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Darwin-L Message Log 6:70 (February 1994)

Academic Discussion on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences

This is one message from the Archives of Darwin-L (1993–1997), a professional discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences.

Note: Additional publications on evolution and the historical sciences by the Darwin-L list owner are available on SSRN.


<6:70>From sally@pogo.isp.pitt.edu  Sun Feb 13 10:00:32 1994

To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Subject: Re: Today in the Historical Sciences
Date: Sun, 13 Feb 94 11:00:30 -0500
From: Sally Thomason <sally@pogo.isp.pitt.edu>

   Our ever-informative leader Bob O'Hara asks if there's a
good source of biographical information on historical linguists.
Two come to mind, though I'm not sure the first one gives days
of birth & death:

  1. Holger Pedersen's LINGUISTIC SCIENCE IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY
       (I forget the date of publication -- early in this century,
       in Danish as I recall, and then it was translated into English;
       much later, in the early or mid 1960s, it was reprinted under
       the rinky-dink and misleading title THE DISCOVERY OF LANGUAGE)
       ...Pedersen's book is good bedtime reading, and contains lots
       of information about the people who developed historical ling.
       in the 19th century.  One of its most charming features is the
       set of photographs of the major players in the Junggrammatiker
       movement -- but unfortunately the pictures were taken long after
       their Sturm & Drang period, with the result that the young
       firebrands of the 1870s gaze out with the grave dignity of age,
       long gray beards and all.

  2.  Thomas Sebeok, indefatigable editor and compiler (and a combatant
        in some controversies, notably the one about whether nonhuman
        animals have already, or can be taught, something resembling
        human language...Sebeok's answer is an emphatic No), published,
        some years back, a collection of linguists' obituaries (I *think*
        they were all obituaries); some of these, maybe most of them, are
        historical linguists, since before the 1950s or even 1960s most
        linguists were historical linguists, so of course most dead
        linguists were historical linguists well into the 1960s and beyond.

  3.  A third source, but not a very handy one, is the Linguistic Society
        of America's journal LANGUAGE, which publishes obituaries of
        past LSA presidents (and in the past, I believe, published some
        obituaries of non-past-presidents too, back when there were a lot
        fewer linguists than there are nowadays).  The journal was founded
        in 1924, with the Society, I think -- someone can correct me if
        the journal didn't get going until 1925....but I don't know if
        they started publishing obituaries that early.

    Sally Thomason
    sally@pogo.isp.pitt.edu

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