The Study of Indo-European Vocalism in the 19th century

From the beginnings to Whitney and Scherer. A critical-historical account

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In the 19th century research on the Indo-European languages was to a large degree coterminus with the development of linguistics itself. The most notable accomplishments, as related in every history of linguistics, took place in the area of phonology. The present study examines one aspect of phonological investigation of the Indo-European languages: vocalism from the early 1800’s to around 1870, the threshold of the neogrammarian era. It attempts to go beyond a mere chronological presentation of research on vocalism in the 19th century to examine other questions, such as the origin of the concepts which linguists employed and the methodology they advanced. Moreover, it attempts to illustrate anew that the history of any science cannot be reduced to a simple linear arrangement of discoveries.

Subjects: Historical linguistics; Phonology

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