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The word "Indo-European" was coined by Young in the early 19th century. Some Germans like Bopp just translated it as "indo-europäisch", as most people do around the world. Unfortunately, to the dismay of people like Bopp, most German scholars preferred the crypto-nazi "indo-germanisch". We know how it all ended during WWII. And Bopp was all too aware that the word was an issue that did not bode anything good.
Some people on the site insist on imposing the nazi pseudo-translation "Indo-Germanic" in English.
My proposal:
1. posts or comments that contain that word should be either edited or deleted.
2. people who insist on using that word should be banned.

  • 4
    What does it mean that you have accepted the answer? – vectory Nov 24 '19 at 17:30
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    Why on earth do you classify "indo-germanic" as nazi or crypto-nazi? Give your reasons here. – jk - Reinstate Monica Nov 24 '19 at 17:55
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    I have twice edited the post by J. Knappen, removing the word "Indo-Germanic" and substituting the regular "Indo-European". But J. Knappen reinstated the word "Indo-Germanic". For that matter, I have decided to open a meta-question about the word. Personally, I consider said word is unacceptable. So, after a few learned answers, it appears that a consensus emerges that "Indo-Germanic" is obsolete, the word "Indo-European" is the regular and neutral word (in English). So the issue is: why do you (J. Knappen) insist on using an objectionable word? What is your agenda ? – Arnaud Fournet Nov 25 '19 at 9:00
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    If you want to convince people to ban a word, you need to put in the work and convince them; and furthermore, in doing that, accept that your opinion might be rejected by a majority of readers. You have not put in the work of convincing people up until now, and judging by the way you are going about this, do not seem willing to accept that not banning the word is a valid outcome of the process. – David Vogt Nov 25 '19 at 13:25
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The word indo-germanic is not a Nazi term. It was coined by the Danish scholar C. Malte-Brun in its French form indo-germanique in 1800 and it has traditional usage throughout the 19th and early 20th century also in the anglophone literature. Moves to stamp it out from anglophone terminology were undertaken in the 1920ies before the raise of the Nazi movement to power.

The Nazis ideology wasn't about a linguistic supremacy (unlike some forms of French chauvinism), it was about an esoteric concept of "race" inspired by Helena Blavatsky and theosophic ideas. Their fondness with Aryans comes from there. I have no evidence that the word indogermanisch was used prominently by the Nazi movement (Arier and arisch were used a lot and were at the core of their propaganda). They did not care for linguistic affiliation or faith, their main obsession was race and racism.

Banning a word needs some solid evidence for its offensiveness. A logical short cut of the scheme: it is preferred German terminology, the German were Nazis, therefore it is Nazi is not sufficient.

  • Dear J, maybe you can find comfort in an attempt to etymologize "Europe". As far as I'm aware it's highly uncertain. Personally I once thought it could connect to a word "harbour, haven", and/or a river of similar name in Western Trace. Anyhow, one thing is sure, it's a European word in the intended sense, at least not Euskal, Rhetic nor Sami. And if it were originally Greek--which is doubtable in case of Beekes' pre-Greek theories I guess (so, etruscan after all? Semitic? Old European)--then, as long as the homeland theory including a correct phylogentic tree remains a wet dream ... – vectory Nov 24 '19 at 17:44
  • Dear Arnaud, a rose is a rose, by whatever name it's called. Now, I wont be called a Nazi and I feel offended by the mere Idea. "German" is an exonym, if we take Latin as the base. A crackpot would probably say Theutonic instead. The whole homeland idea is terribly patriotic, and one dimensional, anyway. I don't understand why UG (Urindogermanisch) has to be translated, PIE is a much nicer acronym. If we keep using it, that means we won't let it be taken away--by the Nazis. Gamkrelidze 2010 argued that Ger. Arm. Hit.(!) be grouped under Lautverschiebung, vs OInd. Gr. Ita. etc. ... – vectory Nov 24 '19 at 18:09
  • ... Of course it's a bit biased if I say hey, that might fit my agende. But there's nothing nazi nor crypto about admitting to an inherent bias. Having one is bad, but it can't be banned. A prior is necessary for bayesian inference, but it needs to be updated when it turns out wrong. I'm not sure, what are you calling wrong here? It looks like a makabre strawman blown out of proportions. Metaphorically speaking, if you are asking to reduce the attack surface of this scare crow, in order to look past it, then that's reasonable. But, IMHO, it's very symbolic for the IE culture itself. – vectory Nov 24 '19 at 18:49
  • @jknappen I don't like "Indo-Germanic" over "Indo-European", and I am sometimes annoyed when I see you using it in response to question that use "Indo-European". I won't explain why here because I have elsewhere and I want to make another point instead: surprisingly enough, what annoys me is not grounds for banning you or your answers from the site, and certainly not ground for calling it "Nazi" (which casts barely acceptable aspersions on yourself as well, and, again surprisingly enough except not, you don't sound like you endorse Nazi ideology in the above post). Bottom line: upvoted. – LjL Nov 26 '19 at 23:32
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I looked a bit into this: judging from the answers here and what I found online, the term is - yes - obsolete because when it was coined some languages had not been included yet.

