Podcast episode 2: Comparative-historical linguistics – Bopp and Grimm

Der Boppard ist ein Ort am Rhein; die Bopp-Art sind Pedanterei'n

In this episode, we look at the emergence of comparative-historical grammar, focusing on the work of Franz Bopp and Jacob Grimm. Read more ›

Posted in 19th century, Denmark, Germany, historical linguistics, History, Linguistics, Podcast

Has the LSA Been a Generativist-Dominated Organisation?

Frederick J. Newmeyer
University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, and University of Washington

There are two stories about how the field of linguistics (at least in the United States) reacted sociologically to the advent of generative grammar. I call them the ‘historiographers’ story’ and the ‘official MIT story’. According to the historiographers’ story, Chomsky and Halle succeeded because they were able to capture the organs of power in the field, in particular, the Linguistic Society of America (LSA). Starting in the mid 1970s, quotations like the following became commonplace: Read more ›

Posted in 20th century, America, Linguistics, Uncategorized

Call for Papers: Integrationism and language ideologies, Santa Catarina, Brazil, 1–2 September 2020

1–2 September 2020
Federal University of Santa Catarina, Brazil

There are issues of pride, passion and politics involved, not to mention intelligence and imagination, and ultimately – perhaps initially and primarily — moral responsibility as well. And they are involved not merely as contributory causes or consequences but as substantive questions concerning how – if at all – A communicates with B.
(Roy Harris, Signs, Language and Communication, 1996, p. 2)

The annual Conference of the International Association for the Integrational Study of Language and Communication (IAISLC) will be held at the Federal University of Santa Catarina, Brazil, 1–2 September 2020, and will be hosted primarily by the Post-Graduate Program of Linguistics at the Federal University of Santa Catarina. Read more ›

Posted in Announcements, Conferences and workshops

Recent publications in the history and philosophy of linguistics – January 2020

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Posted in Announcements, Publications, Uncategorized

Podcast episode 1: Pre-history of comparative-historical linguistics

Monument to Sir William Jones, St Paul's Cathedral, London

The first series of the History and Philosophy of the Language Sciences Podcast looks at the history of modern linguistics. We begin in this episode by examining the pre-history of comparative-historical grammar. Read more ›

Posted in 19th century, historical linguistics, History, India, Linguistics, Philosophy, Podcast

Recent publications in the history and philosophy of linguistics – December 2019

Henri MESCHONNIC. 2019. The Henri Meschonnic Reader. A Poetics of Society. Edited by Marko Pajević. Translated by Pier-Pascale Boulanger, Andrew Eastman, John E. Joseph, David Nowell Smith, Marko Pajević, Chantal WrightMarko The Henri Meschonnic Reader. A Poetics of Society. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.  344 p. ISBN: 9781474445962
Publisher’s website

Henri Meschonnic was a linguist, poet, translator of the Bible and one of the most original French thinkers of his generation. He strove throughout his career to reform the understanding of language and all that depends on it. His work has had a shaping influence on a generation of scholars and here, for the first time, a selection of these are made available in English for a new generation of linguists and philosophers of language.
This Reader, featuring fourteen texts covering the core concepts and topics of Meschonnic’s theory, will enrich, enhance and challenge your understanding of language. It explores his key ideas on poetics, the poem, rhythm, discourse and his critique of the sign. Meschonnic’s vast oeuvre was continuously preoccupied with the question of a poetics of society; he constantly connected the theory of language to its practice in various fields and interrogated what that means for society. In exploring this fundamental question, this book is central to the study and philosophy of language, with rich repercussions in fields such as translation studies, poetics and literary studies, and in redefining notions such as rhythm, modernity, the poem and the subject.

Margaret THOMAS. 2019. Formalism and Functionalism in Linguistics. The Engineer and the Collector. New York : Routledge. 126 p. ISBN : 9780429455858
Publisher’s website

9781138316119This volume is a concise introduction to the lively ongoing debate between formalist and functionalist approaches to the study of language. The book grounds its comparisons between the two in both historical and contemporary contexts where, broadly speaking, formalists’ focus on structural relationships and idealized linguistic data contrasts with functionalists’ commitment to analyzing real language used as a communicative tool. The book highlights key sub-varieties, proponents, and critiques of each respective approach. It concludes by comparing formalist versus functionalist contributions in three domains of linguistic research: in the analysis of specific grammatical constructions; in the study of language acquisition; and in interdisciplinary research on the origins of language. Taken together, the volume opens insight into an important tension in linguistic theory, and provides students and scholars with a more nuanced understanding of the structure of the discipline of modern linguistics.


