Historical linguistics

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The historical linguistics (including historical linguistics , Historiolinguistik ) deals as part of the field of linguistics as well as auxiliary historical science with all aspects of the change of language for prolonged periods.

Research area

While in the 19th century the distant preliminary stages of our modern languages ​​were the focus, historical linguistics today also deals with the use of language in times past and with the language change in the recent past and the present. The description of the change in sounds, forms, structures and meanings also leads to the provision of grammars and dictionaries for the preliminary stages of individual languages ​​that are not documented in writing.

The discipline of comparative linguistics deals with the question of which languages can be traced back to a common original language (proto- language ) and thus form a language family , and how these languages ​​have developed since the split from the common predecessor language. Etymology and linguistic reconstruction within the framework of the comparative method are essential procedures for determining aspects of the history of language that have not been historically proven.

History of science

Historical linguistics began in the 19th century, when a well-founded hypothesis was first put forward about the relationship between the Indo-European (Indo-European) languages (see Indo-European studies ). At that time, historical-comparative linguistics was concerned with researching the preliminary stages of today's languages. (For today's German , these are the hypothetical languages Ur-Indo-European and Ur- Germanic as well as the historical levels of Old High German , Middle High German and Early New High German .)

In the period that followed, historical-comparative linguistics dominated all linguistic research. Only then did philological subjects such as German , English or Romance studies etc. establish themselves as independent sciences and fields of study. Older language levels were examined using texts in the form of grammars, dictionaries and language histories. Historical-comparative linguistics provided the means to understand these older texts, which in turn improved the understanding of the preliminary stages of our own linguistic and cultural communities.

In the 20th century, new methods of inferring and modeling language history were developed. Thus the supports lexicostatistics (by the theory narrower glottochronology be distinguished should) to comparisons of certain parts of the vocabulary of languages that are considered particularly stable to specific aspects of language development, in particular the subgrouping, but sometimes the date of original languages, to investigate.

See also


  • Werner Besch , Anne Betten, Oskar Reichmann, Stefan Sonderegger (eds.): Language history. A handbook on the history of the German language and its research. 2nd Edition. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin 1998–2004 (handbooks on linguistics and communication studies, 2).
  • Norbert Boretzky : Introduction to Historical Linguistics. Rowohlt, Reinbek 1977, ISBN 3-499-21108-4 .
  • Hans Eggers : Deutsche Sprachgeschichte, four volumes, Rowohlt, Reinbek near Hamburg 1963–1977; new edition in two volumes, 1986.
  • Steven Roger Fischer: A Little History of Language . Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag 2003, ISBN 3-423-34030-4 .
  • Rudi Keller : Language change. About the invisible hand in language. 2nd Edition. Francke, Tübingen and Basel 1994, ISBN 3-7720-1761-4 .
  • Angelika Linke, Markus Nussbaumer, Paul R. Portmann: Study book linguistics. 5th edition. Niemeyer, Tübingen 2004, ISBN 3-484-31121-5 .
  • Damaris Nübling / Antje Dammel / Janet Duke / Renata Szczepaniak: Historical Linguistics of German. An introduction to the principles of language change. Gunter Narr Verlag, Tübingen 2006, ISBN 3-8233-6212-7 (narr study books).
  • August Schleicher : Compendium of the comparative grammar of the Indo-European languages. (A brief outline of the Indo-European original language, ancient Indian, ancient Iranian, ancient Greek, ancient Italian, ancient Celtic, ancient Slavonic, Lithuanian and ancient German.) (2 vol.) Weimar, H. Böhlau (1861/62); Reprint Minerva GmbH, Wissenschaftlicher Verlag, ISBN 3-8102-1071-4 .
  • Wilhelm Schmidt (ed.): History of the German language. A textbook for studying German. 10th edition. Hirzel, Stuttgart 2007, ISBN 3-7776-1432-7 .
  • Stefan Sonderegger : Basics of German language history. Diachrony of the language system. Vol. I. Introduction. Genealogy. Constants. de Gruyter, Berlin and New York 1979, ISBN 3-11-003570-7 .
  • Hans Joachim Störig : Adventure Language . 2nd Edition. Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, Munich 2002, ISBN 3-423-30863-X .

Web links

Wiktionary: Historiolinguistics  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: History of language  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ MJ Kümmel: Trends in the European grammar development synchrony and diachrony. 2009, pp. 1–102 ( Memento from September 13, 2014 in the Internet Archive )