Change in Language: Whitney, Breal and Wegener
The aim of this book is to provide a fresh view of the history of nineteenth-century language study by focusing on the writings of three linguists (Whitney, Bréal and Wegener) in three countries (the United States, France and Germany). The standard histories of linguistics portray the period between the 1840s and the 1890s as comprising a steady increase in philological knowledge, the discovery of sound laws and the astute study of minute philological curiosities. The three writers discussed here illustrate another trend in the evolution of the science of language. They are witnesses to an increasing interest on questions of 'general' linguistics, semantics and the study of human communication - new points of view from which they study the origin of language, language change and linguistic creativity.
The life and work of these three outstanding scholars, their relationships with their friends and enemies and their efforts to free linguistics from the unreflecting use of biological metaphors, give a new insight into the evolution of language study in an interdisciplinary and international context.
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