Wilhelm Scherer (1841-1886) has gained wide recognition for his extraordinary accomplishments in linguistics as well as in literary studies. His first and most important contribution to the development of linguistic science was his monumental work of 508 pages Zur Geschichte der deutschen Sprache, published in 1868. His stated objective was "to subject all aspects of the Germanic grammar to a new treatment." While such a wording sounds rather modest, the actual implementation in his book, if viewed within the framework of his time, might very appropriately be called revolutionary. He broke with August Schleicher's distinction between 'development' (in prehistorical time) and 'decay' (in historical time) in the history of language and replaced it with his notion of continuous, uninterrupted development. His survey of the relevant literature of his time is almost exhaustive, and his findings serve as the solid stepping stone for his own advances.
To facilitate reading, the editor has supplied an index of names (with life dates), a complete listing of the literature referred to by Scherer as well as an introduction to Scherer's life and his general scholarly achievements.