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The History of Linguistics in Europe

Authoritative and wide-ranging, this book examines the history of western linguistics over a 2000-year timespan, from its origins in ancient Greece up to the crucial moment of change in the Renaissance that laid the foundations of modern linguistics. Some of today's burning questions about language date back a long way: in 1400 BC Plato was asking how words relate to reality. Other questions go back just a few generations, such as our interest in the mechanisms of language change, or in the social factors that shape the way we speak. Vivien Law explores how ideas about language over the centuries have changed to reflect changing modes of thinking. A survey chapter brings the coverage of the book up to the present day. Classified bibliographies and chapters on research resources and the qualities the historian of linguistics needs to develop, provide the reader with the tools to go further.
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Table of Contents

Preface; 1. Getting ready to study the history of linguistics; 2. Greek philosophy and the origins of western linguistics; 3. Towards a discipline of grammar: the transition from philosophy; 4. From literacy to grammar: describing language structure in the ancient world; 5. Christianity and language; 6. The early Middle Ages; 7. The Carolingian Renaissance; 8. Scholasticism: linking language and reality; 9. Medieval vernacular grammars; 10. The Renaissance: discovery of the outer world; 11. And what happened next? Linguistics since 1600 - in brief; 12. Becoming a historian of linguistics.

About the Author

VIVIEN LAW is Reader in the History of Linguistic Thought at Cambridge University, and Fellow of Trinity College.


"...a book very useful for scholars. Each chapter is readable, entertaining, and full of background information needed to put things in context. Anthropologists will find this book of particular interest because of its emphasis on understanding people different from oneself." Anthropological Linguistics Anthropological Linguistics

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