Barbarian

Barbarian

Overview

Barbarian and savage are terms used to refer to a person who is perceived to be uncivilized. The word is often used either in a general reference to a member of a nation or ethnos
Ethnic group
An ethnic group is a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, often consisting of a common language, a common culture and/or an ideology that stresses common ancestry or endogamy...

, typically a tribal society as seen by an urban civilization
Civilization
Civilization is a sometimes controversial term that has been used in several related ways. Primarily, the term has been used to refer to the material and instrumental side of human cultures that are complex in terms of technology, science, and division of labor. Such civilizations are generally...

 either viewed as inferior, or admired as a noble savage
Noble savage
The term noble savage , expresses the concept an idealized indigene, outsider , and refers to the literary stock character of the same...

. In idiomatic or figurative usage, a "barbarian" may also be an individual reference to a brutal, cruel, warlike, insensitive person.

The term originates from the Greek
Greeks
The Greeks, also known as the Hellenes , are a nation and ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus and neighboring regions. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world....

 civilization, meaning "anyone who is not Greek".
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Encyclopedia

Barbarian and savage are terms used to refer to a person who is perceived to be uncivilized. The word is often used either in a general reference to a member of a nation or ethnos
Ethnic group
An ethnic group is a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, often consisting of a common language, a common culture and/or an ideology that stresses common ancestry or endogamy...

, typically a tribal society as seen by an urban civilization
Civilization
Civilization is a sometimes controversial term that has been used in several related ways. Primarily, the term has been used to refer to the material and instrumental side of human cultures that are complex in terms of technology, science, and division of labor. Such civilizations are generally...

 either viewed as inferior, or admired as a noble savage
Noble savage
The term noble savage , expresses the concept an idealized indigene, outsider , and refers to the literary stock character of the same...

. In idiomatic or figurative usage, a "barbarian" may also be an individual reference to a brutal, cruel, warlike, insensitive person.

The term originates from the Greek
Greeks
The Greeks, also known as the Hellenes , are a nation and ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus and neighboring regions. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world....

 civilization, meaning "anyone who is not Greek". In ancient times, Greeks used it for the people of the Persian Empire; in the early modern period and sometimes later, in a clearly pejorative way. Comparable notions are found in non-European civilizations.

Terminology


The primary function of the word "barbarian", and its cognate
Cognate
In linguistics, cognates are words that have a common etymological origin. This learned term derives from the Latin cognatus . Cognates within the same language are called doublets. Strictly speaking, loanwords from another language are usually not meant by the term, e.g...

s, is to differentiate members of one's own society from people perceived as being outside of it, and to posit that one's own culture is superior.

Greek etymology



The Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

 word barbaros βάρβαρος "barbarian" was an antonym
Antonym
In lexical semantics, opposites are words that lie in an inherently incompatible binary relationship as in the opposite pairs male : female, long : short, up : down, and precede : follow. The notion of incompatibility here refers to the fact that one word in an opposite pair entails that it is not...

 for civis
Civis
Civis is an Ancient Latin word that can be roughly translated as "citizen". The word did not have the legal implications that it has today. It simply meant someone that lived within a city, as opposed to "outsiders"....

"citizen" and polis
Polis
Polis , plural poleis , literally means city in Greek. It could also mean citizenship and body of citizens. In modern historiography "polis" is normally used to indicate the ancient Greek city-states, like Classical Athens and its contemporaries, so polis is often translated as "city-state."The...

"city-state." The sound of barbaros onomatopoetically evokes the image of babbling (a person speaking a non-Greek language).

The Greeks used the term as they encountered scores of different foreign cultures, including the Egyptians
Egyptians
Egyptians are nation an ethnic group made up of Mediterranean North Africans, the indigenous people of Egypt.Egyptian identity is closely tied to geography. The population of Egypt is concentrated in the lower Nile Valley, the small strip of cultivable land stretching from the First Cataract to...

, Persians
Persian people
The Persian people are part of the Iranian peoples who speak the modern Persian language and closely akin Iranian dialects and languages. The origin of the ethnic Iranian/Persian peoples are traced to the Ancient Iranian peoples, who were part of the ancient Indo-Iranians and themselves part of...

, Medes
Medes
The MedesThe Medes...

, Celts, Germans
Germania
Germania was the Greek and Roman geographical term for the geographical regions inhabited by mainly by peoples considered to be Germani. It was most often used to refer especially to the east of the Rhine and north of the Danube...

, Phoenicians, Etruscans
Etruscan civilization
Etruscan civilization is the modern English name given to a civilization of ancient Italy in the area corresponding roughly to Tuscany. The ancient Romans called its creators the Tusci or Etrusci...

 and Carthaginians
Carthage
Carthage , implying it was a 'new Tyre') is a major urban centre that has existed for nearly 3,000 years on the Gulf of Tunis, developing from a Phoenician colony of the 1st millennium BC...

. In fact, it became a common term to refer to all foreigners. However in various occasions, the term was also used by Greeks, especially the Athenians, to deride other Greek tribes and states (such as Epirotes
Epirus
The name Epirus, from the Greek "Ήπειρος" meaning continent may refer to:-Geographical:* Epirus - a historical and geographical region of the southwestern Balkans, straddling modern Greece and Albania...

, Eleans, Macedonians and Aeolic-speakers) in a pejorative and politically motivated manner. Of course, the term also carried a cultural dimension to its dual meaning. The verb (barbarízein) in ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

 meant imitating the linguistic sounds non-Greeks made or making grammatical errors in Greek.

Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

 (Statesman 262de) rejected the Greek–barbarian dichotomy as a logical absurdity on just such grounds: dividing the world into Greeks and non-Greeks told one nothing about the second group. In Homer
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

's works, the term appeared only once (Iliad
Iliad
The Iliad is an epic poem in dactylic hexameters, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles...

2.867), in the form ("of incomprehensible speech"), used of the Carians
Carians
The Carians were the ancient inhabitants of Caria in southwest Anatolia.-Historical accounts:It is not clear when the Carians enter into history. The definition is dependent on corresponding Caria and the Carians to the "Karkiya" or "Karkisa" mentioned in the Hittite records...

 fighting for Troy
Troy
Troy was a city, both factual and legendary, located in northwest Anatolia in what is now Turkey, southeast of the Dardanelles and beside Mount Ida...

 during the Trojan War
Trojan War
In Greek mythology, the Trojan War was waged against the city of Troy by the Achaeans after Paris of Troy took Helen from her husband Menelaus, the king of Sparta. The war is among the most important events in Greek mythology and was narrated in many works of Greek literature, including the Iliad...

. In general, the concept of barbaros did not figure largely in archaic literature before the 5th century BC. Still it has been suggested that "barbarophonoi" in the Iliad signifies not those who spoke a non-Greek language but simply those who spoke Greek badly.

A change occurred in the connotations of the word after the Greco-Persian Wars
Greco-Persian Wars
The Greco-Persian Wars were a series of conflicts between the Achaemenid Empire of Persia and city-states of the Hellenic world that started in 499 BC and lasted until 449 BC. The collision between the fractious political world of the Greeks and the enormous empire of the Persians began when Cyrus...

 in the first half of the 5th century BC. Here a hasty coalition of Greeks defeated the vast Achaemenid Empire
Achaemenid Empire
The Achaemenid Empire , sometimes known as First Persian Empire and/or Persian Empire, was founded in the 6th century BCE by Cyrus the Great who overthrew the Median confederation...

. Indeed in the Greek of this period 'barbarian' is often used expressly to mean Persian.

Greek barbaros was the etymological source for many cognate words meaning "barbarian", including English barbarian, which was first recorded in 16th-century Middle English
Middle English
Middle English is the stage in the history of the English language during the High and Late Middle Ages, or roughly during the four centuries between the late 11th and the late 15th century....

.

Semantics


The Oxford English Dictionary
Oxford English Dictionary
The Oxford English Dictionary , published by the Oxford University Press, is the self-styled premier dictionary of the English language. Two fully bound print editions of the OED have been published under its current name, in 1928 and 1989. The first edition was published in twelve volumes , and...

defines five meanings of the noun barbarian, including an obsolete Barbary usage.
  • 1. etymologically, A foreigner, one whose language and customs differ from the speaker's.
  • 2. Hist. a. One not a Greek. b. One living outside the pale of the Roman empire and its civilization, applied especially to the northern nations that overthrew them. c. One outside the pale of Christian civilization. d. With the Italians of the Renascence: One of a nation outside of Italy.
  • 3. A rude, wild, uncivilized person. b. Sometimes distinguished from savage (perh. with a glance at 2). c. Applied by the Chinese contemptuously to foreigners.
  • 4. An uncultured person, or one who has no sympathy with literary culture.
  • 5. A native of Barbary. [See Barbary.] Obs. †b. A Barbary horse. Obs.

The OED barbarous entry summarizes the semantic history. "The sense-development in ancient times was (with the Greeks) ‘foreign, non-Hellenic,’ later ‘outlandish, rude, brutal’; (with the Romans) ‘not Latin nor Greek,’ then ‘pertaining to those outside the Roman empire’; hence ‘uncivilized, uncultured,’ and later ‘non-Christian,’ whence ‘Saracen, heathen’; and generally ‘savage, rude, savagely cruel, inhuman.’"

