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L’esprit de celui qui parle

Wilhelm von Humboldt on Japanese and its Speakers

Patrick Heinrich    Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia, Italia    

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abstract

Unbeknownst to most, Humboldt studied also Japanese in order to better grasp universal aspects of language. Humboldt’s interest in Japanese is based on his teleological view of language. According to Humboldt, language is the expression of a nation’s worldview and is, over time, subject to development and refinement. Japanese served Humboldt as an example to step back in time, so to speak, and he attempts to gain new insights into the origin of language by studying selected aspects of the Japanese language. While deeply original in his analysis, Humboldt falls victim to the Eurocentric bias of his approach. He uncritically perceives European languages as a yardstick to assess and interpret non-European languages.

Published
July 3, 2020
Accepted
May 14, 2020
Submitted
Feb. 21, 2020
Language
EN
ISBN (PRINT)
978-88-6969-429-5
ISBN (EBOOK)
978-88-6969-428-8

Keywords: AdjectivesLate Middle JapaneseWorldviewKokugaku philologyPersonal pronounsLinguistic relativity

Copyright: © 2020 Patrick Heinrich. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.