Monday, February 20, 2017

Sever Pop's Dialectology (La dialectologie, 1950) - Foreword

The review article "Revisionist dialectology and mainstream linguistics" (http://www.danielezrajohnson.com/malkiel_1984.pdf) was published in Language in Society in 1984. In this article, over the course of 30 pages – not counting a page of endnotes and more than five of references – Yakov Malkiel launches a remarkable assault on two books that had recently been published in Britain: K. M. Petyt's The study of dialect: An Introduction to Dialectology (1981) and J. K. Chambers and Peter Trudgill's Dialectology (1980). While difficult to summarize (as a glance at any page will make clear), the article's main point is that the recently-developed field of "urban dialectology", best-known to the books' authors, is nowhere near broad or deep enough to be presented to students and other readers as "dialectology", full stop. The article reads as a sustained outpouring of frustration on the part of a Continental European scholar towards what he views as a limited and frequently inaccurate portrayal of a centuries-old, far-reaching discipline that is clearly close to his heart, even though Malkiel himself was a Romance philologist rather than a dialectologist. The article concludes with the following paragraph:

"In sum, Petyt and the Chambers-Trudgill team have revealed entirely different authorial temperaments. He is, at bottom, a scintillating essayist – patently uneven in his performance, at times inconsistent, even capricious; they are not exactly plodding, but assuredly self-controlled, far-sighted pedagogues or, at least, spokesmen for the didactics of an unadulterated social science approach to linguistic inquiry. Both books are not only programmatic, but even propagandistic, each in its own way. Both are products of a malaise or disappointment created by Orton's visibly abortive attempt to transplant the Continental style of dialect geography onto English soil – a relative failure clearly recognized by almost everyone, it seems, as a fact, or a miscarriage of sorts, but not very persuasively diagnosed in terms of cause-and-effect, perhaps because the full disclosure of the reasons for the lack of any adequate response to the new challenge might have involved an excruciatingly painful admission of sterility. The books differ on certain important points, for example, as regards the endorsement of TG grammar. Conversely, there is complete agreement on the goals to be pursued and achieved, and total coincidence, I am afraid, in the distortion of the recent past, the present, and the foreseeable future of the development on the European continent. The American scene has been captured well for the period 1935-65, less so for the following fifteen years. Alternatives to the theoretical kernel of structural and generative dialectology have been grasped, not so alternatives to the dichotomy rural versus urban dialectology. As regards the authors' rather candidly admitted quest for professional recognition and respectability of their favorite discipline, it seems to me that not a few talented younger workers will want to take up the study all three authors are so eager to promote as one desirable line of inquiry, among several others, as something they can warm up to for a few years, but not as the principal lifetime component of a full spectrum of commitments. The scope of urban dialectology is, upon reflection, scarcely wide enough to keep truly brilliant scholars excited, for many years in succession, with it as their dominant or exclusive focus of intellectual curiosity." (59-60)

My intention here is not to convince anyone that these profound criticisms are deserved, but rather to follow up on a reference that Malkiel makes almost in passing, when he laments Petyt's "disinclination to read carefully volume one of Sever Pop's (1950) still authoritative synthesis or to plough through the file of the broad-gauged journal Orbis, which somehow falls short of appearing on the reader's radar screen when a reference to it is most urgently needed" (38).

I had heard of Orbis, when I first read this review, but never of the "authoritative" La dialectologie: aperçu historique et méthodes d'enquêtes linguistiques (Louvain, 1950). I bought the book soon after, but it has unfortunately taken me 12 years to start reading it. What I discovered when I cut the first pages was a text that I think would be appreciated by anyone interested in the subject matter and history of dialectology (which is more than the study of geographical variation in language, just as variationist sociolinguistics is more than Malkiel's near-caricature would have it). Hoping that people would have no "disinclination" to read such a book – actually two thick volumes, together reaching over 1300 pages – and trusting that it is not already well-known among English-speaking linguists, I have decided to at least begin a translation. The introductory chapter, "A historical overview of the development of dialectology", will be the most generally interesting (to linguists of any persuasion). But it would be a mistake to pass over the foreword, which gives a clear sense of what kind of scholar and person Sever Pop (1901-1960) was, and takes an unexpected and moving turn towards the end.

I have added a small number of endnotes to remind the reader of the historical context of Pop's remarks, and provided the original French - available at https://archive.org/stream/ladialectologiea1popsuoft/ - in a few cases where I found the meaning unclear or hard to express correctly in English (corrections are welcome); otherwise, I have translated as literally as I could.



Dialectology: an overview of its history and the methods (1) of linguistic investigation

by Sever Pop
Ex-professor, University of Bucharest
Visiting professor, Catholic University of Louvain (2)


To you, dear paysans (3) of Romania, faithful witnesses to our Latinity and precious collaborators in my linguistic investigations


Foreword


The linguist Antoine Meillet has correctly affirmed that there can be no history of language without a dialectology and especially not without a complete and well-established linguistic geography (Bulletin de la Sociéte de Linguistique de Paris, v. XXX, 1929, p. 200). In effect, despite the constant actions of the authorities in favor of those literary languages which have had the good luck to be raised to the status of national languages, dialects have, for a long time, no longer been considered "shapeless and vulgar jargons, the fruit of ignorance and caprice". Their vital importance for any linguistic study is today undeniable; they constitute living testimony that has, for the linguist, at least as much value as do plants for the botanist, objects and customs for the folklorist, and archival documents for the historian.

