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Theme Changer

 Topic: The Great European Languages

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  • The Great European Languages
     OP - September 02, 2017, 12:51 AM

    Zeca linked to this in the Qur'anic studies thread, but in keeping with my longstanding policy of not polluting that with non-Qur'anic posts I'll post this thought here. It's not really an Arena Rant as such. More of a question. (I expect I'm channelling Razib Khan again...)

    Prof. Shoemaker:
    This text is an important piece of the puzzle, but it’s been neglected because it wasn’t available in a European language. A translation of this text will make a crucial source of information available about a critical moment in world history.

    Here Shoemaker has excluded Georgian and Russian from the European languages. I expect that we can all understand how Kartveli / Old Iberian might be Not Like Us, "us" meaning almost everyone outside Caucasia. But Russian? Last I checked Slavic was Indo-European like English; and like Razib's Bengali, and Patricia Crone's mother-tongue Danish. Also, lots of people speak or understand Russian.

    European civilisation seems, at base, Carolingian. The great languages of Western scholarship are mediaeval Latin, Martin Luther's High-German, and GCSE French. Italian and Spanish are in the second tier. English has been second-tier in the universities as well, until the late nineteenth century. As for something like, say, Czech: if you published in that, good luck finding anyone to read it across the Sudeten hills. It's telling that Patricia Crone the Dane published in English herself.

    This has some implications, unfortunately; especially for the Byzantine view on early Islam, which is an important view. Much academic work here is published in Greek and Russian, sometimes in the lesser-spoken Slavic tongues, or even in Armenian. There are Muslims who have had access to those lesser-spoken languages - Bozniaks and Chechens, for a start. But their Anglophones are rare, compared to Bengalis. As a result we - Muslims and Anglophones alike - often find out about Byzantine discoveries second-hand.

    It might be a slip of the keyboard that Shoemaker didn't count Russian as a European language; but as far as the scholars are concerned, neither is Danish.

    Do you agree, that the Great European Languages are basically whatever was spoken in Charlemagne's court?
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