Henry Sweet an Hugo Schuchardt (04-11469)

von Henry Sweet

an Hugo Schuchardt


26. 05. 1900

language Englisch

Schlagwörter: Finnougristiklanguage Uralische Sprachenlanguage Elamischlanguage Isolierte Sprachenlanguage Altaische Sprachenlanguage Turksprachen Sweet, Henry (1900) Thomsen, Vilhelm (1899) Schuchardt, Hugo (1899)

Zitiervorschlag: Henry Sweet an Hugo Schuchardt (04-11469). Oxford, 26. 05. 1900. Hrsg. von Petra Hödl (2015). In: Bernhard Hurch (Hrsg.): Hugo Schuchardt Archiv. Online unter https://gams.uni-graz.at/o:hsa.letter.3113, abgerufen am 26. 09. 2023. Handle: hdl.handle.net/11471/518.10.1.3113.


26. V. 00
15 Rawlinson Road, Oxford

Dear Sir,

I am much obliged to you for your letter last month.

You confirm my idea that German scholars are sceptical about Aryo-Finnic affinities. But Winkler1 has shown such a want of judgment in his views of the relationship between the Ugrian & the Altaic languages that I do not feel much confidence in him, in spite of his learning. It seems to me that the question lies in a nutshell: how are we to explain the identity of Aryan & Finnic verb-endings?2; is the development of vowel-harmony in Accadian (Sumerian) & Ugro-Altaic enough to establish common origin? If not, then I do not see any more reason for connectg Ugrian with Alatic than with Aryan: the numerals are distinct, & there is but little |2| superficial resemblance in inflections & vocabulary.

Susian3 is, of course, quite distinct from Sumerian & from Altaic & Ugrian. I wish I could persuade you to re-consider the arguments I have adduced – to consider not so much the difficulties of accepting the views I have stated, but rather the difficulties of rejecting them. I wish I could read the article by Budenz4 which you mention; but altho I read Finnish easily, I have no practical knowledge of Hungarian. But I must learn it soon, if I can find a suitable book to begin with.

I am glad to know that you are working at the affinities of Bask. Its grammatical structure has always looked to me like a development of the ‘incorporating’ tendencies of Sumerian, & quite distinct from that of Hamitic & Semitic, however much its vocabulary may owe to Hamitic.

The European languages are probably much mixed both morphologically & lexically. I am inclined to conjecture that the |3| grammatical gender of the Aryan languages & and the use of plural inflection in Aryan (& Finnish) may be due to Hamitic – or even Semitic (?) – influence; the connecn between feminine gender & plurality is remarkable both in Aryan & Semitic.

I agree with you in thinking that the principles on which we assume or reject linguistic affinity require discussion; & this is one of the reasons why I have, after some hesitation, given a chapter on Aryan affinities in my book. The science of language is, after all, still a very young one.

I too think it possible that all languages have a common origin.

The difficulties of race are great. As you see in my book, I have tried to get over the difficulty of the Aryan race by a new hypothesis.5

Thomsen6 makes out Etruscan to be a Caucasian language7; but the Etruscans were ‘pingues et obesi’,8 which looks like a Tartan race.

Lacouperie9 connects Chinese with Sumerian, |4| but he not only derives their civilization from Susiania, but also tells us that the Chinese were originally fair & blue-eyed, which is quite against affinity with the Mongolic Sumerian; while if we assume that they spoken Susian, this would harmonize with the affiliation of Susian to the languages of the Caucasus. But, on the other hand, we have red-haired Kirgiz Tartars, & other traces of fair race in Central Asia which may be an independent development, distinct from the European ‘Caucasian’ race.

Henry Sweet

1 Heinrich Winkler (1848-1930), Finnougrist und Sprachwissenschafter in Breslau, Vertreter der Ural-Altaistik.

2 Vgl. Sweet (1900: 116).

3 Elamisch. Gilt als isolierte Sprache, die mit keiner anderen altorientalischen Sprache verwandt ist.

4 Joseph Budenz (1836-1892), Finnougrist und Sprachwissenschafter, ab 1872 Professor für vergleichende altaische Sprachwissenschaft in Budapest.

5 Sweet schlägt als ursprüngliche „Heimat“ Skandinavien anstelle Asiens vor (vgl. Sweet 1900: 129ff.). Die frühen Vertreter der „Aryan race“ wären die Nachkommen der europäischen Urbevölkerung gewesen und Sprecher einer nicht-arischen Sprache. Finnische Eroberer hätten sich dann mit dieser indigenen Bevölkerung vermischt und ihre Sprache auf diese übertragen.

6 Vilhelm Ludwig Peter Thomsen (1842-1927), dänischer Sprachwissenschafter und Turkologe.

7 vgl. Thomsen (1899). Remarques sur la parente de la langue etrusque. (von Schuchardt 1899 rezensiert).

8 lat. plump und übergewichtig.

9 Albert Étienne Jean Baptiste Terrien de Lacouperie (1844-1894), französischer Orientalist, ab 1884 Professor für vergleichende Sprachwissenschaft in London.

Faksimiles: Universitätsbibliothek Graz Abteilung für Sondersammlungen, Creative commons CC BY-NC https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (Sig. 11469)