LINGUIST List 5.1225

Thu 03 Nov 1994

Disc: Linguistics and Imperialism

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Directory

  1. , Re: 5.1205 Linguistics and Imperialism
  2. Hartmut Haberland, Re: 5.1205 Linguistics and Imperialism
  3. "R. D. Hoberman", Linguistics and imperialism

Message 1: Re: 5.1205 Linguistics and Imperialism

Date: Tue, 1 Nov 1994 09:07:19 +Re: 5.1205 Linguistics and Imperialism
From: <A.R.Bexukc.ac.uk>
Subject: Re: 5.1205 Linguistics and Imperialism

For what it is worth, I remembering hearing somewhere that the old
Persian Empire used to employ a number of translators who were
competent both in the imperial language and in the language of
their region to carry messages throughout the empire. Presumably,
this was somewhat similar to the British Empire where imperial
functionaries used to receive additional payments when they
had passed appropriate exams in local languages. An old family
friend who was district commissioner for some part of Uganda
used to sit in court regularly overseeing cases in customary
law which were ALWAYS conducted in the vernacular. These were
not languages that were necessarily well-known in the FCO,
although he had to make regular reports back to London.
Although he would not have described himself as a linguist, it
would seem that his work depended on an amount of (pre-theoretical)
linguistics.
Tony Bex
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Message 2: Re: 5.1205 Linguistics and Imperialism

Date: Tue, 1 Nov 1994 15:39:53 +Re: 5.1205 Linguistics and Imperialism
From: Hartmut Haberland <hartmutruc.dk>
Subject: Re: 5.1205 Linguistics and Imperialism

Further to Wald and Grosserhode:

The idea that there is a connection between linguistics and imperialism was
proposed by the Norwegian linguist Hans Vogt (yes, the specialist on
Kartvelian and other things) in a leaflet published in 1935, 'Maalstrid og
klassekamp' [Language debate and class struggle]. I have a brief reference
to his ideas in my article on Research policy in Ammon, Dittmar and
Mattheier eds. Sociolinguists. An international Handbook (Berlin 1988), with
some more references, also to explicitly opposing views (like Geoffrey
Sampson's, who doesn't refer to Vogt directly, though).
Hartmut Haberland
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Message 3: Linguistics and imperialism

Date: Wed, 02 Nov 1994 12:32:25 Linguistics and imperialism
From: "R. D. Hoberman" <RDHOBERMANccmail.sunysb.edu>
Subject: Linguistics and imperialism

It's probably true that linguistics tends to thrive in circumstances of
imperialism, but the reason is not that linguistics is inherently imperialistic
by nature. When does linguistics happen? When a society with a literate
culture comes into contact with peoples speaking other languages, and takes an
interest in them. Imperialism provides one situation in which this can occur,
but not the only one.

Bob Hoberman
rhobermanccmail.sunysb.edu
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