[Ads-l] Talking gibberish - "goropising" (Leibniz "verbifies")

Andy Bach afbach at GMAIL.COM
Thu Sep 14 18:04:12 UTC 2017

"Perhaps most famous [of the "scholars" arguing for first language status]
was the Flemish author Johannes Goropius Becanus. He claimed that the Dutch
language, and the Flemish dialect of Antwerp in particular, was the direct
descendant of the original language and the source of all others. His
evidence was of an etymological nature. The name Adam, for instance, was
derived from *haat-dam* (‘hate dam, dam against hate’), while Diets or
Dutch was synonymous with *d’oudste* (‘th’oldest’). In the Low Countries,
Goropius would enjoy some support for centuries to come; abroad, his name
literally became a byword for fanciful etymologising: the eminent German
scholar Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz called the activity _‘goropising’_. Even
today, the hypothesis of Dutch as the oldest language is kept alive by at
least one linguist and one poet, both of whom seem to be embarrassingly
serious about it.

The study of languages has long been prone to nonsense. Why is linguistics
such a magnet for dilettantes and crackpots?


Andy Bach,
afbach at gmail.com
608 658-1890 cell
608 261-5738 wk

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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