Podcast episode 12: Language as a system – Ferdinand de Saussure

In this episode, we look at Ferdinand de Saussure’s contributions to linguistics, which are widely considered to be foundational to the later movement of structuralism.
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Posted in Podcast

History of linguistics on Abralin ao vivo

In the excellent Abralin ao vivo series of online lectures, there have recently been a number of contributions that deal with the history of linguistics. Here is a selection for your edification and entertainment.

James McElvenny
Typology and the history of linguistics

Gonçalo Fernandes, Rogelio Ponce de Leon Roméo, Alessandro Jocelito Beccari
Historiografia Linguística

John Goldsmith
Where did generative grammar come from, anyway?

Posted in Announcements, Conferences and workshops

Recent publications in the history and philosophy of the language sciences – January 2021

Émilie AUSSANT et Jean-Michel FORTIS, ed. 2021. Historical journey in a linguistic archipelago: Descriptive concepts and case studies. Berlin : Language Science Press. (History and Philosophy of the Language Sciences, 3). 212 p. ISBN : 978-3-96110-292-1
Publisher’s website

This volume offers a selection of papers presented during the 14th International Conference on the History of the Language Sciences (ICHoLS XIV, Paris, 2017). Part I brings together studies dealing with descriptive concepts. First examined is the notion of “accidens” in Latin grammar and its Greek counterparts. Other papers address questions with a strong echo in today’s linguistics: localism and its revival in recent semantics and syntax, the origin of the term “polysemy” and its adoption through Bréal, and the difficulties attending the description of prefabs, idioms and other “fixed expressions”. This first part also includes studies dealing with representations of linguistic phenomena, whether these concern the treatment of local varieties (so-called patois) in French research, or the import and epistemological function of spatial representations in descriptions of linguistic time. Or again, now taking the word “representation” literally, the visual display of grammatical relations, in the form of the first syntactic diagrams. Part II presents case studies which involve wider concerns, of a social nature: the “from below” approach to the history of Chinese Pidgin English underlines the social roles of speakers and the diversity of speech situations, while the scrutiny of Lhomond’s Latin and French textbooks demonstrates the interplay of pedagogical practice, cross-linguistic comparison and descriptive innovation. An overview of early descriptions of Central Australian languages reveals a whole spectrum of humanist to positivist and antihumanist stances during the colonial age. An overarching framework is also at play in the anthropological perspective championed by Meillet, whose socially and culturally oriented semantics is shown to live on in Benveniste. The volume ends with a paper on Trần Đức Thảo, whose work is an original synthesis between phenomenology and Marxist semiology, wielded against the “idealistic” doctrine of Saussure.

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Interdisciplinary Seminar (online) – Linguistic Geographies. History, Epistemology and Methods

Organisation : Felix DE MONTETY (CNRS, Laboratoire Pacte, Grenoble, France) felix.de-montety@umrpacte.fr
Information : https://cartolangue.hypotheses.org/

This seminar aims at surveying the crossing trajectories of various scientific approaches to space and language, not only in geography and linguistics but also in history, anthropology and beyond. Its participants will propose to study how the tools of cartographical representation have been used and transformed over the past centuries to represent the spread and movement of language across specific territories, to look at the importance of naming processes in the making of place and identity, and explore some of the ways linguistic surveying can be translated from lived spaces to atlases.

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Posted in Conferences and workshops

New book: HPLS 3 – Historical journey in a linguistic archipelago: Descriptive concepts and case studies

HPLS 3 cover

The third book in the gold open access HPLS series has just appeared, Historical journey in a linguistic archipelago: Descriptive concepts and case studies, edited by Émilie Aussant and Jean-Michel Fortis. The volume contains a selection of papers from the International Conference on the History of the Language Sciences XIV, which was held in Paris in 2017.

Get your free PDF copy from Language Science Press!

Posted in Announcements, Publications

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

Ferdinand de SAUSSURE. 2020. Recueil des publications scientifiques de Ferdinand de Saussure. Edité par Ch. Bally et L. Gautier, révision d’A. Meillet. Reprise fac-similé de l’édition de 1921. Limoges : Lambert-Lucas. 656 p. ISBN : 978-2-35935-331-0
Publisher’s website

Voici tous les textes écrits par Saussure, signés par Saussure et publiés par Saussure, repris en 1921 dans un recueil posthume exhaustif par Charles Bally et Léopold Gautier – révisé par Antoine Meillet. Ce recueil entrait, en son temps, dans la même intention scientifique que la publication du Cours de linguistique générale. Pour l’éditeur d’aujourd’hui, il s’agit d’achever de rendre disponible en librairie l’essentiel de ce qu’il faut avoir lu du maître de Genève.

