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Humboldt, Worldview and Language$
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James Underhill

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780748638420

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748638420.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 21 April 2021

Creativity, Culture and Character

Creativity, Culture and Character

(p.81) Chapter 11 Creativity, Culture and Character
Humboldt, Worldview and Language

W. Underhill James

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter stresses the importance of Humboldt's relationship with Goethe and Schiller. Those great poets and playwrights inspired Humboldt and kept his mind focused upon the fundamental contribution made to language by great writers. This chapter highlights the creative nature of all language, and the expressive impulse in language which poets respond. Writers invigorate the shared understanding of the linguistic community. Men and women can choose to accept concepts and patterns of thinking, to criticise them and change them, or to invent new modes of expression. Most linguists find this aspect of Humboldt very difficult to digest. In contrast, a sensitive understanding of the creative potential of language can be found in the writing of the great contemporary, French, poet-linguist-translator, Henri Meschonnic. This chapter shows that Meschonnic is Humboldtian in that he understands language as a process of ‘Subjectivation’: we become individuals through language. Of the English linguists, with the exception of Sapir, few stress this aspect of language in discussions of linguistic worldviews.

Keywords:   Character of languages, Mind of the People, Philosophy, Poetry, Shakespeare, Subjectivation

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