Anthony Burgess once said, (through the narrator of one of his books…)
“The term Aryan has a purely philological significance. It can be applied only to languages.”
The setting is in 1930s Germany, when the Third Reich was struggling to revise history and define its place on the world stage.
Philologist J.P. Mallory argues that "As an ethnic designation, the word [Aryan] is most properly limited to the Indo-Iranians, and most justly to the latter where it still gives its name to the country Iran
…and the Encyclopedia Britannica says…
Aryan, name originally given to a people who were said to speak an archaic Indo-European language and who were thought to have settled in prehistoric times in ancient Iran and the northern Indian subcontinent.
The theory of an “Aryan race” appeared in the mid-19th century and remained prevalent until the mid-20th century.
According to the hypothesis, those probably light-skinned Aryans were the group who invaded and conquered ancient India from the north and whose literature, religion, and modes of social organization subsequently shaped the course of Indian culture, particularly the Vedic religion that informed and was eventually superseded by Hinduism.
Apparently, the first attempt at the use of Aryan as a term to identify races began with the racist “theoretician” Joseph Arthur de Gobineau approximately 1848 (yeah, him again).
Apart from the usage of “Aryan” coupled with “race” currently in use by revanchist Hitler worshippers, and its co-option by the original theoreticians of the Third Reich, is there any basis to the usage of Aryan to define race in the first part of the 20 century?
In other words, was Burgess right for the time, just not now?