SCHMIDT, Wilhelm

SCHMIDT, Heinrich Wilhelm Arnold. Hörde near Dortmund 16.2.1868 — Fribourg 10.2.1954. Father, S.V.D (Society of the Divine Word). Famous German Anthropologist and Linguist in Austria and Switzerland. Austrian citizen 1902. Son of Heinrich Schmidt (d. 1870) and Anna-Maria Mörs. From 1883 educated by S.V.D. in the Netherlands, in 1890 joined the order and 1892 ordained priest. In 1893-95 studied theology and Semitic languages at Berlin and Vienna. From 1895 taught ethnology and linguistics at Missionshaus in Mödling near Vienna. From 1927 Director of Papal Missiological and Ethnological Museum in Rome, from 1931 Director of the new of Anthropos Institute in Mödling, Austria. Also taught from 1921 as PD at Vienna Uni­ver­sity, in 1925-38 as ao. Professor of Ethnology. After the Anschluss he was forced to movethe Institute to Froideville near Fribourgin Switzerland and from 1939 taught as Professor (ord. 1942) at Fribourg University. In 1946-48 Gastprofessor at Vienna. Hon. dr. of six universities (Vienna 1948). Among his many students were St. Fuchs, Fürer-Haimendorf, Heine-Geldern, M. Hermanns, W. Koppers, R. Rahmann P. Schebesta and D. Schröder.

As a linguist Schmidtwas an autodidact and in his early studies often leaves out important references.He was mainly interested in Austro-Asian, Malayo-Polynesian (with Melanesian, he created the term Austronesian) and Australian languages. He tried to find connection between Austronesian and Austroasiatic, calling it Austric family. In 1926 he made an attempt to combine different language families into major typological and cultural units (Sprachenkreise), but his methods were much criticized. After 1926 he more or less abandoned linguistic studies concentrating on anthropology. Here his main interest was religion. He proposed the theory of original monotheism as the origin of all religions. He was antisemitist, but with Christian, not with political motivation (Mischek). As firm catholic he definitely condemned nazism (and socialism and capitalism). He never conducted any fieldwork, but sent his students to various places. In 1906 founded the famous journal Anthropos and became its editor.

Publications: “Über das Verhätniss der melanesischen Sprachen zu den polynesischen und unter einander”, SWA 1899.

– “Die Sprachen der Sakei und Semang auf Malacca und ihr Verhältnis zu den Mon-Khmer-Sprachen”, BTLVNedIndië 6:8, 1901, 401-583; “Die Quantität der Vokale im Khassi”, WZKM 17, 1903, 303-322; “Grundzüge einer Lautlehre der Khasi-Sprache in ihren Beziehungen zu derjenigen der Mon-Khmer Sprachen. Mit einer Anhang: Die Palaung-, Wa-, und Riang-Sprachen des mittleren Salwin”, ABaAW 1:22:3, 1904, 675-810.

– Grundzüge einer Lautlehre der Mon-Khmer-Sprachen. 233 p. DWA 51:3, Vienna 1905; Die Mon-Khmer-Völker, ein Bindeglied zwischen Völkern Zentralasiens und Austronesiens. 11+157 p. Archiv für Anthropologie N.F. 5:1-2. Braunschweig 1906.

Slapat rāǵāwaṅ datow smim roṅ. Buch des Rāǵāwaṅ, der Königsgeschichte. Nach einer Palmblatt-Manuskript aus dem Mon übersetzt, mit einer Einführung und Noten versehen. 196 p. SWA 51:3, 1906 (text in Mon characters and transliteration, translation).

– “Les peuples Mon-Khmêr: trait-d’union entre les peuples de l’Asie centrale et de l’Austronésie”, BEFEO 7, 1907, 213-250 & 8, 1908, 1-35.

Die Stellung der Pygmäenvölker in der Entwicklungsgeschichte der Menschheit. 9+315 p. St. 1910.

Der Ursprung der Gottesidee. 1-12. Münster 1912-55 (a great work, each vol. with c. 800 p.).

Die Gliederung der australischen Sprachen. 287 p. Vienna 1919 (first in Anthropos 1912-18); Die Personalpronomina in den australischen Sprachen. 113 p. 1 map. DWA Philos.-hist. Kl. 64:1. Vienna 1919; Die tasmanischen Sprachen. 521 p. Utrecht 1952.

– “The Religious Situation if the Andamans”, IA 53, 1923, 165-176 (from Anthropos 16-17, 1921-22, 1079ff.).

Die Sprachfamilien und Sprachenkreise der Erde. 16+596 p. 14 maps. Heidelberg 1926.

– “Die Stellung der Munda-Sprachen”, BSOS 7:4, 1935, 729-738.

Rasse und Volk: eine Untersuchung zur Bestimmung ihrer Grenzen und zur Erfassung ihrer Beziehungen. 67 p. Munich 1927; Rassen und Völker in Vorgeschichte und Geschichte des Abendlandes. 1-3. Luzern 1946-49.

Handbuch der vergleichenden Religionsgeschichte. Ursprung und Werden der Religion. 15+296 p. Münster 1930; Das Eigentum auf den ältesten Stufen des Menschheit. 1-3. 1937-42.

– “Zu den Anfängen der Herdentierzucht”, ZfEthnol. 76, 1951, 1-41, 201-204; Das Mutterrecht. 186 p. Studia Instituti Anthropos 10. Wien-Mödling 1955.

– Numerous further articles and reviews. Also many religious and political books and articles.

Sources: *F. Bornemann, “Verzeichnis der Schriften von P.W.S.”, Anthropos 49, 1954, 385-432; A. Burgmann, “P. W.S. als Linguist”, *Anthropos 49, 1954, 627-658 (republ. in Sebeok 1966:2, 287-328; *J. Henninger, “P. W.S. S.V.D. (1868-1954): Eine biographische Skizze”, Anthropos 51, 1956, 19-60 and P. W.S. SVD (1868-1954). 25 Jahre nach seinem Tod”, Anthropos 74, 1979, 1-5; W. Koppers, “Professor Pater W.S. †: Eine Würdigung seines wissenschaftlichen Lebenswerkes”, ZfEthnol. 79, 1954, 243-253 with photo and *“Prof. Pater W.S. S.V.D.: Eine Würdigung seines Lebenswerkes”, Anthropos 51, 1956, 61-80; U. Mischek, “Antisemitismus und Antijudaismus in den Werken und Arbeiten Vater W.S.’s S.V.D. (1868-1954)”, Junginger (ed.), The Study of Religion under the Impact of Fascism. Numen Book Series 117. Leiden 2008, 467-488 (with further references); P. Schebesta, Man 54, 1954, 89f. with photo; J.F. Thiel, N.D.B. 23, 2007, 220f.; D.B.E.; Wikipedia with photo (more in German version); photo in the beginning of Anthropos 49, 1954.

*F. Bornemann, P. Wilhelm Schmidt S. V. D. 1868-1954. 374 p. Rome 1982; *E. Brandewie, W.S. and the Origin of the Idea of God. 15+335 p. Lanham – N.Y. – L. 1983 & When Giants Walked the Earth. The Life and Times of W.S, SVD. 357 p. Fribourg 1990..

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