8 Facts About History of Historical Linguistic

Historical Linguistic has been studied all over the world for several centuries. Now a days it has received more focus for the student of linguistics. In this article we will explain 8 important facts about history of linguistics.

8 Facts About History of Historical Linguistic

Traditional grammar

Linguistics In antiquity

Linguistic in middle ages

Language-studies in the Renaissance and Baroque Spanish

The French grammar of Port Royal

The Language in s. XVIII

The Language in s. XIX

  1. The language in antiquity

In antiquity there is concern about the philosophical language, coupled with religious issues. It looks at the Bible, explanation about Genesis God, Man, paradise and hell etc.: Plato, Aristotle were the major contributors who studied language as philosophical way.

It raises the questions:

1 .What is the origin of language?

  1. Why are there different languages?
  2. What kind of relationship is established between language and reality?

The first problem is to solve many answers. Two types of responses:

The Divine answer: God created man and at the same time gives you a language or God creates man and gives him the ability to speak

The Biological response: The language emerges for developing organs of man fonotorios Since we know of there is no one who received an inheritance language,. The issue arises throughout history

The second problem is that believed in divine intervention, explaining differentiation of language referring to punishment (Tower of Babel, pre-Columbian cultures). The other view is that from the beginning there are different languages ​​(those who think the second position of divine intervention)

The third problem of language-reality relationship, some think that the language-reality relationship is necessary (each has significant meaning). Others think it is arbitrary relationship, not necessary (there are several words in different languages ​​to speak the same thing)

Indian -Civilization

Many Indian students had been the linguists 1 history. In BC we find a   Sanskrit grammar, which is the language in which Hindu religious books are written. Sanskrit is the language of the gods and believes that being divine language cannot be changed at all not to spoil the divine language. Sanskrit has been studied systematically from the morphological, lexical, syntactic and semantic perspective.  But this grammar is lost, unnoticed, and recovered in the Europe. So Sanskrit was the building block of European linguistics.

Greek -Civilization

They emphasized the study of philosophy. Linguistic studies linked to philosophy. Many philosophical theories were developed. In the fifth century BC, Gorges was the first man who said there are two basic elements of: the root and the designation. In the philosophical theory, the language was the result of thought (it was kept for a long time. It is false because you cannot think without language)

In the IV BC, Aristotle theories were prominent and had great impact on throughout linguistic history. He identified three main blocks: name (noun and adjective, verb particles.

The Gender division: It can be of three types: masculine, feminine and neuter. He says these differences based on the termination had the words in Greek nominative.

Great Number of definitions made of the different linguistic issues, some of which have reached us. Eg Word = meaningful minimum unit


The Alexandrian: Highlights especially the figure of Dionysius Thorax (bc)in  Greek grammar written language). This grammar will have an impact on grammars that take place in Rome

Roman Civilization

They are dedicated to copy the Greeks. They had concerns about the language from political perspectives. They were well aware that people is totally dominated when he speaks the language of the victor. They proposed that all dominated peoples speak Latin, so Latin should be spoken in whole Romania.

Varro, Latin classical write wrote a play on the tongue America and followed the Aristotelian rule, dividing his work into three parts, adding the pronoun and participle. When he talks of pronoun gives a definition which still remains, he says “this is the one that is used instead of the name, to avoid recurrence.

 The language in the Middle Ages

Middle ages culture is related to monasteries. The village is illiterate, and that grammars are utilitarian for monks.

The Romano trend of speaking Latin, begin to emerge various romance languages. We do not know when they start to speak the language, but it was written in the IX and X and these were the Emilian Glosses and Silos (this is not a text but followed single words).


Facts Everyone Should Know About Historical Linguistic

In the XII the Castilian was fully integrated. In the thirteenth, there was a great concern for language, in the hands of Alfonso X. The grammar of   Middle ages were written in Latin, but we should try to analyze the Castilian. It is unthinkable that the grammar was written in Spanish, because the Castilian is not a language of culture.

The Spanish grammars may have applied on Castilian. When speaking of the name say this case is defined by (up to XIX grammars talk about cases where there never were). They are based on logic. ie, they do not explain grammar from the grammatical perspective, but from the meaning of logic.

Language Spanish Renaissance and Baroque

In 1492 (s. XV), Spain is formed as a nation under the rule of RR.CC. The fact that there is a nation implies that there will be a political concern for language spoken. So the first grammar of Spain was written in Castilian.

In the s XVI, Spain was a great empire (it has discovered America and much of Europe belongs to the Empire) and there was an interest because the Spanish is the language of the territories, There was Spanish Renaissance by writers (in literature this Teresa, St. John and Fray Luis de León). All three had a key role in the work and the defense of the language)

The first Spanish grammar had been released on August 18, 1492. The first grammar is written by Nebrija.

