Wilhelm von Humboldt’s classic study of human language was first published
posthumously in 1836 and influenced generations of scholars of language
including Boas, Sapir and Chomsky. In the later twentieth century,
Humboldt’s pioneering philosophical and linguistic works began once again
to attract scholarly attention in their own right, and in the context of
Humboldt’s lively communication with other leading scholars of his day.
This book, now reissued, summarises the author’s theoretical views of
language, its universal structures and its relation to mind, education and
culture. It ranges far beyond the Indo-European languages and explores the
ways in which the grammatical structures of languages make them more or
less suitable as instruments of thought and cultural development. Humboldt
also addresses the relationship between written and spoken language. To
this day, this landmark publication remains one of the most significant
attempts to draw philosophical conclusions from comparative linguistics.