Key Phases in Linguistic Study (Further Discussion)

It is essential to study language by tracing back the phases when language was first studied. What is meant by language is always human language, as animals have no language, though they communicate to each other. As animal symbolicum, human beings have symbolized realities by using language. This brings to succeed to add human knowledge. Knowledge can add through language. Due to the importance of the essence of language, it is not only useful, but also important to study the periods when and by whom language is scientifically studied.


  • c. 500 BC: Pānini and his followers in India produce oral treatises on phonetics and language structure. Later, independent traditions of language study develop in Europe.
  • 1786: founding of modern linguistics, on the basis of a seminal speech by Sir William Jones concerning the relations between Sanskrit, Latin, Greek and other ancient languages. Linguistics enters a historical phase in which principles of language comparison and classification emerge.
  • Early, twentieth century: structuralism predominates in linguistics. ‘Structuralists’ like Ferdinand de Saussure in Europe and Leonard Bloomfield and others in the USA were concerned with internal systems of languages rather than with historical comparisons.
  • 1957: Generative linguistics is founded with the publication of Noam Chomsky’s Syntactic Structures. Linguistics shifts to a psycho-biological stage, with interest in the way in which children acquire language on the basis of an abstract ‘universal grammar’ common to all language.
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