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INTRODUCTION: The evolution of the scientific study of language ie Linguistics reflects the direction in the general progress of man through the ages. From the ancients to the modern and post modern era, we observe an increasing complexity of the thought forms that forms the basic structure of language . In the words of the American linguist, Leonard Bloomfield Language plays a great part in our life, perhaps because of its familiarity, we rarely observe it, taking rather for granted as we do with walking ad breathing. The effects of language are remarkable and include much of what distinguishes man from the other animals . Like in all areas of human endeavour and development, the history of linguistics reflects the debt we owe to our forbears and ancestors. Hence we have a steady progression of linguistic thought from the ancient to the modern period.
ANCIENT GREEK LINGUISTICS The ancient Greeks had the gift of wondering about things other took for granted. They speculated boldly and persistently about the origin,
The Greek generalizations were not improved upon until the eighteenth century. held that language originated in nature. while Aristotle was for theme of convention. a persistent controversy in Greek linguistics has been the controversy of whether nature or convention accounted for the relationship between words and their meaning. is agreed by consensus or having pre-determined fixed values was also a theme that characterized Greek linguistics. though we of the modern era got knowledge of this. notably Roman Philosophers.history and structure of language. 2 . The core of Grecian ideas linguistics that has run throughout history includes: history of language. when scholars ceased to view language as a direct gift from God. A subject of concern during this period of linguistics was language was man-made or original or supernatural in origin. Plato favoured the first position. The possibilities that the meaning of language . to mention but a few. Furthermore. The great and notable scholars during this period as is usual were involved in the debate of whether language was natural ie originated in the idea of things. The Stoics however. The Greek grammatical traditional was largely developed originally by schoolmasters. Our traditional lore about language is due to them. and put various theories as to its origin. through the language of the Greek philosophers. It is worthy to mention here that Greek linguistics helped in the development of linguistics by originating generalizations that were later developed by succeeding generations of scholars. parts of speech and the relationship between language and thought. with the first words imitating the things they name or as earlier stated developed by convention or a synthesis of the two.
D. the medieval linguists through their studies has provided us with the rules of general grammar. It is generally agreed that medieval period is the period of the Middle Ages albeit largely European in character and attributes.) and the about the year 1500 A. Furthermore. theory and practice. it should be noted that. government and apposition. thus providing the necessary raw materials for the gradual development in linguistic thought. The medieval linguists or philosophers contributed much less than the ancients. who had. ancient Greek linguistics served as the basis for succeeding generation of linguists to improve upon the essence and core of the science of language. first-hand knowledge of the languages they studied. MEDIEVAL LINGUISTICS Medievalism could be widely postulated to mean the history of Europe between the end of the Holy Roman Empire (476 A. languages embody universal cannons of logic.D. However. 3 . The medieval scholar saw in Latin the classical normal form of human speech. the medieval philosophers also known as the scholastics studied and discovered some features of Latin grammar. such as the distinction between nouns and adjectives and the differences between concord.In summary. The rules of GENERAL GRAMMAR demonstrate the structure of various languages (especially of Latin) and that these displays the fact that. at any rate. The medieval scholar largely studied only classical Latin. Medieval linguistics is an offshoot of Greek linguistics were Latin was the principal language of discourse.
the study of Greek came back into fashion. The Renaissance period can also been seen as the bridge between the Medieval and Modern epochs. Hebrew and Arabic was added. 4 . The medieval era linguistics coupled with the spread of education also brought about a CLASS dimension in the arena of language and communication. RENAISSANCE PERIOD The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly through the 14th to the 17th century beginning in Florence in present day Italy in the Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. and missionaries translated religious books into the tongues of newly discovered countries. conquest and colonization. through voyages. The Renaissance was a period of travel and experimentation. As a cultural movement it encompassed a resurgence of learning based on classical sources based educational reform. to this day. still look for truths about the universe in the formal features of one language or another. In other words. Another dimension of the medieval linguists is the belief that the GRAMMARIAN fortified by his powers of reasoning can ascertain the logical basis of language and prescribe how people ought to speak in society.The doctrine of GENERAL GRAMMAR seeks to apply logical standards to language. in acknowledging the contributions of Linguistics to the advancement of knowledge. At the end of the middle ages. Philosophers. The Linguistic horizon naturally widened during the Renaissance period. Europe became acquainted with a wide variety of languages. exploration and experimentation. soon afterward. Travellers brought back vocabularies.