The material that still remains to be taken in is so vast in this area that the numerous studies that have been carried out up until now can only be considered preliminary studies to save from oblivion the spiritual treasure of peoples, passed down to us exclusively by oral tradition.

Today, we make excavations, we accumulate objects of all sorts in various museums, we photograph the most precious items in archives, we create magnificent zoological gardens, etc., but we still do so little to save the speech varieties (4) of the humble people who have not had the possibility of adopting a regulated language. And for this reason, these varieties of speech are documents of vital importance for the history of human language. Language, being mental, does not hold the attention of the people, who would rather see objects than "words" in neat files.

The linguist must nevertheless admire the tireless work of the dialectologists who have left their offices to spend many days in the company of faithful guardians of a natural language that has rarely had the honor of being employed in writing. Their contributions constitute, today, a very precious form of documentation for tracing the history of the evolution (5) of human language, since ancient texts, which linguists use to reconstruct a language's history, were never written to reproduce the speech of their day and they demand a particularly critical analysis and an immense amount of work.

However, the linguist finds himself (6) inundated by innumerable new facts placed at his disposal by the dialectologists, and he sometimes considers it too hard a task to analyze a linguistic map where the facts of spoken language are not presented in methodical order, but in a sort of fermentation; continuously, in patois (7), the mind blows up rigid frameworks, and it takes a great effort to organize and interpret the linguistic facts.

Today, dialect maps should have for the linguist who wishes to know the evolution of a language at least as much importance as physical maps do for the geographer who studies the configuration of the earth.

Only linguistic maps can show the complexity of the facts of language free from any convention, as well as the last phase of the centuries-long development of local varieties of speech. Compiled in accordance with a mature method, exempt from any preconceived ideas, they alone can illustrate, for whatever language it may be, the fortunes of words and their histories, their "fights" against other terms having an almost identical phonetic form, the influences to which they have been subjected by the action of cultural, economic, and social centers, the ways in which terms adapt to the changes imposed on them by the progress of modern civilization, as well as the way in which local speech varieties still preserve old terms, testaments to the past.

Day after day, the study of dialects is turning out to be more complex and much more instructive than that of literary languages, which themselves are based on the dialect of some region, used by a country's famous writers.

The study of dialect maps introduces the linguist to the biology and history of the evolution of language. The linguist will, truly, no longer have on his desk the mere "bones" of a language, which can easily be divided up and labeled according to "phonetic laws"; he will have at his disposal a "photograph" as accurate as possible of the living language, the deep examination of which can allow him to glimpse phases of the evolution of a given language that written texts cannot reveal. But this examination must always be made in strict collaboration with many disciplines, in order to better reconstruct the historical evolution of languages and their dialects.

It was more than a century ago that Charles Nodier [French author and librarian, 1780-1844] affirmed that "anyone who has not carefully explored the patois of their language only knows half of it", and this assertion is today considered by many dialectologists and linguists as a veritable axiom.

Even if the study of dialects remains one of the first duties for modern linguistics, recording them (8) carries with it enormous difficulties, since the dialectologist is not satisfied with making a simple lexicographical study, but wants to give details on the biology of language, that is to say, the way the mind moves [la marche d'esprit] beneath the words that are in some sense its clothing.

The study of patois is too often considered a very easy task. People believe it is enough to leave a city, to spend some time in the country asking questions of a few paysans who still know the old language of the area, to note down a good number of texts in dialects and to bring this harvest back, to prepare a nice dialectological study, which will often allow them to obtain a university post.

A good number of dialectological studies in every linguistic area belong to the category summarized above. In many countries, to obtain the university post necessary for their career, students are required to present a scientific contribution. Often in the field of dialectology, once this work is published, the [research] activity of these graduates ceases forever.

For a long time I have had the conviction that progress in linguistic theory can only be achieved by a more meticulous examination of dialectal facts and by a more refined method in linguistic investigations.

For this, it is indispensable to have a deep knowledge of the development of dialectology and the methods followed up until now in this area.

My research in this direction began more than twenty years ago. In 1926, I published a first essay which would serve me as a sort of guide for the creation of the Linguistic Atlas of Romania (cf. my "Aims and methods of dialect investigations" [Buts et méthodes des enquêtes dialectales], in Mélanges de l'École roumaine en France, part 2, 1926). The experience I have acquired since then (through dialectological fieldwork in several Romance-speaking countries and above all in more than 300 localities for the Linguistic Atlas of Romania, as well as through the publication of more than 700 linguistic maps) has pushed me to accord, in my university teaching, the greatest importance to the method of dialect exploration. In fact, several years later, I gave courses on field methods at the Faculté des Lettres of the University of Cluj, completing them with exercises in the field, as in this area, theory without practice is nothing. Future researchers should see for themselves the many issues raised by a careful examination of living speech. What is more, in interpreting linguistic maps in seminars, one has to begin by examining researchers' methods, before analyzing the linguistic data, which are always conditioned - I will not stop repeating it - by the process of the [initial] investigation.

