LINGUIST List 12.809

Fri Mar 23 2001

Sum: History of Linguistics

Editor for this issue: Lydia Grebenyova <>


  1. Fay Wouk, History of Linguistics

Message 1: History of Linguistics

Date: Thu, 22 Mar 2001 08:11:29 +1200
From: Fay Wouk <>
Subject: History of Linguistics

For Query: Linguist 11.2780

Some time ago I posted a query about readings in the history of 
linguistics. I received two replies, which I quote in full.

John Phillips wrote:

The first half of Pieter Seuren's "Western Linguistics, an historical
introduction" is a chronological account of the subject. It's well
written and entertaining and I'm sure you could find some sections
in it which would be suitable as readings.

Peter T. Daniels wrote:

The standard remains, with good reason, R. H. Robins' *Short History of
Linguistics* (I believe the 3d ed. was the last).

If you need a short overview, there's the chapter in the new Blackwell
*Handbook of Linguistics* by your own Lyle Campbell.

Here are some suggestions if your students want to do a paper in the

Unexpectedly fascinating is P. I. Matthews, *Grammatical Theory in the
United States, 1925-1950* (or something like that), in the Cambridge
Blue series, which shows conclusively how Chomsky grows out of, and is
not a reaction against, Bloomfied and his followers.

For the period that has attracted the most attention, the treatment
that's most objective and satisfactory (because it's by a historian of
science and not by a partisan) is Randy Allan Harris, *The Linguistics

And some of the contributions to Lepschy's History of Linguistics (4
vols. now available in English) are readable, most notably Matthews
again, on the Classical grammarians; but most of them aren't (but
they're filled with detail).

Fay Wouk
Institute of Linguistics
University of Auckland
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