5 . some scholars also examined a variety of languages in order to get a philosophical basis or survey of human speech. We also witnessed the fusion of historical-comparative and philosophical-descriptive to the study of various languages. Hebrew. 19TH CENTURY LINGUISTICS What is referred to as modern linguistics began its development in the 18th century reaching the so called golden age of philology in the 19th CENTURY. and Sanskrit. dictionaries and religious texts. Furthermore.Information on languages from Asia. etc. especially on the GERMANIC. It was during this period that the systematic comparison of Indo European languages began. The period also gave birth to a great stream of historical research and a small but general accelerated linguistic study. grammar. fundamentals of language. Africa and America became available in the form of word lists. the Renaissance period can be aptly classified as the era of comparative linguistics. linguistics became a science. and with the predominance of historical linguistics. with a lot of Treatises and publications. saw the emergence of divergent interests in the study of linguistics viz. including the ancients languages of Latin. The 19th century witnessed the rise of historical linguistics . ROMANCE AND SLAVIC language stocks. In fact. psychology of speech. Language structure. In summary the nineteenth century.
y HERODIAN (Son of Apollonius Dyscolus) This ancient Greek grammarian was able to collate and assemble a vast library of information on the INFLECTIONS and ACCENTS OF Greek Language 6 . basing their opinion on the irregularity of linguistic structure. the Etymology of words or language was born. while the Anomalist were of the belief that language was irregular. y ARISTOTLE In the work De Interpretatione.C) discusses the origin of words. by favouring that the origin of words was as result of human convention and not natural. To Plato. The Analogists believed that language was natural and therefore logical at the bottom of it. This dialogue gives us the first glimpse of into a century long controversy between the ANALOGISTS and the ANOMALIST. we owe the debate to the origin of language in other words. the scholar. Plato (427-347 B. therefore. Aristotle also contributed to the Greek grammatical tradition. and particularly the question the relation between things and the words which name is a natural and necessary relation or merely the result of human convention.SOME SCHOLARS and THEIR AFOREMENTIONED PERIODS CONTRIBUTIONS IN THE ANCIENT SCHOLARS y PLATO In his dialogue Cratylus.
the Stoics were also responsible for the gradual definition of terminology and theory now echoed in modern linguistics. later adopted by Ferdinand De Saussure. MEDIEVAL SCHOLARS y DANTE In De Vulgaria Eloquenta. They also made linguistics an important part of the study of the cosmos and human. regarded as the vernacular and primary speech as it was first learned. Dante expanded the scope of linguistic enquiry into the traditional languages of the day. Actually DANTE and most of the lesser known medieval scholars were hampered on the subject because of a lack of comparative texts and elements within them. (On the Eloquence of Vernacular). Language originated in nature. In a significant reversal of the typical prioritization of Latin. because the medieval were solely involved in the Latin of the day. declared that vernacular without any rules (sine omnia regular) by which he meant the written codified rules as taught in schools.y THE STOICS The Stoics were the class of ancient Greek scholars and philosophers who also delved into linguistics. as postulated and preached by the Church. And finally. Furthermore. as it appears in Books. we find few traces of interests in any other form of speech. language meant classical Latin. They were of the view that. the stoics laid the foundations of sign terms. It was during this period that Latin was changing 7 . y For the medieval scholars.
He recognized the importance of sound correspondences as evidence of family relationships. Grimm s Law is all about sound correspondences among the IndoEuropean languages. implying that his law had important consequences for the history of language and the validity of etymology .from its ancient form to the present form we now know as Romance Languages (French. the scholars of the medieval era actually contributed to the development of Latin Grammar. initiator of the Grimm s Law. Spanish and so on). is one of the largest luminaries of historical linguistics. government and apposition.Germanic. laying further. a stronger and firmer basis for succeeding generations of linguists. On an aggregate basis. 8 . Italian. such as distinction between Noun and Adjectives and the differences between concord. Thus. Grimm s Law treats series of changes in certain consonants from Proto-Indo European to Proto. and that it (the Grimm s Law) provided sufficient kinship of the languages involved . He published an ANGLO SAXON GRAMMAR and a THESAURUS of miscellaneous information about the older stages of English and the sister tongues. THE RENAISSANCE SCHOLARS y FRANCISCUS JUNIUS (1589-1677) Accomplished an enormous amount of work in the study of ancients documents and hence contributed to the development of linguistics. THE 19TH CENTURY SCHOLARS y JAKOB GRIMM Jakob Grimm (1785-1863).
linguistics entities were considered members of a system and were defined by their relations to one another within the system. distinctive feature and alternation . His thinking was instrumental in the development of the concept of phoneme . In Saussure s view. Today. 9 . nearly all approaches to linguistics are structuralist in some sense and reflect the great Saussure s monumental influence. morpheme . together with Saussure developed Linguistic theory independently. all basic terminologies in modern linguistics. He also pushed further and developed the theory of signs. that is. as others have held). grapheme . emphasized the synchronic study of language structure and how linguistics elements are organized into the system of each language. where everything thing holds together as in an organic system of dependencies. Emil Durkheim and he saw language as a social fact (rather than a mental or psychological one. y BAUDOUIN DE COURTENAY Badouin De Courtenay (1845-1929).y FERDINAND DE SAUSSURE Ferdinand De Saussure (1856-1913) largely regarded as the father of modern linguistics. He compared language to a game of chess. a highly organized algebraic system of relations. Saussure was influenced by the eminent sociologist of his day. a collective consciousness . which is both the possession of society at large but also defines society. a Polish by birth.
Language and Linguistics. Cartesian Linguistics 3rd Ed. Compton Printing Ltd. Bloomfield. Chomsky. Cambridge University Press.Bibliography Blackwell Reference Online. The Handbook Of Linguistics (Edited) 2002 Leonard. 2009. 10 . 1933 Noam. London.