University of Ottawa



0. Introductory remarks

Among the participants in this `theme session' on "Language and Ideology" I need not dwell on the history of the term `ideology' at any length. If the French non-Marxist sociologist-philosopher Raymond Boudon, in a 330-page monograph devoted to the origin and diverging uses of `idéologie' (Boudon 1986), did not succeed in coming up with a universally accepted definition of the term, nor succeeded in rescuing it from its largely negative connotations, I shall not try to bore the audience with my own attempt. We know that when the French philosopher A. L. C. Destutt de Tracy (17541836) in 1796 coined `idéologie', it was intended to refer to nothing more than a theory of ideas, conceived within a sensorialist view of mind in the tradition of Condillac with practical and socially beneficial intentions, notably in the arena of public education. Given the Republican convictions of Destutt and his followers, the Idéologues soon came under fire from Napoleon who shifted the term to the political realm, accusing them of ignoring political reality for abstract ideas. Marx, in The German Ideology written during 18451846, followed up on Napoleon's negative slant and used the term to refer to a false consciousness that is contradicted by the reality found in everyday material life. `Ideology' has since been much more a term of abuse than a well-defined concept of scholarly discourse. Perhaps this meeting today will succeed in putting a more positive spin on both the concept and the term.

It has become fashionable during the 1990s to make use of the word `ideology' in book titles (cf. Joseph & Taylor 1990, Simpson 1993, Huck & Goldsmith 1995, Schieffelin et al. 1998) there is even a textbook on the subject (Eagleton 1991), and as far as I can see, in each case something different is meant by `ideology', if it is given a definition at all. Kathryn Woolard (1998), while offering a fairly informative account of the different strands of uses of the term (5-9), states, discouragingly: "I use the terms `linguistic ideology,' `language ideology,' and `ideologies of language' interchangeably [], although differences among them can be detected in separate traditions of use" (p.4). Maybe, given such state of affairs, I should offer at least something like an operational definition for the present purpose after all?

As it will become obvious from what I am trying to say today, the subject of my own paper differs significantly from most of the papers presented here. I am not talking about language and ideology, but of linguistics and ideology, i.e., my focus is not on the use or abuse of language in the promotion of particular ideas or actions, but on specific, conscious or subconscious underpinnings of arguments made or maintained within the science of language, i.e., the field of linguistics, which is often presumed to be guided only by value-free scientific principles in the search of truth. In other words, my paper deals with the discipline, the profession of linguistics, not language uses and linguistic discourses of any kind, if `linguistic' is interpreted in the sense of German sprachlich (French langagier), i.e., "pertaining to language", not sprachwissenschaftlich (French linguistique).

1. The place of ideology in linguistic historiography

At least since the establishment of the so-called `Boppian paradigm' of comparative-historical linguistics, historians of the field have succeeded in presenting us with an image of the field as objective, value-free, in one word `scientific'. One looks in vain, in the textbook histories from Benfey, Delbrück, and others in the late 19th century until those by Robins, Malmberg, and others of the late 20th century, for any recognition of the fact that in the work of 19th-century scholars from the early Romantic era until and including the positivist era of the Neogrammarians and their successors we in fact encounter at least ideological latencies which in certain conjonctures of history have come to the fore in a manner for all to see, if such a general awareness exists.

When talking about `linguistics and ideology', one may be thinking of Marrism which from the late 1920s till the early 1950s held sway in the Soviet Union as perhaps the most obvious example. And still one does not find a chapter devoted to this phenomenon and this period in Russian linguistics of the first half of the 20th century generally in the regular historiographical literature until, sauf erreur, very recently. The idea of ideology in linguistics surfaces in two recent books, â ern 's Historia de la Lingüística, translated into Spanish by the author from his native Czech version of 1996 ( â ern 1998), and in Andreas Gardt's Geschichte der Sprachwissenschaft in Deutschland (Gardt 1999).

In â ern 's book the subject of "ideología en la lingüística" (p.481) is mentioned in passing in various places, usually in conjunction with the name of Nikolaj Jakovlevi c Marr (18651934) and/or Marxism (pp. 2, 170, 199-200, 298), and it is obvious that these few passages about three pages altogether in a book of more than 500 pages were motivated by his native country's Communist past and the failed uprising in Czechoslovakia against the post-Stalinist regime in 1968 (see especially pp.481-482). Nowhere in his book does the author attempt a definition of `ideology' (which he seems to use as if it was a regular concept probably meaning something like "political superstructure") or an analysis of what this ideology meant in terms of the conduct of linguistic research.

