Forward to the past
Modernizing linguistic typology by returning to its roots
This paper argues that linguistic typology, and linguistics more generally, got off to a good start in the 19th century with scholars like Wilhelm von Humboldt and Georg von der Gabelentz, where the understanding was that each language manifests a unique world view, and it is important to study and compare those world views. This tradition is still alive, but was sidelined and even denigrated for many years due to the rise of Structuralism, which attempted to study language structures divorced from their linguistic and socio-cultural contexts. The paper reviews the understandings the early scholars had and points out their similarities with cutting edge current views in cognitive linguistics, construction grammar, and interactional linguistics, which had to be rediscovered due to the influence of Structuralism for so many years. It then argues that we should make linguistic typology (and linguistics more generally) more modern, scientific, and empirical by returning to our roots.