Cristinel Munteanu

Reply to Göran Hammarström’s comments on Cristinel Munteanu’s contribution

Mr. Göran Hammarström finds “almost comical (the fact) that Hasdeu manages to choose as example the only science he should not have chosen” [i.e. botany]. He [G.H.] may not have carefully read the paragraph from my article, in which I quoted Hasdeu’s words. It is a known fact that, before becoming a linguist, A. Schleicher got specialized precisely in botany, hence his special way of seeing the development of languages and thus of linguistics. Hasdeu – who was a great scholar and knew very well what botany deals with –, on the other hand, referring to Schleicher’ conception, points to the fact that linguistics can use the methods of botany (as well as of other sciences) as long as we do not forget that linguistics is not, in fact, a science of nature. What is more, I must add that Hasdeu was highly interested in distinctions and classifications. In one of his studies, written in 1882 (in which he criticizes Whitney as well), he talks about the necessity of some very detailed classifications of the linguistic sub-disciplines, starting from the classification of the different aspects of language. In his opinion, a linguistics with no classifications and with no explanations regarding the relations of its parts “looks like a Universal Exposition without groups, classes, explanatory inscriptions at least upon entering the various lounges” [in the original version: „seamănă cu o Exposiţiune Universală fără grupuri, fără clase, fără inscripţiuni explicative măcar la întrarea diferitelor saloane”]. (For further details, reference must be made to a volume edited by me: B.P. Hasdeu, Studii de ştiinţa limbii, Prologul editorului, studiu introductiv şi note de Cristinel Munteanu, Editura Institutul European, Iaşi, 2013, pp. 29-114.)

With reference to the problem of innovations and adoptions, I would like to add something to what Mr. Göran Hammarström said – a quotation from Sincronía, diacronía e historia [1957/1958], in order to show the fact that Eugenio Coseriu noticed at that time what motivates the adoption of an innovation: “Reduciendo todo esto a un único principio, puede decirse que una adopción corresponde siempre a una necesidad expresiva; necesidad que puede ser cultural, social, estética o funcional. El oyente adopta lo que no sabe, lo que le satisface estéticamente, le conviene socialmente o le sirve funcionalmente. La «adopción» es, por lo tanto, un acto de cultura, de gusto y de inteligencia práctica.” (Coseriu 1958: 49-50).