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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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Catching the Character

Catching the Character

(p.97) Chapter 12 Catching the Character
Humboldt, Worldview and Language

W. Underhill James

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter develops the idea that discerning and defining the character of the language is the ultimate goal of Humboldt's research. All comparative studies had to be based upon comparing their characters. The thrust of this ethnolinguistic adventure still proves inviting and fruitful. But the author demonstrates that this aspect also turns out to be the weak point in Humboldt's project. The great linguist manages to achieve a profound insight into the grammatical working of multiple languages, and he understands the importance and the specific nature of the way many foreign authors are using and transforming the character of their languages. Nevertheless, the author shows that Humboldt does fall into clichés, in attributing to the language the qualities of individual authors.

Keywords:   Character of Languages, Culture of Nations, Germans, Greeks Learning foreign languages, Romans

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