Seeing the major importance of patois in the history of all peoples, it is necessary to present the broad outlines of the development of dialectology and its methods.

This examination will also offer researchers very useful indications, I hope, of the degree of confidence deserved by linguistic materials collected in the field.


I believe it is necessary to indicate the organization of the material. My book is divided into two large parts:

1) Romance dialectology, where I have grouped studies by linguistic area and not by country. Because this is a dialectological work, this treatment seemed more legitimate to me than one which only took account of political borders, which do not always coincide with linguistic boundaries.

This part of my exposition is more developed than the second, because I am speaking first and foremost to Romanists, and because research in other linguistic areas have almost all been determined or influenced by the great achievements of Romance dialectology.

2) Non-Romance dialectology, where the material is organized not only by linguistic groupings, but also by country, to better reveal the great achievements proper to each non-Romance country.

Given the extent of the subject, it has been necessary to limit this part of my exposition to the most important dialect studies, those which can offer, along with an overview of the development of dialectology, useful information about the methods of investigation employed.

In the first part, I have given indications of the dialectal divisions of speech varieties and of the number of individuals who use them. These observations are only meant to be informative, since there are often discussions concerning these issues that are not able to hold my attention. In the second part, I have had to delete or greatly reduce these indications, so as not to further swell the size of this book, which already greatly exceeds the dimensions foreseen.

As for methods, I have always endeavored to determine as exactly as possible, for each major linguistic area, the most characteristic phases of the development of dialectology, as this historical point of view seems to me essential in an undertaking of this kind. This form of presentation allows us to better recognize the evolution and radiation of ideas that have determined the great dialectological studies considered as models for dialect investigations.

In the part dedicated exclusively to dialect studies, I have had to make a choice, which obviously involved a subjective element. It was most important to extract [dégager] the methods applied to the study of patois, and they had to be looked for in those works that could offer more ample and important information.

Works of interpretation, that is, those which are not based on material personally collected by the authors, were not taken into consideration. It will be indispensable, at least I think so, for a sketch of the results of dialectology to someday be made, when all these works occupy the place of honor that they deserve.

A critical bibliography of dialect studies should also be prepared; bibliographies that only give titles will never be able to determine the progress of dialectology. The seeds of the ideas contained in these works must be sown, for only they can germinate: a shell has never produced a nut.

Modern scientific research more and more demands instruments of investigation that can offer observations that are precise and worthy of all confidence. These instruments being lacking in most areas of dialectology, we must dedicate our efforts and our time towards creating them and thereby facilitating the work of our successors.

In some chapters of my book, I have often had to summarize my exposition to be able to give a larger place to those dialect studies offering more to teach about methodology. In this case too, I have given the reader some bibliographical information, to help him pursue research in detail.

The book's bibliography is very limited. It seemed useless to me to mention a large number of works, as one often sees in certain contemporary scientific contributions. In citing journals, etc., I have avoided symbols that are particular to each linguistic area and which are abused in current works, without being explained: the editors of some journals only print the list of abbreviations once, in particular in their first issue.

As the book has a wide scope, I have used a reference system intended to quickly orient the reader. I have indicated, at the beginning of each chapter, the abbreviations contained therein.

My book contains a fair number of quotations, for the following reason: modern researchers are often too rushed, and are frequently satisfied to obtain their information from books that are not always well documented. This is the cause of many contradictions and erroneous assertions that exist in several fundamental works in our discipline. My intent was not to highlight the inexactitudes of particular researchers, but to use texts to underscore what might be erroneous in their opinions.

One often observes that a researcher is obliged to justify his methods by making arguments in an attempt to discredit the observations made by another investigator. In this case, I have merely made reference to texts which categorically contradict these opinions.

I should also add that I have refused to impose any one method of research on the future researcher; this would seem unjustifiable, because each method has advantages and drawbacks. I have therefore presents as objectively as possible the methods applied in the most important achievements of dialectology, with the goal of establishing the degree of confidence deserved by the material presented.

In the historical overview of the development of dialectology, and above all in my conclusions, I have nevertheless forced myself to extract some methodological teachings, and to indicate the best path to follow in conducting a dialect study.

In this chapter, I also wanted to point out some contributions that dialect investigations have made to general linguistics; these normally get away from [se dégagent normalement d'] the study of methods. This chapter may be able to serve some day as a point of departure for the person who undertakes to examine the results of dialectology to write the history of spoken language based on documents of undeniable value.

Recordings of spoken speech varieties have also been the obejct of my study. I have added, at the end of each large chapter, a summary of the most important recordings, as well as the works of phonetics that seem to me to be most characteristic. The origins of these research projects are often mentioned in the first part of each large chapter.

Studying the methods of linguistic investigations has brought me to raise the very important issue for dialectological work: the creation of an international center for dialectology. We know today that the progress in any scientific domain is in direct proportion to the spirit of collaboration that animates the researchers. Without exchanges of ideas, without deep understanding of everything happening in other linguistic areas - neighboring ones or more distant ones - the further progress of dialectological studies is nearly impossible.

