- Reflections on a Premature Intimation of Impending Doom
- La corónica: A Journal of Medieval Hispanic Languages, Literatures, and Cultures
- La corónica: A Journal of Medieval Hispanic Languages, Literatures, and Cultures
- Volume 31, Number 2, Spring 2003
- pp. 19-23
- View Citation
- Additional Information
REFLECTIONS ON A PREMATURE INTIMATION OF IMPENDING DOOM Jerry R. Craddock University of California, Berkeley Those who happen to consult the Comparative Romance Linguistics Newsletter (= CRLN, http://www.csdl.tamu.edu/~crln/) will be surprised by the title of this Cluster. The discipline positively swarms with new contributions each year - indeed, the grim presupposition ofthe forum's title brings to mind a corpse slowly writhing with the pullulation of thousands of hungry maggots, eager to bring new life from old, as it were. I hope none of my colleagues will take offense; just a metaphor, not an allegory. On the other hand, if the title of this collection of position papers had referred to "Comparative Romance Linguistics", as does the title of the enormously useful periodical bibliography just cited, a somewhat more persuasive forensic case might be made. The historical grammar of the individual Romance languages continues to be cultivated assiduously, but comparative studies have become relatively uncommon , especially those that aspire to survey the Romance languages in their totality, as can be verified in the CRLN listings. In the good old days, we had Gröber's Grundriß (1904-1906) and Meyer-Lübke's Grammatik (1890-1902) to provide the framework for our own research . In recent years, German scholars have, with truly admirable industry and amplitude of vision, updated the Grundriß after a fashion , separating literature and linguistics: Hans RobertJauss and Erich Köhler launched the vast and still incomplete Grundriß der romanischen Literaturen des Mittelalters (1968-), while Günther Holtus and his colleagues have created the immense Lexikon der Romanistischen Linguistik (1987-). However, these works only emphasize the fundamental difference that characterizes the discipline at the beginning ofthe twentyfirst century: any possible unity the Romance field may have possessed La corónica 31.2 (Spring, 2003): 19-23 20Jerry CraddockLa corónica 31.2, 2003 in the early twentieth century has been irretrievably broken by specialization , no doubt an inevitable consequence of the exponential increase in published material over the past 100 years. The overall perception gained by those who consult the Lexikon, or at least, by me, is one of fragmentation and dispersal, owing above all to the relatively narrow views evident in most of the individual articles, written by specialists from all over the world. More years ago than I care to recall, I entertained the idea of studying a single morphological paradigm in all the Romance languages , to wit, the possessive adjectives/pronouns, as a consequence of having found that the development of that paradigm in Castilian was remarkably elucidated by taking into account its counterparts in the other Romance languages of the Iberian Peninsula, in particular AsturoLeonese . The task I set myselfwas daunting, butjust possible, I think, though I did abandon the project under pressure from other commitments . My intention was to include all the evidence that could be gleaned not just from dialect monographs but from linguistic atlases as well. The amount of material to be surveyed was monumental, and at that time each year seemed to see the publication of yet another atlas, or several atlases, ofvarious Romance domains. I went far enough to find confirmation of one crucial element in my view of the development of the first person singular possessive in Castilian, that is, that a triphthongal stage [mjéw] underlies the Old Castilian form [mjó] Spanish dos 'two' is treated as the merger of identical vowels, after the short high back vowel [u] was opened to [o] and merged with the long mid vowel [o] (Penny 2002: 148). However, the Portugese outcome dous (> dois) points to glide formation rather than merger, that is, [dows], and this would also explain the Castilian form, since [ow] > [o] was a frequent, indeed, categorical change in that language. The same argument can be made for the possessives tuu[m] and suu[m] on the basis of the early Old Portuguese forms tou and sou, later altered to teu and seu by analogy with the first person meu: [tow] and [sow] match exactly Old Spanish to and so, eventually displaced by the originally feminine counterparts tu (< tua[m]) and5« (< sua[m]) (Penny 2002: 139-43). It seems that in this small instance the failure to compare represents a lost opportunity for a more convincing account of the Castilian forms. I suspect that similar observations could be made about almost all single-language historical grammars in the Romance field. What to do? Perhaps an appeal to our industrious German colleagues is in order for the creation of a new Grammatik. It could perhaps begin as no more than a carefully annotated bibliography, but 22Jerry CraddockLa corónica 31.2, 2003 organized into the characteristic sections of an historical grammar: phonology, morphology (inflectional and derivational) and syntax. Then the actual data could be folded in, with suitable observations. Conceived as an electronic project, it might not be as unattainable as it seems at first glance. On an electronic page, a given phenomenon could be described succinctly with only select data, but with hyperlinks to more detailed monographic treatments. In that way, users/readers might not find themselves immediately swamped and overwhelmed by the sheer wealth of data. A nice task for another generation, as would be a new REW (Meyer-Lübke 1935), as urgently needed as a new Grammatik. Besides the sheer volume of material that confronts those who cultivate Romance philology and linguistics, another basic problem is the recruiting and training of new Romance philologists. At the University of California at Berkeley, the separate degree program in Romance philology, created by Yakov Malkiel in 1966, was terminated a few years ago for lack of qualified students. A watered-down program was instituted as an option within the Ph.D. program in Romance Languages and Literatures, which was, in fact, exactly what Romance philology had been at Berkeley before 1966, though not watered down. I don't know whether the basic problem affects Europe to the same extent as the United States, which is that now even the best students study only one or two languages besides English. It became simply impossible to maintain a program that required five languages, French, Italian, Spanish, Latin, and German. The entire United States educational system is at fault, not least at the highest levels, where an "English only" atmosphere is pervasive in practice, however much lip service is given to such notions as multiculturalism, and perhaps also the worldwide use of English as a lingua franca has disguised the very real need for multilingually trained personnel in many fields. It's a sad and ironic consideration, but the flourishing of Romance studies in the United States in the second halfof the twentieth century owed a great deal to Hitler, Mussolini, and Franco. The many outstanding European refugees such as Henry and Renée Kahane, Yakov Malkiel, Ernst Pulgram, Leo Spitzer, created programs, trained students , set standards as high as those ofpre-war Europe, and were themselves enormously productive, but finally the skein has apparently run out. In any case, however much I might desire a renovation of Romance studies in my country in the twenty-first century, I would not ask for it at the price that was paid in the twentieth. Reflections on a Premature Intimation of Impending Doom23 Works Cited CRLN = Comparative Romance Linguistics Newsletter, 1951-. Craddock, Jerry R. "Descending Diphthongs and the Regular Preterite in Hispano-Romance". Bulletin ofHispanic Studies 60: 1-14. Gröber, Gustav. 1904-1906. Grundriß der romanischen philologie. 2d ed. Strassburg: Trübner. Holtus, Günter, Michael Metzeltin, und Christian Schmitt, Eds. 19872001 . Lexikon der Romanistischen Linguistik. 8 vols. Tübingen: Niemeyer. Jauss, Hans Robert, and Erich Köhler, Eds. 1968-. Grundriß der romanischen Literaturen des Mittelalters. Heidelberg: Winter. Meyer-Lübke, Wilhelm. 1 890- 1 902. Grammatik der romanischen sprachen. 4 vols. Leipzig: Reisland. ------. 1935. Romanisches etymologisches Wörterbuch. 3d ed. Heidelberg: Winter. Penny, Ralph. 2002. A History of the Spanish. Language. 2d ed. Cambridge : Cambridge UP. ...