A study of the linguistic philosophy of Wilhelm von Humboldt, Prussian
philologist and politician (1767-1835)
With the loss of many of the world's languages, it is important to question
what will be lost to humanity with their demise. It is frequently argued
that a language engenders a 'worldview', but what do we mean by this term?
Attributed to German politician and philologist Wilhelm von Humboldt
(1767-1835), the term has since been adopted by numerous linguists. Within
specialist circles it has become associated with what is known as the
Sapir-Whorf hypothesis which suggests that the nature of a language
influences the thought of its speakers and that different language patterns
yield different patterns of thought.
Underhill's concise and rigorously researched book clarifies the main ideas
and proposals of Humboldt's linguistic philosophy and demonstrates the way
his ideas can be adopted and adapted by thinkers and linguists today. A
detailed glossary of terms is provided in order to clarify key concepts and
to translate the German terms used by Humboldt.
This book is available in North America from Columbia University Press.