Examining material aspects of manuscripts. Part II: Bindings and provenance

Anna Pytlowany
University of Amsterdam

This is Part II of a series. Part I is here.

At first glance, the history of Dutch East India Company (VOC) linguistics is simply a history of texts. Published or not, edited, translated, or not – the wordlists, grammars and phrasebooks remain a witness to the times when Dutch merchants and missionaries started documenting the new cultures and languages they encountered overseas.

But the historical reality is more multifaceted.

Besides the ones kept in the main VOC archives, some of these Dutch manuscripts and printed books are scattered in private and public collections from Paris, to London, to Venice, to Sydney. How to reconstruct the itineraries of displaced books? How to uncover the real place of creation of a manuscript? How to decide whether two similar copies are related or not, and how to date them? How to establish authorship of anonymous works?

The answers are contained in the very materiality of these objects. But to unlock them, we need to know what we are looking for.

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Posted in 17th century, 18th century, 19th century, Europe, Linguistics, Netherlands

Somewhat caught between lexicology and syntax: a look at Phraseology

Sabine Fiedler
University of Leipzig

Terminology and characteristics

A number of different terms have been used to name the topic of this blog entry. For example, in English, the following expressions are used synonymously: multi-word lexemes, phrasemes, set phrases, prefabricated speech, lexical bundles, formulaic sequences, clichés, idioms, lexical phrases, phrasal lexemes and phrasal lexical items. I prefer the traditional expression phraseological unit, which has been widely used recently, largely due to international cooperation between phraseology researchers and the dominant role the English language plays in the linguistic community. It is also significant that it has equivalents in many languages, such as unité phraséologique in French, фразеологическая единица in Russian, phraseologische Einheit in German. Charles Bally introduced unité phraséologique as early as 1909 in his Traité de Stylistique Française.
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Posted in 20th century, History, Lexicography, Linguistics, Phraseology

Program February-June 2015

Somewhat caught between lexicology and syntax: a look at phraseology
Sabine Fiedler
University of Leipzig
Examining material aspects of manuscripts (Part II)
Anna Pytlowany
University of Amsterdam
Objectivity at the interface of semantics and pragmatics
Sam Lewin
University of Sydney
The history of linguistics and the history of foreign language learning
Nicola McLelland
University of Nottingham
Sensualism for dummies
Els Elffers
University of Amsterdam
Le formalisme russe dans l’histoire de la linguistique
Patrick Flack
sdvig press
Translation as a search for divine meanings: Francisco Blancas de San José and his grammar of the Tagalog language.
Marlon James Sales
Monash University
Hugo Schuchardt and his network of knowledge
Johannes Mücke and Silvio Moreira de Sousa
Hugo Schuchardt Archiv, University of Graz
Salon: Anachronism in linguistic historiography
John Joseph (Edinburgh), Gerda Haßler (Potsdam), Andrew Linn (Sheffield), and Nicola McLelland (Nottingham)
Phonetische Studien – applied linguistics gets its first journal?
Andrew Linn
University of Sheffield
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Posted in Programs

La aportación de Nicolau Peixoto para el estudio del español en Portugal

Sónia Duarte
Centro de Linguística da Universidade do Porto

En la historia de la enseñanza/aprendizaje del español en Portugal, Nicolau António Peixoto (?–1862) ocupa un lugar fundamental cuyo significado se procurará precisar aquí, presentando su Grammatica Hespanhola para uso dos Portuguezes (Oporto 1848) e intentando aclarar cuál es la aportación de esa obra como soporte del susodicho proceso.

Peixoto 1848 portada

Peixoto 1848 portada

Esta es, según los datos disponibles hasta el momento, la primera gramática de español publicada en Portugal, como ya han puesto de relieve varios estudios (Álvarez 2005; Ponce de León 2005, 2007; Salas 2005; Duarte 2008, 2009, 2010, en prensa). Importa, no obstante, matizar dos aspectos: i) su carácter inaugural; ii) el rol que en ella ha jugado Nicolau Peixoto. Read more ›

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Posted in 19th century, Grammars, Portugal

In Praise of “Exceptionless:” Linguistics among the Human Sciences at Bloomfield and Sapir’s Chicago

Michael Silverstein
University of Chicago

Edward Sapir (1884-1939) arrived at the University of Chicago for Autumn Quarter, 1925, having spent the summer, in transit from Ottawa, in New York City teaching summer school at Columbia. Two years later, in 1927, Leonard Bloomfield (1887-1949), a native Chicagoan who had his Ph.D. in Germanic Philology from Chicago (1909), returned to succeed his Doktorvater, Francis A. Wood (1859-1948), who had just retired, as Professor in Germanic. The two great figures in the history of linguistics in America were thus colleagues at Chicago for four years, through the 1930-31 academic year, after which Sapir removed to New Haven as Sterling Professor and founding Chair of the Yale Department of Anthropology, with a concurrent appointment in Linguistics. (After the death of Bloomfield’s early mentor, Eduard Prokosch, in August, 1938, and of Sapir, in February, 1939, Bloomfield, too, would go to Yale as Sterling Professor in Linguistics and Germanic, in effect replacing both.)

