Theory and Practice of Romance Etymology
This volume opens with two pieces, hitherto unpublished, in which Professor Malkiel sets out his views on Romance etymology and its history. He provides a detailed analysis of the principles, even prejudices, whether explicit or implicit, which have directed scholars in their enquiries, and argues that the goal should be a discipline integrated with others in related fields, and avoiding reliance on any one method of research. He insists, moreover, that linguistic variation is directly affected by social and cultural factors: the transformation of Latin into the Romance languages must be studied in relation to the break-up of the Roman world and the formation of the medieval and modern peoples of ‘Latin’ Europe. The following articles, now with an extensive additional commentary, reflect the author’s move towards a more experimental etymology, and provide case-studies of particular words and word-complexes and their historical and cultural context. As an example, one article asks whether it is any coincidence that the Spanish word for a hog, marrano, was also used of the crypto-Jews who, though formally converted to Christianity, kept up some Jewish practices.