Podcast episode 28: Franz Boas and the Boasians

Franz Boas

In this episode, we begin our exploration of American linguistics by looking at the innovative contributions of Franz Boas (1858–1942) and his circle of students.

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Interview 3 : Le Moyen Âge est une société de langage, interview with Irène-Rosier-Catach

Inverview with Irène Rosier-Catach, prepared by Émilie Aussant, Chloé Laplantine and Rafaello Pisu.
Recorded in Paris, on June 30, 2021 at Université Paris Cité by Thomas Zoritchak.
Tranlation by Andrew Eastman and Amanda Murphy.
Music extracted from Luciano Berio & Cathy Berberian. Recital 1 For Cathy / Folk Songs / Weill-Berio Songs. RCA Gold Sea. 1973.

Bonjour Irène, merci Ă  toi d’avoir acceptĂ© cet entretien. Nous allons aujourd’hui parler de ton parcours, de ta carrière, des sujets auxquels tu t’es intĂ©ressĂ©e. Pourrais-tu nous dire comment tu en es venue Ă  t’intĂ©resser aux conceptions du langage au Moyen Ă‚ge, quels sont les auteurs qui t’ont intĂ©ressĂ©e et pour quelles raisons ?

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Posted in Interviews

Recent publications in the history and philosophy of the language sciences – September 2022

Mariana MĂĽnning. 2022. Sound, Meaning, Shape. The Phonologist Wei Jiangong (1901-1980) between Language Study and Language Planning. Heidelberg Asian Studies Publishing. 312 p. ISBN: 9783948791292
Publisher’s website.

One of the leading proponents of the radical linguistic reforms in 20th century China, Wei Jiangong remains hardly known in the West. This book describes how Wei, who was rooted in traditional philology and conceptualizing language as a tool, helped to promulgate a standard language, led the compilation of the world’s most popular dictionary, and helped to drive script reform. While these measures were characterized as violent intervention in the Chinese language sphere, Wei’s careful negotiating of linguistic description and political prescription illustrates how they also may have been steps that helped to achieve linguistic self-determination.

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Posted in Publications

Raymond de Saussure’s Freudian appropriation of Antoine Meillet’s historical and general linguistics

Cover of Imago 1922

John Joseph
University of Edinburgh

One hundred years ago, Raymond de Saussure (1894-1971), the second son of Ferdinand and Marie de Saussure, published a review of a collection of papers by his father’s most famous and devoted student, Antoine Meillet (1866-1936). Saussure (henceforth the surname used alone will designate Raymond) was not a linguist, but a psychologist who had become attached to Freudian psychoanalysis. He was personally psychoanalysed by Freud, who contributed a preface to Saussure’s first book in 1922, the same year as the review of Meillet. Saussure was a founding member of the Société Psychanalytique de Paris in 1926, and his important role in establishing psychoanalysis in France and Geneva is chronicled in Roudinesco (1982).

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Posted in Article

Recent publications in the history and philosophy of the language sciences-July-August 2022

Didier Samain & Pierre-Yves Testenoire, ed. 2022. La linguistique et ses formes historiques d’organisation et de production. Paris: SHESL. HEL Livres 1. 336 p. ISBN : 979-10-91587-16-7. DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.6675029
Publisher’s website

