It was about one and a half years ago that I finally I arrived where I had always wanted to be and do what I had always wanted-- teach students, support small language communities and conduct research on African languages on my doorstep. The University of Cape Town and my new colleagues welcomed my efforts to establish the Centre for African Language Diversity-- CALDi as well as The African Language Archive-- TALA and I was recently appointed the Mellon Research Chair: African Language Diversity this initiative. The main aim of CALDi is to train young African scholars in descriptive linguistics and open up space for research into African languages at UCT with the hopes of countering the dominance of African linguistics outside the continent. It has been a great challenge for which my whole career has been a form of preparation...Read more
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Language and Its Functions: A Historico-Critical Study of the Pre-Humanistic Philology of Bopp
Studies in the History of the Language Sciences, 8
When Pieter Verburg (1905-1989) published Taal en Functionaliteit in 1952, the work was received with admiration by linguistic scholars, though the number of those who could read the Dutch text for themselves remained limited. The title alludes to the theories of linguistic function set out in 1936 by Karl Bhler, but Verburg regards the three functions of discourse focusing respectively on the speaker, the person addressed and the matter discussed as no more than subfunctions of the human function of speech. His central concern is to explore the relationships between thought and language, and language and reality; and the work sets out provide a historical analysis of views on these relationships in the period 1100-1800. The great strength of the work lies in the way in which the views of language are related to contemporaneous moves in philosophy and science, contrasting essentially the mediaeval acceptance of authority, the beginnings of induction in the Renaissance, the dependence of early rationalism on calculation based on axiomatic truths, and the further development of independent observation. All these trends are reflected in the way men thought about language, as well as in the way they used it. Much has been written on the history of linguistics since this book was written, but it still offers a unique view of the development of thinking about language.