The most recent publication that takes up the topic of my paper though its author, again, nowhere defines the term `ideology' is Andreas Gardt's Geschichte der Sprachwissenschaft in Deutschland (Gardt 1999), whose title is remi niscent of Theodor Benfey's (18091881) well-known book of 130 years ago, but it is also there where the parallel beween the two accounts ends. Gardt's history is a much more modest undertaking and evidently the work of a Germanist, not an Indo-Europeanist. Yet Gardt's book contains passages that one could not expect to find in Benfey's voluminous study and which are of interest to scholars with an awareness that linguistics has always been, acknowledged or not, a discipline strongly influenced by external forces, intellectual, economic, and political. Although I believe that Gardt does not go far enough in his analysis of what he terms `Sprachnationalismus' (1999:301-319) people like Weisgerber, who has in recent years been clearly indicted as culpable of various acts of `mother tongue fascism' among others, does not receive more than a slap on the wrist (243-244) one must welcome his effort to open up the discussion of a subject that has thus far been excluded from the annals of linguistic science.

This general non-recognition of ideological consideratins playing a role in linguistics and its methodology is deplorable not simply because of the lack of social consciousness and sense of intellectual responsibility which this attitude among scholars reveals, but also because linguists can be shown to have been particularly prone to cater, consciously or not, to ideas and interests outside their discipline and, as history shows, allowed at times their findings to be used for purposes they were not originally intended or simply joined up with certain trends. The misuse of ideas coming from linguists with serious academic credentials during the Third Reich (cf. most recently Hutton 1998) is usually mentioned, if at all, as an aberration and then passed over, with no participant being mentioned by name, thus leaving the impression that we had to do with nothing but a hijacking of a field and the distortion of scholarly findings by in fact unqualified but politically well connected people. For those actually studying the scholarship during 19331945 in Germany and Austria, it may come as a shock to realize that the work published during those fateful years was not much different from what was done before, and that it did not take much to serve Nazi propaganda quite well.

The present paper deals with only three areas of long-standing scholarly research, namely, 1) `mother tongue' studies, 2) linguistic typology, and, in particular, 3) the search for the original Indo-European homeland in order to illustrate that these subjects were hardly ever argued without an ideological subtext. No suggestion is implied that modern `structural', including `generative', linguistics has been free from any such dangers.

2. Illustrations of `ideology' in linguistics

By choosing three particular areas of traditional linguistic research in which ideology appears to have played a significant role, I do not wish to imply that they represent the only ones. Indeed, it may well be the case that other linguistic subfields are even more prone to ideological bias than the ones that have been chosen for illustration of my general argument.

2.1 Mother-tongue ideologies in linguistics

Christopher Hutton, in his very recent Linguistics and the Third Reich (Hutton 1998) has focused his attention on the idea of `mother tongue' in fact he speaks of `mother-tongue fascism' in German linguistics and how this emotionally charged concept, advocated by seemingly respectable representatives in the field of Germanistik could find themselves supporting the agenda of an anti-Semitic and xenophobic regime. Hutton illustrates this phenomenon by delineating the careers of Heinz Kloss (19041987) well known for his early work in sociolinguistics avant la lettre and his distinction between `Abstand' and `Ausbau' languages (e.g., Kloss 1929, 1952), Jost Trier (18941970) widely recognized for his work in semantics and `field' theory (e.g., Trier 1931, 1973), and Leo Weisgerber (18991985) probably the best known scholar of the three (e.g., Weisgerber 1929, 1967), who all published works during 19331945 that cannot but be seen as much in accord with Nazi party thinking; compare such typical publications by these authors as Kloss (e.g., 1941a, b), Trier (e.g., 1939, 1943a, b), and Weisgerber (e.g., 1934, 1940, 1943, 1944). Their writings were by no means `slips of the pen', as they have been careful to write in line with traditional scholarly standards, something which Hutton's research has made perfectly clear. Of course the learning, teaching, and protection of the language with which a society identifies itself has a much longer history, and Hutton is at pains to document this; the argument that the particular views expounded by these three scholars and many other linguists during the Third Reich period were nothing but a temporal aberration is not supported by the facts.

