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Review of  Indo-European Perspectives

Reviewer: Fiona Carolyn Marshall
Book Title: Indo-European Perspectives
Book Author: John H. W. Penney
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics
Language Family(ies): Indo-European
Issue Number: 16.3647

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Date: Wed, 21 Dec 2005 23:23:09 +0000
From: Fiona Carolyn Marshall
Subject: Indo-European Perspectives: Studies in Honour of Anna
Morpurgo Davies

EDITOR: Penney, John H. W.
TITLE: Indo-European Perspectives
SUBTITLE: Studies in Honour of Anna Morpurgo Davies
PUBLISHER: Oxford University Press
YEAR: 2004

Fiona Marshall, Department of English Language and Linguistics,
University of Sheffield


Published in honour of Anna Morpurgo Davies, to mark her retirement
as the Diebold Professor of Comparative Philology at the University of
Oxford, this volume comprises a collection of new and original work by
forty-two leading international scholars of Indo-European comparative
philology and linguistics. Divided into six sections, the book is
concerned with the early history of Indo-European (Part I); language
use, variation, and change in ancient Greece and Anatolia (Parts II
and III); the Indo-European languages of Western Europe, including
Latin, Welsh, and Old English (Part IV); the Indo-Iranian and
Tocharian languages (Part V); and the history of Indo-European
linguistics (Part VI). Included in this anthology is a bibliography,
compiled by Torsten Meißner, which lists the major publications on
philology and linguistics authored and/or edited by Davies throughout
her remarkable career (pp. 587-593). The volume concludes with a
select index of (Anatolian, Tocharian B, Indo-Iranian, Armenian,
Greek, Italic/Etruscan, Celtic, Germanic, and Slavic) words discussed
in the articles (pp. 594-598). Such is the breadth of Indo-European
(IE) linguistics that it is impossible to cover the subject exhaustively in
an introductory textbook to the subject (Fortson 2004: xiii), let alone in
an edited collection of works by prominent scholars whose work
negotiates various sub-disciplinary boundaries within the framework of
historical linguistics and philology. Nevertheless, Penney (2004) has
successfully brought together an outstanding collection of articles,
which are incisively linked but sufficiently diverse to be of genuine
interest to the volume's target audience of scholars and students of
Indo-European philology, historical linguistics, classics, and the history
of the ancient world.

'Part I: Indo-European' features contributions by Paulo Di Giovine (pp.
3-17), George E. Dunkel (pp. 18-29), David R. Langslow (pp. 31-47),
C. J. Ruijgh (pp. 48-64), and Calvert Watkins (pp. 65-80). This first
section of the volume offers the reader an unusual but stimulating
group of articles. Langslow, for example, provides a fascinating
insight into one of his specialist subjects, the study of 'medical
language' in IE, whilst Watkins persuasively argues that some early IE
traditions in Indic, Hittite, and Greek texts share similar mythological
themes. 'Part II: Greek' is by far the largest section in this edited
collection and includes articles by Albio C. Cassio (pp. 83-94),
Stephen Colvin (pp. 95-108), Emilio Crespo (pp. 109-118), Eleanor
Dickey (pp. 119-130), Yves Duhoux (pp. 131-145), Ivo Hajnal (pp. 146-
178), Henry Hoenigswald (pp. 179-181), Geoffrey Horrocks (pp. 182-
194), Joshua T. Katz (pp. 195-216), John Killen (pp. 217-235),
Charles de Lamberterie (pp. 236-253), Michael Meier-Brügger (pp.
254-257), Torsten Meißner (pp. 258-265), Martin Peters (pp. 266-
276), Philomen Probert (277-291), Peter Schrijver (pp. 292-299),
Rudolph Wachter (pp. 300-322), and Andreas Willi (pp. 323-337).
This section treats the reader to a variety of perspectives on the
broadly-defined theme of 'Greek', from language use and variation to
language change. For example, in his discussion of 'Social Dialect in
Attica', Colvin observes that when looking for evidence of 'social'
variation in Greek (rather than geographical), 'we are in danger of
being misled by our own terminology' (p. 96). He concludes that the
best evidence for the existence of a variety of Attic which shared a d-
reflex with Boeotian, due to an earlier depalatalization, is the new
ostracon (p. 105ff.). Subsequently, Probert considers what is actually
meant by the term 'Attic', and provides a compelling argument for the
listing of some words for which the retracted form is attested for later
Attic but excluded from the Koine, and others where it is attested for
both later Attic and for the Koine.