Going against scholarly tradition, the historian Christopher I. Beckwith hypothesizes that "barbarian" only properly refers to Greco-Roman contexts and should not be used for Central Eurasian
History of Central Asia
The history of Central Asia has been determined primarily by the area's climate and geography. The aridity of the region makes agriculture difficult, and its distance from the sea cut it off from much trade. Thus, few major cities developed in the region...

 peoples. He summarizes, "the word barbarian embodies a complex European cultural construct, a generic pejorative term for a 'powerful foreigner with uncouth, uncivilized, nonurban culture who was militarily skilled and somewhat heroic, but inclines to violence and cruelty' – yet not a 'savage' or a 'wild man'." Beckwith also criticizes the Chinese language, which has several exonyms commonly translated as "barbarian" (see below). "There is also no single native word for "foreigner", no matter how pejorative, which includes the complex of the notions 'inability to speak Chinese', 'militarily skilled', 'fierce/cruel to enemies', and 'non-Chinese in culture'." However, the above OED entry controverts both Beckwith's complex barbarian definition and his claim that Chinese lacks "barbarian" words. Definition 3c, "Applied by the Chinese contemptuously to foreigners", cites the Treaty of Tientsin
Treaty of Tientsin
Several documents known as the "Treaty of Tien-tsin" were signed in Tianjin in June 1858, ending the first part of the Second Opium War . The Second French Empire, United Kingdom, Russian Empire, and the United States were the parties involved...

 prohibiting the Chinese from calling the British "Yi" 夷 "barbarians."
Linguistics
Linguistics
Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields of study: language form, language meaning, and language in context....

 differentiates between objective description of language usages and subjective prescription
Linguistic prescription
In linguistics, prescription denotes normative practices on such aspects of language use as spelling, grammar, pronunciation, and syntax. It includes judgments on what usages are socially proper and politically correct...

 of which usages are considered proper or politically correct
Politically Correct
Politically Correct may refer to:*Political correctness, language, ideas, policies, or behaviour seeking to minimize offence to groups of people-See also:*Politically Correct Bedtime Stories, book by James Finn Garner, published in 1994...

. Modern dictionaries like the OED descriptively record how English is used; individuals like Beckwith prescriptively opine how it should be used.

Slavery in Greece


A parallel factor was the growth of chattel slavery especially at Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

. Although enslavement of Greeks for non-payment of debt
Debt
A debt is an obligation owed by one party to a second party, the creditor; usually this refers to assets granted by the creditor to the debtor, but the term can also be used metaphorically to cover moral obligations and other interactions not based on economic value.A debt is created when a...

 continued in most Greek states, it was banned at Athens under Solon
Solon
Solon was an Athenian statesman, lawmaker, and poet. He is remembered particularly for his efforts to legislate against political, economic and moral decline in archaic Athens...

 in the early 6th century BC. Under the Athenian democracy
Athenian democracy
Athenian democracy developed in the Greek city-state of Athens, comprising the central city-state of Athens and the surrounding territory of Attica, around 508 BC. Athens is one of the first known democracies. Other Greek cities set up democracies, and even though most followed an Athenian model,...

 established ca. 508 BC slavery
Slavery in antiquity
Slavery in the ancient world, specifically, in Mediterranean cultures, comprised a mixture of debt-slavery, slavery as a punishment for crime, and the enslavement of prisoners of war....

 came to be used on a scale never before seen among the Greeks. Massive concentrations of slaves were worked under especially brutal conditions in the silver mines at Laureion
Laurium
Laurium or Lavrio is a town in southeastern part of Attica, Greece. It is the seat of the municipality of Lavreotiki...

—a major vein of silver-bearing ore was found there in 483 BC—while the phenomenon of skilled slave craftsmen producing manufactured goods in small factories and workshops became increasingly common.

Furthermore, slaves were no longer the preserve of the rich: all but the poorest of Athenian households came to have slaves to supplement the work of their free members. Overwhelmingly, the slaves of Athens were "barbarian" in origin, drawn especially from lands around the Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

 such as Thrace
Thrace
Thrace is a historical and geographic area in southeast Europe. As a geographical concept, Thrace designates a region bounded by the Balkan Mountains on the north, Rhodope Mountains and the Aegean Sea on the south, and by the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara on the east...

 and Taurica
Taurica
Taurica, Tauric Chersonese, and Taurida were names by which the territory of Crimea was known to the Greeks and Romans.- Etymology of the name :...

 (Crimea
Crimea
Crimea , or the Autonomous Republic of Crimea , is a sub-national unit, an autonomous republic, of Ukraine. It is located on the northern coast of the Black Sea, occupying a peninsula of the same name...

), while from Asia Minor
Asia Minor
Asia Minor is a geographical location at the westernmost protrusion of Asia, also called Anatolia, and corresponds to the western two thirds of the Asian part of Turkey...

 came above all Lydia
Lydia
Lydia was an Iron Age kingdom of western Asia Minor located generally east of ancient Ionia in the modern Turkish provinces of Manisa and inland İzmir. Its population spoke an Anatolian language known as Lydian....

ns, Phrygians and Carians
Carians
The Carians were the ancient inhabitants of Caria in southwest Anatolia.-Historical accounts:It is not clear when the Carians enter into history. The definition is dependent on corresponding Caria and the Carians to the "Karkiya" or "Karkisa" mentioned in the Hittite records...

. Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

 (Politics
Politics (Aristotle)
Aristotle's Politics is a work of political philosophy. The end of the Nicomachean Ethics declared that the inquiry into ethics necessarily follows into politics, and the two works are frequently considered to be parts of a larger treatise, or perhaps connected lectures, dealing with the...

1.2–7; 3.14) even states that barbarians are slaves by nature.

From this period, words like barbarophonos, cited above from Homer, began to be used not only of the sound of a foreign language but of foreigners speaking Greek improperly. In Greek, the notions of language and reason are easily confused in the word logos
Logos
' is an important term in philosophy, psychology, rhetoric and religion. Originally a word meaning "a ground", "a plea", "an opinion", "an expectation", "word," "speech," "account," "reason," it became a technical term in philosophy, beginning with Heraclitus ' is an important term in...

, so speaking poorly was easily conflated with being stupid, an association not of course limited to the ancient Greeks.

Further changes occurred in the connotations of barbari/barbaroi in Late Antiquity
Late Antiquity
Late Antiquity is a periodization used by historians to describe the time of transition from Classical Antiquity to the Middle Ages, in both mainland Europe and the Mediterranean world. Precise boundaries for the period are a matter of debate, but noted historian of the period Peter Brown proposed...

, when bishops and catholikoi were appointed to sees connected to cities among the "civilized" gentes barbaricae such as in Armenia
Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

 or Persia, whereas bishops were appointed to supervise entire peoples among the less settled.

Eventually the term found a hidden meaning by Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 Romans
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 through the folk etymology of Cassiodorus
Cassiodorus
Flavius Magnus Aurelius Cassiodorus Senator , commonly known as Cassiodorus, was a Roman statesman and writer, serving in the administration of Theodoric the Great, king of the Ostrogoths. Senator was part of his surname, not his rank.- Life :Cassiodorus was born at Scylletium, near Catanzaro in...

. He stated the word barbarian was "made up of barba (beard) and rus (flat land); for barbarians did not live in cities, making their abodes in the fields like wild animals".

The female given name "Barbara
Barbara (given name)
Barbara, sometimes spelt Barbra, is a female given name used in numerous languages. It is the feminine form of the Greek word barbaros meaning "foreign" . In Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox tradition, Saint Barbara was martyred by her father, who was then punished with death by lightning. As...

" originally meant "a barbarian woman", and as such was likely to have had a pejorative meaning — given that most such women in Graeco-Roman society were of a low social status (often being slaves). However, Saint Barbara
Saint Barbara
Saint Barbara, , Feast Day December 4, known in the Eastern Orthodox Church as the Great Martyr Barbara, was an early Christian saint and martyr....

 is mentioned as being the daughter of rich and respectable Roman citizens. Evidently, by her time (about 300 AD according to Christian hagiography
Hagiography
Hagiography is the study of saints.From the Greek and , it refers literally to writings on the subject of such holy people, and specifically to the biographies of saints and ecclesiastical leaders. The term hagiology, the study of hagiography, is also current in English, though less common...

, though some historians put the story much later) the name no longer had any specific ethnic or pejorative connotations.

Hellenic stereotypes


Out of those sources the Hellenic stereotype was elaborated: barbarians are like children, unable to speak or reason properly, cowardly, effeminate, luxurious, cruel, unable to control their appetites and desires, politically unable to govern themselves. These stereotypes were voiced with much shrillness by writers like Isocrates
Isocrates
Isocrates , an ancient Greek rhetorician, was one of the ten Attic orators. In his time, he was probably the most influential rhetorician in Greece and made many contributions to rhetoric and education through his teaching and written works....

 in the 4th century BC who called for a war of conquest against Persia as a panacea
Panacea
In Greek mythology, Panacea was a goddess of healing. She was the daughter of Asclepius and Epione. Panacea and her five sisters each performed a facet of Apollo's art: Panacea was the goddess of cures, Iaso was the goddess of recuperation, Hygieia was the goddess of disease prevention, Aceso was...

 for Greek problems. Ironically, many of the former attributes were later ascribed to the Greeks, especially the Seleucid kingdom, by the Romans.

However, the Hellenic stereotype of barbarians was not a universal feature of Hellenic culture. Xenophon
Xenophon
Xenophon , son of Gryllus, of the deme Erchia of Athens, also known as Xenophon of Athens, was a Greek historian, soldier, mercenary, philosopher and a contemporary and admirer of Socrates...

