By all measures, Germany played an overwhelming role in the development of philology and linguistics during the 19th century. This ascendancy rests on the transmission to other national academies of theoretical constructs and views, methods and institutional practices. Transmission, however, was not simply a matter of inheriting a body of knowledge. Scientific transfers were channeled through traditions and individuals who reshaped the body of knowledge that had been bequeathed to them.

On the other hand, German philological and linguistic ideas, methods and institutions were not constituted in a theoretical vacuum and in isolation from the rest of the world : Transfers to the German-speaking world and their role in the constitution of philological and linguistic ideas, methods and institutions must also be taken into account.

The 19th and the beginning of the 20th century were certainly an acme, but understanding the advent and consequences of this golden age encourages the adoption of a broader perspective. What transnational transfers occurred before this time? Were German ideas, methods, and institutions transmitted back to their purveyors, and in what ways? To what extent does it even make sense to speak of national traditions, in particular of a specifically German tradition?


Proposals may deal with the following topics (the list is not intended to exhaust all possible subjects) :

  • The adaptation of Greek-Latin grammar to German.
  • The role of Grammaire Générale in Germany.
  • Early studies on language classifications and genealogies (e.g. by Gessner and Hervas y Panduro) and their role in later German linguistics.
  • The constitution of modern philology toward the end of the 18th century, the rise of hermeneutics, of Antiquity and Oriental studies, and the role of Germany in this evolution.
  • Historical and comparative grammar, the Neogrammarians and their role outside the German-speaking world (e.g. their reception and / or reworking by Bréal, Saussure, Rask, Verner, Pedersen, Baudouin de Courtenay, Kruszewski, Whitney, Bloomfield…).
  • Naturalist linguistics (with Schleicher and his counterparts in other countries, e.g. Hovelacque and Chavée).
  • Anthropological linguistics and its German roots (cf. Boas).
  • Linguistic geography and dialectology (and its offshoots in Ascoli’s work, as well as Gilléron’s and Edmont’s, Jaberg’s and Jud’s etc.).
  • Romance studies (such as Diez, but see also of the role of Jewish immigants to the U.S., like Spitzer and Auerbach).
  • The constitution of general linguistics and the interplay between German investigations (e.g. Gabelentz, or psychological linguistics) and their adaptations or parallels in other countries.
  • The influence of German psychological linguistics abroad, and foreign strands of psychological linguistics, as compared to their German counterparts.
  • The relations between Germany and foreign structuralist schools.
  • The import of German ideas in contemporary linguistics (with an eye toward the historical tranmission of these ideas).
  • Finally, papers may also focus on key individuals insofar as they played a part in these scientific transfers.
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