As Hutton demonstrates in individual chapters devoted to these three academics and the scholarly as well as political context within which they acted (1998:86-187 passim), Kloss, Trier, and notably Weisgerber not only held those ideologically charged views, they also got themselves actively involved during 19331945 in various government-sponsored programs designed to protect the national language against intrusions from those they felt did not really belong to the German speech community or in helping those who were in danger of losing their mother tongue, such as Germans who had emigrated to the United States, to maintain it `diaspora' was then and is still today one of those emotionally charged terms used among mother-tongue ideologues. That these activities were apt to support Nazi agenda of discrimination and persecution cannot escape those who familiarize themselves with the scholarly production and the political context of the period.

In order to illustrate `mother-tongue fascism' to those more familiar with the present than the past, let me cite two current North American examples. I am thinking in particular of Quebec's separatist movement and the `English only' laws which certain states of the U.S. have passed in order to appease public anxieties that their politicians created in the first place for their own agenda. There, we have been witness to the kind of subtle and not so subtle propaganda that has been advanced by the advocates of mother-tongue protection to promote their some may say `racist' politics. People are being made to feel that someone wants to take their language away from them, and prospects like this naturally make many members of the population whose language is supposedly threatened nervous, if not downright scared since so much of daily life, self-identification, and whatever passes as `culture' is wedded to language. As we will surely realize, such ideologies fly in the face of what is really happening: in Canada, the support that has been given by the federal government for the promotion of French in public institutions, universities and schools has in fact added to the vitality and viability of French; in the United States, new immigrants are eager to learn English in order to increase their chances in advancing socially and economically.

Since this kind of manipulation in scholarship and politics has been so well documented in Hutton's book, though only with regard to German linguistic thought from Humboldt to Weisgerber, I would like to simply refer to it and deal with two other areas in the history of linguistics that can be shown to have carried along with them in one form or another an ideo logical baggage from the early 19th century onwards, namely, language classification and the search for the Indo-European homeland.

3.2 Language classification and typology

Both last-named subjects have had a long history in linguistics. Indeed, it could be shown that they have antecedents well before the 19th century: The ordre naturel debate in 18th-century France, which was supposed to demonstrate the superiority of French over other European languages based on its strict syntactic order of subjectverbobject which, it was claimed, followed a cognitive, `rational' pattern. Like the search for the Indo-European Urheimat (see section 2.3), discussions about language (and what characteristics a `proper' language should exhibit vs dialects, for instance) led to various kinds of nationalistic debate and eventual political exploitation during the period of the Third Reich.

Interestingly, embedded in the first 19th-century proposals of linguistic typology we find an implicit ideological underpinning. I may begin by referring to Friedrich Schlegel's (17721829) scheme distinguishing between so-called `inflectional' languages, i.e., the Indo-European languages, and those that have no inflection and are therefore called `isolating' (as Chinese has usually been thought of) or use a morphological technique which puts strings of forms to gether, but does not allow for a modification of the root, i.e., the so-called `agglutinating' languages (as American Indian languages are supposed to be like). This is found in nuce in Schlegel's 1808 Ueber die Sprache und Weisheit der Indier, including the suggestion, albeit not explicit, of a ranking of the `inflectional' languages as farther developed and, hence, superior to all others. We may say, when looking at later developments in the field: first the languages are the target, then their respective speakers. Friedrich Schlegel's elder brother August Wilhelm (17671845) added the `synthetic'/`analytic' distinction in 1818, and we can find similar typological arguments in Wilhelm von Humboldt (17671835), in whose view the highest achievement of the human mind was that of the speakers of Ancient Greek.

However, neither in the works of the Schlegels nor of Humboldt could one find them actually arguing in favour of Indo-European superiority, cultural, moral or otherwise. No serious scholar today would want to characterize the Schlegel brothers or Humboldt as having paved the way for 20th-century fascism. In vain we would find them arguing in favour of superiority of one people over another, based on the differences of language structure. Accusing Humboldt, for instance, of `racism' as Hans Aarsleff (1988: x, lxiii) has done, not only constitutes a cheap shot but, more importantly, a rhetorical gesture that sets up roadblocks to an adequate understanding of Humboldt's linguistic argument, as Paul Sweet, the author of a two-volume biography of Humboldt, has pointed out (Sweet 1989; cf. now Joseph 1999, for details). There is no denying, however, that these early morphological typologies and possible hierarchies left the door open for later reinterpretation in a manner not intended by their original proponents.

