:"See comparative linguistics for the narrower field of "comparative philology"."

Philology, derived from the Greek _gr. φιλολογία ("philologia" [ [ "Philologia", Liddell and Scott, "A Greek-English Lexicon", at Perseus] ] , from the terms _gr. φίλος "philos" meaning "loved, beloved, dear, friend" and _gr. λόγος "logos" "word, articulation, reason") is a branch of the human sciences dealing with language and literature, specifically a literary canon, combining aspects of grammar, rhetoric, historical linguistics (etymology and language change), interpretation of authors, textual criticism and the critical traditions associated with a given language.

Philology considers both form and meaning in linguistic expression, combining linguistics and literary studies.

Classical philology is the philology of the Greek, Latin and Sanskrit languages [ [ University of Costa Rica] (link in Spanish) has a career in Classical philology that includes Sanskrit, Latin and Greek.] . Classical philology is historically primary, originating in European Renaissance Humanism, but was soon joined by philologies of other languages both European (Germanic, Celtic, Slavic etc.) and non-European (Sanskrit, Oriental languages such as Persian or Arabic, Chinese etc.). Indo-European studies involves the philology of all Indo-European languages as comparative studies. Any classical language can be studied philologically, and indeed describing a language as "classical" is to imply the existence of a philological tradition associated with it.

Because of its focus on historical development (diachronic analysis), philology came to be used as a term contrasting with linguistics. This is due to a 20th century development triggered by Ferdinand de Saussure's insistence on the importance of synchronic analysis, and the later emergence of structuralism and Chomskian linguistics with its heavy emphasis on spoken language (performance) and syntax.

The term

The term "" itself enters the English language in the 16th century, from the Middle French "philologie", in the sense of "love of literature". The Latin term "philologia" could mean "love of learning", like the original Greek term, _gr. φιλολογία, which described love of learning, of literature as well as of argument and reasoning, reflecting range of activities included under the notion of _gr. λόγος. The adjective _gr. φιλόλογος meant "fond of discussion or argument, talkative", in Hellenistic Greek also implying an excessive ("sophistic") preference of argument over the love of true wisdom, _gr. φιλόσοφος.

As an allegory of literary erudition, "Philologia" appears in 5th century post-classical literature (Martianus Capella, "De nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii"), an idea revived in Late Medieval literature (Chaucer, Lydgate).

The meaning of "love of learning and literature" was narrowed to "the study of the historical development of languages" (historical linguistics) in 19th century usage of the term due to the rapid progresses made in understanding sound laws and language change, the "golden age of philology", taken to last throughout the 19th century, or "from Friedrich Schlegel to Nietzsche". [so Nikolaus Wegmann, Princeton University Department of German [] ] In British English usage, and in British academia, "philology" remains largely synonymous with "historical linguistics", while in US English, and US academia, the wider meaning of "study of a language's grammar, history and literary tradition" remains more widespread. [A. Morpurgo Davies Hist. Linguistics (1998) 4 I. 22.]

Branches of philology

Comparative philology

One branch of philology is comparative linguistics, which studies the relationship between languages. Similarities between Sanskrit and European languages were first noted in the early 16th century [This fact is noted in Juan Mascaro's introduction to his translation of the "Bhagavad Gita", in which he dates the first "Gita" translation to 1785 (by Charles Williams). Mascaro claims Alexander Hamilton stopped in Paris in 1802 after returning from India, and taught Sanskrit to the German critic Friedrich von Schlegel. Mascaro says this is the beginning of modern study of the roots of the Indo-European languages.] and led to the speculation of a common ancestor language from which all of these descended — now named Proto-Indo-European. Philology's interest in ancient languages led to the study of what were in the 18th century "exotic" languages for the light they could cast on problems in understanding and deciphering the origins of older texts.

Textual philology and text editing

Philology also includes the close study of texts and their history. It includes elements of textual criticism, trying to reconstruct an author's original text based on variant manuscript copies. This branch of research arose in Biblical studies and has a long tradition, dating back to the Reformation. Fact|date=October 2008 Scholars have tried to reconstruct the original readings of the Bible from the manuscript variants that have come down to us. This method was then applied to Classical Studies and to medieval texts for the reconstruction of the author's original. This method produced so-called critical editions which provided a reconstructed text accompanied by a critical apparatus, i.e. footnotes listing the various manuscript variants available, thus enabling scholars to gain insight into the entire manuscript tradition and argue about variants. Fact|date=October 2008

A related study method, known as higher criticism, which studies the authorship, date, and provenance of texts, places a text in a historical context. Fact|date=October 2008 These philological issues are often inseparable from issues of interpretation, and thus there is no clear-cut boundary between philology and hermeneutics. Fact|date=October 2008 As such, when the content of the text has a significant political or religious influence (such as the reconstruction of Biblical texts), it is difficult to find 'objective' conclusions.

