Thesis ID: CBB001560884

Language Science and Orientalism in Imperial Germany (2012)


Kaplan, Judith R. H. (Author)

University of Wisconsin at Madison
Nyhart, Lynn K.

Publication Date: 2012
Edition Details: Advisor: Nyhart, Lynn K.
Physical Details: 331 pp.
Language: English

This dissertation addresses a significant gap in the historiography of science: the nature of the language sciences as "science." Focusing on disciplinary and intellectual developments in the context of Imperial Germany (1871-1918), the project anticipates, complicates, and helps to explain a widely recognized theoretical shift, namely, the shift from a diachronic (historical) orientation to a synchronic (structural) approach to the "science" of language. The dissertation links this theoretical shift to changes in the evidentiary foundations of two sub-fields: comparative-historical linguistics [ Sprachwissenschaft ] and oriental philology [Orientalistik ]. By pursuing the histories of these sub-fields in tandem, it shows that interest in "living language" during the Imperial period--fueled by diverse investments, for instance, in modern language instruction and imperial expansion--contributed to the growth and fragmentation of German linguistic and philological research. Though it was often used descriptively to refer to modern languages, I argue that the phrase "living language" took on theoretical significance as linguists and philologists sought to reconcile contemporary data with ancient evidence of language change. The professional biography of F. C. Andreas (1846-1930) structures and informs the project. As one who straddled the sub-fields of comparative and Iranian philology while pursuing historical hypotheses at a variety of time depths, Andreas shows how work on living languages drove intellectual and disciplinary change. I draw on his correspondence, travelogues, manuscript drafts, and student testimonials in addition to other archival, published primary, and secondary sources in the dissertation. By integrating the histories of Sprachwissenschaft and Orientalistik, my research raises fundamental questions about disciplinarity. In some cases, communities coalesced around methodology; in others, practitioners banded together for in-depth study of a given culture, language, or geographic region. In this way, the philological traditions of nineteenth-century Germany gave rise to fields as diverse as theoretical linguistics and area studies. Presented as a complicated case situated between the study of nature and culture, this account of the history of linguistics calls for a variegated and contextual definition of "science" that does not straightforwardly oppose the "humanities" of today.


Description Explores the development of comparative-historical linguistics and oriental philology, focusing on the work of F. C. Andreas (1846-1930). Cited in ProQuest Diss. & Thes. (2012). ProQuest Doc. ID 1039268728.

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Authors & Contributors
Petsche, Hans-Joachim
Kaplan, Judith
Haase, Fee-Alexandra
Burchardt, Lothar
Saunders, Barbara
Benes, Tuska
Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences
Berichte zur Wissenschaftsgeschichte
Studium: Tijdschrift voor Wetenschaps- en Universiteitgeschiedenis
History of Psychiatry
Imago Mundi: A Review of Early Cartography
History of the Human Sciences
Leuven University Press
Wayne State University Press
Birkhäuser Verlag
Central European University Press
University of Michigan Press
Linguistics; philology
Language and languages
Grassmann, Hermann Günther
Andreas, F. C.
Scherer, Wilhelm
Sainte-Beuve, Charles Augustin
Andreas, Friedrich Carl
Time Periods
19th century
20th century, early
18th century
Berlin (Germany)

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