g.v.simson at g.v.simson at
Mon Mar 10 17:04:00 UTC 1997

Dear friends,
        though I, as a German (with lots of Jewish ancestors), do not find
this debate overwhelmingly  amusing, I should like to draw your attention
to two aspects that were not yet mentioned:
1) An ordinary German would not associate the term 'indogermanisch'
particularly with German because the German word for the language and the
people is quite different: 'deutsch'. And the educated know that
'germanisch' includes Dutch, German, the Scandinavian languages and
2) In English you could use the adjective 'Indo-Germanic', but not a
corresponding substantive 'Indo-Germans' or other derivations, whereas in
German we not only have the adjective 'indogermanisch', but in addition the
substantives 'Indogermanen' for the original people speaking the common
language (if both ever existed), 'Indogermanist' for the scholar and
'Indogermanistik' for the discipline which again has a correponding
adjective 'indogermanistisch', all of these being quite smoothly sounding
words. It would be very awkard to replace alle these terms by derivations
from 'indo-europaeisch'; 'Indoeuropaeistik' with its two hiatuses, e.g.,
would sound horribly.

So, please, let us keep the German language as it is. I do not see why
anybody should feel insulted by these terms (which, after all, are only
used in the field of academics). No harm is meant by them any longer, and
that again means that only those who enjoy feeling offended, insist on
doing so. I think it is both wrong and impossible to do what has been
suggested here, namely to burden the use of a word with all its prehistory.
We would probably have to stop talking altogether. It is the intention that
counts, isn't it?

Best wishes,
                        Georg v. Simson

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