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Posted in Publications, Uncategorized

A Danish Framing of Roman Jakobson’s American Years – Review of From the early years of Phonology

Book cover: From the Early Years of Phonology

Patrick Flack
University of Fribourg

Over the last decade or so, we have been treated to a steady succession of book-length publications dedicated to the intellectual legacy of Roman Jakobson. This near continuous stream started with the release of the long-awaited volume 9/2 (part I & II) of Jakobson’s Selected Writings (ed. Toman 2012–13), quickly followed by the massive 4-volume Roman Jakobson anthology of critical essays in the series Critical assessments of leading linguists (Thomas 2014). Up next came a number of proceedings from conferences held respectively in Olomouc, Moscow and Milano/Vercelli: Roman O. Jakobson: a work in progress (Kubiček & Lass 2014), Jakobson Today [Jakobson segodnja] (Avtonomova 2015) and Roman Jakobson, linguistics and poetics [Roman Jakobson, linguistica e poetica] (Esposito, Sini & Castagneto 2018). To these were added an Italian monography, Roman Jakobson and the foundations of semiotics [Roman Jakobson e i fondamentati della semiotica] (Ponzio 2015) as well as the Roman Osipovič Jakobson volume in the landmark Russian series The Philosophy of Russia in the first half of the 20th Century [Filosofija Rossii pervoj poloviny XX veka] (Avtonomova, Baran & Ščedrina 2017). Finally, the last few of years have brought us new editions of Jakobson’s short writings and letters:[1] first, an Anthology of Roman Jakobson’s engaged writings [Angažovaná čítanka Romana Jakobsona] (ed. Toman 2017), followed by his extensive correspondence with Claude Lévi-Strauss in Correspondance 1942–1982 (ed. Loyer & Maniglier 2018), and now the Russian philologist’s epistolary exchanges with Danish phonologist Eli Fischer-Jørgensen in From the early years of phonology (Bank Jensen & D’Ottavi 2020).

Beyond bearing witness to Jakobson’s continued relevance, these publications highlight together some interesting features of the current state and scope of research on his work and life. A very encouraging sign, on the one hand, is that this research is being carried out by a new generation of scholars (along, of course, with a few senior Jakobson experts), whose interests and specialisations are decidedly interdisciplinary. Among the editors of the above-mentioned volumes, one finds not only linguists and historians of the language sciences, but also literary theorists, philosophers, anthropologists, semioticians and historians proper. The international, multilingual nature of the research into Jakobson’s work and legacy is another heartening aspect, especially given the fact that the various national and linguistic research contexts seem quite porous and aware of each other (many scholars are active cross-linguistically in several of these contexts). Further, one is struck not only by the sheer amount of new material published for the first time, but also by the prevalent role that the task of editing unpublished sources still takes up in comparison to the share of critical or interpretative studies of Jakobson’s ideas. As many researchers are happy to point out (Sorokina 2018, Testenoire 2019, D’Ottavi 2020), much more archival, edition and translation work awaits, be it in relation to the Jakobson Papers at MIT, to relevant archives in Moscow and Prague or to the many significant articles still only available in Russian, Czech or even Polish. Read more ›

Posted in Article

Podcast episode 11: Interview with Floris Solleveld on disciplinary linguistics in the 19th century

Floris Solleveld

In this interview, we talk to Floris Solleveld about the character of linguistic research in the 19th century.
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Posted in Podcast

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

Historiographia Linguistica 47-1. 2020. Amsterdam : Benjamins. 195 p. ISSN 0302-5160
Publisher’s webpage

Table of contents

Manuel Sartori – Une cause et ses raisons d’être Solution latine à un problème de terminologie arabe.

Marco Spreafico – Diglossia and language ideology Petrarch on linguistic variation and differentiation.

Floris Solleveld – Expanding the comparative view: Humboldt’s Über die Kawi-Sprache and its language materials.

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Posted in Publications, Uncategorized

CfP: Documentation and Description of Asian Languages – History and Epistemology


January 2022

Proposal submission deadline: 15 March 2021

This conference proposes to address, from a historical and/or an epistemological point of view, the ways in which Asian languages have been documented and described. “Asia” is used here in the wide sense which the French Société asiatique gives to it, that is to say as designating an area going from the Maghreb to the Far East.

Conference languages: English, French, German, Italian or Spanish.

Further information at the SHESL website in English and French.

Posted in Announcements, Conferences and workshops