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History of Linguistics
Transcript of History of Linguistics
(500 AD- 1400)
During the Middle Ages in Europe Latin was held in high esteem as the language of the public sphere, as the primary written language. Gradually interest in the vernacular languages increased among scholars, and traditions of writing began to emerge.
Descriptive grammar of the vernacular were also written, these generally presented the languages in the mould of Latin.
The twelfth century saw the emerge of the notion of the universal grammar. Bacan.
From the fifteenth century, colonization brought Europeans into contact with a wide variety of languages. Information about them was gathered by explorers, travelers, missionaries and others and was subsequently disseminated within Europe in the form of lists, grammar and texts.
Scholar compiled words lists in many languages and use them in language comparisons.
Neogrammarian tradition late 19 c.
William Jones-> discovery of the relatedness of Indo European languages and the comparative linguistics.
Hindu tradition had its origins in 1000 BC., and was stimulated by changes in Sanskrit, the sacred language of religious texts.
The best known grammarian from this tradition is Panini, whose grammar covered phonetics and morphology.
(100 BC- VI c AD)
The primary interest was in morphology, particularly parts of speech and the forms of nouns and verbs; syntax was largely ignored.
Varro, Donatus, Priscan -> Middle Ages.
Early linguistics texts date almost 4000 BC. Those texts were list of nouns in Sumerian, the language of religious and legal texts. Southern Mesopotamia.
History of Linguistics
This tradition of linguistics developed slightly later than the Hindu tradition (400 BC), and also initially in response to linguistic change necessitating explanation of the language of Homer's epics.
Themes of importance in the Greek tradition included the origin of language, parts of speech systems, the relation between language and thought, and the relation between the two aspects of words-sign - whether form and meaning are connected by nature or purely by convention. First surviving grammar of European language by Dionysius Thrax 100 BC.
Arabic and Hebrew
(VII c & IX c)
The Greek grammatical tradition had a strong influence on the Arabic tradition, which also focused on morphology; the tradition was also characterized by accurate phonetics descriptions. 600 AD.
The Arabic tradition served in turn as a major influence on the Hebrew tradition, which began in about the ninth century. First grammar and dictionary in Hebrew.
Abu al-Aswad ad-Du'ali, Saadya ben Joseph al-Fayyumi.
David Qimhi-> impact on European Linguistics.
Modern linguistics emerged in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries with the shift of focus from historical concerns of changes in languages over time to the idea that a language can be viewed as a self contained and structure system situated at a particular point in time. This forms the basis for structuralist linguistics that developed in the past Firs World War period.
The Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure is considered as the founding father of modern linguistics.
Phonetics and phonology were dominant in this period.
The IPA was established in 1886 by a group of European phoneticians.
The Prague School is a tradition of Linguistic thought that is associated with was a group of Czech and other linguist who formed the Linguistic Circle of Prague, established in 1926. Prague school phonology succeed in placing the notion of phoneme in the centre of linguistic theory, as one of the most fundamental units. The school also included another area, syntax.
Scholars: Trubetzkoy, Mathesius, Daes, Firbas. Relation between word order and discourse. Notions: theme or topic/ rheme or comment, given and new. Jakobson.
British Structuralism during this period appeared a theory known as systemic functional grammar.
Daniel Jones-> kept developing Sweet's work on phonetics.
J. R. Firth-> The London School.
M. K. Halliday (Sistemyc Functional Grammar) 1950.
Danish Structuralism. The Copenhagen School (Hejlmslev, Uldall) develop an approach called Glossematics. Glossematics focused on the relations between units in the language system. This theory is algebraic theory of language; it was far more abstract than any of its contemporary theories.
American Structuralism, Franz Boas, Edward Sapir and Leonard Bloomfield were responsible for setting America linguistics an its course. Boas, along with his student Sapir, strongly upheld the notion that all languages should be described in their own terms, rather than being forced into the mould of European languages. They maintained psychological and anthropological orientations, seeing language as intimately connected with the way of life and thought of its speakers. Bloomfield opposed to the mentalistic orientation at Boas and Sapir, and was heavily influenced by the mechanistic outlook of the fashionable behaviourist psychology. His approach was focussed on methodology. Linguistics as a SCIENCE.
approaches to linguistics
The school of linguistic thought that arose in the first half of the twentieth century continued to proliferate in the twentieth century. It is usual to divide the vast array of approaches into two primary types, formal and functional, according to whether they adopt an overall focus on form or function.
In America, mainstream neo-Bloomfieldian structuralism became increasingly algebraic in orientation from the end of Second World War, and focused increasingly on syntax. In 1957 it suffered a major challenge with the publication of Noam Chomsky's Syntactic structures. Chomsky thought quickly became dominant.
Grammar is considered to be a formal system making explicit the mechanisms by which the grammatical sentences of language can be generated; and for this reason the tradition is called generative grammar.
In the late 1950s many functionally oriented schools emerged, some of them in opposition to Chomskyan linguistics. Prominent in this tradition is the idea that grammatical categories are functional- that they arose to serve some purpose, and are not arbitrary.
André Martinet, Michael Halliday.
Simon Dik -> Functional Grammar.
In USA West Coast Functional Grammar.
Contemporary linguistics is a richly diversified field, with so many specializations that not scholar can cope to cover them all. Many branches acquired their separate identities and methodologies in the second half of twentieth century, although most had been investigated previously. Generative grammar continues as a major force guiding their orientations and goals, although other theories have also had some impact.