Archive for December, 2010

Philological Park Corner

December 4, 2010

In my previous post on ‘Professional Identification’ I identified myself as a linguist, who occasionally did some philological research as well. In my opinion, philology and linguistics are two different branches. Philology is an art science and probably not a true science at all: of course, it is a sacrosanct field of reasearch and a storehouse of valuable academical traditions. Linguistics looks like a science (not very mature indeed), but I am not sure it may be wholly classified with art sciences. Part of it looks like mathematical and computational sciences, part of it relies on traditional knowlegde and is more like art sciences, while our ability to make predictions and  successfully predict combinations of linguists parameteres to some extent marries linguistics with natural sciences. I am not sure that all linguistics and all natural scientists will be happy with my tags:  in some strange aberration, many mathematicians and natural scientists seem to believe that language, literature and arts is a field, where every educated person (whatever this might mean) can make a conclusive reasoning without sticking to any special linguistic and philological knowledge.

Anyway, a storehouse of philological knowledge is often more fruitful and far more pleasing than many instances of pure linguistic reasearch. I admit to have got some elements of philological education too, though I seldom activate them. I have both seen great, good, bad and very bad philogists in my life. The term ‘philological mind’ (not coined by myself) likely refers to the last category of philologists. When somebody played chess or basketball in the varsity sports club and could not repeat some trick, it was called ‘philological mind’. Another grim word used in my youth was to ‘play academically’, that is, to fetch a compass and to miss easy winning chances in a game.

‘Philological mind’ is thus a caricature of a humanist (not necessarily a philologist), who approaches some professional problem armed with special knowlegde but regularly puts his feet in wrong places. The gloating audience maliciously ascribes his failures to improper schooling. After this pseudo-lexicographical potrait of the concept ‘Philological mind’ I am adding a short comment to Boris Akoenin’s novel ‘F.M’: one the novel’s main characters is a craisy philologist. This comment of  mine does not put in the claim for the laurels of philological analysis: it has was inspired by the reviews of two distinguished Russian literary critics, who had discussed (in a very different manner) the merits of the writer Akoenin but seem to have overlooked the presence of their malicious colleague in the text of the novel!

How Slow is Yunanny2

The word ‘Yunanny’ to my knowledge does not exist in English. I invented it in a feeble attempt to translate the Russian joke about the noted critic, author  and Pushkin researcher Yuri Tynyanov: a distinguished colleague of Tynyanov, the late Mikhail Gasparov reportedly compared Tynyanov’s name with the famous line from Pushkin’ s novel ‘Eugen Onegin’:

Kak nedogadliva ty, nyanya! ‘How slow are your wits, Nanny’ > Kak negogadliva Tynyanya!

According to  the memoirist Vadim Bajevsky, Mikhail Gasparov claimed this line was Pushkin’s personal message to future generations of the puskinists.