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A timeline of the history of linguistics


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A timeline of the history of linguistics

  1. 1. A Timeline of the History of Linguistics Summerians (4000 years before the present) The earliest wriiten texts written in cuneiform on clay tablets. The linguistic texts from the earliest part of the tradition were list of nouns in Sumerian. Hindu Tradition (400 BC) Indian linguistics was not itself historical in orientation, though its roots lay in the changes languages undergo in the course of time. But the topics covered by modern descriptive linguistics: semantics, grammar, phonology, and phonetics, were all treated at length in the Indian tradition; and in phonetics and in certain aspects of grammar, Indian theory and practice was definitely in advance of anything achieved in Europe or elsewhere before contact had been made with Indian work.  Pānini: wrote a grammar of Sanskrit (between 600 B.C. and 300 B.C.) called Astadhyāyī (literally 'eight books').  Bhartrhari: wrote Vākyapadīya (5th-7th Century A.D.), which states that the sentence should be interpreted as a single unit - which "conveys its meaning 'in a flash', just as a picture is first perceived as a unity, notwithstanding subsequent analysis into its component coloured shapes"
  2. 2. A Timeline of the History of Linguistics The Greeks (5th Century BC Onwards)  Philosophical and theoretical questions were investigated.  Themes of importance include the origin of language, parts-of-speech-systems, the relation between language and thought, and the relation between the two aspects of word signs – whether form and meaning are connected by nature (iconicity) or purely by convention (arbitrary)  Plato’s Cratylus (427-347 BC) represents Socrates (469-399 BC) arguing for original natural connections that were subsequently obscured by convention.  Aristotle (384-322 BC) by contrast, favoured convention over nature.  Greek Syntax was first described by Apollonius Dyscolus (110-175 AD) Plato’s Cratylus , Socrates, Aristotle
  3. 3. A Timeline of the History of Linguistics The Romans (1st Century BC to aprroximately 500 AD)  Roman linguistics continued studying the themes of interest to Greek linguistics.  The primary interest was in morphology, syntax was largely ignored.  Notable among Roman linguist is Varro (116-27 BC) who produced a multi-volume grammar of Latin, of which only about a quarter has survived.  Later grammars of Donatus (4th Century AD) and Priscan (6th Century AD) were highly influential in the Middle Ages. The Medieval Period (5th – 14th Centuries)  Most of the linguistic work from the Middle Ages was focused on grammar, emphasizing Latin and Greek analyses.  "Latin remained the language of learning, and its authority was increased by its use as the language of patristic literature and of the services and the administration of the western (Roman) Church. This alone ensured the language a high place, and linguistic studies in the early years of the Middle Ages were largely represented by studies in Latin grammar"  Isidore of Seville did etymology and lexicography during the seventh century.  St. Jerome translated Bible into Latin dealt with the theory of translation (he suggested a sense for sense translation instead of word for word.  Aelfric the Grammarian wrote an introduction to Old English grammar. He noticed marked differences between Latin and Old English grammar properties.  In the history of linguistic science, the second part of the Middle Ages, from around 1100 to the close of the period, is the more significant. This was the period of scholastic philosophy, in which linguistic studies had an important place and in which a very considerable amount of linguistic work was carried on. This same era is also marked by the flowering of mediaeval architecture (the so-called 'Gothic') and literature, and the founding of several of the earliest universities of Europe.  First grammatical treatise: written by an unknown Icelandic scholar known as the 'First Grammarian.' His work mostly deals with phonology, and it makes a distinction in speech sounds very similar to the modern concept of the phoneme.  Thomas of Erfurt: described the difference in nominative case marking for nouns versus adjectives.
  4. 4. A Timeline of the History of Linguistics Isidore of Seville Thomas of Erfurt Aelfric the Grammarian The Renaissance (15th – 17th Centuries)  During this period, grammatical descriptions were written for several European languages. The Bible was also translated into many different languages during the Renaissance.  Manuel Chrysoloras produced the first grammar book of Greek in Western Europe.  School of Basra was heavily influenced by the writings of Aristotle. They believed that language is strongly regular and systematic (similar ideas to modern Formalism).  Sībawaih wrote a grammar of classical Arabic. He also wrote a phonetic description of the Arabic writing system.  Dante wrote De vulgari eloquentia, which experimented with combining certain aspects of several Italian dialects into a new, highly regularized philosophical language.  Pierre Ramée grammarian whose thought precludes modern concepts of European and American Structuralism. He made pokes at Aristotelian (from which Formalism would sprout) approaches to language, and argued that all languages should be appreciated in their own right.  Grammars for American-Indian languages were published during this period. Tarascan (1558) Quechua (1560) Nahuatl (1571) Guarani (1640)  British Royal Society (established 1660); did a lot of work with linguistics during the early life of the society.  Port Royal Grammarians took a Rationalist approach to language; They believed in language universals as evidenced by a common thought structure in people throughout the civilized world.