I am perfectly aware of the obstacles that are opposed to the creation of an international center for dialectology, but still, some day I believe we will find a University capable of realizing this promise, because we are talking about providing a common shelter for all who endeavor to save from oblivion the treasure of dialect, living testimony of our forebears.

The 77 plates are intended to give a more concrete idea of the way in which dialect materials are presented on linguistic maps, as well as the dialectal divisions in the Romance language area. I wanted to increase the number of maps for the non-Romance languages, but it was necessary to give up this wish because of the considerable expense involved in creating the plates.

I also feel obliged to address myself, in this foreword, to the investigators and writers of dialect studies, the methods of whose work are basically the main object of my book. I hope they will forgive me if I have permitted myself to raise, in the following pages, a few weak sides of their linguistic investigations, while recognizing the merit of their having brought remarkable contributions to science. I was in a position to do this, perhaps better than others, because I struggled as much as them to record the dialects of Romania. It was therefore easier for me to discover the weak points in their work.

In relying at times on such criticisms, I have had no other intention than that of making the work of my successors easier and thus contributing to the development of dialectology.

As the Italian scholar Gino Bottiglione [1887-1963] wrote, "differences in method must not prevent us, given the grave difficulties we are seeking to overcome, from feeling like brothers laboring in a common cause".


In preparing this work, which embraces several areas often very far from my own research, I was always concerned, as one should, with being as complete and accurate as possible, in both the presentation of the history of dialectology and in the exposition of methods of investigation. The libraries I was able to reach did not always have the books required in order to paint a full and faithful picture of dialectology. They could not be fully staffed in the immediate post-war period. I therefore had to ask for the collaboration of a large number of maîtres (9), colleagues and coworkers, who were in a position either to give me supplementary information or to lend me the desired studies.

I am happy to be able to strongly affirm that this collaboration was never lacking. Several maîtres linguistes and a large number of colleagues and coworkers were willing to give me very useful and accurate information on the studies carried out in their countries. This cooperation was always an encouragement to me in my efforts.

I hope it is appropriate to say here that after almost having finished the preparation of the first part of the book, I had the honor of reviewing the history of dialectology with the maître J[akob] Jud. This entire day, spent at Zollikon (10), gave me the greatest scientific pleasure, and it is very agreeable to remember it on this occasion.


It is my duty to mention here the names of the maîtres linguistes, colleauges and coworkers who were willing to help lend me their precious collaboration in completing the documentation of my book. Their names will be grouped in alphabetical order in three divisions, concerning: 1) the reading of certain chapters; 2) information on dialect studies; 3) the lending of books.

1) Several colleagues read, both promptly and attentively, the chapters I sent them. In reiterating my most sincere thanks, I will mention each of their names, indicating in parentheses the chapter of my book to which they brought their collaboration:

P. Andersen (Denmark), A. Basset (Berber area), E. Blankquaert (Belgium and the Netherlands), M. de Paiva Boléo (Portuguese), E. Dieth (the Phonographic Archives of the University of Zurich; Great Britain), H. Draye (Louvain Centre, Onomastic Institute of Louvain), M. Eriksson (Sweden), V. García de Diego (Spanish), Msgr. P. Gardette (the Forez region, the Linguistic Atlas of the Lyonnais; the Dauphiné region), P. Geiger (Atlas of Swiss Folklore), Msgr. A. Griera (Catalan), L. Grootaers (Belgium and the Netherlands) et Pays-Bas), R. P. W. A. Grootaers (Chinese; Korean), Mme. Mathilde Hain (Atlas of German Folklore), L. Hakulinen (Finno-Ugric languages; Finnish), R. Hallig (Linguistic Atlas of Lozère), R. Hotzenköcherle (Linguistic Atlas of German Switzerland), R. P. G. Hulstaert (Bantu area), K. Jaberg (Glossaire des patois de la Suisse romande) (10), J. Jud (Linguistic and Ethnographic Atlas of Italy and Southern Switzerland; Ticino region; Romansh dialects), É. Legros (Walloon region), J. Mejers (Luxembourg), A. Mirambel (Modern Greek), W. Mitzka (Germany), G. Nandriș, (Slavic languages), W. Pée (Dialect Atlas of West Flanders and French Flanders), L. Remacle (French, Francoprovençal), A. Saareste (Estonia), A. Schorta (Romansh-Ladin), E. Schüle (Glossaire des patois de la Suisse romande; Tableaux phonétiques des patois suisses romands), G. Serra (Italian; Sardinian; Dalmatian), A. Sommerfelt (Celtic languages; Norway), D. Strömbäck (Sweden), L. Tesnière (Slavic languages), R. Weiss (Atlas of Swiss Folklore), G. Vidossi (Italian Linguistic Atlas).

I have always indicated, either in the text itself or in a note, the information that I owe to these colleagues, and I have furthermore signaled those of their opinions that differ from mine.

2) The number of colleagues and coworkers who were willing to respond to my questions concerning various books on dialectology is much larger. This will serve for the reader as a clear testament of the spirit of collaboration that animates all linguists and dialectologists.