, for example, wrote the Cyropaedia
Cyropaedia (Xenophon)
The Cyropaedia is a "partly fictional biography" of Cyrus the Great, written in the early 4th century BC by the Athenian gentleman-soldier, and student of Socrates, Xenophon of Athens. The Latinized title Cyropaedia derives from Greek Kúrou paideía , meaning "The Education of Cyrus"...

, a laudatory fictionalised account of Cyrus the Great
Cyrus the Great
Cyrus II of Persia , commonly known as Cyrus the Great, also known as Cyrus the Elder, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire. Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Southwest Asia and much...

, the founder of the Persian empire, effectively a utopia
Utopia
Utopia is an ideal community or society possessing a perfect socio-politico-legal system. The word was imported from Greek by Sir Thomas More for his 1516 book Utopia, describing a fictional island in the Atlantic Ocean. The term has been used to describe both intentional communities that attempt...

n text. In his Anabasis
Anabasis (Xenophon)
Anabasis is the most famous work, in seven books, of the Greek professional soldier and writer Xenophon. The journey it narrates is his best known accomplishment and "one of the great adventures in human history," as Will Durant expressed the common assessment.- The account :Xenophon accompanied...

, Xenophon's accounts of the Persians and other non-Greeks he knew or encountered hardly seem to be under the sway of these stereotypes at all.

The renowned orator Demosthenes
Demosthenes
Demosthenes was a prominent Greek statesman and orator of ancient Athens. His orations constitute a significant expression of contemporary Athenian intellectual prowess and provide an insight into the politics and culture of ancient Greece during the 4th century BC. Demosthenes learned rhetoric by...

 made derogatory comments in his speeches, using the word "barbarian."

Barbarian is used in its Hellenic sense by St. Paul
Paul of Tarsus
Paul the Apostle , also known as Saul of Tarsus, is described in the Christian New Testament as one of the most influential early Christian missionaries, with the writings ascribed to him by the church forming a considerable portion of the New Testament...

 in the New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

 (Romans
Epistle to the Romans
The Epistle of Paul to the Romans, often shortened to Romans, is the sixth book in the New Testament. Biblical scholars agree that it was composed by the Apostle Paul to explain that Salvation is offered through the Gospel of Jesus Christ...

 1:14
) to describe non-Greeks, and to describe one who merely speaks a different language (1 Corinthians
First Epistle to the Corinthians
The first epistle of Paul the apostle to the Corinthians, often referred to as First Corinthians , is the seventh book of the New Testament of the Bible...

 14:11
).

About a hundred years after Paul's time, Lucian
Lucian
Lucian of Samosata was a rhetorician and satirist who wrote in the Greek language. He is noted for his witty and scoffing nature.His ethnicity is disputed and is attributed as Assyrian according to Frye and Parpola, and Syrian according to Joseph....

 – a native of Samosata
Samosata
Samosata was an ancient city on the right bank of the Euphrates whose ruins existed at the modern city of Samsat, Adıyaman Province, Turkey until the site was flooded by the newly-constructed Atatürk Dam....

, in the former kingdom of Commagene, which had been absorbed by the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 and made part of the province of Syria
History of Syria
The history of Syria:*Prehistory and Ancient Near East: see Pre-history of the Southern Levant, Fertile Crescent, Ebla, Mitanni*Antiquity: see Syro-Hittite states, Greater Syria, Roman Syria...

 – used the term "barbarian" to describe himself. As he was a noted satirist, this could have been a deprecating self-irony. It might also have indicated that he was descended from Samosata's original Semitic population – likely to have been called "barbarians" by later Hellenistic, Greek-speaking settlers, and who might have eventually taken up this appellation themselves.

The term retained its standard usage in the Greek language
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 throughout the Middle Ages, as it was widely used by the Byzantine Greeks
Byzantine Greeks
Byzantine Greeks or Byzantines is a conventional term used by modern historians to refer to the medieval Greek or Hellenised citizens of the Byzantine Empire, centered mainly in Constantinople, the southern Balkans, the Greek islands, Asia Minor , Cyprus and the large urban centres of the Near East...

 until the fall of the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 in the 15th century.

Cicero
Cicero
Marcus Tullius Cicero , was a Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist, and Roman constitutionalist. He came from a wealthy municipal family of the equestrian order, and is widely considered one of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists.He introduced the Romans to the chief...

 described the mountain area of inner Sardinia
Sardinia
Sardinia is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea . It is an autonomous region of Italy, and the nearest land masses are the French island of Corsica, the Italian Peninsula, Sicily, Tunisia and the Spanish Balearic Islands.The name Sardinia is from the pre-Roman noun *sard[],...

 as "a land of barbarians", with these inhabitants also known by the manifestly pejorative term latrones mastrucati ("thieves with a rough garment in wool").
The region is up to the present known as "Barbagia
Barbagia
Barbagia is a mountain area of inner Sardinia. It is mostly comprised in the province of Nuoro and located alongside the Gennargentu massif....

" (in Sardinian
Sardinian language
Sardinian is a Romance language spoken and written on most of the island of Sardinia . It is considered the most conservative of the Romance languages in terms of phonology and is noted for its Paleosardinian substratum....

 "Barbàgia" or "Barbaza"), all of which are traceable to this old "barbarian" designation – but no longer consciously associated with it, and used naturally as the name of the region by its own inhabitants.

The Dying Gaul statue



Some insight about the Hellenistic perception of and attitude to "Barbarians" can be taken from the "Dying Gaul
Dying Gaul
The Dying Gaul , formerly known as the Dying Gladiator, is an ancient Roman marble copy of a lost Hellenistic sculpture that is thought to have been executed in bronze, which was commissioned some time between 230 BC and 220 BC by Attalus I of Pergamon to celebrate his victory over the Celtic...

", a statue commissioned by Attalus I
Attalus I
Attalus I , surnamed Soter ruled Pergamon, an Ionian Greek polis , first as dynast, later as king, from 241 BC to 197 BC. He was the second cousin and the adoptive son of Eumenes I, whom he succeeded, and was the first of the Attalid dynasty to assume the title of king in 238 BC...

 of Pergamon
Pergamon
Pergamon , or Pergamum, was an ancient Greek city in modern-day Turkey, in Mysia, today located from the Aegean Sea on a promontory on the north side of the river Caicus , that became the capital of the Kingdom of Pergamon during the Hellenistic period, under the Attalid dynasty, 281–133 BC...

 to celebrate his victory over the Celtic Galatia
Galatia
Ancient Galatia was an area in the highlands of central Anatolia in modern Turkey. Galatia was named for the immigrant Gauls from Thrace , who settled here and became its ruling caste in the 3rd century BC, following the Gallic invasion of the Balkans in 279 BC. It has been called the "Gallia" of...

ns in Anatolia
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

 (the bronze original is lost, but a Roman
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 marble
Marble
Marble is a metamorphic rock composed of recrystallized carbonate minerals, most commonly calcite or dolomite.Geologists use the term "marble" to refer to metamorphosed limestone; however stonemasons use the term more broadly to encompass unmetamorphosed limestone.Marble is commonly used for...

 copy was found in the 17th century). The statue depicts with remarkable realism a dying Gallic
Gaul
Gaul was a region of Western Europe during the Iron Age and Roman era, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg and Belgium, most of Switzerland, the western part of Northern Italy, as well as the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the left bank of the Rhine. The Gauls were the speakers of...

 warrior with a typically Gallic hairstyle and moustache. He lies on his fallen shield while sword and other objects lie beside him. He appears to be fighting against death, refusing to accept his fate.

The statue serves both as a reminder of the Celts' defeat, thus demonstrating the might of the people who defeated them, and a memorial to their bravery as worthy adversaries. The message conveyed by the sculpture, as H. W. Janson
H. W. Janson
Horst Waldemar Janson , who published as H. W. Janson, was an American scholar of art history best known for his History of Art, which was first published in 1962 and has sold more than two million copies in fifteen languages.Janson was born in St. Petersburg in 1913 to Friedrich Janson and Helene...

 comments, is that "they knew how to die, barbarians that they were."

The Greeks admired Scythia
Scythia
In antiquity, Scythian or Scyths were terms used by the Greeks to refer to certain Iranian groups of horse-riding nomadic pastoralists who dwelt on the Pontic-Caspian steppe...

ns and Eastern Gauls
Galatia
Ancient Galatia was an area in the highlands of central Anatolia in modern Turkey. Galatia was named for the immigrant Gauls from Thrace , who settled here and became its ruling caste in the 3rd century BC, following the Gallic invasion of the Balkans in 279 BC. It has been called the "Gallia" of...

 as heroic individuals— even in the case of Anacharsis
Anacharsis
Anacharsis was a Scythian philosopher who travelled from his homeland on the northern shores of the Black Sea to Athens in the early 6th century BCE and made a great impression as a forthright, outspoken "barbarian", apparently a forerunner of the Cynics, though none of his works have...

 as philosophers—but considered their culture to be barbaric. The Romans
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 indiscriminately regarded the various Germanic tribes, the settled Gaul
Gaul
Gaul was a region of Western Europe during the Iron Age and Roman era, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg and Belgium, most of Switzerland, the western part of Northern Italy, as well as the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the left bank of the Rhine. The Gauls were the speakers of...

s, and the raiding Huns as barbarians.

The Romans adapted the term to refer to anything non-Greco-Roman.

