Sunday, July 03, 2022


The Futile Pastime of Misguided Acumen?

Andreas Willi, "Flowing riches: Greek ἄφενος and Indo-European streams," in J.H.W. Penney, ed., Indo-European Perspectives: Studies in Honour of Anna Morpurgo Davies (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), pp. 323-337 (at 323):
Flicking through the etymological dictionaries of Greek can be a sobering experience: 'unklar', 'unerklärt', 'inconnue', and 'obscure' seem to be among Frisk's and Chantraine's favourite lexemes. At first sight, it may look as if there were not much harm in this: if we understand what Homer and Plato meant, why should we want to find out what Homer's and Plato's ancestors would have understood, had they read the same texts? However, ignoring etymologies also means ignoring cultural (pre)history and forsaking the historians goal of looking at past worlds through the eyes of those who were shaping them. Hence, etymologizing — sometimes regarded as the futile pastime of misguided acumen — remains a worthy form of philological work even if it is not crowned by the achievement of absolute certainty.

<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?