1887
Volume 44, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0302-5160
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9781
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Abstract

Prompted by Western science in late 19th century, Chinese linguistics gradually moved to a new direction after two thousand years of philological tradition centered on rhetoric and textual exegesis. Through the intense efforts of a few scholars in the early twenti-eth century, linguistic study in China became a science and a discipline. Yuen Ren Chao (1892–1982) and Wang Li (1900–1986) were first-generation linguists who led the movement to apply the methodology of modern linguistics to the systematic study of Chinese. This paper investigates the trend setting achievements of these founders of the discipline, and it introduces their biographical and scholarly backgrounds. It also provides a brief history of philology through the lens of Wang Li who was the first historian of Chinese linguistics. Contemporary linguists need both a critical mind to understand the philological legacy of Chinese and an open mind to welcome new interdisciplinary approaches that could produce innovative theories and facilitate the growth of the discipline. Moreover, this paper expands the history of linguistics by introducing linguistic features not found in Indo-European languages, thereby making the history of linguistics more inclusive than it has previously been. Consequently, this paper contributes to a rethinking of the definition of language.

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2017-07-21
2019-10-18
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