Indo-European Studies

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The Indo-European linguistics and Indo-European (in the non-German-speaking mainly in, German rarely Indo-European linguistics or Indoeuropäistik called; English: Indo-European Studies ) studies with historical comparative methods origin and development of the Indo-European languages (Indo-European languages; see this article. Indo-European original language ). Today it is therefore a sub-discipline of (historical) comparative linguistics that grew out of it and that is applied to many other languages ​​in the world. Nevertheless, the terms (historical) comparative linguistics are still often used synonymously with Indo-European studies . In German university policy, Indo-European Studies is classified as a minor subject .

Research overview

As early as 1647, the Dutch philologist and scholar Marcus Zuerius van Boxhorn established for the first time a fundamental relationship between a number of European and Asian languages; originally he included the Germanic as well as the Illyrian-Greek and Italian languages ​​on the one hand and Persian on the other hand, and later he added the Slavic, Celtic and Baltic languages. Van Boxhorn called the common original language, from which all these languages ​​should originate, " Scythian ". However, van Boxhorn was not able to assert himself with this knowledge in the 17th century.

The Indo-European linguistics arose at the beginning of the 19th century after the discovery of the Indo-European linguistic affinity by the Englishman William Jones , the German Franz Bopp , who categorically rejected the term "Indo-European Studies", and the Danes Rasmus Rask. A key role was played by the discovery and the beginning of research of Sanskrit in Europe (including by William Jones , Friedrich von Schlegel and Wilhelm von Humboldt ).

Franz Bopp is considered to be the founder of Indo-European studies (and, more generally, of comparative linguistics). It is true that William Jones and others had already noticed before him that the relationship between Sanskrit, Greek, Latin and some other languages ​​can hardly be accidental. However, Bopp was the first to depict these relationships in a systematic way. In doing so, he did not limit himself to the relationship of words (viewed in general terms), but dealt primarily with verbs and their endings. In 1816, Bopp's seminal work appeared on the conjugation system of the Sanskrit language in comparison with that of the Greek, Latin, Persian and Germanic languages . Therefore, 1816 is considered the year of birth of Indo-European Studies.

Reconstructions and sound laws

In the middle of the 19th century, the German August Schleicher attempted to reconstruct a hypothetical Indo-European original language and created one of the first family trees to represent the assumed genetic relationships between languages. The convention of adding asterisks to reconstructed forms goes back to Schleicher.

With the help of the wave theory , the German linguist Johannes Schmidt tried to better explain the propagation of language. Schleicher's idea of ​​the "family tree" has proven to be largely sustainable, which is evident not least from many lexicostatistical approximations.

The initial reconstructions of the “Urindo-European” were still very much influenced by the model of Sanskrit (as particularly “pure” and therefore originally valid) and at the same time by great optimism with regard to the historicity of the reconstruction , which is particularly evident in the famous fable that Schleicher in von "Urindo-European" reconstructed for him (including uniform a- vowelism as in Indo-Aryan compared to the triple vowelism [e, a, o] of the European languages).

In the second half of the 19th century, the new generation of so-called young grammarians appeared, who tried to put the reconstruction efforts on a scientific basis, and to this end the postulate of the invariability of the sound laws . This means that sound changes occur strictly regularly and depend only on the sound environment. Exceptions can only be explained by analogy , i.e. by restructuring word forms according to the relationship pattern of other word forms. The young grammar school did a considerable amount of detailed work and thus created important foundations for further research. With the outline of the comparative grammar of the Indo-European languages of German Karl Brugmann , a compendium of the Indo-European level of knowledge of the time was created in 1904, which was not achieved again on this scale.

Unification of the root structure: the laryngeal theory

As early as 1879 , the Swiss Ferdinand de Saussure attempted to reinterpret the Urindo-European sound system in a writing. This was initially not pursued any further, but played an important role in the 20th century in the form of the so-called laryngeal theory . This theory, whose name goes back to Hermann Møller , was controversial for a long time, but is now recognized. It presupposes for the Indo-European original language (today mostly three, marked with * h₁, * h₂ and * h₃) " laryngals ", which are proven in the Anatolian languages (* h₂ is preserved in all positions, * h₃ in the original) in 1927 could become. It was probably consonants articulated in the pharynx or larynx area (phonetically: pharyngals and glottals, mainly fricatives), which today u. a. can be recognized by various coarticulative “colorations” of neighboring vowels: h₁ as e -color, h₂ as a -color and h₃ as o -color laryngeal. By using the laryngals, (almost) all roots traditionally starting with a vowel get an initial consonant; Furthermore, the basic language Schwa sound (* -ə-) is interpreted as the fading stage of a long vowel.

