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Re: Father/Motherland (a correction)

From:Ed Heil <edh@...>
Date:Saturday, June 3, 2000, 18:57
On Fri, Jun 02, 2000 at 08:12:45AM -0400, Vasiliy Chernov wrote:
> On Fri, 2 Jun 2000 00:30:37 +0200, P. M. ARKTAYG <pmva@...> wrote: > > - Did you read the initial thread (Father/Motherland, May 2000, week 4)? > My confusion was about classifying Russian and Polish as 'motherland' > languages, as opposed to e. g. German with its _Vaterland_. I noted that > Russian in fact has no word which would litterally translate to > 'motherland', but does have two words with similar meaning derived > from 'father'. It seems that in Polish, too, the most common word for > 'homeland' is derived from _ojciec_ 'father'.
> So, having not read the book by Wierzbicka, I still wonder what was her > reasoning like. (Yes, I'm aware of the typical cultural associations, > and yet...)
Wierzbicka did not classify languages as "motherland" or "fatherland" and attached exactly zero significance to the use of those terms. I think introducing them at all in paraphrasing Wierzbicka was my mistake; I certainly did not mean to imply that she thought that somebody who thought of their country as a "motherland" would think of it differently than somebody who thought of it as a "fatherland." That would be more a Lakoff thing (Wierzbicka despises Lakoff, mostly for foolish reasons), and even Lakoff, who has been known to occasionally leap merrily to a conclusion where others might fear to tread, would not simply assume from the existence of the names that the metaphors were there and active. Wierzbicka in fact analyzed specific words for "homeland" in Russian, German, Polish, and other languages, and pointed out subtle but important differences. English translations of some of them which involved "mother" and "father" were absolutely inconsequential to her claims. Alas, I don't own the book, I just browsed it at length in a bookstore, so I can't get more specific. Ed