Naturalist conceptions about agglutinative languages: Vinson's ideas about Basque and linguistic Darwinism

Abstract : The writings of the linguist and philologist J. Vinson were largely responsible for introducing to Basque studies "la science républicaine" (a curious expression employed recently by Bidart (2001: 198)) in the half-century between 1870 and 1920. The renowned Bascologist's attitude to the Basque language was double-edged, for while he considered Basque to be of great scientific interest as an ancient tongue, study of which would reveal the ‘state of the ancient Basque civilisations' (Vinson 1874: 55), socially, on the contrary, he saw Basque as useless in practice and doomed to disappear:
"The Basque language, which is of no practical interest, notwithstanding its enormous scientific importance, is clearly on its way to extinction". (Vinson 1882: 66)
This article aims to clarify certain little-known aspects, especially among Bascologists, of Vinson's linguistic views. These views were in fact quite characteristic of a whole current in French linguistic thought and the broader field of anthropology, to which Vinson pertained.
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Bernard Oyharçabal. Naturalist conceptions about agglutinative languages: Vinson's ideas about Basque and linguistic Darwinism. "Gramatika Jaietan. Patxi Goenagaren omenez", X. Artiagoitia & J. A. Lakarra (Ed.) (2008), x, 2008. ⟨artxibo-00326318⟩

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