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Re: [mythsoc] Owen Barfield

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  • Larry Swain
    On Sun, 08 May 2011 15:26 -0400, Carl F. Hostetter ... 19th century ... (historical/comparative ... In the previous post, those I referred to, and I could
    Message 1 of 38 , May 23, 2011
       
       
       
      On Sun, 08 May 2011 15:26 -0400, "Carl F. Hostetter" <Aelfwine@...> wrote:
      > What Larry said is certainly truer of 18th century and early 19th century
      > philologists than it is of the _neugrammatiker_ (historical/comparative
      > linguists) of the later 19th century.
       
      In the previous post, those I referred to, and I could refer to others, were all 19th century philologists.  Nineteenth.
       
      The Junggrammatiker as they were called (neogrammarians being a less pejorative term than Junggrammatiker as they were called in Germany by their detractors) didn't come on the scene until the 1870s, the last quarter of the period in question.  Building on previous philologists' work and connections between various members of the I-E family, the neogrammarians developed a more specific model of comparative philology, developing the now well-known family tree model for describing the relationships in the I-E family group.  One of the interesting things about the neogrammarians is that they didn't follow their own dicta.  In 1878 Brugman and Osthoff gave the manifesto for the new school saying that the physical phenomenon of language is less important than the pscyhical, their term, rejected a comparative approach especially of ancient languages, stated that PIE was a pure fiction, and stressed the study of current languages.  But in their careers both authors ended up using and refining the comparative approach, studied ancient languages...Brugman almost exclusively...and reconstructing PIE.  One of the key elements in neogrammarian thought was that sound changes allow for no exceptions and occur throughout the language for every speaker simultaneously.  But there wasn't much new or even young about the neogrammarians....even their laws of sounds changes had been articulated previously, as had the familial relationship model.  Other more specific contributions have been challenged and set aside or at least modified.  
       
       
      >
      > The semasio-analytic tendency that Barfield decried (i.e. the tendency to
      > distinguish between "concrete" and metaphorical meanings and analyze them
      > into separate phenomenon) spans this whole era, but was certainly
      > emphasized by the techniques of the _neugrammatiker_, though not I think
      > deliberately. Mostly, I think, it was an accidental byproduct of the
      > historical/comparative technique: when analyzing the relations among
      > cognate words in an effort to get at the common ancestral form and
      > meaning, one naturally identifies a sort of linguistic "least-common
      > denominator", no only phonologically, but also semantically, which is
      > then naturally assigned as the meaning of the reconstructed ancestral
      > form. It isn't hard to see how such a process will itself tend to produce
      > meanings that are simple (in the sense of not being multifaceted) and
      > either utterly concrete on the one hand, or utterly abstract (but _not_
      > metaphorical) on the other.
      >
      > A look at any of the chief dictionaries of Indo-European roots (e.g.
      > Pokorny, Watkins) will amply attest to this.
       
      On the other hand, Max Muller complained about mythology making language less metamorphic, taking "bright and shining" and making it into "zeus" and "deus" and personalizing the originally deeply metamorphic and figurative term; hence, his famous complaint that mythology was the disease of language, it was a step down.
       
      I don't know, take *deru, firm, steadfast, solid that for example in English results in true (esp. in the old fashioned meaning of being true to one's principles, lord, etc), treow in OE meaning pledge, other English words like tree, truce, truth (originally meaning faith, loyalty), troth, betroth, trust and through Latin all of the "durus" derived words like duress, endure, durable, but through Latin also gives us druid, in Celtic meaning "strong seer".  OE dry was borrowed from Celtic languages and meant in OE magic, with drycraeft meaning the magic arts.  And that gives us Druadan Woods....if Shippey is right, gives us "magic man woods"...a joke by Tolkien who would have been well aware of the other related terms of dry>dru meaning magic and yielding English words for "tree" (and hence the woods part),  and "true"--and so the magic men of the forest live in the trees and turn out to be true through the millenia.  Barfield may have decried some of the necessities of the glossary approach to etymology, but it is a rich and vast study.
       
      Larry Swain
      -- 
      http://www.fastmail.fm - Choose from over 50 domains or use your own
      
    • John Rateliff
      Very sorry to hear it. I never met Edward Carlos Plunkett, though I did meet his father (the famous Lord Dunsany s son). Thanks for posting the news, Dale. We
      Message 38 of 38 , May 26, 2011
        Very sorry to hear it. I never met Edward Carlos Plunkett, though I did meet his father (the famous Lord Dunsany's son). Thanks for posting the news, Dale.
           We can be grateful to this Lord Dunsany for one thing: he allowed the publication of a number of his grandfather's works that had lain neglected in a bank vault for decades -- a novel, a play, a volume of short stories, and various odds & ends. None of them had the stuff of greatness that makes me rank Dunsany as the best fantasy short story writer ever, but it's good to have even the lesser works of a great writer.
           --John R.

        current reading: THE BOOK OF WONDER [1912]



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