Joseph L. Subbiondo
California Institute of Integral Studies
Sir John Stoddart (1773-1856) served as England’s advocate in Malta from 1803-1807, editor of The Times from 1814 to 1816, founder and editor of The New Times from 1816 to 1826, and Chief Justice and Justice of the Vice-Admiralty Court in Malta from 1826 to 1840. He was knighted in 1826. Stoddart’s formal education was as notable as his professional career: at Oxford, he earned Bachelor of Arts in 1794, Bachelor of Civil Law in 1798, and Doctor of Civil Law in 1801.
In addition to his career in public service and journalism, Stoddart studied and wrote about the history of universal grammar with remarkable breadth and depth. Moreover, he formulated his own theories regarding the philosophy of language and the historical development of ancient and contemporary languages. His lifetime of research is well represented in his Universal Grammar, or the Pure Science of Language published in 1849; Glossology, or the Historical Relations of Languages published posthumously in 1858, and The Philosophy of Language, a revised and enlarged 700 page edition of both books, published in 1861. My references in this paper are to the 1861 publication.
Peter H. Salus (1976) aptly described Stoddart’s The Philosophy of Language (1861) as “the last truly universalist work” (p. 99): he recognized that Stoddart’s publications conclude a significant period of universal grammar that spanned nearly nine centuries. Following Stoddart, universal grammar would not occupy center stage in linguistics until the emergence of transformational generative grammar nearly a century later. Yet despite Stoddart’s insightful and extensive study of universal grammar and its history from ancient origins to the mid-nineteenth century, his work has been overlooked by historians of linguistics. Read more ›