William Dwight Whitney and the Science of Language
William Dwight Whitney and the Science of Language offers a full-length study of America's pioneer professional linguist, the founder and first president of the American Philological Association and a renowned Orientalist. In recounting Whitney's remarkable career, Stephen G. Alter examines the intricate linguistic debates of that period as well as the politics of establishing language study as a full-fledged science. Whitney's influence, Alter argues, extended to the German Neogrammarian movement and the semiotic theory of Ferdinand de Saussure.
This exploration of an early phase of scientific language study provides readers with a unique perspective on Victorian intellectual life as well as on the transatlantic roots of modern linguistic theory.
About the Author
"A deeply engaging book that should be of interest to historians, linguists, and anyone interested in the relation between science and society in the nineteenth century and beyond."—Brigitte Nerlich, American Historical Review
"Should be required reading for all those eager to immerse themselves in the fascinating early years of linguistic science."—T. Craig Christy, Historiographia Linguistica
"A welcome historical perspective to one of the most far-reaching and controversial issues of our time. Alter's account not only helps readers understand the 'linguistic turn' of our own day, but along the way provides what amounts to a stunning Grand Tour of nineteenth-century intellectual history."—Thomas L. Haskell, Rice University
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