Edward Sapir > Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech > Subject Index > Page 223
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Edward Sapir (1884–1939).  Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech.  1921.
 

Page 223
 
sense, is supremely indifferent to the history of languages and cultures, that these are no more directly explainable on the score of race than on that of the laws of physics and chemistry, we shall have gained a view-point that allows a certain interest to such mystic slogans as Slavophilism, Anglo-Saxondom, Teutonism, and the Latin genius but that quite refuses to be taken in by any of them. A careful study of linguistic distributions and of the history of such distributions is one of the driest of commentaries on these sentimental creeds.
  That a group of languages need not in the least correspond to a racial group or a culture area is easily demonstrated. We may even show how a single language intercrosses with race and culture lines. The English language is not spoken by a unified race. In the United States there are several millions of negroes who know no other language. It is their mother-tongue, the formal vesture of their inmost thoughts and sentiments. It is as much their property, as inalienably “theirs,” as the King of England’s. Nor do the English-speaking whites of America constitute a definite race except by way of contrast to the negroes. Of the three fundamental white races in Europe generally recognized by physical anthropologists—the Baltic or North European, the Alpine, and the Mediterranean—each has numerous English-speaking representatives in America. But does not the historical core of English-speaking peoples, those relatively “unmixed” populations that still reside in England and its colonies, represent a race, pure and single? I cannot see that the evidence points that way. The English people are an amalgam of many distinct strains. Besides the old “Anglo-Saxon,” in other words North German, element which is conventionally represented

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