"Barbarian" in international historical contexts



Historically, the term barbarian has seen widespread use, in English. Many peoples have dismissed alien cultures and even rival civilizations, because they were unrecognizably strange. For instance, the nomadic steppe peoples
Eurasian nomads
Eurasian nomads are a large group of peoples of the Eurasian Steppe. This generic title encompasses the ethnic groups inhabiting the steppes of Central Asia, Mongolia, and Eastern Europe. They domesticated the horse, and their economy and culture emphasizes horse breeding, horse riding, and a...

 north of the Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

, including the Pechenegs and the Kipchaks
Kipchaks
Kipchaks were a Turkic tribal confederation...

, were called barbarians by Byzantines
Byzantine Greeks
Byzantine Greeks or Byzantines is a conventional term used by modern historians to refer to the medieval Greek or Hellenised citizens of the Byzantine Empire, centered mainly in Constantinople, the southern Balkans, the Greek islands, Asia Minor , Cyprus and the large urban centres of the Near East...

.

Arabic and North African cultures


The Berber
Berber people
Berbers are the indigenous peoples of North Africa west of the Nile Valley. They are continuously distributed from the Atlantic to the Siwa oasis, in Egypt, and from the Mediterranean to the Niger River. Historically they spoke the Berber language or varieties of it, which together form a branch...

s
of North Africa
North Africa
North Africa or Northern Africa is the northernmost region of the African continent, linked by the Sahara to Sub-Saharan Africa. Geopolitically, the United Nations definition of Northern Africa includes eight countries or territories; Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, and...

 were among the many peoples called "Barbarian" by the Romans; in their case, the name remained in use, having been adopted by the Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

s (see Berber (Etymology)
Berber (Etymology)
The term Berber is a variation of the Latin original word Barbarian, earlier in history applied by Romans specifically to their northern hostile neighbors from Germania and to the hostile Berbers of North Africa. The variation is a French one when spelled Berbere and English when spelled Berber...

) and is still in use as the name for the non-Arabs in North Africa (though not by themselves). The geographical term Barbary or Barbary Coast
Barbary Coast
The Barbary Coast, or Barbary, was the term used by Europeans from the 16th until the 19th century to refer to much of the collective land of the Berber people. Today, the terms Maghreb and "Tamazgha" correspond roughly to "Barbary"...

, and the name of the Barbary pirates based on that coast (and who were not necessarily Berbers) were also derived from it.

The term has also been used to refer to people from Barbary, a region encompassing most of North Africa
North Africa
North Africa or Northern Africa is the northernmost region of the African continent, linked by the Sahara to Sub-Saharan Africa. Geopolitically, the United Nations definition of Northern Africa includes eight countries or territories; Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, and...

. The name of the region, Barbary, comes from the Arabic word Barbar, possibly from the Latin word barbaricum, meaning "land of the barbarians".

Hindu culture


The Hindus anciently referred to foreign peoples as Mlechcha or Mlechchha "dirty ones; barbarians." The Aryans used mleccha much like the ancient Greeks used barbaros, "originally to indicate the uncouth and incomprehensible speech of foreigners and then extended to their unfamiliar behavior." In the ancient texts, Mlechchas are people who are dirty and who have given up the Vedic
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 beliefs. Today this term implies those with bad hygiene. Among the tribes termed Mlechcha were Sakas, Hunas, Yavanas, Kambojas
Kambojas
The Kambojas were a kshatriya tribe of Iron Age India, frequently mentioned in Sanskrit and Pali literature.They were an Indo-Iranian tribe situated at the boundary of the Indo-Aryans and the Iranians, and appear to have moved from the Iranian into the Indo-Aryan sphere over time.The Kambojas...

, Pahlavas, Bahlikas and Rishikas
Rishikas
Rshikas were an ancient tribe living in the northern division of ancient India. They find references in the Mahabharata, Ramayana, Brhat Samhita, Markendeya Purana etc. Ashtadhyayi of Pāṇini does not mention the Rishikas, but Mahabhasya of Patanjali does make reference to this people. Mahabharata...

.

Chinese culture


Barbarians in traditional Chinese culture had several uncommon aspects. While most languages only have a few words meaning "barbarian" (for example, English barbarian and savage), Chinese
Chinese language
The Chinese language is a language or language family consisting of varieties which are mutually intelligible to varying degrees. Originally the indigenous languages spoken by the Han Chinese in China, it forms one of the branches of Sino-Tibetan family of languages...

 has many historical "barbarian" exonyms. Several Chinese characters for non-Chinese peoples were graphic pejoratives, the character for the Yao people
Yao people
The Yao nationality is a government classification for various minorities in China. They form one of the 55 ethnic minority groups officially recognized by the People's Republic of China, where they reside in the mountainous terrain of the southwest and south...

, for instance, was changed from yao 猺 "jackal" to yao 瑤 "precious jade". The original Hua-Yi distinction
Hua-Yi distinction
The distinction between Hua and Yi is an ancient Chinese conception that differentiated a culturally defined "China" from cultural or ethnic outsiders...

 between "Chinese" and "barbarian" was based on culture and not race.

History and terminology


Chinese historical records mention what may now perhaps be termed "barbarian" peoples for over four millennia, although this considerably predates the Greek language
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 origin of the term "barbarian", at least as is known from the thirty-four centuries of written records in the Greek language. The sinologist Herrlee Glessner Creel said, "Throughout Chinese history "the barbarians" have been a constant motif, sometimes minor, sometimes very major indeed. They figure prominently in the Shang oracle inscriptions, and the dynasty that came to an end only in 1912 was, from the Chinese point of view, barbarian."

Shang Dynasty
Shang Dynasty
The Shang Dynasty or Yin Dynasty was, according to traditional sources, the second Chinese dynasty, after the Xia. They ruled in the northeastern regions of the area known as "China proper" in the Yellow River valley...

 (1600-1046 BCE) oracle
Oracle bone script
Oracle bone script refers to incised ancient Chinese characters found on oracle bones, which are animal bones or turtle shells used in divination in Bronze Age China...

 and bronze inscriptions first recorded specific Chinese exonyms for foreigners, often in contexts of warfare or tribute. King Wu Ding
Wu Ding
Wu Ding was a Shang Dynasty King of China.His is the first historically verifiable name in the history of Chinese dynasties...

 (r. 1250-1192 BCE), for instance, fought with the Guifang
Guifang
Guifang is an ethnonym for the most ancient nomadic tribes that invaded China during legendary times. Sima Qian stated that in the literate period starting with the Shang Yin period , the Hu and Jung Huns were called Guifang...

 鬼方, Di
Di (ethnic group)
The Di were an ethnic group in China from the 8th century BCE to approximately the middle of the 6th century CE. Note that the character Di is used to differentiate this group from the Beidi , a generic term for "northern barbarians". They lived in areas of the present-day provinces of Gansu,...

 氐, and Qiang 羌 "barbarians."

During the Spring and Autumn Period (771-476 BCE), the meanings of four exonyms were expanded. "These included Rong, Yi, Man, and Di—all general designations referring to the barbarian tribes." These siyi 四夷 "four barbarian tribes", most "probably the names of ethnic groups originally," were the Yi or Dongyi
Dongyi
Dongyi was a collective term for people in eastern China and in lands located to the east of ancient China. People referred to as Dongyi vary across the ages.The early Dongyi culture was one of earliest neolithic cultures in China....

 東夷 "eastern barbarians," Man or Nanman
Nanman
Nanman were aboriginal tribes who lived in southwestern China. They may have been related to the Sanmiao, dated to around the 3rd century BC. The Nanman were multiple ethnic groups including the Miao, the Kinh, the Thai, and some Tibeto-Burman groups such as the Bai. There was never a single...

 南蠻 "southern barbarians," Rong or Xirong 西戎 "western barbarians," and Di or Beidi
Beidi
Beidi or Northern Di were groups of people who lived to the north of what was then China during the Zhou Dynasty. By the end of the dynasty they were mostly conquered or absorbed by the Chinese....

 北狄 "northern barbarians." The Russian anthropologist Mikhail Kryukov
Mikhail Kryukov
Mikhail Kryukov is an anthropologist and historian.Born in Moscow, Kryukov attended Moscow Institute of Oriental Studies, where he received a B.A. in 1954. He earned an M.A. in 1955 from Moscow Institute of International Relations, and from the Peking University in 1962. He earned a Ph.D. degree...

 concluded.
Evidently, the barbarian tribes at first had individual names, but during about the middle of the first millennium B.C., they were classified schematically according to the four cardinal points of the compass. This would, in the final analysis, mean that once again territory had become the primary criterion of the we-group, whereas the consciousness of common origin remained secondary. What continued to be important were the factors of language, the acceptance of certain forms of material culture, the adherence to certain rituals, and, above all, the economy and the way of life. Agriculture was the only appropriate way of life for the Hua-Hsia
Huaxia
Huaxia is a name often used to represent China or Chinese civilization.-Etymology:According to the historical record, Zuo Zhuan, the ancient Xia Dynasty of central China was a state that held propriety and justice in high esteem...

.

In Wu Xing "Five Phases" theory, the five directions (center and four cardinal directions) were sinocentrically correlated: China (called Zhongguo
Zhongguo
Zhongguo is a Mandarin name of China, literally translating as "Middle Kingdom". .It is also the official name of the asteroid number 3789 in the outer main belt....

"middle kingdom") was in the center, bordered by the siyi "four barbarian tribes", beyond which were the sihai "four seas."

