Creativity, Culture and Character

W. Underhill James

in Humboldt, Worldview and Language

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print May 2009 | ISBN: 9780748638420
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748671809 | DOI:
Creativity, Culture and Character

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This chapter stresses the importance of Humboldt's relationship with Goethe and Schiller. Those great poets and playwrights inspired Humboldt and kept his mind focused upon the fundamental contribution made to language by great writers. This chapter highlights the creative nature of all language, and the expressive impulse in language which poets respond. Writers invigorate the shared understanding of the linguistic community. Men and women can choose to accept concepts and patterns of thinking, to criticise them and change them, or to invent new modes of expression. Most linguists find this aspect of Humboldt very difficult to digest. In contrast, a sensitive understanding of the creative potential of language can be found in the writing of the great contemporary, French, poet-linguist-translator, Henri Meschonnic. This chapter shows that Meschonnic is Humboldtian in that he understands language as a process of ‘Subjectivation’: we become individuals through language. Of the English linguists, with the exception of Sapir, few stress this aspect of language in discussions of linguistic worldviews.

Keywords: Character of languages; Mind of the People; Philosophy; Poetry; Shakespeare; Subjectivation

Chapter.  5649 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics

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