Here are their names: A. Alonso, P. Andersen, G. Bárczi, A. Basset, E. Blancquaert, V. Bertoldi, M. de Paiva Boléo, G. Bolognesi, G. Bottiglioni, J. Bourciez, E. Çabej, G. Contini, A. Dauzat, M. Deanovic, R. de Sá Nogueira, R. Devigne, E. Dieth, M. Eriksson, Canon F. Falc'hun, P. Fouché, Msgr. P. Gardette, P. Geiger, B. Gerola, T. Gossen, Msgr. A. Griera, L. Grootaers, R. P. W. A. Grootaers, Mme. M. Hain, L. Hakulinen, R. Hallig, L. Hjelmslev. R. Hotzenköcherle, R. P. G. Hulstaert, T. loneșcu-Nișcov, K. Jaberg, J. Jud, S. K. Karatzas, H. Kurath, É. Legros, R. P. Marcelino de Castellví, P. J. Meertens, C. Mario, K. Michaëlsson, A. Mirambel, Mlle. C. Mohrmann, G. Nandriș, O. Nandriș, T. Navarro, J. Orr, E. Pauliny, W. Pée, E. Platz, J. Régulo Perez, L. Remacle, K. Roelandts, G. Rohlfs, M. Rufiini, A. Saareste, P. Scheuermeier, A. Schiaffini, A. Schorta, E. Schiile, G. Serra, A.Sommerfelt, D. Strömbäck, A. T. Szabó, A. Tausch, R. Todoran, E. Turdeanu. H. J. van de Wijer, V. Váźný, G. Vidossi, M. L. Wagner, R. Weiss, J. Warland, W. von Wartburg, and the Idiotikon (Zurich).

3) I had to ask a large number of colleagues and coworkers to lend me certain books from their personal libraries or to help me acquire others. Their kind replies helped me prepare my book.

In reiterating my sincere thanks, I cite their names here: G. Ahlbom, A. Alonso, P. Andersen, R. Aramon i Serra, M. Atzori (†), A. Badía Margarit, A. Basset, C. Battisti, V. Bertoldi, E. Blancquaert, M. de Paiva Boléo, P. Bosch-Gimpera, G. Bottiglioni, V. Buescu, E. Çabej, G. Caragața, R. P. P. Carbon, Petre Ciureanu, R. P. G. Cosma, A. Dauzat, M. Deanović, R. de Sá Nogueira, R. Devigne, E. Dieth, A. Dietrich, A. Doppagne, H. Draye, Canon F. Falc'hun, P. Fouché, L. Gáldi, E. Gamillscheg, M. García Blanco, V. García de Diego, Msgr. P. Gardette, D. Găzdaru, P. Geiger, R. P. A. Gemelli, W. Gerster, R. Giacomelli, R. P. F. Giet, Mgr A. Giera, L. Grootaers, R. P. W. A. Grootaers, Canon P. Groult, L. Hakulinen, R. Hotzenköcherle, R. P. G. Hulstaert, J. Inez Louro, K. Jaberg, H. H. Jansen, O. Jodogne, J. Jud, S. K. Karatzas, O. Keller (†), L. Kettunen, O. Kjellén, G. G. Kloeke, A. Kuhn, H. Kurath, É. Legros, A. Lombard, A. Maissen, P. J. Meertens, H. Meier, C. Merlo, B. Migliorini, W. Mitzka, Mme. C. Mohrmann, A. Monteverdi, T. Onciulescu, R. Oroz, O, Parlangeli, Ș. Pașca, W, Pée, J. Ferez Vidal, Sully-André Peyre, M. Piron, J. Régulo Pérez, A. Prati, J. Pult, L. Remacle, O. Ribeiro, K. Roelandts, G. Rohlfs, A, Roncaglia, A. Rosetti, Mario Ruffini, A. Saareste, A. Schiaffini, A. Schorta, E. Schüle, G. Serra, A. Steiger, G. Straka, D. Strömbäck, A. T. Szabó, C. Tagliavini, B. Terracini, L. Tesnière, P. Toschi, E. Turdeanu, M. Valkhoff, G. Vidossi, M. L. Wagner, R. Weiss, W. von Wartburg, H. J. van de Wijer and A. Zamora Vicente.

The assistance of libraries, institutes and dialect archives has been considerable. The documentation of my book was much facilitated by my long stay in Rome (1942-1947) as the adjunct director of the Romanian Academy of Rome, in the course of which I was able to consult numerous works in the following libraries: Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Biblioteca Alessandrina, Biblioteca Vittorio Emanuele, as well as in the libraries of the École française de'archéologie, the Academia Belgia, the Accademia Svedese and the Istituto storico olandese. I was further able to examiner some works in the personal library of the late Italian savant Giulio Bertoni.

It was possible for me to obtain works from the libraries of the University of Uppsala, the Institute of Catalan Studies (Barcelona), the Instituto Antonio de Nebrija (Madrid), the Institute of Philology of the University of Buenos Aires, the Institute of Romance Philology of Rome, the Polish Library of Paris, the Institut Grand-Ducal (Linguistics, Folklore and Toponymy Section, Luxembourg), the Museum of the Romanian Language (Cluj), and the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa.