So from the moment they started being included, the term started becoming less and less applicable, and it was then changed to Indo-european.

This is what seems to be the case and it's not enough to warrant a ban.

Answering to your specific requests:

  1. posts or comments that contain that word should be either edited or deleted.

Deletion is for very specific cases and this is not one of them. You may propose an edit for the answer that uses the term incorrectly, but I'd kindly ask you to refrain from referring to political reasons and/or making accusations directed at the poster.

Simply stick to the fact that the term is now obsolete.

You should write this last point in the edit summary and I'd strongly suggest that you clarify this with the poster in the comments in case you're not sure.

  1. people who insist on using that word should be banned.

Banning is a disciplinary action and has nothing to do with the content of the answers, but the behavior on the website.

If you see someone using the term "Indo-germanic" instead of using "Indo-european" (because you think it might be the correct one), then edit/downvote the answer and move on.

All things considered, I tagged the request as .

  • I have twice edited the post by J. Knappen, removing the word "Indo-Germanic" and substituting the regular "Indo-European". – Arnaud Fournet Nov 25 '19 at 8:53
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    I have twice edited the post by J. Knappen, removing the word "Indo-Germanic" and substituting the regular "Indo-European". But J. Knappen reinstated the word "Indo-Germanic". For that matter, I have decided to open a meta-question about the word. Personally, I consider said word is unacceptable. So, after a few learned answers, it appears that a consensus emerges that "Indo-Germanic" is obsolete, the word "Indo-European" is the regular and neutral word. So the issue is: why does J. Knappen insists on using an objectionable word? What is his agenda ? – Arnaud Fournet Nov 25 '19 at 8:58
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    @Arnaud Fournet open a chat room and have a talk with J, maybe you can come to an understanding. That's one possible solution. But as I've asked you politely before, please stop directing accusations at other users. If he insists on using this word, and you think it's the wrong one, just downvote the answer and move on. – Alenanno Nov 25 '19 at 14:47
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The main problem with your proposal is that it is too narrow, since it does not include quite an array of offensive words (which decency compels me to not list, but I assume you can imagine what kinds of words you mean). To be concrete, I will mention one: "Lapp".

Fairness dictates that people should be put on notice what words are forbidden (probably many people are ignorant of the status of the previously mentioned word), so a preliminary step is assembling a list. As for banning, that might be theoretically possible under the new CoC, but will require buy-in from Stackexchange administration.

Editing wars are a bad idea, but one possible means of eliminating expressions that offend someone.

2

disclaimer: I offer no solution nor is it my intention to impose some kind of terminological Diktat - I will leave this up to our mods. My only hope is to offer a constructive discussion and to raise one's awareness of some terminological conventions in professional linguistic research done in English and awareness of connotations of certain words in present-day English.

Here are my thoughts on this. The question is about the use of the term "Indo-Germanic" in English, not in German.

I am not going to discuss the origin of the term itself or how specifically it was used by the ideologues of the Third Reich in Nazi Germany - this is well-known to linguists and a lot of research has been written on this, in English, Italian, etc. and even in German - for example, see the quote below from Kahane 1987:

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The fact is that the term "Indo-Germanic" is no longer used by the international professional linguistic community, whether their L1 is English or German or any other language.

This is a convention of the English language, a terminological convention adopted by professional linguists, and frankly, one's insistence on using "Indo-Germanic" in English in 2019 does indeed look rather suspicious.

As Ruth Römer, a German linguist, the author of the monograph “Sprachwissenschaft und Rassenideologie in Deutschland” (1985), wrote:

“Heute gibt es keine deutsche Sprachwissenschaft mehr, es gibt nur noch eine internationale.”

Let me pose another, very important question. How may it affect the reputation of Linguistics SE, its perception?

For a linguist - be it a full-fledged researcher or just an undergrad student - this is a sign of amateurism, i.e. they would not find Linguistics SE particularly insightful or informative nor would they take it seriously. To a layperson who is interested in linguistics, especially in historical linguistics, this would be a disservice because it misrepresents the field of historical linguistics, esp. its present-day conceptual, terminological apparatus.

  • The whole point is, I guess, that a) if he kept using it, it couldn't be obsolete, b) if he used it explicitly in the tradition of the original sense, it couldn't be ideologically biased anymore than it originally was. In sum: It's pressing to point out that it was ethically quite unobjectionable, if naive. It successfully provoked discussion, but whether the discussion itself were successful or disruptive however depends. You correctly keep your suspicions to yourself and imply that there's no reason to reiterate the discussion. – vectory Dec 8 '19 at 10:55
  • However, you seem to deny that German English could be deemed an English dialect and, perhaps unwittingly, advocate for segregation. Which of course represents the common opinion, but this is hardly acceptable. So it's a stalemate. If you have no solution to offer, other than concern for one individual's aversion towards pretty much everybody else's opinion on the issue (haha, as if "rightful heir"), then that can only mean you, in face of one hypercritical (exegarated?) claim for fame, accept the subjective appearance of hypocracy. That is a normative resolution to deny the claim, after all! – vectory Dec 8 '19 at 11:12

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