The connection between language and the people who speak it has always been there, of course; it just needed to be argued that some languages and hence their speakers were more `primitive' than others. For instance, Franz Bopp (17911867), the supposed `founder' of comparative Indo-European linguistics, who, unlike his former student Au gust Friedrich Pott (18021887) and later August Schleicher (18211868), argued against the use of the term Indogermanisch (Indo-Germanic) and in favour of `Indo-European' as a more universal and, I suppose, `neutral' term, could be shown to have made connections, if not a direct identification, between language structure and the cultural state of its speakers.

This particular view of Bopp's came to the fore in his review of Humboldt's posthumous opus magnum edited by J.C.E. Buschmann (18051880), Humboldt's former secretary and executor as well as an accomplished student of `exotic' languages (Bopp 1840a). Contrary to what Humboldt had argued for, namely, that the Melanesian lan guages constituted a language family unto themselves, and not at all related to Indo-European, Bopp maintained, ap parently being misled by the huge mass of loanwords found in these languages which could be traced back to Sanskrit, that they were indeed Indo-European. However, since the Melanesian languages showed, unlike Sanskrit, next to no inflec tion, Bopp remarked that their speakers had shed them as they had shed their clothes! (Bopp 1840b; cf. Buschmann's 1842 reply). In other words, in what started out as a strictly linguistic analysis, a parallel was drawn between the people on these tropical islands and the structure of their language (cf. Mueller-Vollmer 1993, for a detailed account of this sordid story).

Similar, totally unqualified remarks could be found elsewhere in 19th-century linguistic scholarship. They were not systematic arguments, but they could be picked up by people with an antenna for them. For instance, in Schleicher's (18211868) Die Sprachen Europas, which contains important typological observations about languages throughout the world, not only Europe, we could also find the author passing a value judgment on English and by extension the English for their `debased' (herabgesunken) language (Schleicher 1850:231; cf. Koerner 1995b:156-158). In the works of Steinthal, Georg von der Gabelentz, and others who are often seen as opposing the view of Indo-European superiority, we could find negative remarks about other languages, too. Indeed, a careful study of language classification and the `genius' of the people speaking particular languages would reveal that these value judgments and prejudices are by no means confined to Ger man-speaking lands: France and the United States, for instance, have their fair share in this. Even the great American Sanskritist and general linguist William Dwight Whitney (18271894) cannot be excluded from criticism (Whitney 1867; cf. Hutton 1998:269-271), at least from today's vantage point. However, none of these scholars could be found expounding racial theories. Still, it must be said that strongly ideological pronouncements appear to have come more often than not from scholars outside the mainstream of 19th-century linguistics; we could mention the Philadelphia anthropologist Daniel Garrison Brinton (18371899), and lesser known American authors such as Pike (1873) and Morris (1888) who were clearly expounding ideas of `Aryan' superiority. Indeed, it seems that many of these ideas and prejudices were part and parcel of what the educated classes in the 19th and probably also the 20th century believed to be self-evi dent. It would be naïve to think that articles like Erich Glässer's (1938) paper on the world view of Indo-European syntactic organization was a rare exception to an otherwise `objective' manner of looking at the structure of diverse languages. In a way, Glässer's idea harks back to 18th-century French views.

2.3 The search for the original Indo-European homeland

Another subject, which interested me momentarily during the mid-1970s (cf. Koerner 1976, which included a revised version of Mallory's 1973 survey of the earlier history of the Urheimat debate), has received more of my attention in my graduate teaching in historical linguistics during the 1990s; for instance, a 1991 seminar on the topic led to a master's thesis by one of my students (Krell 1994) on the different hypotheses, linguistic and archaeological, concerning the original home of the Indo-European peoples (cf. Mallory 1989, for a rather broad treatment of the subject). However, here again the focus in Mallory's (1976[1973]) overview has been on the various theories, linguistic, archaeological or other (e.g., historical, cultural, religious) advanced since the 18th century, mostly deriving from linguistic endeavours, with extralinguistic considerations becoming more evident during the second half of the 19th century. Although it is obvious from his own account that a considerable number of authors had ideological, including at times religious and maybe even political, agenda, Mallory does not raise the issue of ideology, quite in line with traditional scholarly discourse in which this aspect of scientific endeavour has been regularly ignored. A typical example for this traditional attitude is Edgar Polomé's recent survey of the development of Indo-European linguistics since the Neogrammarians, covering the period between 1870 and the present (Polomé 1994, 1995). In Polomé's account, the Nazi period is treated very briefly and, as usual, as little more than a faux pas on the part of some scholars (few are mentioned by name) than as a line of thinking which has had precedents in 19th-century and pre-1933 Indo-European studies. The subject of the Indo-Euro pean Urheimat is discussed, but Polomé concentrates more on recent hypotheses, notably those advanced by Gimbutas (e.g., 1985), Gamkrelidze & Ivanov (e.g., 1985a, b), and Renfrew (e.g., 1987).

