ideas and intellectual developments , Psicharis more by the French school and Hatzidakis more by the German school.5 The work of these two scholars shows quite 2Some similar remarks on the state of etymological science among Greek scholars are to be found in Zahos (13-16). 3See Jespersen, and Pedersen (1959, 1983), for some discussion concerning language science in Ancient Greece and Hellenistic times. 4For example, in Cratylus 417 (following the edition of Jowett), Plato has Socrates "derive" blaberón "harmful" from boulómenon háptein rhoün "wanting to bind the stream," a derivation which fails on phonetic and semantic grounds, and is...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-3265
Print ISSN
0738-1727
Pages
pp. 87-95
Launched on MUSE
2010-06-24
Open Access
No
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