Edward Sapir > Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech > Subject Index > Page 227
Edward Sapir (1884–1939).  Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech.  1921.

Page 227
English is more particularly associated. We need not seriously entertain the idea that English or the group of languages to which it belongs is in any intelligible sense the expression of race, that there are embedded in it qualities that reflect the temperament or “genius” of a particular breed of human beings.
  Many other, and more striking, examples of the lack of correspondence between race and language could be given if space permitted. One instance will do for many. The Malayo-Polynesian languages form a well-defined group that takes in the southern end of the Malay Peninsula and the tremendous island world to the south and east (except Australia and the greater part of New Guinea). In this vast region we find represented no less than three distinct races—the Negro-like Papuans of New Guinea and Melanesia, the Malay race of Indonesia, and the Polynesians of the outer islands. The Polynesians and Malays all speak languages of the Malayo-Polynesian group, while the languages of the Papuans belong partly to this group (Melanesian), partly to the unrelated languages (“Papuan”) of New Guinea. 9 In spite of the fact that the greatest race cleavage in this region lies between the Papuans and the Polynesians, the major linguistic division is of Malayan on the one side, Melanesian and Polynesian on the other.
  As with race, so with culture. Particularly in more primitive levels, where the secondarily unifying power of the “national” 10 ideal does not arise to disturb the
Note 9.  Only the easternmost part of this island is occupied by Melanesian-speaking Papuans. [back]
Note 10.  A “nationality” is a major, sentimentally unified, group. The historical factors that lead to the feeling of national unity are various—political, cultural, linguistic, geographic, sometimes specifically religious. True racial factors also may enter in, though the accent on “race” has generally a psychological rather than a strictly biological value. In an area dominated by the national sentiment there is a tendency for language and culture to become uniform and specific, so that linguistic and cultural boundaries at least tend to coincide. Even at best, however, the linguistic unification is never absolute, while the cultural unity is apt to be superficial, of a quasi-political nature, rather than deep and far-reaching. [back]


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