Indeed, the assessment Polomé offers of the search for the origins of the Indo-Europeans up and including Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Russia is interesting and bears citation:

Both linguists and archaeologists have been obsessed with the desire to pinpoint the location of the homeland of the Indo-Europeans since the beginning of our studies, and their search has unfortunately not always been devoid of political motivation: the Germany of the 1930's and 1940's was locating it within the frontiers of the Great Reich; after Stalin's discovery of "real" linguistics [in 1950], [], some Soviet linguists placed it in the Slavic territory when dealing with the prehistory of the Russian language; []. (Polomé 1995:281)

As we can see, to Polomé (and we may add, to all other writers of the history of 20th-century linguistics, if they mention this period at all) it is only the period under Nazism, Stalinism, or Fascism appears to have produced politically motivated work, even though he hints later on that Gamkrelidze's much more recent work may not be entirely free from such considerations (p.305). Other recent authors could be added, like Kilian (1983) arguing in favour of Central Europe, notably Lithuania, or Witold Ma _ czak (b.1924), in a variety of publications over the past twenty years, pleading for today's Poland as the location of the Indo-European homeland.2

Before turning to recent proposals, I would like to offer a quick survey of some earlier hypotheses, since this may give the reader an idea of the relative continuity of scholarly discourse regarding the subject and help to dispell the frequently reiterated claim that linguistics in the Third Reich was markedly different of what was said and done before 1933.

Sir William Jones, in 1792, still adhered largely to traditional biblical scholarship, which set the date of the Flood as about 2,350 B.C.; his suggestion for the Urheimat was today's Iran (Persia). By the 19th century the idea of Hebrew as the lingua Adamica had been abandoned, and Babel was no longer used as an explanation for the varieties of languages in the world, though some of these ideas lingered on among members of the educated public. For the first generation of comparative-historical linguists, the general idea was that it must have been in Asia, not Europe. For Friedrich Schlegel (1808) it was clear that the original home of the Indo-Europeans must have been India, and Bopp followed him on this and many other ideas advanced by Schlegel. For Rask (1818) it was Asia Minor. The concept of ex oriente lux held sway for them and others at the time.

By the mid-19th century, the situation began to change. For instance, while Schleicher (1850) proposed the Caspian Sea area as a possible location of the original seat of the Indo-European peoples, the British not German scholar Robert Gordon Latham (18121888) argued in favour of Lithuania rather than the Indo-Iranian area (Latham 1851). And from about that time onwards we can see the number of possible homelands proposed, not always by linguists but also by archaeologists, cultural historians, and amateur writers, beginning to multiply: from Anatolia to the Balkans, from the southern Russian steppes to northern Europe, to central Europe, and eventually to Germany. The arguments in favour of a particular location were manifold, and varied according to the authors' expertise, personal interests or beliefs and, maybe, prejudices. They could be based on matters of climate, geography, history, archaeology, myth, religion, and of course lan guage. More often than not, people seem to have picked a `pet' location first, and then engaged in selecting their `evidence' from any field in support of their `theory'.

