Robert J. Zydenbos zydenbos at
Wed Feb 26 11:06:01 UTC 1997

Luis Gonzalez-Reimann wrote:

lgr> Now that Schlingloff's list has caused somewhat of a stir, I would
lgr> like to ask our German (or German speaking) colleagues their
lgr> opinion concerning the use of the term Indo-Germanic, as opposed
lgr> to Indo-European. 
lgr> I am puzzled by the fact that the English translation of Hermann
lgr> Kulke's and Dietmar Rothermund's book on Indian history (A History
lgr> of India, Routledge, 1995) uses the term Indo-Germanic instead of
lgr> Indo-European, which is the usual term in English.
lgr> I would appreciate any comments.

It seems to me that people who take offence to the term "Indo-Germanic"
are somewhat like those in India who object to the word "Dravidian"
because the word "" would refer only to Tamil. IG is just a
label for the kind of languages which are in prominent use between
Bengal and Iceland -- just as the kind of langauges which are in use
mainly in southern India, in the general direction of the Tamil area,
are labelled Dravidian, even if these languages are also found in
Pakistan and Nepal (because one has to call them *something*).

I cannot escape from the impression that many feel unjustly uneasy about
the "german-" in the term "Germanic" (while in German, "germanisch"
generally does not mean "deutsch"). Perhaps many brothers and sisters of
European ancestry are simply jealous that pioneers of IG / IE studies
such as Franz Bopp, Wilhelm von Humboldt and others were mere

My impression is that in Holland the term IG was largely replaced by IE
only after World War II, when "germanic" became something like a dirty

Should IG perhaps be replaced by "Sino-African", because Tocharian was
used in what is now China and Afrikaans is used in South Africa? Or
perhaps "Eurasio-American"? Or perhaps "Alasko-Newzealandish" or

Or perhaps all this is just silly. I propose that we continue using IG
in memory and honour of Bopp, Humboldt and the rest -- as perhaps was
also the intention of those fine historians Kulke and Rothermund.

(Please note: I am not a German. I merely learnt German in high school,
and I am happy that I did.)


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