Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Trouble With Art Historians

I've nothing against art historians in general - after all, I'm one myself - but there's a recurring problem I've found with certain of these scholars: they also think they're linguists.

Many folks assume that because art historians spend their time studying minute details of an artist's life and work, that they are also the foremost authority on the pronunciation of said artist's name. Not all art historians are linguists, and most linguists are decidedly not art historians.

I wish these scholars would realize that there's no shame in admitting that they don't know a certain bit of information. It makes them appear far less stupid to admit this outright than to go about mispronouncing the names of dead Frenchmen on nationwide speaking tours.

Artwork: Jean-Francois Millet, L'Angelus (1857-59).