Comparative linguistics

Robert Zydenbos zydenbos at GMX.LI
Mon Mar 20 20:58:48 UTC 2000

Am Mon, 20 Mar 2000 schrieb Bharat Gupt:

> In these modern constructs the "Aryan" has given a victim syndrome to many "Dravidian"
> south Indians (including the ideologues of Tamil Elam and LTTE) as a result of modern
> philological and historical theories.

Postings by other list members should have convinced you by now that these
tensions are not the "result" of "modern philological and historical
theories". If not, then please do supplementary reading in an academic
research library before returning to the topic. These real tensions, that are
purely indigenous (not recently created by evil foreigners), have been around
for quite some time, and the only thing that research does is to put the
pieces of the puzzle together, so that we understand more about the origins
of the tensions. To say that the research caused what already was there, is an
unwarranted, anti-historical reversal of matters. I am becoming tired of
repeating that the researchers are _not_ responsible for abuse and twisted
renderings of their findings by political personalities in South Asia for
political gain. I already told you this in a discussion on the Religion
In South Asia List.

Could you tell us what you want? Do you want to drag to court the designer of
a pair of dressmaker's scissors that was used by a lunatic to commit a murder?
Do you want to impose a worldwide ban on linguistics and philology and cover
up facts?

Sorry, but I think it is cheap, even if it is fashionable, to pretend that
once upon a time everything used to be good and beautiful in India and to
throw the blame for each and every unpleasant thing on foreigners. Why should
your unproven idea be considered otherwise? Accusing linguists of promoting
strife in India is totally frivolous.

> By repeating the obvious that North and South Indians invaded each other before the
> British came are you trying to absolve the linguists of the strife-promoting impact of
> their concepts [...]

At least you find it "obvious" that north and south invaded each other,
apparently without wicked, scheming linguists in the background. That's
already something. If the work of linguists ever promoted strife, it is
someone else's responsibility. Have you ever cared to wonder why a very
small country like Switzerland has four official languages without members of
different linguistic groups being at each other's throats? Why can't a
gigantic country like India have many more? Conversely, why do Serbians and
Croats murder each other, while their languages are almost identical?
Evidently, language in itself is only a minor factor.


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