Linguistic divergence and convergence in 19th and 20th century scholarship

In accordance with the Romantic view of the world, nineteenth-century philology and comparative linguistics focuses on linguistic relationship. Thus, scholars of the Indo-European languages would derive a large portion of the world’s languages from a common root – a practice which was famously illustrated with the genealogical tree.

In the twentieth century, some critics have instead tried to explain the linguistic similarities with concepts like convergence and diffusion (cf. the Greek koine). Finally, the substandard variety of Latin, vulgar Latin, used to be considered an independent dialect and the direct mother of the Romance languages, whereas recent research has described the Latin language as a linguistic continuum.

The project will discuss and analyse the varying models of these three linguistic tendencies of globalisation in the light of the attitude of the different periods towards the relationship between nation and world culture. At the same time, the contrast of these three examples may lead to a better understanding of the actual developments.

Scholar in charge

Associate professor, Ph.D. George Hinge