By Rasmus Rask
Translated by Friedrich Heinrich Von der Hagen
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print Publication Year:2009
Online Publication Date:August 2010
Original Publication Year:1826
Subjects: Historical Linguistics , Grammar and Syntax
Rasmus Rask (1787–1832) was a Danish scholar who, having devoted the early part of his career to the Old Norse and Anglo-Saxon languages and literature, embarked upon a journey overland through Russia to India in search of the cradle of the Indo-European languages. He was delighted to rediscover the Avestan Zoroastrian texts preserved by the Parsis which Anquetil du Perron had first reported on sixty years earlier, and further Avestan materials, as well as a lively Zoroastrian community. On his return, he published, first in Danish and then in this German translation (1826), a thorough phonological and morphological analysis which showed that, contrary to the opinion of Anquetil's opponents, the Avestan language and its religious texts were neither a dim folk memory or a deliberate coinage based on Sanskrit, but a very ancient language, originating in Persia, and an important member of the Indo-European language family.