The Lautgesetz-Controversy

A documentation (1885–86). New edition

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The essays reproduced in this volume represent the major and characteristic documents in that flood of literature that was produced during the neogrammarian controversy. At that time, the entire community of linguists came face to face with the most profound problems of its theory and practice; it was a true crisis of empirical interpretation. Therefore, these essays are of much more than ‘mere’ historical interest: each one of them plunges directly into the central issues of the science of historical linguistics.

Curtius’ Zur Kritik der neuesten Sprachforschung (January 1885) was the initial polemic. Delbrück’s reply Die neueste Sprachforschung, Betrachtungen über George Curtius’Schrift ‘Zur Kritik der neuesten Sprachforschung’ and Brugmann’s retort Zum heutigen Stand der Sprachwissenschaft appeared soon thereafter. Later that year appeared Schuchardt’s attack Über die Lautgesetze: Gegen die Junggrammatiker. Collitz’article Die neueste Sprachforschung und die Erklärung des indogermanischen Ablautes did not appear until 1886, followed soon by Osthoff’s reply Die neueste Sprachforschung und die Erklärung des indogermanischen Ablautes: Antwort auf die gleichnamige Schrift von Dr. Hermann Collitz. Jespersen’s criticism of the neogrammarians appeared in German translation as Zur Lautgesetzfrage in1887.

The volume provides an Introduction and Select Bibliography.

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