A World of Words
Renward Brandstetter (1860–1942) was a Swiss linguist whose greatest scientific achievement is his contribution to our understanding of ‘Indonesian’ languages – his term – or Austronesian languages as they are called nowadays. Using texts, dictionaries and grammars from more than 30 languages, he was the first to posit a proto-language (Urindonesisch) for this language family, and the first to attempt a systematic comparative treatment of sound system and morphology of these languages. In the latter part of his life – after the tragedy of the First World War –, he was driven by a desire to contribute to peace and the recognition of equality among peoples and nations. In a series entitled “We peoples of the Indonesian earth”, he gave voice to the “Indonesian” peoples and demonstrated that their languages and literatures are in no respect inferior to Indo-European languages.
Renward Brandstetter’s work has played an important role in advancing the progress of Austronesian linguistics. In this volume, the work of this great scholar is described and analyzed in detail for the first time. The articles – contributions to a conference held in Lucerne in 2010 at the occasion of the 150th anniversary of his birth – cover the major fields on which this polymath has worked over a period of 60 years: Swiss-German dialects, historical and comparative linguistics, Austronesian languages, Malay and Buginese literature, and the cultural and language history of the Swiss canton of Lucerne.