The Chinese classics use compounds of these four generic names in localized "barbarian tribes" exonyms such as "west and north" Rongdi, "south and east" Manyi, Nanyibeidi "barbarian tribes in the south and the north," and Manyirongdi "all kinds of barbarians." Creel says the Chinese evidently came to use Rongdi and Manyi "as generalized terms denoting 'non-Chinese,' 'foreigners,' 'barbarians'," and a statement such as "the Rong and Di are wolves" (Zuozhuan, Min 1) is "very much like the assertion that many people in many lands will make today, that 'no foreigner can be trusted'."
The Chinese had at least two reasons for vilifying and depreciating the non-Chinese groups. On the one hand, many of them harassed and pillaged the Chinese, which gave them a genuine grievance. On the other, it is quite clear that the Chinese were increasingly encroaching upon the territory of these peoples, getting the better of them by trickery, and putting many of them under subjection. By vilifying them and depicting them as somewhat less than human, the Chinese could justify their conduct and still any qualms of conscience.


This word Yi has both specific references, such as to Huaiyi 淮夷 peoples in the Huai River
Huai River
The Huai River is a major river in China. The Huai River is located about mid-way between the Yellow River and Yangtze River, the two largest rivers in China, and like them runs from west to east...

 region, and generalized references to "barbarian; foreigner; non-Chinese." Lin Yutang
Lin Yutang
Lin Yutang was a Chinese writer and inventor. His informal but polished style in both Chinese and English made him one of the most influential writers of his generation, and his compilations and translations of classic Chinese texts into English were bestsellers in the West.-Youth:Lin was born in...

's Chinese-English Dictionary of Modern Usage
translates Yi as "Anc[ient] barbarian tribe on east border, any border or foreign tribe." The sinologist Edwin G. Pulleyblank
Edwin G. Pulleyblank
Edwin George Pulleyblank FRSC is a sinologist and professor emeritus of the Department of Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia...

 says the name Yi "furnished the primary Chinese term for 'barbarian'," but "Paradoxically the Yi were considered the most civilized of the non-Chinese peoples.

The Chinese used different terms for foreign ethnic groups which have been historically translated into English as "barbarians." However, despite the conventional translation of such terms (especially 夷) as "barbarian", in fact it is more accurate to translate them simply as 'outsider' or 'stranger', with far less offensive cultural connotations.

Idealization


A few contexts in the Chinese classics romanticize or idealize barbarians, comparable to the western noble savage
Noble savage
The term noble savage , expresses the concept an idealized indigene, outsider , and refers to the literary stock character of the same...

 construct. For instance, the Confucian Analects records:
  • The Master said, The [夷狄] barbarians of the East and North have retained their princes. They are not in such a state of decay as we in China.
  • The Master said, The Way makes no progress. I shall get upon a raft and float out to sea.
  • The Master wanted to settle among the [九夷] Nine Wild Tribes of the East. Someone said, I am afraid you would find it hard to put up with their lack of refinement. The Master said, Were a true gentleman to settle among them there would soon be no trouble about lack of refinement.

The translator Arthur Waley
Arthur Waley
Arthur David Waley CH, CBE was an English orientalist and sinologist.-Life:Waley was born in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England, as Arthur David Schloss, son of the economist David Frederick Schloss...

 noted that, "A certain idealization of the 'noble savage' is to be found fairly often in early Chinese literature", citing the Zuozhuan maxim, "When the Emperor no longer functions, learning must be sought among the 'Four Barbarians,' north, west, east, and south."

Some early texts suggest the Zhou dynasty
Zhou Dynasty
The Zhou Dynasty was a Chinese dynasty that followed the Shang Dynasty and preceded the Qin Dynasty. Although the Zhou Dynasty lasted longer than any other dynasty in Chinese history, the actual political and military control of China by the Ji family lasted only until 771 BC, a period known as...

 founders were Western "barbarians." Pulleyblank concludes that if the Zhou were originally Rong people," they must have undergone a process of sinicization before the conquest." The Bamboo Annals
Bamboo Annals
The Bamboo Annals is a chronicle of ancient China. It begins at the earliest legendary times and extends to the Warring States Period , particularly the history of the Wei state...

recorded that the founder King Wu of Zhou
King Wu of Zhou
King Wu of Zhōu or King Wu of Chou was the first sovereign, or ruler of the Chinese Zhou Dynasty. The dates of his reign are 1046-1043 BCE or 1049/45-1043. Various sources quoted that he died at the age of 93, 54 or 43. He was considered a just and able leader. Zhou Gong Dan was one of his...

 "led the lords of the western barbarians" to conquer the Shang Dynasty
Shang Dynasty
The Shang Dynasty or Yin Dynasty was, according to traditional sources, the second Chinese dynasty, after the Xia. They ruled in the northeastern regions of the area known as "China proper" in the Yellow River valley...

. A Mencius
Mencius (book)
The Mencius , commonly called the Mengzi, is a collection of anecdotes and conversations of the Confucian thinker and philosopher Mencius. The work dates from the second half of the 4th century BC. It was ranked as a Confucian classic and its status was elevated in Song Dynasty...

passage praising two legendary sages described them as Dongyi 東夷 and Xiyi 西夷. "Mencius said, Shun "was an Eastern barbarian" and King Wen of Zhou
King Wen of Zhou
King Wen of Zhou family name : Ji , Clan name : Zhou Personal name: Chang, known as Zhou Chang or Xibo Chang was the founder of the Zhou Dynasty and the first epic hero of Chinese history....

 "was a Western barbarian." Professor Creel said,
From ancient to modern times the Chinese attitude toward people not Chinese in culture—"barbarians"—has commonly been one of contempt, sometimes tinged with fear. It is surprising then to see the early Chou, so revered in the tradition, called barbarians. … It must be noted that, while the Chinese have disparaged barbarians, they have been singularly hospitable both to individuals and to groups that have adopted Chinese culture. And at times they seem to have had a certain admiration, perhaps unwilling, for the rude force of these peoples or simpler customs.

Pejorative Chinese characters


Many languages have uncomplimentary names for foreign peoples, comparable to these Chinese exonyms translated as "barbarians." Creel admits some of them "may have been given by the Chinese as terms of contempt—this is hard to determine—but it is unlikely that all of them were." Written Chinese contempt is unmistakably evident in a group of Chinese characters that James A. Matisoff calls "graphic pejoratives." Chinese characters characteristically combine "radicals
Radical (Chinese character)
A Chinese radical is a component of a Chinese character. The term may variously refer to the original semantic element of a character, or to any semantic element, or, loosely, to any element whatever its origin or purpose...

" indicating meaning and "phonetics" suggesting pronunciation. Several pejorative character exonyms were written with the "dog / beast radical
Radical 94
Radical 94 meaning "dog" is 1 of 34 Kangxi radicals composed of 4 strokes.In the Kangxi Dictionary there are 444 characters to be found under this radical.- Characters with Radical 94:-External links:*...

" 犬 or 犭, such as Di 狄 "northern barbarians" with this radical and a huo 火 phonetic.

Language reform
Language reform
Language reform is a type of language planning by massive change to a language. The usual tools of language reform are simplification and purification. Simplification makes the language easier to use by regularizing vocabulary and grammar...

s in the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

 replaced "dog radical" ethnonyms of minority peoples with more positive characters.
  • The Yao people
    Yao people
    The Yao nationality is a government classification for various minorities in China. They form one of the 55 ethnic minority groups officially recognized by the People's Republic of China, where they reside in the mountainous terrain of the southwest and south...

    's exonym changed from (犭"dog radical" and yao 䍃 phonetic) yao 猺 "jackal; the Yao", to (亻"human radical") yao 傜 "the Yao", and to (玉 "jade radical") yao 瑤 "precious jade; green jasper; the Yao."

  • The Zhuang people were first recorded as ("dog radical" and tong 童 phonetic) Zhuang 獞, which was also read tong 獞 "a dog name". This was first replaced by ("human radical") Zhuang 僮 "the Zhuang" that was commonly read tong 僮 "child; boy servant", and later replaced by a completely different character zhuang 壮 "strong; robust".

  • The Lolo or Yi people
    Yi people
    The Yi or Lolo people are an ethnic group in China, Vietnam, and Thailand. Numbering 8 million, they are the seventh largest of the 55 ethnic minority groups officially recognized by the People's Republic of China...

    's oldest Chinese exonym was Luoluo 猓猓, giving a new luo reading to ("dog radical" and guo 果 phonetic) guo 猓 or guoran "Proboscis monkey
    Proboscis Monkey
    The proboscis monkey or long-nosed monkey, known as the bekantan in Malay, is a reddish-brown arboreal Old World monkey that is endemic to the south-east Asian island of Borneo...

    ". The first replacement was ("human radical") luo 倮, already used as a graphic variant character
    Variant Chinese character
    Variant Chinese characters are Chinese characters that are homophones and synonyms. Almost all variants are allographs in most circumstances, such as casual handwriting...

     for ("clothing radical") luo 裸 "naked"; the second was luo 罗 "bird net; gauze". The current politically correct exonym for the Lolo 猓猓, 倮倮, or 罗罗 is Yi, written yi 彝 "sacrificial wine vessel; the Yi."

  • The Lahu people
    Lahu people
    The Lahu are an ethnic group of Southeast Asia and China.They are one of the 56 ethnic groups officially recognized by the People's Republic of China, where about 450,000 live in Yunnan province. An estimated 150,000 live in Burma. In Thailand, Lahu are one of the six main hill tribes; their...

     were written Luohei 猓黑, with this same simian luo 猓and 黑 "black". Their modern exonym is Lahu 拉祜, transcribing with la 拉 "pull; drag" and hu 祜 "favor or protection from heaven".