  5. 5. A Timeline of the History of Linguistics Manuel Chrysoloras Pierre Ramée William Jones J. G. Herder Johann Gottfried Herder Port Royal 18th Century Europe  J.G. Herder believed that language and thought are inseparable. His teachings serve as a strong precedent to the teachings of Benjamin Whorf and Noam Chomsky (generative grammar).  James Harris held an Aristotelian view of grammar (i.e. he believed in language universals); he was also aware of the differences between the world's languages.  James Burnett (Monboddo) looked for evidence of a proto-language by studying the languages of 'primitive' peoples.  Sir William Jones a judge in the British Royal Court in India; in 1786, he wrote a paper to the Royal Asiatic Society in Calcutta about the historical connection between Sanskrit and Western European languages such as Greek, the Romance Languages, and the Germanic Languages.
  6. 6. A Timeline of the History of Linguistics Wilhelm von Humboldt Friedrich von Schlegel Jacob Grimm Franz Bopp The 19th Century – Philology  Wilhelm von Humboldt wrote The variety of human language structure, which was later hailed by Leonard Bloomfield as 'the first great book on general linguistics.  Friedrich von Schlegel (1772-1829) coined the phrase 'comparative grammar,' which originially referred to comparing morphology in Sanskrit and other Indo-European languages to determine genetic relationships.  Dane R. Rask (1787-1832) pioneer in historical/comparative linguistics. He worked out a methodology for historical/comparative linguistics.  Jacob Grimm (1785-1863) devised Grimm's law which states that, "If there is found between two languages agreement in the forms of indispensable words to such an extent that rules of letter changes can be discovered for passing from one to the other, then there is a basic relationship between these languages.  Franz Bopp (1791-1867) worked further on classification of genetic relations among the Germanic languages.  August F. Pott (1802-1887) pioneered Indo-European historical linguistics and etymological studies. He was a professor of linguistics at the University of Halle.  August Schleicher (1821-1868) Schleicher indicated that contemporary languages had gone through a process in which simpler Ursprachen had given rise to descendent languages that obeyed natural laws of development.
  7. 7. A Timeline of the History of Linguistics 20th Century Structuralism Ferdinand de Saussure (1857-1913)  Ferdinand de Saussure tentatively suggested that language be seen as a game of chess, where the history of past moves is irrelevant to the players, a way though the impasse was quickly recognized.  Saussure sketched some possibilities. If the word high-handed falls out of use, then synonyms like arrogant and presumptuous will extend their uses. If we drop the final f orv the results in English are not momentous (we might still recognize belie as belief from the context), but not if the final s is dropped (we should then have to find some new way of indicating plurals).  langue (the whole language which no one speaker entirely masters) and parole (an individual's use of language).  And signs took on a value depending on words adjacent in use or meaning. English has sheep and mutton but French has only mouton for both uses. Above all (extending the picture of a chess game) we should understand that language was a totality of linguistic possibilities, where the "move" of each word depended on the possible moves of others.  Saussure had a theory of meaning. He envisaged language as a series of contiguous subdivisions marked off on the indefinite planes of ideas and sounds. Roman Jakobson  Saussure's ideas spread first to Russia, being brought there and developed by Roman Jakobson (1896-1982).  Strictly speaking, the product was not Structuralism, which dates from Jakobson's acquaintance with Lévi-Strauss in the 1960's, but formalism: study of the devices by which literary language makes itself distinctive.  Jakobson made little impact in Prague, which had its own traditions, but in America was able to draw on and develop the ideas of structural anthropology: that the behaviour of societies is governed by deep, scarcely visible rules and understandings.  Jakobson had some novel ideas of his own. There was, he proposed, a relatively simple, orderly and universal psychological system underlying the three to eight thousand odd languages in the world. Despite the many ways phonemes (basic units of sound) are produced by human mouths, all could be represented in binary structures (open-closed, back-front, etc.) governed by 12 levels of precedence.  Jakobson also defined poetic language as the projection onto the horizon syntagmatic axis (how words fit together in a sentence) of the vertical paradigmatic (how word are associated and can replace each other), another audacious theory that proved largely vacuous.
  8. 8. A Timeline of the History of Linguistics Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis One exception was an hypothesis of Edward Sapir (1884-1934) and Benjamin Lee Whorf (1897-1941). Man's language, they argued, moulds his perception of reality. The Hopi Indians of Arizona plurialize clouds as though they were animate objects, do not use spatial metaphors for time, and have no past tense as such. Ferdinand de Saussure Roman Jakobson Edward Sapir Benjamin Lee Worf
  9. 9. A Timeline of the History of Linguistics Generative Grammar (Formalism)  Avram Noam Chomsky (1928- ) and his followers have transformed linguistics. Indeed, despite many difficulties and large claims later retracted, the school of deep or generative grammar still holds centre stage.  Chomsky came to prominence in a 1972 criticism of the behavourist's B.F. Skinner's book Verbal Behaviour.  Linguistic output was not simply related to input. Far from it, and a science which ignored what the brain did to create its novel outputs was no science at all. Chomsky was concerned to explain two striking features of language — the speed with which children acquire a language, and its astonishing fecundity, our ability to create a endless supply of grammatically correct sentences without apparently knowing the rules.  George Lakoff is famous for being one of the founding fathers of cognitive linguistics, for battling Noam Chomsky, and for arguing that using the right metaphors is the key to winning a political debate. Noam Chomsky George Lakoff
  10. 10. A Timeline of the History of Linguistics References;
  11. 11. A Timeline of the History of Linguistics Cruz, Jasmin E. II – 3 BSE ENGLISH Mondays, Thursdays, 7:00 – 8:30 AM BPS 209 A Dr. Arceli Amarles