Posted in Announcements, Publications, Uncategorized

Cfp: XXXI. International Colloquium of the “Studienkreis ‘Geschichte der Sprachwissenschaft’” (SGdS) on Language and Language Awareness in the History of Linguistics (Flensburg, 18.-20.06.2020)

From June 18th-20th, 2020, the XXXI. International Colloquium of the “Studienkreis ‘Geschichte der Sprachwissenschaft’” (SGdS) on Language and Language Awareness in the History of Linguistics will take place at the Europa-UniversitĂ€t Flensburg. The choice of topics may range from antiquity to the present. Since antiquity, there has been a lively debate on questions dealing with language and language awareness. One only needs to think of Plato’s reflections on the role of language as an instrument of knowledge and of Truth Seeking in his Cratylus or on the factional dispute between the Anomalists and Analogists.
Over the centuries, Read more ›

Posted in Conferences and workshops, Uncategorized

Une bonne langue pour chanter ? RĂ©flexions sur les caractĂ©ristiques phonĂ©tiques des langues et sur le chant baroque

Claudia Schweitzer
Histoire des Théories Linguistiques, CNRS, Université de Paris

Dans sa Lettre sur la musique française (1753 : 91), Rousseau dĂ©clare « qu’il n’y a ni mesure ni mĂ©lodie dans la Musique Française, parce que la langue n’en est pas susceptible ». Par consĂ©quent, son « chant n’est qu’un aboyement continuel, insupportable Ă  toute oreille non prĂ©venue ». Le français est une langue inadaptĂ©e pour chanter, ainsi l’opinion souvent exprimĂ©e (comme ici chez Rousseau), et ceci jusqu’à aujourd’hui. La prĂ©fĂ©rence est gĂ©nĂ©ralement donnĂ©e Ă  la langue italienne dont Giambattista Mancini (1776 : 199) fait l’éloge ici : « Toutes les nations sont obligĂ©es, bon grĂ© ou malgrĂ© [sic !], de convenir que la langue italienne est, de toutes les langues, la plus harmonieuse, la plus douce, la plus suave, la plus propre, en un mot, Ă  ĂȘtre adaptĂ©e Ă  une bonne musique. »

Si l’on compare ces constats avec celui de Hermann Finck (1556 : livre 5) au milieu du Read more ›

Posted in 17th century, 18th century, Article, Europe, Uncategorized

Recent publications in the history and philosophy of linguistics – November 2019

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Posted in Announcements, Publications, Uncategorized

Language in and out of society: Converging critiques of the Labovian paradigm

Johannes Woschitz
University of Edinburgh

The following text is based on and is, where appropriate, an elaboration of Woschitz (2019), a paper I have recently published and which is the centrepiece of my PhD thesis. A different title could have been: the structuralist heritage in sociolinguistics. Yet another title could have been: the ongoing clarification of the register concept within sociolinguistics.

Consider the following phenomenon: All throughout North America, a range of sound changes – more specifically, phonological changes – have been reported (Labov, Ash, & Boberg, 2006). Speakers of the Inland North are undergoing the so-called Northern Cities Vowel Shift, Canadians are undergoing the Canadian Vowel Shift, the West merges CAUGHT with COT, Philadelphians show fronting of back vowels, and so on. Similar changes have been studied across the Atlantic Ocean. In Danish spoken in Denmark, for instance, vigorous sound changes have been reported to have happened in the 20th century, which is why Swedes find it increasingly hard to understand their neighbours (see Gregersen, 2003, p. 145).

In their analysis of such phenomena, linguists are faced with at least three challenges. Read more ›

Posted in America, Article, Dialectology, Linguistics, Phonetics, Phonology, Sociolinguistics