The History of Linguistics

  • 2000 BCE

    Babylonia tradition (4000 years before the present)

    Babylonia tradition (4000 years before the present)
    The earliest linguistic texts written in cuneiform on clay tablets,(four thousand years before the present). In southern Mesopotamia there arouse a grammatical tradition that lasted more than 2,500 years. The linguistic texts from the earliest parts of the tradition were lists of nouns in Sumerian. It was being replaced in everyday speech by a very different language, Akkadian. It remained however as a prestigious language, and continued to be used in religious and legal contexts.
  • 1000 BCE

    Hindu Traditions (1000 BC)

    Hindu Traditions (1000 BC)
    The Indu tradition of linguistics had its origins in the first millennium BC and was simulated by changes in Sanskrist (indo European, India) the sacred language of religious texts. Ritual required the exact verb performance of the religious texts, and gramatical tradition emerged that set out rules for the ancient languages.The best known grammarian from this tradition is Panini, whose grammar covered phonetic and morphology.
  • 500 BCE

    Greek linguistics(5th Century BC Onwards)

    Greek linguistics(5th Century BC Onwards)
    The Greek traditions included the origins of the languages, parts of the speech sistems, the relationship between the languages and thoughts, and two aspect of words signs, connected by nature (inconicity) or by convention (arbitrary).The first surviving grammar of a European language is a short description of Greek by Dionysious Thrax, Techne grammatike (100 BC).This work treated phonetics and morphology.
  • 100 BCE

    Roman Traditions (1st Century BC to aprroximately 500 AD)

    Roman Traditions (1st Century BC to aprroximately 500 AD)
    The primary interest was in morphology, parts of speech, the form of nouns and verbs. Syntax was ignored. Roman linguistic Varro produced a multi volume grammar of Latin of wich only about a quarter has survived. Later grammmars of Donatus and Priscan were hight influential in the Middle Ages.
  • Jul 18, 700

    Arabic and Hebrew Traditions (7th century)

    Arabic and Hebrew Traditions (7th century)
    The Greek grammatical tradition had a strong influence on the Arabic tradition and focussed on morphology and accurate phonetic descriptions. Its beginning are considered to be in the seventh century AD, with the work of Abu al Aswad.The Arabic tradition served in turn as a major influence on the Hebrew traditions, later in the ninth century. Saadya Ben Joseph produced the first grammar and dictionary of Hebrew.
  • Mar 21, 1000

    Middle Ages in Europe (500 - 1400 AD)

    Middle Ages in Europe (500 - 1400 AD)
    In Europe Latin was held in high esteem as the language of the public sphere, as the primary written language. Pedagogic grammars of Latin for native speakers of other languages began appearing. In about 1000 an abbot in Britain wrote a grammar of Latin for Anglo Saxon speaking children. The twelfth century saw the emergence of the notion of the universal nature of grammar held by Bacon.
  • European Colonialism (1400 AD)

    European Colonialism (1400 AD)
    Colonization brought europeans into contact with a variety of languages in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific. Information about them was gathered by explorers, colonial administrators, travellers, missionaries. Scholars compiled word lists in many languages and used them in language comparisons. It emerged the notion that most European languages formed a family of related languages. William Jones discovered the relatedness of the Indoeuropean and the founding of comparative linguistics.
  • European Colonialism (1700 AD)

    European Colonialism (1700 AD)
    The Danish linguist Rasmus Rask drew together the various threads of historical linguistics of that period into a coherent system of principles for establishing the relatedness of languages. He stressed the importance of grammatical evidence and of regular sound correspondences between related words (cognates). Grammar of European languages were written and missionaries played an important role.
  • Modern Linguistics - Beginnings

    Modern Linguistics - Beginnings
    Modern linguistics focused on the idea that a language can be viewed as a self-contained and structured system situated at a particular point in time.The Swiss linguistic Ferdinand de Saussure is acknowledged as the key figure and the founding father of modern linguistics. He championed the idea that language is a system of arbitrary signs, and his conceptualisation of the sign has been highly influential.
  • Diversification - The Prague School

    Diversification - The Prague School
    The Prague School is a tradition of linguistic thought. It was a group of Czech and other linguists who formed the Linguistic Circle of Prague. This group held regular meetings and published a journal. Its primary interest was phonological theory. It also made contributions to syntax. The most famous representative was Roman Jakobson.
  • British Structuralism

    British Structuralism
    Daniel Jones took up and extended Sweet´s work on phonetics. J.R. Firth held the first chair in linguistics in the University of London. He brought a number of original and provocative perspectives to linguistics. He stablished the London School.
  • Danish Structuralism

    Danish Structuralism
    The Copenhagen School was headed by Louis Hjelmslev who developed an approach called glossematics. Glossematics focused on the relations between units in the language system. It is a algebraic theory of language.
  • American structuralism

    American structuralism
    Franz Boas, Edward Sapir and Leonard Blommfield were responsible for setting American linguistics on its course. Boas gathered information on the languages and cultures Native Americans. He upheld the notion that all languages should be described in their own terms. He maintained psycological and anthropological orientations, seeing language as intimately connected with the way of life and thought of its speakers. Bloomfield established linguistics as a science.
  • Contemporary Approaches to Linguistics

    The schools of linguistics 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 on function.
  • Formal linguistics

    Formal linguistics
    In America, mainstream neo-Bloomfieldian structuralism became increasingly algebraic in orientation from the end of the Second World War, and focused on syntax. In 1957 appeared the publication of Noam Chomsky's (1928-) Syntactic structures, influenced by recent developments in mathematical logic. Grammar is considered to be a formal system making explicit the mechanisms, first in terms of rules, later by other means and for this reason the tradition is called generative grammar.
  • Functional linguistics

    Functional linguistics
    In opposition to Chomskian linguistics, was functional grammar, developed from the late 1960s by the Dutch linguist Simon Dik. The Greenbergian tradition is one of the least functional of the functionalist schools, being functional more in its opposition to generative grammar than in its ideas. Functionalist schools have been more willing to accept and integrate typological and language universal research than mainstream formal linguistics.
  • Scope of Modern Linguistics

    Scope of Modern Linguistics
    Generative grammar continues as a major force guiding their orientations and goals. Besides, other theories have also had some impact. Technological developments have facilitated the task of language since the beginning of the twentieth century. It includes audio and video recorders, and computers. As well as, in the computational field, including to machine generation and recognition of speech, automatic parsing of texts, translation, and building and maintaining large corpora.