They say “language was always the companion of empire. The ideas that lead to writing Nebrija grammar was not educated, but political (we have a nation and we have a grammar).

This grammar was divided into five chapters that are arising Spelling, Prosody (study of phonetic sounds), etymology, syntax and mini grammar for foreigners.

The successes of this grammar are:

He had a very open what is the language concept, and what is right and wrong. So that supports regionalism, archaisms.

The Progress made in the morphological field, especially for the study of the verb and the differentiation between the numeral and indefinite

Made Work within prosody. Within this chapter highlights the reconstruction that makes the pronunciation of Latin and Greek classics.The difference between letter and sound, the differentiation of areas and articulators.

The failure of this grammar was:

  • The Historical study is poor and relies too much on the Greco-Latin grammars.
  • The Names are declined for case without time and means “body or thing “

Juan de Valdes was a contemporary of Nebrija and a great enemy of this. Valdes write a grammar in the early s. XVI called Dialogue of the tongue. In this work, Valdes makes a grammatical study responsively between three characters. In the play criticizes the work of Nebrija, based on the fact that Nebrija  cannot write a good grammar because he cannot speak Castilian.

Among the mistakes Valdes highlights:

  • No supports regionalism, nor the ways in conflict. Only supports the evolved form. Neither it supports the archaisms
  • Try to impose a single standard for all Spain and believes that this rule should be based on the Spanish Toledo (city where the court is located)
  • -Sets Many standards of right and wrong, even he fulfills them

After Valdes, another important author is Francisco Sanchez de Brozas “The Brocense” , from the early seventeenth. It is one of the most important humanists of the time. He gave   Latin entitled Minerva linguistic theory which was applicable to the Castilian, but not a grammar of the language.


In this work are three theories that are very important:

The linguist should always study the form and function of words. they must be settled according to these features. He considers it essential in every linguistic study morphology and syntax.

Avoiding pronoun of the repetition of the name is primarily a deictic element. . The unique value of a pronoun that serves to indicate the language

The Diminutive, and a belittling value is mostly a sentimental value

The errors of Brocense are:

He raises again the issue of the origin of language and believes that there was multilingualism at first.

In 1558 Grammar is published. It is the first time that a Spanish grammar is said that no cases or declines. Nobody pays attention to the nineteenth century.

In these s. XVI-XVII are very good phonetic studies. Pedro Ponce de León (Friar Benedict) first opened a school to teach the deaf. It seems that in teaching speech, showed the willingness of the articulators.

French grammar XVII:

Port-Royal Grammar: In the XVII Rationalism occurs (everything must be based on reason), and include authors such as Descartes.

Involving several authors:

Arnauld (philosopher), Lancelot (linguist) and published in 1660 Port Royal Grammar.

There are four sections: Spelling, Prosody (sound studio), analogy (morphology) and syntax. It is a grammar based on the rationalist doctrine of Descartes, who thinks that human language is not a simple communicative function but is a vehicle for free expression of thought. Therefore, q means all grammars of different languages ​​can from identical bases.The grammar of Port Royal has a strong influence on s. XVII-XIX in Europe, without being so in Spain.

The language in the eighteenth century

8 Facts About History of Historical Linguistic

There are three major trends in Europe:

Philosophy of Language: more philosophical than the current language. Spain does not participate in it. There was a lot of trial and little philosophy.

It occurs mainly in England.

Origin of Language:

Developed in three stages:

-1st Stage: Man is an awkward and dumb animal

-2nd Stage: Onomatopoeia

-3rd Stage: Words. Simple language

In reality they set in learning to talk. They tried to create a unique and universal language for all, because they believe that in this way all linguistic problems will be avoided.

Many supporters: It is an unworkable idea. The most important authors are: James Harris with Hermes, based on the Minerva of Brocense

For the first time, he speaks of language as a system where all elements will be linked and establishes a basic duality between matter and form.

Grammar not realize what a language

In Spain, there are two important essayists:

  1. Hervas and Pandura . He wrote the catalog and did Comparative study of many languages.

D.Feijoo.  His work is known both in the theater universal critical and scholarly linguistic issues.

Grammar XIX

Terzio 1st: Linguistic Idealism

2nd Terzio: Linguistic Naturalism

3rd Terzio: The school Neo grammarians

The historical comparative linguistics in nineteenth century emerges from the discovery of the grammar of Panini on Sanskrit The comparable historical linguistics, occurs mainly in Central European countries.

Some believe that the development of the historical linguistics was done in different Germanic languages. However, Rask had not studied Sanskrit, so almost all linguists agree on the work of Bopp. Bopp studied in Paris and was professor of Sanskrit at a German university. He published a book entitled Conjugation System of Sanskrit in comparison with Greek, Latin, Persian and Germanic. This work sets the final core of the Indo-European family of languages.