Historical "dog/beast radical" examples include the Quanrong
Quanrong
The Quǎnróng , literally "Dog Rong", were an ethnic group active in the north western part of China during the Zhōu and later dynasties. Their language is classified as part of the Tibeto-Burman branch of the Sino-Tibetan languages family....

 犬戎 "dog barbarians" and Xianyun 獫狁 "Xianyun
Xianyun
The Xianyun is the name of an ancient nomadic tribe that invaded China during legenary times.They are usually associated with the Xiongnu.-Overview:...

 people" (with 獫 "long-snouted dog"). The German anthropologist Karl Jettmar explains that Chinese exonyms calling outsiders "wild beasts, jackals, and wolves" linguistically justified using brutality against them.

Some denigrating exonyms have radicals for other animals. The "sheep radical"
Radical 123
Radical 123 meaning "sheep" is 1 of 29 Kangxi radicals composed of 6 strokes.In the Kangxi Dictionary there are 156 characters to be found under this radical.- Characters with Radical 123:-External links:*...

 羊 is seen in Qiang 羌 "shepherd; Qiang people" and Jie 羯 "castrated; Jie people"; the "insect/reptile radical"
Radical 142
Radical 142 meaning "insect" or "worm" is 1 of 29 Kangxi radicals composed of 6 strokes.In the Kangxi Dictionary there are 1067 characters to be found under this radical.- Characters with Radical 142:...

 虫 is in both Man 蠻 "southern barbarians" and Min 閩 "southeastern barbarians" (see Fujian#History); and the "cat/beast radical"
Radical 153
Radical 153 meaning "cat" or "badger" is 1 of 20 Kangxi radicals composed of 7 strokes.In the Kangxi Dictionary there are 140 characters to be found under this radical.- Characters with Radical 153:...

 豸 is in Mo 貊 "leopard; northeastern barbarians" (modern Huimo 濊貊 "Yemaek
Yemaek
Yemaek were an ethnic group who dwelt in Manchuria and the Korean Peninsula. They had ancestral ties to various Korean kingdoms including Gojoseon, Gori , Buyeo, Goguryeo, Baekje, Okjeo, Dongye, Yangmaek and Sosumaek , and is believed to be one of the ancient tribes that were formed into the...

 people").

Although Creel cautioned about the complications of determining which early Chinese exonyms were derogatory, the first character dictionary, Xu Shen
Xu Shen
Xǔ Shèn was a Chinese philologist of the Han Dynasty. He was the author of Shuowen Jiezi, the first Chinese dictionary with character analysis, as well as the first to organize the characters by shared components. It contains over 9,000 character entries under 540 radicals, explaining the origins...

's (121 CE) Shuowen Jiezi
Shuowen Jiezi
The Shuōwén Jiězì was an early 2nd century CE Chinese dictionary from the Han Dynasty. Although not the first comprehensive Chinese character dictionary , it was still the first to analyze the structure of the characters and to give the rationale behind them , as well as the first to use the...

, provides invaluable data about Han Dynasty
Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms . It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty of the former regent Wang Mang...

 usage. Among the directional "four barbarian" characters, two are defined militarily and two beastily.
  • Yi
    Dongyi
    Dongyi was a collective term for people in eastern China and in lands located to the east of ancient China. People referred to as Dongyi vary across the ages.The early Dongyi culture was one of earliest neolithic cultures in China....

     夷: "平也. 从大从弓. 東方之人也." Level; flat. From 大 "big (person)" and 弓 "bow" radicals.
  • Rong 戎: "兵也. 從戈從甲." Weapons, warfare. From 戈 "dagger axe; halberd" and 甲 "helmet" radicals.
  • Man
    Nanman
    Nanman were aboriginal tribes who lived in southwestern China. They may have been related to the Sanmiao, dated to around the 3rd century BC. The Nanman were multiple ethnic groups including the Miao, the Kinh, the Thai, and some Tibeto-Burman groups such as the Bai. There was never a single...

     蠻: "南蠻, 蛇穜. 从虫䜌聲." Southern Man, a snake species. From 虫 "insect" radical and luan 䜌 phonetic.
  • Di
    Beidi
    Beidi or Northern Di were groups of people who lived to the north of what was then China during the Zhou Dynasty. By the end of the dynasty they were mostly conquered or absorbed by the Chinese....

     狄: "赤狄, 本犬種. 狄之為言淫辟也. 从犬,亦省聲." Red Di, originally a dog species. Calling the Di dogs refers to licentiousness and depravity. From 犬 "dog" radical, which is also phonetic.


Dikötter provides historical perspective.
Physical composition and cultural disposition were confused in Chinese antiquity. The border between man and animal was blurred. 'The Rong are birds and beasts' [Zuozhuan]. This was not simply a derogatory description: it was part of a mentality that integrated the concept of civilization with the idea of humanity, picturing the alien groups living outside the pale of Chinese society as distant savages hovering on the edge of bestiality. The names of the outgroups were written in characters with an animal radical, a habit that persisted until the 1930s: the Di, a northern tribe, were thus assimilated with the dog, whereas the Man and the Min, people from the south, shared the attributes of the reptiles. The Qiang had a sheep radical.

The anti-Manchu revolutionary Zhang Binglin
Zhang Binglin
Zhang Binglin was a Chinese philologist, textual critic and anti-Manchu revolutionary.His philological works include Wen Shi , the first systematic work of Chinese etymology...

 blended traditional Chinese imagery with fashionable Western racial theory. "Barbarian tribes, unlike the civilized yellow and white races, were the biological descendants of lower species: the Di had been generated by dogs, and the Jiang could trace their ancestry back to sheep."

Cultural and racial barbarianism


According to the archeologist William Meachem, it was only after the late Shang dynasty that one can speak of "Chinese
Chinese people
The term Chinese people may refer to any of the following:*People with Han Chinese ethnicity ....

," "Chinese culture," or "Chinese civilization." "There is a sense in which the traditional view of ancient Chinese history is correct (and perhaps it originated ultimately in the first appearance of dynastic civilization): those on the fringes and outside this esoteric event were "barbarians" in that they did not enjoy (or suffer from) the fruit of civilization until they were brought into close contact with it by an imperial expansion of the civilization itself."
In a similar vein, Creel explained the significance of Confucian li
Li (Confucian)
Li is a classical Chinese word which finds its most extensive use in Confucian and post-Confucian Chinese philosophy. Li encompasses not a definitive object but rather a somewhat abstract idea; as such, it is translated in a number of different ways...

"ritual; rites; propriety".
The fundamental criterion of "Chinese-ness," anciently and throughout history, has been cultural. The Chinese have had a particular way of life, a particular complex of usages, sometimes characterized as li. Groups that conformed to this way of life were, generally speaking, considered Chinese. Those that turned away from it were considered to cease to be Chinese. … It was the process of acculturation, transforming barbarians into Chinese, that created the great bulk of the Chinese people. The barbarians of Western Chou times were, for the most part, future Chinese, or the ancestors of future Chinese. This is a fact of great importance. … It is significant, however, that we almost never find any references in the early literature to physical differences between Chinese and barbarians. Insofar as we can tell, the distinction was purely cultural.


Two millennia before the French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss
Claude Lévi-Strauss
Claude Lévi-Strauss was a French anthropologist and ethnologist, and has been called, along with James George Frazer, the "father of modern anthropology"....

 wrote The Raw and the Cooked
The Raw and the Cooked
The Raw and the Cooked is the first volume from Mythologiques written by French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss. The original French title was Le Cru et le cuit....

, the Chinese differentiated "raw" and "cooked" categories of barbarian peoples who lived in China. The shufan 熟番 "cooked [food eating] barbarians" were Sinicized and the shengfan 生番 "raw [food eating] barbarians" were not Sinicized. The Liji gives this description.
The people of those five regions – the Middle states, and the [Rong], [Yi] (and other wild tribes around them) – had all their several natures, which they could not be made to alter. The tribes on the east were called [Yi]. They had their hair unbound, and tattooed their bodies. Some of them ate their food without its being cooked with fire. Those on the south were called Man. They tattooed their foreheads, and had their feet turned toward each other. Some of them ate their food without its being cooked with fire. Those on the west were called [Rong]. They had their hair unbound, and wore skins. Some of them did not eat grain-food. Those on the north were called [Di]. They wore skins of animals and birds, and dwelt in caves. Some of them did not eat grain-food.


Dikötter explains the close association between nature and nurture. "The shengfan, literally 'raw barbarians', were considered savage and resisting. The shufan, or 'cooked barbarians', were tame and submissive. The consumption of raw food was regarded as an infallible sign of savagery that affected the physiological state of the barbarian."

Warring States Period
Warring States Period
The Warring States Period , also known as the Era of Warring States, or the Warring Kingdoms period, covers the Iron Age period from about 475 BC to the reunification of China under the Qin Dynasty in 221 BC...

 texts record a belief that the respective natures of the Chinese and the barbarian were incompatible. Mencius, for instance, criticized an ex-student of Xu Xing
Xu Xing (philosopher)
Xu Xing was a Chinese philosopher and one of the most notable advocates of Agriculturalism, a philosophy that advocated peasant utopian communalism and egalitarianism....

, a "barbarian" from Chu
Chu (state)
The State of Chu was a Zhou Dynasty vassal state in present-day central and southern China during the Spring and Autumn period and Warring States Period . Its ruling house had the surname Nai , and clan name Yan , later evolved to surname Mi , and clan name Xiong...

 who became a leading Chinese philosopher of Agriculturalism
Agriculturalism
Agriculturalism, also known as the School of Agrarianism, the School of Agronomists, the School of Tillers, and in Chinese as the Nongjia , was an early agrarian Chinese philosophy that advocated peasant utopian communalism and egalitarianism...