During my stay in Lisbon in 1948, I was able to complete the documentation of my book thanks to the library of the Center for Philological Studies, which is very well stocked especially concerning the Portuguese, Spanish and Catalan areas.

The Library of the University of Louvain has meanwhile enormously facilitated my task through the purchase of a large number of works and through their exchange service, which allowed me to consult the books of the Royal Library of Brussels, the Library of Ghent and the Library of Liège, without travel or loss of time.

More than six years of almost uninterrupted work allowed me to gather sufficiently complete documentation to sketch the development of dialectology and to present the methods followed in the study of patois.


The fruits of my labors were almost nullified at the end of the year 1947, when I had to choose between faithfulness to my conceptions of life and obedience to an "authority" which wanted to impose its own views. (11)

My firm decision not to bargain with my principles of life forced me to abandon the Romanian Academy of Rome, to place my books and files in the basement of a colleague in Rome, and to look for some possibility of guaranteeing the existence of my family.

The intellectual solidarity of the Western world showed itself to be, in my case, especially helpful. Several colleagues and other important people were willing to lend me their very precious support and facilitate the word of a man who had become officially stateless.

May I mention first, with the deepest gratitude, His Eminence Cardinal E. Tisserant, who deigned to obtain for me, in those very difficult moments, the hospitality of a convent in Rome.

The brotherly attention of maître Jakob Jud, of my colleague Msgr. Pierre Gardette, Eugen Dieth, Giandomenico Serra, Bengt Hasselrot, Yakov Malkiel, Dr. Mario Bottaliga and my compatriot, Rev. Father Gheorghe Cosma was for me a precious consolation, which I sincerely acknowledge.

Sequestered in my room in the convent in Rome, I still continued the editing of several chapters of my book, for which the files could be transported fairly easily. There are, therefore, pages of my study which remind me that scientific work remains the only satisfaction in the most difficult moments of a researcher's life. The publication of my book in those conditions seemed to me a dream, but the joy that patient research brought gave me the courage to continue.


The University of Louvain was the first one willing to open its doors to a struggling researcher, and this thanks also to a warm recommendations on the part of my colleague, Msgr. P. Gardette, rector of the Catholic Faculties of Lyon.

The friendly invitation of Msgr. H. van Waeyenbergh, rector of the Catholic University of Louvain, was for me an event of paramount importance in my new life.

Once I arrived in Louvain, I was greeted in the warmest way by Msgr. H. van Waeyenbergh, who has always honored me with his most precious advice and with very effective support in allowing me to continue my scientific research.

My colleagues A. Camoy, Canon A. de Meyer, J. van de Wijer, U. Vaes, Canon Sobry, Canon P. Groult, Ch. de Trooz, O. Jodogne, J. Hanse et H. Draye showed me sustained attention, for which I am grateful to them.

In taking up again the editing of my book in better conditions, I was able to complete my documentation in a satisfactory fashion, thanks to the works I found in the Library of the University of Louvain and the very precious support I owe to my very honored colleague E. van Cauwenbergh, head librarian.

As for the publication of my books, I have to underscore that, without the support and advice of Msgr. H. van Waeyenbergh, my study would not have been published in Belgium.


The publication of my book was only possible thanks to the support of the University Foundation of Belgium, the Permanent International Committee of Linguists, UNESCO, the steering committee of the Collection of Works of History and Philology [Recueil de travaux d'histoire et de philologie] of the University of Louvain, and a good number of colleagues and coworkers who were willing to order copies.

I must further thank particularly the Romanian Catholic Relief Committee and the Romanian Committee of America who hurried – the former thanks to the proposal of Rev. Fathers M. Todericiu and O. Bârlea, the latter thanks to the decision taken by M. A. Cretzianu – to order a certain number of copies.

May Msgr. the Rector of the Catholic University of Louvain, the management of the University Foundation of Belgium, the Permanent International Committee of Linguists, UNESCO, the directors of the Collection of Works of History and Philology, Rev. Father Louis Pușcaș, president of the Romanian Catholic Relief Committee, and M. Alexandru Cretzianu, member of the Romanian Committee, be willing to find here the expression of my deepest and most sincere gratitude.

Finally, the révision of the text from the point of view of style (12) was one of my constant worries. During my stay in Rome, both Rev. Fathers Sévérien Salaville and Martin Jugie and my coworkers Jacques Arrighi and É. Jossier looked over parts of my book.

Nevertheless, a complete révision was made by a Swiss student, Hans Scheidegger, a student of my colleague and friend S. Heinimann of the University of Bern. M. H. Scheidegger was also willing to render me the very precious service of checking, in Swiss libraries, numerous citations of texts that were not found in Belgian library, and of giving me a good amount of supplementary information for which I am very grateful. For this thankless task that he was willing to take on, I thank him with all my heart.

And, for the correction of proofs, I had the benevolent assistance of several colleagues and coworkers whose names are: G. Garitte, M. Michaux, Abbé G. Fransen, L. Remacle, Abbé J. Mogenet, K. Roelandts, and both Rev. Fathers J. Cornélis and D. Deraedt. I reiterate here the expression of my most sincere thanks.