As a result, some scholars avoid all critical methods of textual philology. Fact|date=October 2008 Especially in historical linguistics it is important to study the actually recorded materials. The movement known as New Philology has rejected textual criticism because it injects editorial interpretations into the text and destroys the integrity of the individual manuscript readings, hence damaging the reliability of the data. Supporters of New Philology insist on a strict diplomatic, that is, faithful rendering of the text exactly as it is found in the manuscript, without emendations.

Cognitive philology

Another branch of philology, cognitive philology studies written and oral texts, considering them as results of human mental processes. This science, therefore, compares the results of textual science with those results of experimental research of both psychology and artificial intelligence production systems.


In the case of Bronze Age literature, philology includes the prior decipherment of the language in question. This has notably been the case with the Egyptian, Sumerian and Assyrian, Hittite and Luwian languages. Beginning with the sensational decipherment and translation of the Rosetta Stone by Jean-François Champollion in 1822, a number of individuals attempted to decipher the writing systems of the Ancient Near East and Aegean. In the case of Old Persian and Mycenean Greek, decipherment of writing systems yielded records of languages already known from slightly younger traditions (Middle Persian, Alphabetic Greek).

Work on the ancient languages of the Near East progressed rapidly. In the mid-19th century, Henry Rawlinson and others deciphered the Behistun Inscription, which records the same text in Old Persian, Elamite, and Akkadian, using a variation of cuneiform for each language. The understanding of cuneiform script led to the decipherment of Sumerian. Hittite was deciphered in 1915 by Bedřich Hrozný.

Linear B, a language used in the ancient Aegean, was deciphered in 1952 by Michael Ventris, who demonstrated that the script recorded an early form of Greek, now known as Mycenaean Greek. Linear A, the writing system which records the still unknown language of the Minoans, resists deciphering, despite many attempts.

Work still continues on scripts such as Maya script, with great progress made since the 1950s initial breakthroughs of the phonetic approach, championed by Yuri Knorozov and others.

ee also

*Classical philology
*Western canon
*Germanic philology
*Cognitive philology
*Classical language
*Historical linguistics
*American Journal of Philology


External links

* [ A Bibliography of Literary Theory, Criticism, and Philology (ed. José Ángel García Landa, University of Zaragoza, Spain)]
* [ Philology in Runet] -(A special web search through the philological sites of Runet)
* [ Asociación de Jóvenes Investigadores Filólogos de la Universidad Complutense de Madrid (AJIF-UCM)]
* [ Rivista di Filologia Cognitiva]
* [ CogLit: Literature and Cognitive Linguistics]
* [ Institute for Psychological Study of the Arts]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Philology — Phi*lol o*gy, n. [L. philologia love of learning, interpretation, philology, Gr. ?: cf. F. philologie. See {Philologer}.] 1. Criticism; grammatical learning. [R.] Johnson. [1913 Webster] 2. The study of language, especially in a philosophical… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Philology — ist ein italienisches Jazzlabel mit Sitz in Macerata. Philology wurde Mitte 1987 von Paolo Piangiarelli gegründet, zunächst um Musik seiner Idole Chet Baker, Lee Konitz oder Phil Woods in Italien zu veröffentlichen, so den 3 LP Set The Macerata… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • philology — (n.) late 14c., love of learning, from O.Fr. philologie, from L. philologia love of learning, love of letters, from Gk. philologia love of discussion, learning, and literature, from philo loving + logos word, speech. Meaning science of language… …   Etymology dictionary

  • philology — ► NOUN 1) the study of the structure, historical development, and relationships of a language or languages. 2) chiefly N. Amer. literary or classical scholarship. DERIVATIVES philological adjective philologist noun. ORIGIN originally in the sense …   English terms dictionary

  • philology — [fi läl′ə jē] n. [Fr philologie < L philologia, love of learning < Gr, love of literature < philein, to love + logos, word: see LOGIC] 1. Obs. the love of learning and literature; study; scholarship 2. former term for LINGUISTICS 3. the… …   English World dictionary

  • philology — Статья 1. см. языковедение (языковедение, языкознание, лингвистика | linguistique | Sprachwissenschaft, Linguistik | philology, linguistics | linguìstica) Статья 2. см. филология (филология | philologie | Philologie | philology | filologìa) …   Пятиязычный словарь лингвистических терминов

  • philology — philological /fil euh loj i keuhl/, philologic, adj. philologically, adv. philologist, philologer, n. /fi lol euh jee/, n. 1. the study of literary texts and of written records, the establishment of their authenticity and their original form, and …   Universalium

  • philology — /fəˈlɒlədʒi / (say fuh loluhjee) noun 1. the systematic study of written records, the establishment of their authenticity and their original form, and the determination of their meaning. 2. the systematic study of literary texts and written… …   Australian-English dictionary

  • philology — [[t]fɪlɒ̱ləʤi[/t]] N UNCOUNT Philology is the study of words, especially the history and development of the words in a particular language or group of languages. Derived words: philologist plural N COUNT He is a philologist, specialising in… …   English dictionary

  • philology — noun Etymology: French philologie, from Latin philologia love of learning and literature, from Greek, from philologos fond of learning and literature, from phil + logos word, speech more at legend Date: 1612 1. the study of literature and of… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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