Adolphe Pictet's (17991875) introduction of `paléontologie linguistique' into the discussion in 1859 added a few more arguments to the debate, not all of them beneficial to the subsequent history of the subject. Pictet made an effort to re construct, on the basis of what could be regarded as the common vocabulary of Indo-European before the separation of the language into different subfamilies, indications of the shared experience, the flora and fauna, of these peoples, whose homeland he placed in India and Persia. Pictet used the term `Aryan' originally a linguistic term which the Indo-Iranians had applied to themselves (even though it is correct to say that it was meant by the Indo-Iranians to distinguish them selves from other ethnic groups) to also characterize these people as representing a superior race.3

Of course, the subject of race was not Pictet's invention; Joseph Arthur, comte de Gobineau (18161882) had espoused those ideas several years earlier (cf. Pott 1856). But the subject was soon part of the package of the debate and was not going away even though linguists in the 19th century as well as the 20th, including the Nazi period, were insisting that language and race had to be kept apart and not be confused as there are numerous instances in history where people abandoned their original language in favour of another for a variety of reasons, social, political, cultural, and possibly other. So when Edgar Glässer publishes an Einführung in die rassenkundliche Sprachforschung in 1939, much what can be found in there, including the chauvinism, follows much of long-standing scholarship. As Hutton (1998:48) puts it, "Glässer has served as a convenient `fall-guy' in various accounts of Nazi linguistics, but his `racial' linguistics was no more or less chauvinist than the `mother-tongue' linguistics of Kloss and Weisgerber."

To return to the 19th century for a moment, racialist and what we now would call `white supremacist' views can be traced without any trouble in many scholarly writings, and to dispel the impression that it was largely a German affair, I could refer to books by American authors where we find such ideas expressed, one book entitled Lectures on the Arya (Pike 1873), another The Aryan Race: Its origin and achievements (Morris 1888), the latter affirming "all the savage tribes of the earth belong to the Negro or Mongolian race [], the Caucasian is pre-eminently the man of civilization" (pp.23-24), and that it were these Caucasians who had "perfected the Aryan method of language" (p. 51). (Let us remember, however, that `Aryan' was widely used in lieu of `Indo-European' in the Anglo-Saxon world, at least until the early 20th century, and certainly not always with `supremacist' undertones.)

As we know, head shapes, skin pigmentation, hair colour and type (curley, straight, etc.) were taken as particular features to classify races or as we might prefer to call them today ethnic type, and we remember from Nazi progaganda that the so-called Nordic race was blond and supposedly exhibited an elongated head form (though it was only one of the race types admitted by the Nazis to the `Aryan' fold4

). But such characteristcs were discussed much earlier, in fact throughout much of the 19th and the early 20th century. The American anthropologist Daniel Garrison Brinton (18371899) rejected the `blond Aryan model', arguing that "at the earliest period, both in Europe and Asia, the majority of Aryan-speaking peoples were brunettes" (1890:147), and that "the original inflected Aryac tongue arose from the coalescing of the two or more uninflected agglutinative or semi-incorporative tongues, the mingling of the speeches being accompanied, as always, by a mingling of blood and physical traits" (p.149).5

For others, this was by no means an acceptable position. Some, usually the linguists, argued in favour of strict separation of particularities of language and matters external to them; others, usually archaeologists and anthropologists, favoured a parallelism between language and race. The `historical' anthropologist Theodor Poesche (18261899) for instance went so far to take blondness as a variation of albinism which was found as a frequent feature in the Baltic region, notably the Lithuanian swamps, and concluded that this must have been one indication as to where the original home of the Indo-Europeans ought to be sought; another indication was language. Since Lithuanian was the most archaic Indo-European language, it would have to be there where the orginal homeland should be found (Poesche 1878). As Mallory (1976 [1973]:xxxii) noted, "While many of the arguments of Poesche were ill received even in his own time, the introduction of physical anthropology ushered in a debate that would rage at least until the end of the Second World War." But, no doubt, Poesche had followers in his time too (e.g., Penka 1883, 1886).

2.4 Post-World War II theories of the Indo-European homeland

Lest we might think that 1945 ended all of this and that from now on, linguistics generally and the discussion of the Indo-European Urheimat has become a field entirely free from ideologically coloured arguments, I would like to briefly refer to at least one modern author specifically whose place in historical-comparative linguistics is well established internationally. I am referring to the Georgian scholar Tomaz Gamkrelidze (b.1929) and his work, which includes proposals for the considerable change of the Proto-Indo-European consonantal system as well as of the location of the original home of the Indo-Europeans. Indeed, Gamkrelidze's so-called Glottalic Theory is one of the major proposals in the market of ideas in the field, and his Caucasian homeland hypothesis is one of the main current contestants, next to the late Marija Gimbutas' (19211994) Kurgan or Eurasian Steppe hypothesis and Colin Renfrew's (b.1929) Anatolian theory. So we cannot argue that we have here to do with a marginal author, outside the main field of Indo-European studies.