To conclude, I sincerely thank the publishing house J. Duculot, who took great pains in the technical achievement of the book, as well as the house J. Malvaux, who made the plates.

Sever Pop
Louvain, June 1950



(1) The concept of "méthode" is critical for Pop, and while this word does correspond to the English "method(s)", in some places (including the title) I felt that "approach(es)" would have been closer. For Pop, perhaps, the method behind a researcher's field investigation amounted to the same thing as his or her approach to the topic.

(2) Wikipedia tells us that the Universitas Studii Lovaniensis was founded in 1425 in the city today known as Leuven, in the province of Brabant, in Flanders, Belgium. The most important university in the Southern Netherlands, it was suppressed in 1797 during the period of French annexation and replaced by the Central School of Brussels (École centrale de Bruxelles). Not until then did French replace Latin as the language of instruction. The École centrale was itself supplanted by the State University of Louvain (Université d'État de Louvain) in 1817. In 1835, this was in turn reconstituted as – or, in others' opinion, replaced by – the Catholic University of Louvain (Université Catholique de Louvain). This university is perhaps most infamous abroad because its library was deliberately burned by the Germans during their invasion of September 1914. Viewed as one of the most heinous acts of the "Rape of Belgium" – which consisted of widespread acts of arson, looting, rape, and murder — the burning of the library was used in British propaganda designed both to justify participation in the Great War and to encourage American involvement therein. Incidentally, the books from the original University's collections were not lost, as the most valuable ones were taken by the French during their occupations and are now in the French National Library in Paris, while the rest, apart from some that were dispersed elsewhere in Europe, were inherited by the École centrale and currently reside in the Belgian Royal Library in Brussels. After the war, a new library building was constructed in Louvain between 1921 and 1928, with aid from many countries, including money from dozens of American colleges and universities, each one represented by its own carved stone set into the building. It would have been in this building – restored again after being burned in 1940 – that Sever Pop completed his work. In 1968, conflict erupted between the French- and Dutch-speaking communities in Louvain/Leuven, and "the French speakers were driven out of the Leuven campus ... amid shouts of 'Walen buiten!' ('Walloons out')". The old university thus became the Dutch-language Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KU Leuven), while the Université catholique de Louvain (UCL) was rebuilt as a striking new university-town, Louvain-la-Neuve, in the French-speaking part of the province (since 1995, the separate province of Walloon Brabant).

(3) The French word 'paysan' is also derogatory today, but probably less so than the English 'peasant', so I have retained the French. While the bulk of French dialectologists did record the language of the 'paysans', the whole discourse around so-called "NORMs" – non-mobile, older, rural males – is not a fair criticism of traditional regional dialectology. Non-mobile informants were indeed mainly used, for reasons that should be obvious. Older speakers were relied on chiefly insofar as they were the only speakers of patois or seen as preserving it best. Rural speakers were naturally chosen as the representatives of rural places, but many dialectological studies also sampled in urban locations. Finally, women by no means excluded, though they were under-represented: they made up 15% of informants for the Atlas linguistique de la France (1902-10), and a similar proportion for the rather similar Linguistic Atlas of New England (1939-43), the only fully-published linguistic atlas of North American English before 2006. It could be added that men were more likely to speak the patois of the locality. In short, the way informants were selected was appropriate given the aims of traditional regional dialectology, which sometimes had more of a historical-linguistic rather than contemporary/sociolinguistic orientation.

(4) I have translated the French noun 'parler' by 'speech variety' or 'variety'. In the singular, this word almost always refers to the variety used in one particular community. On the other hand, the word 'dialecte' almost always refers to the speech of a larger area. The word 'patois' can apply to either level.

(5) Pop sometimes uses the word 'evolution' to refer to language change, but in other cases he is referring to the origins of human language itself. The latter topic was famously banned in 1866 by the Linguistic Society of Paris, and less famously by the London Philological Society in 1872. In recent years the topic has again attracted much discussion.

(6) A glance at Pop's long list of acknowledgements shows that several women helped him with this project. But the conventions of society and the French language meant that he used masculine nouns and pronouns frequently. I have translated these gendered words faithfully, even though the issue then becomes more salient in English than it was in French.

(7) "Patois" is the most common word used, to this day, to describe the Romance varieties – langue d'oïl, langue d'oc, and Francoprovençal – of France, Belgium, Switzerland, and Italy. The word – conveniently the same in singular and plural – does not have the strongly negative connotation that it does in English. This is not to say that attitudes and official stances towards patois have been more liberal in these countries, where French is the official language; quite the contrary. Widely spoken, especially outside the cities, well into the 20th century, these patois are now extinct or endangered almost everywhere, if we ignore the efforts – strong in some places – to revitalize them. The commune of Evolène in the Swiss canton of Valais is one exception. In Wallonia, the extent to which the patois are still spoken seems to be exaggerated in some sources, including the all-knowing Wikipedia. Attitudes are assuredly less negative than in France, but with active bilingualism among older speakers, passive bilingualism among middle-aged speakers, and monolingualism in the younger generations, the chain of transmission has certainly been cut. Gallo-Romance patois, like other dialects, are more regularly used in Italy, including the Alpine valleys where the corresponding varieties have largely died out on the French side of the mountains. In Val d'Aosta, where French had been the official language for centuries, the efforts of Mussolini's fascist state to promote Italian had the unintended consequence of promoting the use of the local Francoprovençal patois; it was even used as the language of instruction in some schools. Such a policy could never have existed in modern France; it would arguably be illegal there even today.