Another important linguist was Jacob Grimm. He was German grammar writer. In this grammar he outlined his theories of language acquisition. He believes that man while acquiring a language becomes a grammar.

He highlights the work of Grima by the importance given to the phonetic laws within the historical evolution of language

Friedrich Diez has importance in comparative historical linguistics because he is the author of the romanticist (discipline in charge of the study of the languages ​​derived from Latin.

His two major works are: Grammar of the Romance languages ​​and etymological Dictionary of the Romance languages

Interesting Facts I Bet You Never Knew About Historical Linguistic

Linguistic idealism:

Humboldt was Born in Germany .He was  diplomat and knew several languages. This negates the possibility of lingualism. He has a dynamic theory of language. The language is power, something that is constantly creating, to the point and it is not necessary to grammars.

This idea of language as “energy” separates the German school of the French.According to Humboldt, language makes us realize in a particular way in the outside world.

Humboldt says that all languages ​​are characterized by what he calls ” innere Sprachform “is sometimes translated as” genius “or” elf “. And that “genius” is what makes unique to each language. According to Humboldt, we grasp external reality through the “innere Sprachform” of modern language. Therefore, it is impossible bilingualism, unless mother, because when we learn a second language, we do through the “denude” in our mother tongue.

The ideological idealism ends without major repercussions in the nineteenth.

After that idealism, linguistic naturalism emerges as movement in the 2nd Terzio

Linguistic Naturalism is a reaction to idealism, and is a movement to study the physical and material language. There are two important non-linguistic circumstances that influence this movement.

A / This fashionable Naturalism

B /  aspects able to record sound

The most important is August Schleicher Naturalist and his most important work is linguistic Darwinian Theory.

Neo grammarians’ school:

They did not want to follow the rules of historical linguistics. They want to study the living language because Saussure will educate the neo grammarians. Currently stand two authors: Paul H. and Meyer Lübke.

The first he is known for his Principles of Linguistics History where it is separated from the thought of Humboldt, noting that the language cannot be identified with the social group but is a reflection of the individual soul.

The second figure (Meyer Lübke) is essential for rebuilding the Vulgar Latin (from which all the Romance languages) and this is done based on studies of the phonetic laws, made ​​among others by Jacob Grimm. Two of his most important works are: grammar of modern languages ​​and etymological Dictionary of the Romance languages

The father of the current structuralism is Saussure. In this he is considered the founder of modern linguistics. He was born in 1857 and died in 1913. He educates with Neo grammarians and belongs to the French school who thought the language was a system. This school had two branches:

The School of Paris

School Geneva

The School of Paris was more humanistic and much more radical (this belongs Saussure).  In 1906, Saussure back to Geneva and is dedicated to teaching until 1913. When Saussure died, he has not published anything. His students who compiled his notes and the notes followed by the widow, come to light the Course of General Linguistics that is the fundamental work of contemporary linguistics.

Theories of Saussure:

In the audio field Saussure makes a distinction between phonetics, phonology and historical phonetics. Saussure gives enough so that later his disciples European structuralism steps to address these disciplines. The basic theories are in their dichotomies:

Language Spoken against

Signification Against meaning

Synchronic Against diachronic

Tongue Speaks: Dice, Saussure, that language is a system in which all elements are interrelated. He considers that language is the sum of a series of coinage deposited in our brain, as if we had distributed to all speakers of the same language dictionary that was identical in our brain.

That is, consider the language as something social and independent of the individual. In language, we have the code, this common to all speakers of the same language, and it allow us to encrypt and decrypt messages

Therefore speech is individual, temporary and voluntary. While the language is social and involuntary

Meaning signifier: Language is a combination of signifiers to a set of meanings. The combination of both results in the linguistic sign. The signifier is the sound image, ie, the phonemes that are in our brain. It is the material sound. And the meaning is the concept, both are psychic.

It considers that the linguistic sign has two key features:

A / The arbitrariness

b / Linearity

In arbitrariness, it shows that there is no necessary relationship between the signified and the signifier of a word. The relationship established between the two is due to a conversation.

Saussure himself puts two possible drawbacks to this principle exclamations and onomatopoeia.

The linearity affects only the signifier, is the inability to pronounce two phonemes at a time. You always go after the other. This theory of the linguistic sign is the most important.

There are two new features that affect not only the sign, but the general languages are:

The Immutability

The Mutability

Immutability, the speaker has no ability to change. The tongue always received as an inheritance, but not set us any more. On the other hand, the mutability occurs, ie, the language is linked to time and this means that not going to change, as a mass and unconsciously.


by Abdullah Sam
I’m a teacher, researcher and writer. I write about study subjects to improve the learning of college and university students. I write top Quality study notes Mostly, Tech, Games, Education, And Solutions/Tips and Tricks. I am a person who helps students to acquire knowledge, competence or virtue.

Leave a Comment