The (Early) History of Linguistic Typology

Paolo Ramat

in The Oxford Handbook of Linguistic Typology

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780199281251
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

The (Early) History of Linguistic Typology

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This article describes the early historical part of linguistic typology. It is clear that the first sections of the article may be only marginal to typology in the modern sense of the term. Nevertheless, it is interesting to follow the evolution of (Western) thought, which can be considered as a preliminary step towards typology. The problem of mental and linguistic universals and predispositions in the perspective of what could be labelled ‘cognitive linguistics’ is dealt with. Georg von der Gabelentz can be considered as the ‘final moment’ in the sketch of the early history of typology. He represents the bridge between two different ways of approaching the complex problem of linguistic typology. Speaking of Humboldt, Bopp, Steinthal, et al., and even earlier of the Modistae – it is seen that grammatical considerations were strictly intertwined with reflection on syntax.

Keywords: linguistic typology; linguistic universals; cognitive linguistics; von der Gabelentz; syntax

Article.  6575 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Linguistic Typology

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