Briefly, Gamkrelidze's argument rests upon a number of areas of investigation, linguistic, including palaeontological, and archaeological.6

The archaeological ones have been found rather weak by any authority in the field I know of (cf. Polomé 1995:280). The linguistic ones have received at least partial support, notably where the reconstruction of the Proto-Indo-European consonantal system is concerned, though not everybody in Indo-European linguistics agrees with his ancillary typlogical argument, never mind the apparently long-standing contact and contact effects between Indo-Eu ropean and Kartvelian. What is perhaps more interesting to non-specialists are Gamkrelidze's paleontological reconstructions as regards the words for fauna and flora supposedly shared by the Indo-Europeans and used in support of his argument in favour of the location of their homeland in the northern slopes of the Caucasus, incidentally at the doorsteps of Gamkrelidze's home country, Georgia.7

In her 1994 M.A. thesis, Katrin S. Krell has taken the time and effort to compare a series of lexical items reconstructed in Gamkrelidze & Ivanov (1994[1984]) and cited in other publications of theirs with the various available etymological dictionaries of Proto-Indo-European reconstructions and/or available cognates (Buck 1949, Pokorny 1959, Mann 1984, Watkins 1992), and found that there are simply no such lexemes to support, for instance, the following affirmation made by these scholars:

Some of these animals [i.e., `panther', `lion', `elephant', `crab', `monkey'] are specific to the southern geographic region, which rules out central Europe as a possible territory of habitation of the Indo-Europan tribes []. (Gamkrelidze & Ivanov 1985a:11; Krell 1994:41-42)

Likewise, reconstruction such as *Hwei- "bird", *kher- "crow, raven", *theth(e)r- "black grouse", and several other reconstructions by Gamkrelidze & Ivanov are not paralleled by any of the four above-cited authorities (Krell 1994:42). As the authors make an all-out effort to support their argument that early Indo-Europeans were agriculturalists, not (as Gimbutas and others would have it) essentially pastoralists with animal raising as their major food supply, they offer an array of reconstructions such as the following: *solkhu- "furrow", *serph- "sickle", *(e)s-en- "time of harvest", and *k'orau- "millstone",8

none of which are supported by Buck and the other scholars. By contrast, while there are indeed terms for `to plow' and `to sow' in the Indo-European lexicon in these dictionaries which would suggest that the Indo-Europeans had some familiarity with agricultural practice, there seem to be common words for `pasture (noun and verb)', `wool', and others not mentioned by Gamkrelidze & Ivanov, which are well attested in Pokorny (1959), Mann (1984), and Watkins (1992) such as those meaning such things as "to break in a horse", "to ride", and "to milk" (Krell 1994:45). Given these few examples, it would be rather difficult to decide, on palaeonotological grounds, in favour of the claim that our Indo-European ancestors were indeed agriculturalists, as the archaeologist Renfrew (1987) has argued on different grounds, but which Gamkrelidze (1990) supported enthusiastically, although their relative chronologies are some two thousand years apart.

3. Desiderata in the linguistic historiography of past centuries

Recent publications in other fields such as archaeology (e.g., Arnold & Hassmann 1995) and folklore (e.g., Dow & Lixfeld 1994) have suggested it to me that the field of linguistics likewise was in need of similar kind of soul searching. Some efforts in this direction had previously been made, notably by Römer (1989), Olender (e.g., 1996) and, earlier, by Poliakov (1974; cf. Leopold 1977), but these authors focused almost exclusively on the subject of race and racism and their connections with linguistic theorizing and political ideologies, a connection which by the mid-19th century most lin guists and not only since Saussure's Cours in 1916 had come to regard as something that must be kept completely separate from linguistic matters, a view which was often maintained even during the fateful years of the Hitler regime (e.g., Wahle 1941, Siegert 1941/42, Rohlfs 1943), even by scholars with Nazi sympathies or affiliations (as Hutton points out again and again throughout his book; cf., e.g., pp. 55-56, 257-258).