Restructuring of the phoneme inventory in the plosive area: the glottal theory

On the other hand, the so-called glottal theory , whose main proponents are the Georgian Tamaz Gamkrelidze , the (Soviet-) Russian linguist Vyacheslav Ivanov and the American Paul Hopper , is highly controversial . This theory involves the interpretation of the Primitive Indo-European plosive rows under Heading a glottalized row b, the voiced plosives *, d *, * g, * g and * G by the glottal (usually in this listing) * p ', t', k ' , * k 'and * k'ʷ replaced and made minor phonetic changes in the area of ​​the other two rows of plosive sounds.


Research and Teaching

The subject has a rich tradition in German-speaking countries and is currently represented at the following universities:

In addition, there are Indo-European teaching institutions at 32 foreign universities (mainly in Spain, Italy, Japan and the USA).

See also

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Small subjects: Indo-European studies on the Kleine Fächer portal , accessed on April 23, 2019
  2. Marcus Zuerius van Boxhorn: Antwoord van Marcus Zuerius van Boxhorn, Gegeven op de Vraaghen, hem voorgestelt over de Bediedinge van de afgodinne Nehalennia, onlancx uytghegeven, in welcke de ghemeine herkomste van der Griecken, Romeinen ende Duytschen Tale uydelijthen du, end different Oudheden van dese Volckeren grondelijck ontdekt end has been explained . Willem Christiaens vander Boxe, Leiden 1647. 112 pp.
  3. ^ Sir William Jones: Third anniversary discourse: on the Hindus . [Speech on February 2, 1786]. In: Asiatick Researches No. 1 1798, pp. 415-31.
  4. ^ Franz Bopp: Comparative grammar of Sanskrit, Zend, Greek, Latin, Lithuanian, Gothic and German . 6 volumes. Berlin 1833-1852.
  5. Rasmus Rask: Undersøgelse om det gamle Nordiske or Islandske Sprogs Oprindelse . Gyldendal, Copenhagen 1818.
  6. ^ Henry Hoenigswald: Descent, Perfection and the Comparative Method since Leibniz . In: Tullio De Mauro and Lia Formigari (Eds.): Leibniz, Humboldt, and the Origins of Comparativism . John Benjamin, Amsterdam / Philadelphia 1990. pp. 119-134.
  7. ^ Franz Bopp: About the conjugation system of the Sanskrit language in comparison with that of the Greek, Latin, Persian and Germanic languages . Andreean bookstore, Frankfurt am Main 1816.
  8. August Schleicher: Compendium of the comparative grammar of the Indo-European languages . 2 volumes. H. Böhlau, Weimar 1861–2.
  9. ^ Ferdinand de Saussure: Mémoire sur le système primitif des voyelles dans les langues indo-européennes . BG Treubner, Leipzig 1879; Reprint: Olms Verlag, Hildesheim 1972.
  10. ^ Hermann Möller: Semitic and Indo-European , Part I consonants . H. Hagerup, Copenhagen 1906.
  11. ^ Jerzy Kuryłowicz: ə indo-européen et ḫ hittite . In: W. Taszycki and W. Doroszewski, Symbolae grammaticae in honorem Ioannis Rozwadowski , Vol. 1. 1927. pp. 95-104.
  12. According to Kümmel 2007: h₁ = [h] ( voiceless glottal fricative ); h₂ = [χ] ( voiceless uvular fricative ); h₃ = [ʁ] ( voiced uvular fricative ) or [ʁʷ]. See: Martin Joachim Kümmel: Konsonantenwandel. Building blocks for a typology of sound change and its consequences for the comparative reconstruction . Dr Ludwig Reichert Verlag, Wiesbaden 2007. pp. 327–336.