Blog Archives

The foreign entanglements of Mandarin Chinese in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries

Mårten Söderblom Saarela Academia Sinica in Taipei This blog post will discuss some transnational aspects of the history of Mandarin Chinese, what in the twentieth century became codified as the national language of China. I will first briefly discuss what

Posted in 18th century, 19th century, 20th century, Article, China, History, Uncategorized

Why women botanists outnumbered women linguists in nineteenth century Australia

Jane Simpson Australian National University 1. Introduction In colonial Australia (1788–1901), only about a dozen women are recorded as documenting Australian languages, compared with nearly 300 women contributors to herbariums (Maroske and Vaughan 2014), and with the 100 or so

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Posted in 19th century, Article, Australia, Field linguistics, Grammars, Missionary Linguistics, Uncategorized

Speech sounds in the field: Dynamical approaches to phonology after Maxwell and Einstein

Alexander Teixeira Kalkhoff Universität Freiburg 1 The notion of field in physics The mutual interaction, i.e. attraction and repulsion, of bodies across space without direct mechanical contact, such as the movement of planets, gravity, magnetism, electricity, or light, posed a

Posted in 19th century, 20th century, America, Article, Europe, Field linguistics, History, Linguistics

John Hart and the Beginning of English Linguistics in Tudor England

John Hart (c. 1501–1574) is a remarkable figure in the history of British linguistic thought. Along with Thomas Smith (1513–1577), William Bullokar (c. 1531–1609), and Richard Mulcaster (1531/2–1611), he is one of the most important orthographers in the sixteenth century when English spelling questions were becoming central to discussions of the vernacular. The sixteenth century saw the publication of the first group of books dedicated to systematic study of the English language which began with the movement of orthographic reform. In the history of British linguistics, Hart’s An Orthographie (1569) has a special status: it is the first treatise not only focusing on the study of the English language but also published in English (rather than Latin which was the academic lingua franca in Western Europe during that period). His three linguistic writings are outstanding in terms of both depth and breadth. To be specific, as one of the seminal orthographers of the Tudor period, he has detailed description of the English sounds and thus is widely recognised as the first phonetician of the English language in England. Moreover, his work is much richer than merely technical analysis of the language—his ideas about language are informed by the theory and practice of Tudor politics, which can be better understood by bringing together the technical, ideological, and rhetorical dimensions in one discussion.

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Posted in 16th century, Article, Linguistics

Henry Sweet, a model for John Rupert Firth?

Angela Senis Université Bordeaux Montaigne This post introduces a few of the insights developed during the Henry Sweet Society colloquium in 2017. My full research on this topic is the subject of a paper that is soon to be proposed

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Posted in 19th century, 20th century, Article, Europe, History, Linguistics

Pierre-Philippe Potier’s Elementa Grammaticae Huronicae (1745)

Zanna Van Loon University of Leuven Introduction Instead of imposing European languages, Catholic friars conducting missions in the Americas in the early modern period opted to learn indigenous tongues to more efficiently teach local communities the religious doctrine. To guarantee

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Posted in 18th century, America, Article, History, Missionary Linguistics

Towards a history of concept list compilation in historical linguistics

Johann-Mattis List Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Jena A large proportion of lexical data of the world’s languages is presented in the form of word lists in which a set of concepts was translated into the

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Posted in 18th century, 19th century, 20th century, Article, historical linguistics, Lexicography, Linguistics

In the Shadow of the Standard – a workshop

Olivia Walsh University of Nottingham On Saturday 22 September 2018, I organized a workshop, ‘In the Shadow of the Standard’, at the University of Nottingham. The aim of the workshop was two-fold: firstly, to explore new perspectives on how attitudes

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Posted in Article, Europe, History, Linguistics, Sociolinguistics

Typology – a new task of linguistics

James McElvenny University of Edinburgh In lieu of an introduction Below I offer an English translation of the last essay Georg von der Gabelentz (1840–1893) personally submitted for publication, “Hypologie [Typologie] der Sprachen, eine neue Aufgabe der Linguistik”. This essay

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Posted in 19th century, Article, Europe, History, Linguistics, Typology

Some reflections on the uses and abuses of theory in linguistic thought

Jon Orman My purpose in this piece is to offer a few brief thoughts on a series of questions with which I have become increasingly interested in recent months. Linguistics, it seems to me, is awash with theories and theoretical

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Posted in Article, Linguistics, Philosophy