(8) When Pop uses the word ""enregistrement", he is referring to the detailed, live and on-the-spot - though often deservedly criticized - phonetic transcriptions that dialectologists were trained to do, rather than any form of sound recording. Portable recording technology was in its infancy in 1950. The wire recorder was invented in 1898 and enjoyed a brief heyday – again, according to Wikipedia – between 1946 and 1954. The magnetic tape recorder was first invented in the late 1920s; its modern version, which made Labov's sociolinguistic revolution possible, was a product of 1930s Germany. "During World War II, the Allies noticed that certain German officials were making radio broadcasts from multiple time zones almost simultaneously. Analysts such as Richard H. Ranger believed that the broadcasts had to be transcriptions, but their audio quality was indistinguishable from that of a live broadcast, and their duration was far longer than was possible even with 16 rpm transcription discs. (The Allies were aware of the existence of the pre-war Magnetophon recorders, but not of the introduction of high-frequency bias and PVC-backed tape.) In the final stages of the war in Europe, the Allied capture of a number of German Magnetophon recorders from Radio Luxembourg aroused great interest. These recorders incorporated all the key technological features of modern analog magnetic recording and were the basis for future developments in the field."

(9) The French "maître" translates English "teacher" but in certain cases, conveys a higher degree of respect corresponding to "master". Pop uses the word in both senses, but the latter nuance is clear when he refers to Jakob Jud (1882-1952), the Swiss Romanist based at the University of Zürich who is considered, along with his countryman Karl Jaberg (1877-1958), one of the finest ever practitioners of dialectology. To quote Malkiel (1984: 38): "After devoting less than one page to the Gilliéron venture and postponing all discussion of its implications and of research conducted on this basis by M. Roques and the initiator, Petyt races to the briefest possible mention of the Jaberg-Jud project [the 1928-40 Word- and Thing-Atlas of Italy and Southern Switzerland (Sprach- und Sachatlas Italiens und der Südschweiz, or AIS)], which he completely misunderstands, reaching in the process the nadir of his own book. One cannot with impunity characterize Jaberg and Jud, two of the most original, indeed unsurpassed, architects of Romance linguistics, as Gilliéron's students'."

(10) Zollikon is a suburb of Zürich on the so-called Gold Coast of the Zürichsee. Considered "one of the most desirable and expensive municipalities in the nation", it was apparently within the means of a retired professor of Romance languages – and maître of dialectology – to live there in the late 1940s.

(11) During World War II, Romania joined the Axis under pressure from the USSR, which had reannexed the territory of Bessarabia, joined to Romania in 1918. The Soviet Union liberated the country in August 1944, and King Michael was forced to appoint a Soviet-aligned government in March 1945. The King resisted the Communists but was eventually deposed and forced into exile in December 1947, when the Socialist Republic of Romania was declared (it would be toppled in 1989 as a wave of revolutions ended the Communist domination of Eastern Europe; Romania's revolution, incidentally, was the only violent one). Perhaps Sever Pop was instructed to return to his country in 1947, where he would either have been stripped of his academic post or allowed to continue, with his work placed under strict ideological control ("On the educational front, the state dictated the academic curricula, the number of student admissions into given disciplines, as well as their work assignments upon graduation ... Tight control of the intelligentsia became the government's response to the general public's elitist inclinations. Thus, educational institutions and professional associations expounded state policies, publicized the leadership's wisdom, and extolled the virtues of the socialist doctrines. Long jail sentences awaited individuals expounding personal ideas or promulgating creative thinking contrary to the state's position on certain issues. Communist rule thus subjugated Romania's educated class, which remained submissive for more than 40 years." Raphael Shen, The Restructuring of Romania's Economy, 1997, pp. 13-14). The fact that Pop felt he had to sequester himself in a Roman convent suggests that he was immediately aware of his untenable position under the new regime.

(12) By "révision", Pop does not mean that others "revised" his book, nor that they only "reviewed" it, but that they corrected his French to a certain extent. Pop's French remains non-native, not because it is incorrect in any way, but because he employs quite a limited vocabulary, making the task of the translator much easier!

3 comments:

  1. Thanks for doing this Daniel (though I find the narrow column format against coloured background makes the reading unnecessarily difficult).
    Regarding note (13), the abbreviation A.A. occurs after two colleagues thanked together, so it may correspond to the Latin abbreviation a.a. for "ana", used pharmacologically to mean "of each" i.e. he is thanking each of those mentioned equal equally. Why a 3 letter word would need a 2 letter acronym (with 2 periods = 4 keystrokes...) is a damn good question.

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    1. Thanks David! I decided to replace "Rev. Fathers X and Y, A. A." with "both Rev. Fathers X and Y", which seemed close enough, in the thank you's. It definitely takes a village to write a book on dialectology!

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    2. I also changed my template so it's more readable. Columns are wider, colored background is gone. Thanks for the advice!!

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