La production et la transmission des savoirs scientifiques s’effectuent par des instances dédiées (exemplairement l’Université), mais aussi par la médiation de multiples structures, qui se sont agrégées autour d’une thématique (académies, sociétés savantes), d’une affiliation (dans le cas notamment des « écoles »), ou encore d’un projet (comme la grammatisation – l’individuation et la description – d’une langue vernaculaire). Quoique bien identifiées dans leurs aspects sociaux, ces structures sont moins souvent appréhendées dans toute la complexité de leurs apports spécifiques. Tel était donc l’enjeu du colloque consacré à « la linguistique et ses formes historiques d’organisation et de production » (Paris, 24-26 janvier 2019), à l’occasion du quarantième anniversaire de la Société d’histoire et d’épistémologie des sciences du langage.
La plupart des contributions au présent volume portent sur des périodes contemporaines de l’organisation moderne du savoir et montrent comment ces structures se sont positionnées par rapport aux institutions déjà existantes. Mais le lecteur y puise également des perspectives plus larges, grâce à des analyses consacrées à d’autres espaces culturels et aussi aux empans temporels abordés, de la microhistoire aux temporalités longues. Sous la diversité des contextes et des situations, certains mécanismes se révèlent alors étonnamment récurrents, qu’ils concernent l’émergence et la disciplinarisation de nouveaux objets d’étude ou les comportements cognitifs des acteurs.

Book in open access

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Posted in Publications

Podcast episode 27: Interview with Peter Trudgill on sociolinguistic typology

John Sell Cotman – Mousehold Heath (1810)

In this interview, we talk to Peter Trudgill about how the structure of speaker communities may influence the structure of languages.

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Podcast episode 26: Interview with Philipp Krämer on creoles and creole studies

Street sign

In this interview, we talk to Philipp Krämer about the history of the study of creole languages and present-day efforts to standardise creoles around the world.

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Recent publications in the history and philosophy of the language sciences-June 2022

Giuseppe Cosenza, Claire A. Forel, Genoveva Puskas & Thomas Robert, ed. 2022. Saussure and Chomsky. Converging and Diverging. Lausanne: Peter Lang. 172 p. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3726/b19300
Publisher’s website

Saussure and Chomsky, the two major figures in linguistics of the twentieth century and beyond, have often been compared. The collection of bilingual English and French papers of this volume offers different perspectives, defended by two generations of researchers, on what brings together and distinguishes the Saussurean and Chomskyan theories. The papers all highlight that the two theories offer points of convergence, as they are interested in the same human manifestation, while divergence emerges from the fact that they build on two different premises about the nature of their object of study. The authors do not always reach similar conclusions but offer thoughts and material that will definitely help readers form their own opinion.

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Posted in Publications

Podcast episode 25: Interview with Felicity Meakins on contact linguistics

Gurindji kids

In this interview, we talk to Felicity Meakins about Pidgins, Creoles, and mixed languages. We discuss what they are, and how they are viewed in both linguistic scholarship and in speaker communities.

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Recent publications in the history and philosophy of the language sciences – May 2022

Roger Schöntag. 2022. Das Verständnis von Vulgärlatein in der Frühen Neuzeit vor dem Hintergrund der questione della lingua. Tübingen: Gunter Narr Verlag. 761 p. ISBN: 978-3-8233-8540-0
Publisher’s webiste

Die sprachliche Verwandtschaft zwischen Latein und Italienisch waren im Mittelalter nur vage bekannt. Dies ändert sich mit einer Diskussion im Jahre 1435, an der maßgebliche Humanisten wie Leonardo Bruni und Flavio Biondo beteiligt sind, die sich im Geiste der Rückbesinnung auf die Antike fragen, welche Sprache, d.h. welche Art von Latein, die Römer einst gesprochen haben mögen. Hieraus entspinnt sich nun eine Debatte (bis 1601) zwischen Lateinhumanisten und Vulgärhumanisten, an deren Ende sich die Erkenntnis durchsetzt, dass sich das Italienische (und andere romanische Sprachen) aus dem gesprochenen Latein der Antike, dem Vulgärlatein, herleitet. Die sprachwissenschaftliche Aufarbeitung dieser Debatte im Rahmen der italienischen Sprachenfrage (questione della lingua) ist Ziel und Gegenstand vorliegender Abhandlung.

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Posted in Publications

Upcoming events


23-25 November 2022
Salamanca, Spain
III Jornadas de Ideologías en obras sobre las lenguas de España y Portugal (ss. XV-XX)

12–13 January 2023
Paris, France
SHESL Conference 2023
New historical and diachronic perspectives on grammaticalization