Tuesday, February 28, 2017


Reconstruction of Lost Originals

Sebastiano Timpanaro (1923-2000), The Genesis of Lachmann's Method, tr. Glenn W. Most (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005), p. 119:
There is an undeniable affinity between the method with which the Classical philologist classifies manuscripts genealogically and reconstructs the reading of the archetype, and the method with which the linguist classifies languages and as far as possible reconstructs a lost mother language, for example, Indo-European. In both cases inherited elements must be distinguished from innovations, and the unitary anterior phase from which these have branched out must be hypothesized on the basis of the various innovations. The fact that innovations are shared by certain manuscripts of the same text, or by certain languages of the same family, demonstrates that these are connected by a particularly close kinship, that they belong to a subgroup: a textual corruption too is an innovation compared to the previously transmitted text, just like a linguistic innovation. On the other hand, shared "conservations" have no classificatory value: what was already found in the original text or language can be preserved even in descendants that are quite different from one another.

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