Linguistics at Chicago, originally denoted by the expression “Comparative Philology,” was one of the original subjects, or “departments of knowledge,” filled by President William Rainey Harper (1856-1906). Harper himself had gotten his Ph.D. in Hebrew and Semitic Philology at Yale under the great William Dwight Whitney (1827-1894), and in 1892 another Whitney student more in the master’s image, Carl Darling Buck (1866-1955), started as “Assistant Professor of Sanskrit and Indo-European Comparative Philology” on return from a degree at Leipzig. By the mid-1920s, Buck presided over a department captioned “Comparative Philology, General Linguistics, and Indo-Iranian Philology,” with a set of course offerings both by himself and by various others whose primary appointments were in other departments. Sapir, originally appointed in Spring, 1925, as Associate Professor of Anthropology and of American Indian Languages in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology (as it then was), taught a range of linguistics courses, listed as well among the offerings in Comparative Philology, to the coterie of students who would continue and expand Boasian anthropological linguistics in the 1930s. (They would all be marginalized by the more doctrinaire Bloomfieldians, as it turned out.) By Autumn Quarter 1927, Sapir was a full “Professor of Anthropology and General Linguistics,” and early in Winter Quarter, 1928, Buck formally arranged for Sapir’s titular appointment in the department, as attested by an exchange of administrative letters with higher-ups in the central administration. Bloomfield’s courses in Germanic, too, were listed under the umbrella of Comparative Philology on his 1927 return, and since Francis Wood had been a member of the department, so, too, was his student and successor, Bloomfield (and would be Bloomfield’s successor, George J. Metcalf [1908-1994]). A number of the students of the late 1920s, for example Li Fang-Kuei (1902-1987) and Mary R. Haas (1910-1996) took courses with all three of Buck, Bloomfield, and Sapir, recalling for me in later years their very different pedagogical styles and emphases.

But it is not pedagogical style as such that concerns me so much as intellectual and professional affiliations and outlooks, and the way that these emerged in a face that linguistics as a discipline would for some time show to its congener disciplines at Chicago and in America more generally. Everything we know about Sapir’s and Bloomfield’s biographies shows that their centers of intellectual gravity and their aspirational commitments pulled in very different directions. This was already very clear by the time they had joined Buck’s enterprise at Chicago, each of them in his early 40s and each of them accomplished and authoritative in his respective scholarly work, and each widely connected in their own disciplinary networks of “invisible colleges,” as Merton termed them.
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Posted in 20th century, America, History, Linguistics

Early Descriptions of Gender in Pama-Nyungan Languages

Clara Stockigt
University of Adelaide

There is little correlation between the existence of a system of gender in Pama-Nyungan languages and the inclusion of a discussion of these systems under the heading “Gender” in early grammatical sources.

Of the small minority of Pama-Nyungan languages which have a system of gender, a handful exhibit systems of noun classes in which agreement is marked on a nominal modifier (Dixon 2002:450-453). Only one of these languages, Minjungbal, was described in the nineteenth century (Livingstone 1892). Another comparably small group of about a dozen Pama-Nyungan languages make a two-way gender distinction in third person pronouns (Dixon 2002:461). A disproportionate number of these are among the few Australian languages that were grammatically described in the pre-contemporary era. They are Hunter River Lake Macquarie language/Awabakal (henceforth HRLM) described by Threlkeld (1834); Diyari, described by four Lutheran missionaries between 1868 and 1899 (Flierl 1880; W. Koch 1868; Reuther 1981; Schoknecht 1947); Minjungbal, described by Livingstone (1892); Pitta Pitta, described by Roth (1897); and Kala Lagaw Ya, described by Ray (1893).

Grammars written in the classical European tradition employing the framework and schema of Traditional Grammar (see Koch 2008:87) discuss the grammatical category Gender within an initial chapter dedicated to the word-class Nouns. Gender is presented alongside the two nominal inflectional categories, Number and Case (see for example Ramshorn 1824 and Gildersleeve 1895). In recognition of the lack of grammatical gender in Pama-Nyungan languages, some grammarians abandon the traditional category altogether (Taplin 1867, 1872; Ridley 1875; Günther 1892). Others state that the language has no gender (Teichelmann and Schürmann 1840:4; Meyer 1843:10; Taplin 1880:7; Kempe 1891:2; Strehlow n.d, n.page). Lutheran missionary C. Schürmann for instance, who co-published the second grammatical description of an Australian language with Teichelmann (Kaurna 1840) and a second description of a related South Australian language shortly after (Barngarla 1844) noted:
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Posted in 19th century, 20th century, Australia, Field linguistics, Grammars, History, Linguistics, Syntax, Typology

“Some Americans could not by any means count to 1000”: the cognitive effects of the lack of names for numbers in exotic languages from the perspective of linguistic theorists before Humboldt

Gerda Haßler
Universität Potsdam

The limited number word vocabulary in some languages for quantities above a specific amount has for some time been a much-debated topic. A study published in 2008 (Butterworth, Reeve, Reynolds, Lloyd 2008), which attracted much attention, found the development of numerical cognition to be independent from the presence of number words. Test participants from two Australian Aboriginal communities, both of whose languages only have words for ‘one’, ‘two’, ‘few’ and ‘many’, performed just as well in a counting test as a comparable group of Aboriginal people who spoke only English. From these results it was concluded that abstract concepts for numbers are based on innate mechanisms and not on socially learned words.

These findings appear contrary to the position propagated since the 1990s in which the discussion about the linguistic relativity of thought[1] was revived, based on the specific example of number words. In the history of the theory of the linguistic worldview, usually associated with Wilhelm von Humboldt, there are several conceptual fields that repeatedly attract attention as potential targets of linguistic influence, such as space-time relationships, kinship or religious terms. Perhaps numbers did not belong to these categories due to the non-linguistically motivated process of counting. Nevertheless, the lack of number words was noticed particularly in exotic languages, causing communicative difficulties and encouraging speculation about cognitive effects. In the following text, we want to explore the assumption of cognitive effects of the lack of number words prior to Wilhelm von Humboldt.
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Posted in 18th century, America, Germany, History, Linguistics

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