Recent publications in the history and philosophy of the language sciences – August 2020

Mårten SÖDERBLOM SAARELA. 2020. The Early Modern Travels of Manchu. A Script and Its Study in East Asia and Europe. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. ncounters with Asia.  288 p. ISBN 9780812252071
Publisher’s website

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Manchu was a language first written down as part of the Qing state-building project in Northeast Asia in the early seventeenth century. After the Qing invasion of China in 1644, and for the next two and a half centuries, Manchu was the language of state in one of the early modern world’s great powers. Its prominence and novelty attracted the interest of not only Chinese literati but also foreign scholars. Yet scholars in Europe and Japan, and occasionally even within China itself, were compelled to study the language without access to a native speaker. Jesuit missionaries in Beijing sent Chinese books on Manchu to Europe, where scholars struggled to represent it in an alphabet compatible with Western pedagogy and printing technology. In southern China, meanwhile, an isolated phonologist with access to Jesuit books relied on expositions of the Roman alphabet to make sense of the Manchu script. When Chinese textbooks and dictionaries of Manchu eventually reached Japan, scholars there used their knowledge of Dutch to understand Manchu.

In The Early Modern Travels of Manchu, Mårten Söderblom Saarela focuses on outsiders both within and beyond the Qing empire who had little interaction with Manchu speakers but took an interest in the strange, new language of a rising world power. He shows how—through observation, inference, and reference to received ideas on language and writing—intellectuals in southern China, Russia, France, Choson Korea, and Tokugawa Japan deciphered the Manchu script and explores the uses to which it was put for recording sounds and arranging words.

Table of contents and excerpt


Tran DUC THAO. 2020. Ricerche sull’origine del linguaggio e della coscienza. Traduttore: Bonaventura Menato. Curatore: Jacopo D’Alonzo, Andrea D’Urso. Milan: Mimesis. 374 p. EAN 9788857565873
Publisher’s website

9788857565873_0_0_1071_75Nel presente volume, apparso in Francia nel 1973, sono raccolte le tre ricerche (rispettivamente sul gesto dell’indicazione, sul linguaggio sincretico e sul complesso edipico) che Tran Duc Thao ha dedicato alle origini del linguaggio e della coscienza. Il filosofo vietnamita risale ai primordi della cognizione umana descrivendo la pratica sociale e comunicativa dei nostri antenati preistorici, comparandola con lo sviluppo linguistico del bambino e assegnando al linguaggio – innanzitutto gestuale – il ruolo di mediatore tra la vita reale e l’interiorità vissuta, nel quadro di una “semiologia dialettica” debitrice della tradizione marxista e in costante dialogo con le scienze sociali e naturali. La presente edizione si basa su fonti inedite, proponendo un testo corretto e aderente alle volontà dell’autore.


E.F.K. Koerner. 2020. Last Papers in Linguistic Historiography. Amsterdam: Benjamins. Studies in the History of the Language Sciences, 128. 214 p. ISBN 9789027207364
Publisher’s website

Capture d’écran 2020-08-17 à 14.45.13This volume brings together — in 8 chapters — what has occupied the author during his many years as editor of Historiographia Linguistica. Namely, how the history of linguistics has developed into a major field of scholarly research, and that the discussion of questions of method and epistemology needs to be continued to avoid stereotypical practice. The author takes up a number of subjects that often had been regarded as settled, but which require a revisit. This is shown in several chapters, whether it appears subjects like ‘analogy’ or the relationships between well-known linguists like Saussure, Hermann Paul, and others.

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