Comparative linguistics , formerly comparative grammar or comparative philology , studies the relationships or correspondences between two or more languages and the techniques used to discover whether the languages have a common ancestor. Comparative grammar was the most important branch of linguistics in the nineteenth century in Europe. Also called comparative philology , the study was originally stimulated by Sir William Jones ‘s discovery in 1786 that Sanskrit was related to Latin, Greek, and German.
Before starting to make comparisons between languages, it is good to know a little more about this branch of linguistics, which can also be called comparative or comparative grammar.
The first linguist to point out the affinities between some languages was William Jones in 1786, and since then many studies have been carried out, but it was only constituted in 1816, through works done by the German Franz Bopp. Comparative linguistics seeks to establish historical and genetic relationships, studying and identifying the various changes that led an ancient language to fragment into other languages. It uses a comparative method, which consists of comparing languages that are considered to belong to the same family, through this method it is possible to establish links between languages in order to establish kinship relationships.
To understand better, we can cite the book written by Franz Bopp that dealt with the conjugation of Sanskrit, from which Sanskrit was compared with other languages. From this comparison, the kinship between Sanskrit, Greek, Persian, Germanic and Latin languages was perceived, so this “family of languages” was given the name of Indo-European.
It was among the studies of comparative linguistics that the concepts of letter and phoneme emerged, Dugriche-Desgenettes used the word phoneme for a sound unit of language, and Jacob Grimm used the term “letter” to name the graphic symbol and the sound. In 1877, Henry Sweet established a model of phonetic transcription, with different symbols for different sounds. In 1879, it was Sausurre who described phonemes, comparing different descriptions of phonemes in alphabets of different languages.
The great contribution of Comparative Linguistics was to show that the changes undergone by languages are not chaotic as thought, they are regular and have a direction.
What is comparative historical linguistics?
So, what is historical linguistics and what is the focus of historical linguistics?Historical linguistics , also called diachronic linguistics , the branch of linguistics concerned with the study of phonological, grammatical, and semantic changes, the reconstruction of the earlier stages of languages, and the discovery and application of the methods by which the genetic relationships between languages can be
What is Linguistics as a source of history? Introduction. The study of languages also helps the historian in his writing of the history of Africa. It is a field that is technically called linguistics . A detailed study is made of the language of the people, including the history of the language and its relationship to other languages.
In linguistics , the comparative method is a technique for studying the development of languages by performing a feature-by-feature comparison of two or more languages with common descent from a shared ancestor and then extrapolating backwards to infer the properties of that ancestor.
Historical linguistics is a subfield of linguistics in which an investigation of the history of languages is used to learn about how languages are related, how languages change, and what languages were like hundreds and even thousands of years ago – even before the written records of a language .
Why is historical linguistics important?
How can I become a historical linguist?
What is the difference between diachronic and synchronic?
How do linguists study language?
What is social linguistics?
Who is the father of the comparative method?
Is it a qualitative or quantitative comparative study?
How do you write a comparative analysis?
What is the comparative approach?
What are the methods of comparative politics?
The main method of work is based on comparison , between different states of the same language or between different languages, but from the same ancestor. It allows, by observing regular phonetic , syntactic and, more rarely, semantic concordances , to establish relationships between languages. Its first object of study is, therefore, the formal similarities revealed by these comparisons. It is comparative linguistics which therefore makes it possible to establish the existence of families of languages which are then said to be linked by genetic relationships; She studies as follows:
- how a mother tongue gives birth to its daughter languages;
- the nature of the links between the mother tongue (which has sometimes disappeared) and the daughter languages;
- the innovations and similarities that remain between the daughter languages themselves, etc.
For example, it allows us to know that although they seem very similar (in writing and in the lexicon ), two languages such as Arabic and Persian are not related, but that the latter is the same. Larger family than the French or even, more distantly, Icelandic .
Therefore, he is mainly interested in the changes experienced by these languages throughout their history, be they semantic , phonetic , phonological , lexical , syntactic , etc. The most important branch of comparative linguistics is, however, historical phonetics , the only discipline that deals with developments that can be formally and objectively described and the only one that still allows it to be said that a B-word actually comes from a word. A or that the words B, C and D are all derived from a common etymon A and are therefore historically related. the etymology It is thus the result of a comparative approach it is through this approach that one must move to find a French word as a legacy does not come, despite the offending spelling due to popular etymology , to bequeath but to leave . The reconstruction of etymons at the origin of words taken from different sister languages, in turn, requires an even stronger comparative approach. In fact, it is necessary to find the original meaning of a term from its results in the languages in question, an original meaning that, by being transmitted in languages whose evolution is autonomous (and we know that semantic evolution does not follow any specific rules), may have changed significantly.