Whitney on language : selected writings of William Dwight Whitney


Whitney on language : selected writings of William Dwight Whitney

edited by Michael Silverstein ; introductory essay by Roman Jakobson

MIT Press, [1971]

大学図書館所蔵 件 / 29



  • Whitney on language, by M. Silverstein
  • The world response to Whitney's principles of linguistic science, by R. Jakobson
  • William Dwight Whitney, from Forty years' record of the class of 1845, Williams College
  • Language and the study of language
  • Phusei or thesei
  • natural or conventional?
  • Steinthal on the origin of language
  • On mixture in language
  • The varieties of predication
  • On the relation of vowels and consonants
  • On Lepsius's standard alphabet
  • The principle of economy as a phonetic force
  • On the nature and designation of the accent in Sanskrit
  • The study of Hindu grammar and the study of Sanskrit
  • On the narrative use of imperfect and perfect in the Brāhmaṇas
  • A botanico-philological problem



William Dwight Whitney, a commanding figure in 19th-century philology, may be considered the most important and wide-ranging precursor of modern linguistic theory. The selections in this book (covering the years 1861-1892) represent his pioneer work in linguistics and are relevant in the most urgent sense to the debate on the nature of language and linguistics shaping up once again between students of rationalist grammar and students of culture. Whitney was one of the first to stress the "cultural" nature of language in modern terms, and Dr. Silverstein remarks, "what impresses us most about this material is its fundamental sanity."A long essay by the editor and an autobiographical sketch from the Williams College Record of the class of 1845 precede Whitney's own studies. Dr. Silverstein has made no attempt to analyze selections but has chosen representative essays that show the range of Whitney's linguistic interests and accomplishments, and which present the linguistic thought of his time. All of the essays appear in their original form except for the first and longest extract, which has been condensed from "Language and the Study of Language." Purely descriptive studies of Sanskrit or of Hindu literature and astronomy have been excluded, although Whitney's narrowest professional interest is represented by the beautiful studies of accent in Sanskrit and the statistical treatment of imperfect and perfect tense formations.The twelve essays are arranged by area of interest. The first group takes up general topics such as the "institutional" nature of language, psychology and the origin of language, and the difficult question of linguistic mixture. It is followed by an enigmatic piece of syntactic analysis of grammatical categories, several phonetics studies, the unified theory of vowel and consonant, the universal transcriptional system and articulatory phonetics, and the notion of phonetic economy. The book concludes with the Sanskrit studies and a trenchant criticism of the grammarians of the period.

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