In fact, Hutton's Linguistics and the Third Reich (1998) investigates by no means solely those horrendous twelve years of German history, but goes back well into the mid-19th century and even as far back as Sir William Jones' famous `philologer' passage of 1786 in an attempt to explain what is generally and erroneously taken as an aberration in linguistics (and other disciplines) during the 19331945 period in Germany where indeed we have to do with a complex of ideas and theories with a long scholarly tradition. Hutton's work brought home to me the urgency and heightened reco gnition that much more careful, detailed, and honest research needs to be undertaken in order to come to grips with what really happened in linguistics during the Nazi period and to what extent, apart from the particular external, political conditions which produced a certain number of careerists and a few charlatans, linguistics was indeed conducted along lines different from what had been done before. It is Hutton's (1998: 3-4, 260-261) persuasively argued view that much of what was said and done in linguistics during the Third Reich, in historical-comparative Indo-European philology as well as in descriptive `structuralist' linguistics, had its seeds in earlier, often quite respectable and well-established disciplinary practice and scholarly discourse, and was not much different from what was advocated and practiced during 19331945. This recognition may come as a shock to many 20th-century historians of linguistics, few if any of whom have made an effort to actually study the scholarly production during the 19331945 period in Germany and Austria closely. In fact, in the standard histories of linguistics one usually draws a complete blank when it comes to dealing with the Nazi era; instead, the work in other many parts in Europe at the time, notably pre-war Prague, Copenhagen, Geneva, possibly Paris, and in North America, is treated at length in these textbook accounts.

In other words, lest linguistic historiography be regarded as an exercise which takes `the high road' and chooses to leave difficult issues out of its (often `triumphalist') narrative, the field must learn to accept that linguistics, past and present, has never been `value free', but has often been subject to a variety of external influences and opinions, not all of them beneficial to either the discipline itself or the society that sustains it. In the final analysis, it comes to a matter of prise de conscience and of intellectual honesty and responsibility that linguists must become aware of the possible uses and abuses to which their research posture and their findings have been and could be put. Let us not be misled: the `generative paradigm' of so-called `modern linguistics' associated with the name of Noam Chomsky, both in its theoretical claims (e.g., `universal grammar') and its research practice is far from being devoid of ideological content. To demonstrate this, however, would amount to another research project.


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From Noam Chomsky, "Is Peace at Hand?", Zeta Magazine (January 1988), p.12. I wish to thank Suzanne Kemmer (Rice University, Houston, Tex.) for having dug up this `gem' following my paper there on 4 February 1999 dealing with the subject of ideology in linguistic historiography.


I do not quite know what to make of Vennemann's recent proposals concerning the Indo-Europeans (e.g., Vennemann 1998), and why he thinks that his `Atlantiker' from the northern tip of Africa who he believes migrated as far as Scandinavia should have been `Semiten'. Certainly, the Berbers are not usually counted among them.


Cf. Trautmann (1997) on how British orientalism reveals the mutual reinforcement of linguistics and race theory from Sir William Jones' Ninth Anniversary Discourse (1792) onward throughout the entire 19th century and beyond, just to dispel the idea that `Aryanism' was a typically continental European idea.


In fact there were altogether six recognized categories nordisch, westisch, ostisch, dinarisch, ostbaltisch anf fälisch (Hutton 1998:323n.2) how else could Hitler, Goering, or Goebbels themselves have satisfied the `nordic' characteristics of blondness, trimness, or able-bodiness unless all sorts of allowances were made in Nazi discourse?


Typically, these are all assertions; no evidence is supplied.


I single out Gamkrelidze instead of also naming the Russian Vja c eslav Vs. Ivanov as well as it seems that the latter did not engage in the debate of the homeland issue following the publication of Gamkrelidze & Ivanov (1984); later co-publications are usually translations from the Russian of earlier joint articles. Cf. Gamkrelidze (1987, 1990) for later contributions to the on-going discussion.


Not having had a soul-searching discussion with Prof. Gamkrelidze (whom I have known since we first met at the 1972 Bologna Congress of Linguists) about his possible motivation for locating the Indo-European homeland where he does, I cannot of course honestly attribute motives to him for doing so, but the coincidence is nevertheless striking.


Interestingly, Gamkrelidze & Ivanov leave out, for instance, the reconstructions for `hand mill' and `kernel' found in Buck (1949) and the other three dictionaries mentioned earlier (cf. Krell 1994:44) .


For the sake of economy, I have reduced the bibliography to the bare minimum; the missing references can all be found in Hutton (1998), Joseph (1999), or Koerner (2000).