The earliest stages of Persian-German language comparison

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Renaissance Europe (re)discovered Persia and its language. Despite the sup­posed Semitic nature of Persian, some striking lexical similarities between this language and the Germanic languages became unmistakable to many Western scho­lars. Until the elaboration of comparative linguistics as an autonomous aca­demic discipline at the beginning of the nineteenth century, Dutch (or German) and Persian were often considered to have a privileged relationship, an idea which gave birth to the so-called “Persian-German theory”. This contribution aims to shed new light on the earliest stages of Persian and German vocabulary compari­son carried out by Dutch humanists. The role played by Franciscus Raphelengius (senior), Justus Lipsius, Josephus Justus Scaliger will be re-evaluated. Further­more, Hugo Grotius’s and Marnix van Sint-­Aldegonde’s contribution, which has been largely overlooked in this connection, will be focused upon. The remainder of the paper will discuss the various approaches to the Persian-Germanic hypothesis after its initial formulation.


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