. "I have heard of the Chinese converting barbarians to their ways, but not of their being converted to barbarian ways." Dikötter says, "The nature of the Chinese was regarded as impermeable to the evil influences of the barbarian; no retrogression was possible. Only the barbarian might eventually change by adopting Chinese ways."

Modern reinterpretations


According to the historian Frank Dikötter
Frank Dikötter
Frank Dikötter is a Dutch historian and author of Mao's Great Famine. The book won the 2011 Samuel Johnson Prize. Dikötter is Chair Professor of Humanities at the University of Hong Kong, where he teaches courses on both Mao and the Great Chinese Famine, and Professor of the Modern History of...

, "The delusive myth of a Chinese antiquity that abandoned racial standards in favour of a concept of cultural universalism in which all barbarians could ultimately participate has understandably attracted some modern scholars. Living in an unequal and often hostile world, it is tempting to project the utopian image of a racially harmonious world into a distant and obscure past."

The politician and historian K. C. Wu
K. C. Wu
K. C. Wu was a Chinese political figure and historian.-Early life:K.C. Wu was born in Central China and grew up in Beijing, where his father served in the military. He studied at both Nankai High School, where Zhou Enlai was a classmate, and at Tsinghua University...

 analyzes the origin of the characters for the Yi, Man, Rong, Di, and Xia peoples and concludes that the "ancients formed these characters with only one purpose in mind—to describe the different ways of living each of these people pursued." Despite the well-known examples of pejorative exonymic characters (such as the "dog radical" in Di), he claims there is no hidden racial bias in the meanings of the characters used to describe these different peoples, but rather the differences were "in occupation or in custom, not in race or origin." Wu says the character 夷 designating the historical "Yi peoples," composed of the characters for 大 "big (person)" and 弓 "bow", implies a big person carrying a bow, someone to perhaps be feared or respected, but not to be despised.

Christopher I. Beckwith makes the extraordinary claim that the name "barbarian" should only be used for Greek historical contexts, and is inapplicable for all other "peoples to whom it has been applied either historically or in modern times." Beckwith notes that most specialists in East Asian history, including him, have translated Chinese exonyms as English "barbarian." He believes that after academics read his published explanation of the problems, except for direct quotations of "earlier scholars who use the word, it should no longer be used as a term by any writer."

The first problem is that, "it is impossible to translate the word barbarian into Chinese because the concept does not exist in Chinese," meaning a single "completely generic" loanword
Loanword
A loanword is a word borrowed from a donor language and incorporated into a recipient language. By contrast, a calque or loan translation is a related concept where the meaning or idiom is borrowed rather than the lexical item itself. The word loanword is itself a calque of the German Lehnwort,...

 from Greek barbar-. "Until the Chinese borrow the word barbarian or one of its relatives, or make up a new word that explicitly includes the same basic ideas, they cannot express the idea of the ‘barbarian’ in Chinese." The usual Standard Chinese
Standard Chinese
Standard Chinese, or Modern Standard Chinese, also known as Mandarin or Putonghua, is the official language of the People's Republic of China and Republic of China , and is one of the four official languages of Singapore....

 translation of English barbarian is yemanren , which Beckwith claims, "actually means 'wild man, savage'. That is very definitely not the same thing as 'barbarian'." Despite this semantic hypothesis, Chinese-English dictionaries regularly translate yemanren as "barbarian" or "barbarians." Beckwith concedes that the early Chinese "apparently disliked foreigners in general and looked down on them as having an inferior culture," and pejoratively wrote some exonyms. However, he purports, "The fact that the Chinese did not like foreigner Y and occasionally picked a transcriptional character with negative meaning (in Chinese) to write the sound of his ethnonym, is irrelevant."

Beckwith's second problem is with linguists and lexicographers of Chinese. "If one looks up in a Chinese-English dictionary the two dozen or so partly generic words used for various foreign peoples throughout Chinese history, one will find most of them defined in English as, in effect, 'a kind of barbarian'. Even the works of well-known lexicographers such as Karlgren do this."
Although Beckwith does not cite any examples, the Swedish sinologist Bernhard Karlgren
Bernhard Karlgren
Klas Bernhard Johannes Karlgren was a Swedish sinologist and linguist who pioneered the study of Chinese historical phonology using modern comparative methods...

 edited two dictionaries: Analytic Dictionary of Chinese and Sino-Japanese (1923) and Grammata Serica Recensa
Grammata Serica Recensa
The Grammata Serica Recensa is a dictionary of Old Chinese published by the Swedish sinologist Bernard Karlgren in 1957.Bernard Karlgren made fundamental contributions to the study of the phonology of Middle and Old Chinese, which he called Ancient and Archaic Chinese respectively.In the course of...

(1957). Compare Karlgrlen's translations of the siyi "four barbarians":
  • yi 夷 "barbarian, foreigner; destroy, raze to the ground," "barbarian (esp. tribes to the East of ancient China)"
  • man 蛮 "barbarians of the South; barbarian, savage," "Southern barbarian"
  • rong 戎 "weapons, armour; war, warrior; N. pr. of western tribes," "weapon; attack; war chariot; loan for tribes of the West"
  • di 狄 "Northern Barbarians – "fire-dogs"," "name of a Northern tribe; low servant"

The Sino-Tibetan Etymological Dictionary and Thesaurus Project includes Karlgren's GSR definitions. Searching the STEDT Database finds various "a kind of" definitions for plant and animal names (e.g., you 狖 "a kind of monkey," but not one "a kind of barbarian" definition. Besides faulting Chinese for lacking a general "barbarian" term, Beckwith also faults English, which "has no words for the many foreign peoples referred to by one or another Classical Chinese word, such as胡 , 夷 , 蠻 mán, and so on."

The third problem involves Tang Dynasty
Tang Dynasty
The Tang Dynasty was an imperial dynasty of China preceded by the Sui Dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period. It was founded by the Li family, who seized power during the decline and collapse of the Sui Empire...

 usages of fan "foreigner" and lu "prisoner", neither of which meant "barbarian." Beckwith says Tang texts used fan 番 or 蕃 "foreigner" (see shengfan and shufan above) as "perhaps the only true generic at any time in Chinese literature, was practically the opposite of the word barbarian. It meant simply ‘foreign, foreigner’ without any pejorative meaning." In modern usage, fan 番 means "foreigner; barbarian; aborigine". The linguist Robert Ramsey illustrates the pejorative connotations of fan.
The word "Fān" was formerly used by the Chinese almost innocently in the sense of 'aborigines' to refer to ethnic groups in South China, and Mao Zedong himself once used it in 1938 in a speech advocating equal rights for the various minority peoples. But that term has now been so systematically purged from the language that it is not to be found (at least in that meaning) even in large dictionaries, and all references to Mao's 1938 speech have excised the offending word and replaced it with a more elaborate locution, "Yao, Yi, and Yu."

The Tang Dynasty Chinese also had a derogatory term for foreigners, lu "prisoner, slave, captive". Beckwith says it means something like "those miscreants who should be locked up," therefore, "The word does not even mean 'foreigner' at all, let alone 'barbarian'."

Christopher I. Beckwith's 2009 "The Barbarians" epilogue provides many references, but overlooks H. G. Creel's 1970 "The Barbarians" chapter. Creel descriptively wrote, "Who, in fact, were the barbarians? The Chinese have no single term for them. But they were all the non-Chinese, just as for the Greeks the barbarians were all the non-Greeks." Beckwith prescriptively wrote, "The Chinese, however, have still not yet borrowed Greek barbar-. There is also no single native Chinese word for 'foreigner', no matter how pejorative," which meets his strict definition of "barbarian."

Barbarian Puppet Drinking Game


In the Tang Dynasty houses of pleasure, where drinking games were common, small puppets in the aspect of Westerners, in a ridiculous state of drunkenness, were used in one popular permutation of the drinking game; so, in the form of blue-eyed, pointy nosed, and peak-capped barbarians, these puppets were manipulated in such a way as to occasionally fall down: then, whichever guest to whom the puppet pointed after falling was then obliged by honor to empty his cup of Chinese wine.

Japanese culture


When Europeans came to Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

, they were called nanban , literally Barbarians from the South, because the Portuguese
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 ships appeared to sail from the South. The Dutch
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

, who arrived later, were also called either nanban or kōmō , literally meaning "Red Hair."

American cultures


In Mesoamerica the Aztec
Aztec
The Aztec people were certain ethnic groups of central Mexico, particularly those groups who spoke the Nahuatl language and who dominated large parts of Mesoamerica in the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries, a period referred to as the late post-classic period in Mesoamerican chronology.Aztec is the...

 civilization used the word "Chichimeca
Chichimeca
Chichimeca was the name that the Nahua peoples of Mexico generically applied to a wide range of semi-nomadic peoples who inhabited the north of modern-day Mexico and southwestern United States, and carried the same sense as the European term "barbarian"...

" to denominate a group of nomadic hunter-gatherer tribes that lived in the outskirts of the Triple Alliance
Aztec Triple Alliance
The Aztec Triple Alliance, or Aztec Empire began as an alliance of three Nahua city-states or "altepeme": Tenochtitlan, Texcoco, and Tlacopan...

's Empire, in the North of Modern Mexico, which were seen for the Aztec people as primitive and uncivilized. One of the meanings attributed to the word "Chichimeca" is "dog people".

