Ideal in introductory courses dealing with grammatical structure and linguistic analysis, Introduction to Typology overviews the major grammatical categories and constructions in the world's languages. Framed in a typological perspective, the constant concern of this primary text is to underscore the similarities and differences which underlie the vast array of human languages.
Chapter 2: A (Brief) History of Typology
A (Brief) History of Typology
Broadly speaking, typology has a twofold purpose: to identify universals and to establish the potential range of variation among languages. These research aims first arose in linguistics back in the 1800s, particularly in the work of two German linguists, Friedrich von Schlegel and Wilhelm von Humboldt (Ramat 1995). Unlike contemporary typologists, they were interested almost exclusively in morphology. By examining the processes of word formation that occur in language, they developed a scheme to categorize languages on the basis of how much morphology was used in the construction of a word and how this morphology was used. Although contemporary linguistics still uses some of the terminology they developed in their investigations, modern typology has little in ...