'Part III: Anatolian' features articles by five experts in the field. The
late Gillian R. Hart specialised in studies of Hittite (pp. 341-354); J.
David Hawkins (pp. 355-369) is a renowned expert on H(ieroglyphic)
Luwian and recently published an excellent corpus of Iron Age
inscriptions (cf. Hawkins 2000); H. Craig Melchert (pp. 370-379) has
published widely on the IE languages of Anatolia (including Hittite
historical phonology); Norbert Oettinger (pp. 380-383) is known for his
work on Hittite, Iranian, and Anatolian-Greek contacts; and Massimo
Poetto (pp. 384-388) also works with the Anatolian group, with a
special emphasis on HLuwian. The seven articles included in 'Part IV:
Western Indo-European Languages' are authored by James Clackson
(pp. 391-404), Jay H. Jasanoff (pp. 405-416), Don Ringe (pp. 417-
435), Helmut Rix (pp. 436-446), Paul Russell (pp. 447-460), Patrick V.
Stiles (pp. 461-473), and Jürgen Untermann (pp. 474-484). Clackson
examines the word-order pattern 'magna cum laude' in Latin and
Sabellian, in an attempt to determine possible connections between
the development of the construction in the different language
branches. He argues that the similarities between what he calls
the 'interposed' order of adpositional placement in Latin and Sabellian
are attributable to different factors. Clackson suggests the interposed
order in Latin may originally have been limited to cases where a
relative pronoun was fronted from within a prepositional phrase,
whereas in Sabellian the interposition originates from postpositional
phrases, where both modifier and noun were marked with
postpositions. Meanwhile, Ringe investigates the hypothesis that the
group of Old English (OE) verbs meaning 'speak (formally)' are
etymologically a single lexical item that has been split. Accordingly, he
examines the attestation of the three OE verbs and their Middle
English descendants, along with cognates in other Germanic
languages and the regular sounds changes which he assumes must
have affected them.

'Part V: Indo-Iranian and Tocharian' and 'Part VI: History of Indo-
European Linguistics' consist of seven articles in total. Those in Part
V are authored by José Luis García Ramón (pp. 487-513), John H. W.
Penney (pp. 514-522), Rüdiger Schmitt (pp. 523-538), Nicholas Sims-
Williams (pp. 539-547), and Elizabeth Tucker (pp. 548-561). This
impressive volume concludes with two fine articles in Part VI, authored
by Javier de Hoz (pp. 565-576) and Klaus Strunk (pp. 594-585). The
articles in the concluding section (Part VI) represent a slight departure
from those in the preceding five sections in that they touch on the
history of linguistics as well as historical linguistics. Hoz offers his
contribution to the volume by way of responding to Anna Davies's
desire that the work of Lorenzo Hervás be given more attention (cf.
Morpurgo Davies 1975: 616, 618). Hoz openly admits that he has
made no attempt to pay exhaustive attention to Hervás's work. Instead
he concentrates on Hervás's ideas about language, and Celtic in
particular. Hoz tends to make retrospective judgements on the value
of Hervás's work in relation to modern theoretical linguistics (e.g. pp.
566-67). However, Hoz does suggest that we neither 'despise
Hervás's knowledge of theoretical linguistics [nor] overvalue it' (p.
567), thus highlighting one of the many problems associated with
retrospective linguistic historiography (i.e. succumbing to the
temptation of placing a modern interpretation on work produced in a
different era). As Hoz observes, given that Hervás was '[…] modifying
his approaches with new reflections and he was learning at the same
time as he was writing' (as many of us often are), it is little wonder
that 'sometimes a significant advance on a concrete point can appear
between two works published in the same year' (pp. 565-566).


This excellent volume is not only testament to the proficient editorial
skills of Penney, but also to the outstanding achievements and
international reputation of Anna Morpurgo Davies. The fact that so
many scholars of repute were eager to participate in this tribute is a
sign of the esteem with which Davies is held by her former students
and colleagues. As Penney notes in his editorial 'Preface' (pp. ix-x),
when advising potential contributors of the tight schedule within which
they would have to work, the initial 'cry of despair at the impossibly
short notice' was immediately replaced by cries of 'but of course I must
do it for Anna'. Surely there is no doubt that historical linguistics owes
a great deal to Anna Davies. When she was appointed to the (now
Diebold) Chair of Comparative Philology at the University of Oxford in
1971, the subject was offered only to a small number of Oxford
undergraduates (and a few graduate students of the Diploma in
Comparative Philology). However, under the expert guidance of Anna
Davies, increasing numbers of students have selected philology
options at undergraduate and postgraduate level during the past thirty

In 1972 Anna Davies was responsible for instituting the 'Philological
Lunches' at Oxford, which now take place before the Comparative
Philology Graduate Seminars during term-time. This enjoyable
tradition of sharing linguistic and philological ideas over sandwiches
and cake seems to have spread to many British linguistics
departments (including my own). Of course, the extent of Davies's
contribution to linguistics is not restricted to the confines of Oxford.
She has steadily gained an international reputation as a meticulous,
innovative, and assiduous scholar since 'Mycenaeae Graecitatis
Lexicon' was published in 1963. Since that time, Davies has
published widely on various aspects of Indo-European linguistics, most
notably perhaps on Mycenaean Greek, HLuwian, and the history of
nineteenth-century linguistics. The significance of Anna Davies's
contribution to the field of linguistics was recognised by the award of
an Honorary DBE in 2000.

