Wednesday, September 21, 2016


Language as No Barrier

Here are some excerpts from Michael Lapidge, ed., H.M. Chadwick and the Study of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic in Cambridge (Aberystwyth: Department of Welsh, Aberystwyth University, 2015 = Cambrian Medieval Celtic Studies 69/70), pp. 242-253 = "Appendix III. Reminiscences of H.M. Chadwick's teaching by former pupils."

Dorothy Whitelock (p. 244):
[W]hen I once gave as a reason for unfamiliarity with a book the fact that it was in Danish, his only reply was 'I don't think you will find Danish very difficult.'
Q.D. Leavis (p. 248):
He was himself a linguistic genius, and as his students used to complain, he apparently thought that everyone is born with a knowledge of runes, Celtic languages and Old High German; but when his attention was drawn to this misunderstanding, he was always very patient and considerate.
Glyn Daniel (p. 252):
His main teaching was based extensively on non-archaeological sources: we read Tacitus and Bede, Procopius and St Germanus, the Mabinogion and the Flateyjarbök. He showed us that we were not just archaeologists but general students of antiquity and ancient history. He himself was primarily a linguist, and an historical and linguistic scholar; he mildly expected us to read everything from Greek and German and Gothic, from Beowulf to Cyndellan. Like another great scholar but in the strict field of archaeology, Vere Gordon Childe, he regarded language as no barrier. Both these great men thought their students ought to have no difficulty in all the main Indo-European languages.
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.

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