Indo-Germanic

Lars Martin Fosse l.m.fosse at internet.no
Sun Mar 9 07:12:06 EST 1997


At 03:11 9.03.97 GMT, you wrote:
>>Lars Martin Fosse wrote:
>>In spite of the history of the word, "Indo-Germanic" has today, in my
>>opinion, been "sanitized". Very few people today would use the word with its
>>old ideological connotations. However, I can't see that it is a good term.
>>Personally I prefer Indo-European. But I do not feel uneasy if a modern
>>scholar uses "Indo-Germanic". I believe the frequency of Fascists among
>>Indologists these days is fairly insignificant.
>
>	Sorry, I can't agree. The word "Indo-Germanic" is not sanitized:
>
>1) only scholars make a difference between germanic and german, Iceland is
>just a poor 'alibi'.

That is probably true, but then most people don't even know what
Indo-European or Indo-Germanisch is. My point is that "Indo-Germanisch"
today simply is semantic alternative to "Indo-European". There is no
particular ideological content.

>2) I understand some german peoples are tired to hear their past, but
>history is history and can't be changed just by good will. Wait one century
>and Hitler will be the same historical product as Napoleon or Gengis Khan,
>**not yet**.

You have to remember which generation of Germans you are talking about. Most
of the Germans involved in the Second World War as adult and politically
responsible individuals are today decrepit, dying or dead. I have studied in
Germany for two years (in the seventies), and my impression was that the
Germans that belonged to my generation were not much different from
Scandinavians of about the same age. They are not responsible for the Nazi
atrocities. Notice that when Goldhagen went to Germany in order to debate
German anti-semitism, most of the younger generation seems to have sided
with him (according to press reports here). So there has been a change in
German political mentality. (It was actually monitored by sociologists, and
took place about 1960).

>3) the beast is still alive, and not just in Europa, and you know it.

Certainly. The beast is alive, although in most places fairly marginalized.
The places to worry about are Austria and certain parts of France. It
interesting to notice that in spite of the strain caused by the absorbation
of East Germany into larger Germany, Germany has not become the European
country where neo-faschism is most prevalent. When I was in Vienna some
three years ago, doing research at the University there, 400.000 citizens of
Munich took to the streets to protest against racism. Walking from the
University to my hotel one evening I came across a bunch of Viennese doing
the same thing. They were barely able to fill 50 meters of sidewalk. 

>4) one of the best french sanscritist, Jean Haudry, is member of the staff
>of the 'Front National', specially for ideology.

That is sad (I never understood why some intellectuals felt drawn towards
extremist positions), but as we say, one swallow does not make a summer.
Undoubtedly you will find people of a rightist leaning among Indologists, my
point is that they are not typical. And by the way: Haudry uses the term
"Indo-europeen".

>6) Indo-European is a word not marked by nazionalism. 

I agree. As I said, I think it is a better term. But I still don't mind
Germans using the term Indo-Germanisch. During my studies in Germany I never
met a single Indologist who had the slightest faschist leanings.
"Indo-Germanisch" was simply a linguistic habit.

>	Yes, german scholars are free, yes they can use freely the word
>"Indo-Germanic", but they must know that is an insult for some other people
>in Europa.

It may be more insulting to a speaker of Romance languages than to a
Scandinavian. The bottom line, to me, is that it is not really worth much
attention as long as it is not explicitly ideologized. 

Best regards,

Lars Martin





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