Whilst reading this collection of articles written in tribute to Davies, it
becomes abundantly clear that many of the authors feel indebted to
her on a personal level. This heartfelt appreciation is stated both
explicitly and implicitly. Langslow (p. 30) openly acknowledges his
gratitude to Davies (and to Penney) and confesses to submitting his
article 'in profound gratitude, admiration, and affection' to the
honorand of the volume. Probert (p. 277) is grateful to Davies for
arousing in her an interest in the subject of her paper. Dickey (p. 119)
candidly expresses the 'immense affection and respect' she feels for
Davies, whilst Hawkins (p. 355) heads his article with a dedication 'To
Anna, to commemorate a forty-year struggle with the Hieroglyphs'. In
observing the number of times the work of Davies (and the doctoral
theses of students she supervised) is cited by contributors (pp. 48, 65,
96, 195, 236, 266, 274, and so on), it is equally apparent to the
reader that the authors' appreciation for Davies extends above and
beyond the realms of personal gratitude. Crespo, for example, refers
to the Davies article that looks at the way in which the classical
Greeks perceived their own dialects (Morpurgo Davies 1993; cf.
1987), and indicates that his contribution to Penney (2004) is no more
than an attempt to continue along the path already trodden by Davies
(p. 109).

When faced with a hardback scholarly tome, 598 pages in length, the
prospect of delving into it may initially seem disquieting. However,
when confronted with the charming image of Anna Davies utterly
immersed in one of her favourite activities (p. ii), it is easy to approach
reading this volume with the lively spirit and fortitude of the honorand
in mind. This exceptional collection is certainly a fitting tribute to a
scholar who has undoubtedly touched the lives of many students and
colleagues, on both a professional and personal level. Bearing in
mind the purpose of this volume, it is difficult to find fault with any
aspect of its design. Of course, Part II on Greek is conspicuously
longer than the other sections. However, regardless of the reasons
for the articles on Greek outnumbering those on Indo-European,
Anatolian, or Western Indo-European, it has to be said that Penney
has skilfully located the position of these articles in relation to the rest
of the volume. Much the same can be said of the sections that
comprise seven articles or fewer. In my view, Penney is to be
congratulated for his superb editorial efforts.

On a more negative note, it is highly unlikely this book will appeal to
the non-specialist. The articles are necessarily technical, and
therefore require from the reader a degree of knowledge in the
language(s) under discussion. We should also note that, as we may
rightly expect in a journal of Indo-European studies, several articles
are not written in English. This may prove challenging for some
readers, specialist or not. Having said that, we must remember that
the volume's intended audience is entirely specialist as opposed to
non-specialist. There are a few minor inconsistencies, e.g. 'Meissner'
is spelled with [ss] on pages xvii and 587, whereas on pages 258,
260, 262, and 264, the German character [ß] is used (as in 'Meißner').
Observations of this sort seem pretty trivial when considering the
quality of the articles. It is not possible to do justice to Penney's 'Indo-
European Perspectives' in a summary review. Technical difficulties
with using fonts and special characters are especially problematic
when writing a review to be posted on the internet. A volume of this
quality would benefit from a comprehensive review where such
restrictions are not an issue.


Fortson, Benjamin W., IV. 2004. Indo-European Language and
Culture: An Introduction. Oxford: Blackwell.

Hawkins, J. David. 2000. Corpus of Hieroglyphic Luwian Inscriptions, i.
Inscriptions of the Iron Age (Studies in Indo-European Language and
Culture, 8/1). Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

Morpurgo Davies, A. 1975. 'Language Classification in the Nineteenth
Century'. In Sebeok, T. A. (ed.) 1975. Historiography of Linguistics
(Current Trends in Linguistics, 13). The Hague and Paris: Mouton de
Gruyter, 607-716.

Morpurgo Davies, A. 1987. 'The Greek Notion of Dialect'. In Hodot, R.
(ed.) 1987. Actes de la première recontre internationale de
dialectologie grecque: colloque organisé par le C.N.R.S. à Nancy/Pont-
à-Mousson, le 1-3 juillet 1986. Verbum 10. Nancy: Presses
universitaires de Nancy, 7-27.

Morpurgo Davies, A, 1998. Nineteenth-Century Linguistics. London:

Fiona Marshall is a third-year AHRC-funded PhD student at the
University of Sheffield. Her doctoral thesis (due for completion in
2006) aims to determine the extent to which (and the various ways in
which) the learned linguistics societies as institutions, and the special
interests of the personalities actively involved in researching and
promoting the discipline, have dictated the development of British
linguistics in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Details of her
research interests, publications, teaching commitments, and other
responsibilities can be found at the following website:

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