The Incas of South America used the term "puruma auca" for all peoples living outside the rule of their empire (see Promaucaes
Promaucaes
Promaucaes, Promaucas or Purumaucas ; pre-Columbian Mapuche tribal group that lived in the present territory of Chile, south of the Maipo River basin of Santiago, Chile and the Itata River,...

).

Early Modern period



Italians in the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 often called anyone who lived outside of their country a barbarian.

Spanish sea captain Francisco de Cuellar
Francisco de Cuellar
Francisco de Cuellar was a Spanish sea captain who sailed with the Spanish Armada in 1588 and was wrecked on the coast of Ireland. He gave a remarkable account of his experiences in the fleet and on the run in Ireland.- Spanish Armada :...

 who sailed with the Spanish Armada
Spanish Armada
This article refers to the Battle of Gravelines, for the modern navy of Spain, see Spanish NavyThe Spanish Armada was the Spanish fleet that sailed against England under the command of the Duke of Medina Sidonia in 1588, with the intention of overthrowing Elizabeth I of England to stop English...

 in 1588 used the term 'savage' ('salvaje')to describe the Irish people
Irish people
The Irish people are an ethnic group who originate in Ireland, an island in northwestern Europe. Ireland has been populated for around 9,000 years , with the Irish people's earliest ancestors recorded having legends of being descended from groups such as the Nemedians, Fomorians, Fir Bolg, Tuatha...

.

Modern academia


A famous quote from anthropologist
Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

 Claude Lévi-Strauss
Claude Lévi-Strauss
Claude Lévi-Strauss was a French anthropologist and ethnologist, and has been called, along with James George Frazer, the "father of modern anthropology"....

 says: "The barbarian is the one who believes in barbary", a meaning like his metaphor in Race et histoire ("Race and history", UNESCO, 1952), that two cultures are like two different trains crossing each other: each one believes it has chosen the good direction. A broader analysis reveals that neither party "chooses" their direction, but that their "brutish" behaviors have formed out of necessity, being entirely dependent on and hooked to their surrounding geography and circumstances of birth.

Although some terms in academia do go out of style, such as "Dark Ages", the term Barbarian is in full common currency among all mainstream medieval scholars and is not out of style or outdated, though a disclaimer is often felt to be needed, as when Ralph W. Mathisen prefaces a discussion of barbarian bishops in Late Antiquity, "It should also be noted that the word "barbarian" will be used here as a convenient, nonpejorative term to refer to all the non-Latin and non-Greek speaking exterae gentes who dwelt around, and even eventually settled within, the Roman Empire during late antiquity".

The significance of barbarus in Late Antiquity has been specifically explored on several occasions.

Examples of this modern usage can also be seen in the Dictionary of the Middle Ages
Dictionary of the Middle Ages
The Dictionary of the Middle Ages is a 13-volume encyclopedia of the Middle Ages published by the American Council of Learned Societies between 1982 and 1989. It was first conceived and started in 1975 with American medieval historian Joseph Strayer of Princeton University as editor-in-chief...

, which has an article titled "Barbarians, the Invasions" and uses the term barbarian throughout its 13 volumes. A 2006 book by Yale historian Walter Goffart
Walter Goffart
Walter Andre Goffart is a historian of the later Roman Empire and the early Middle Ages who specializes in research on the barbarian kingdoms of those periods. He is a senior research scholar and lecturer at Yale University....

 is called Barbarian Tides and uses barbarian throughout to refer to the larger pantheon of tribes that the Roman Empire encountered. Walter Pohl
Walter Pohl
Walter Pohl is an Austrian historian. His area of expertise is the history of the Migration Period and the Early Middle Ages....

, a leading pan-European expert on ethnicity and Late Antiquity, published a 1997 book titled Kingdoms of the Empire: The Integration of Barbarians in Late Antiquity. The Encyclopædia Britannica
Encyclopædia Britannica
The Encyclopædia Britannica , published by Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., is a general knowledge English-language encyclopaedia that is available in print, as a DVD, and on the Internet. It is written and continuously updated by about 100 full-time editors and more than 4,000 expert...

and other general audience encyclopedias use the term barbarian throughout within the context of late antiquity.

In contrast to mainstream academic usage, some politically correct
Politically Correct
Politically Correct may refer to:*Political correctness, language, ideas, policies, or behaviour seeking to minimize offence to groups of people-See also:*Politically Correct Bedtime Stories, book by James Finn Garner, published in 1994...

 authors (like Christopher I. Beckwith noted above) argue that using the word "barbarian" is insulting, even in historical contexts. For example, the "Barbarian Invasions" of Europe are sometimes called the "Migration Period
Migration Period
The Migration Period, also called the Barbarian Invasions , was a period of intensified human migration in Europe that occurred from c. 400 to 800 CE. This period marked the transition from Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages...

."

Modern popular culture


Modern popular culture contains such fantasy barbarians as Tarzan
Tarzan
Tarzan is a fictional character, an archetypal feral child raised in the African jungles by the Mangani "great apes"; he later experiences civilization only to largely reject it and return to the wild as a heroic adventurer...

 and Conan the Barbarian
Conan the Barbarian
Conan the Barbarian is a fictional sword and sorcery hero that originated in pulp fiction magazines and has since been adapted to books, comics, several films , television programs, video games, roleplaying games and other media...

.

In fantasy
Fantasy
Fantasy is a genre of fiction that commonly uses magic and other supernatural phenomena as a primary element of plot, theme, or setting. Many works within the genre take place in imaginary worlds where magic is common...

 novels and role-playing games, barbarians or berserker
Berserker
Berserkers were Norse warriors who are reported in the Old Norse literature to have fought in a nearly uncontrollable, trance-like fury, a characteristic which later gave rise to the English word berserk. Berserkers are attested in numerous Old Norse sources...

s are often represented as lone warriors, very different from the vibrant cultures on which they are based. Several characteristics are commonly shared:
  • Physical prowess and fighting skill combined with a fierce temper and a tolerance for pain
  • An appetite for, and the ability to attract, the opposite gender thanks to animal magnetism
    Animal magnetism
    Animal magnetism , in modern usage, refers to a person's sexual attractiveness or raw charisma. As postulated by Franz Mesmer in the 18th century, the term referred to a supposed magnetic fluid or ethereal medium believed to reside in the bodies of animate beings...

  • Meat eating (this fits several social norms. Nomadic peoples and military men often ate more meat because they were not in one place long enough to farm and harvest.)
  • An appetite for alcohol
    Alcohol
    In chemistry, an alcohol is an organic compound in which the hydroxy functional group is bound to a carbon atom. In particular, this carbon center should be saturated, having single bonds to three other atoms....

     and an unusual stamina to stave off its effects
  • A blending of Celtic, Germanic
    Germanic peoples
    The Germanic peoples are an Indo-European ethno-linguistic group of Northern European origin, identified by their use of the Indo-European Germanic languages which diversified out of Proto-Germanic during the Pre-Roman Iron Age.Originating about 1800 BCE from the Corded Ware Culture on the North...

    , Slavic
    Slavic peoples
    The Slavic people are an Indo-European panethnicity living in Eastern Europe, Southeast Europe, North Asia and Central Asia. The term Slavic represents a broad ethno-linguistic group of people, who speak languages belonging to the Slavic language family and share, to varying degrees, certain...

    , and nomadic Turco-Mongol
    Turco-Mongol
    Turko-Mongol is a modern designation for various nomads who were subjects of the Mongol Empire. Being progressively Turkicized in terms of language and identity following the Mongol conquests, they derived their ethnic and cultural origins from steppes of Central Asia...

     cultures

See also



  • Barbarian invasions
  • Barbarism (linguistics)
  • Civilization
    Civilization
    Civilization is a sometimes controversial term that has been used in several related ways. Primarily, the term has been used to refer to the material and instrumental side of human cultures that are complex in terms of technology, science, and division of labor. Such civilizations are generally...

  • Ethnic groups in Chinese history
    Ethnic groups in Chinese history
    Ethnic groups in Chinese history refer to various or presumed ethnicities of significance to the history of China, gathered through the study of Classical Chinese literature, Chinese and non-Chinese literary sources and inscriptions, historical linguistics, and archaeological research.Among the...

  • Ethnocentrism
    Ethnocentrism
    Ethnocentrism is the tendency to believe that one's ethnic or cultural group is centrally important, and that all other groups are measured in relation to one's own. The ethnocentric individual will judge other groups relative to his or her own particular ethnic group or culture, especially with...

  • Ethnography
    Ethnography
    Ethnography is a qualitative method aimed to learn and understand cultural phenomena which reflect the knowledge and system of meanings guiding the life of a cultural group...

  • Ethnology
    Ethnology
    Ethnology is the branch of anthropology that compares and analyzes the origins, distribution, technology, religion, language, and social structure of the ethnic, racial, and/or national divisions of humanity.-Scientific discipline:Compared to ethnography, the study of single groups through direct...

  • Skræling
    Skræling
    Skræling is the name the Norse Greenlanders used for the indigenous peoples they encountered in North America and Greenland. In surviving sources it is first applied to the Thule people, the Eskimo group with whom the Norse coexisted in Greenland after about the 13th century...

  • Stateless societies
  • Vandals
    Vandals
    The Vandals were an East Germanic tribe that entered the late Roman Empire during the 5th century. The Vandals under king Genseric entered Africa in 429 and by 439 established a kingdom which included the Roman Africa province, besides the islands of Sicily, Corsica, Sardinia and the Balearics....