View Full Version : "The Necessity of a Clear and Handy Terminology" - Egon von Eickstedt

Sunday, November 2nd, 2003, 04:35 PM
The following text is an excerpt from Egon von Eickstedt, Rassenkunde und Rassengeschichte der Menschheit, Stuttgart 1934, p. 19-21, which I translated from German:

The Necessity of a Handy and Clear Terminology

That only a strict clearness of term can protect against confusion and with it against misunderstandings in anthropological matters, should the just explained sufficient shed light on. Things would look better for much if one beared that more in mind. The clearness of term has also to find its expression in terminology.

Here it is not only essential that general and substantival terms like race or people always are used in an unequivocal way, but also that special and adjectival epithets exclude grosser mistakes. That's why one did already agree on, following the example of E. Fischer, to speak not only of a Negro race, a Mongolian or European race, but of a Negrid, a Mongolid and a Europid race circle (Rassenkreis). As a result it turns out to be a special advantage that the suffix -id is already used in zoology for the designation of groups of individuals (comp. Bovid, Felid, Canid). In accordance with linguistic rules, the suffix itself is added to the stem of the basic word - therefore not Europaeid, but Europid.

But in the interest of scientific clearness also the wider spreading of this principle is urgently desired. Because terms like Melanesian, Australian or Oriental first have to be related to lingual and cultural communities, and one does not always want to or be able to put in far going subordinate clauses as a statement of the correct context. To exclude therefore any mistake, this principle was applied to in the following first try of a systematic division of the races of all race circles on Earth, which necessarily could not do without the creation of a couple of new - as short and easy to keep in the mind as possible - proper names.

Moreover, for reasons of verbal melodiousness and corresponding to the Latin usage, at compounds of several adjectives the suffix -id of the first adjective will be replaced by an -o, so that e. g. it will be spoken of Turano-Orientalid individuals (mixed types) or of a Sudano-Nilotid population (mixed people). But if the pronounced predominance of a certain race can be found in such mixtures, which only more or less seems influenced or slightly shifted by alien and perhaps not even in every single case clearly capable elements, we will have to speak of Turanoid or Sudanoid individuals or populations, in contrast to purely Turanid or Sudanid groups or individuals. So the suffix -oid means as much as "similar", similar to the Turanid etc. race. Also, a Turanid element can leave a "Turanoid" etc., that means: similar to the Turanid race, stamp on an individual of a different race.

In the mentioned cases there is a physical similarity because of genetic connection assumed, namely the partial sharing of a common pre-parental genetic heritage. But cases occur where a form similarity is not determined by racial relationship, but because of convergence, mutations or development stage. Then, race-historically meaningless form similarities can result. That applies for a form development such as the epicanthus at young Europids. The epicanthus is not a question of Mongolid or Mongoloid form development, because there is no racial element, but only a Mongoliform characteristic. So as we here use the ending -iform (following Gusinde) as designation of a form similarity which we constate as such and without connection with its reason, we will use the suffix -(i)morphic (following Stratz) as characterization of the belonging to a morphological development stratum. For example there occur not seldom in older geological epochs and different withdraw areas of the Earth primitive form developments which we know today especially from the Australids. Therefore in these cases it is to be spoken of Australimorphic features, just as we speak quite generally of protomorphic, metamorphic and archimorphic development stages of mankind. So we gain the followng terminological clarification:

It will be used for the adjectival characterization of :

1. physical form groups (race circles, races, sub-races and local forms) and more-less racial pure individuals the suffix -id,

2. race mixtures with the predominance of a certain race or alien characteristics at a single individual the ending -oid,

3. members of similar development strata the ending -imorphic,

4. form similarity as such, which seems to be based neither on racial relationship nor on the same development stage, the ending -iform,

5. linguistical or cultural groups and communities (in German) the suffix -isch.

Sunday, November 2nd, 2003, 06:46 PM
That's interesting. The terminology of anthropology is very diverse, it differs by scientists who coined the labels, by location, by age etc. It should be finally unified, yet, there is an expansion of Genetics right now, so it would be good to wait and see what it will finally come up with.

Tuesday, December 20th, 2005, 03:05 PM
Very important thread if dealing with racial typologies.