Volume 2, Issue 3
  • ISSN 0302-5160
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9781
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The first family-tree diagram in August Schleicher's (1821-68) published work appeared in 1853, seven years after his first printed discussion of the family-tree concept. In 1853 there also appeared Ctení o srovnavací mluvnici slovanské by the Czech scholar František Ladislav Celakovsky (1799-1852); this book also contained a family-tree diagram. Since Celakovsky and Schleicher were contemporaries in Prague for over two years, their interrelationship is of interest: was this rivalry of collaboration? At first sight, a coincidence seems improbable.In the available work on and by Schleicher, Celakovský is never mentioned; in the writings on and by Celakovský, Schleicher's name is never linked to his. However, the two had very many common interests. Apart from being colleagues at Charles University, they shared the same friends and enemies, were both interested in music and botany, and so on. Moreover, both were working on Slavic Historical Linguistics during the period in question. On the other hand, their personalities, were such that the possibility of a mutual antipathy must not be excluded.Given the background to Celakovský's life and work, including the legends of the common origin of the Slavs and the obviously close interrelationships of the Slavic languages; the burgeoning of interest in Slavic history and linguistics, and in Panslavicism; the popularity of genealogy; and the developments in classificatory techniques along natural scientific lines, it is argued that Cela-kovsky's depiction of a family-tree for the Slavic languages could be quite naturally expected from him at this point in time, without any influence from Schleicher. On the other hand, Schleicher's first family-tree diagrams were the next logical step in his own development. Moreover, the actual form of the diagrams in question suggests that they may indeed have been developed independently. This puzzle in the history of linguistics remains unsolved: collaboration, rivalry, and coincidence are all possible.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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