Some remarks on the origin of ‘assimilation’ and ‘dissimilation’ in linguistic terminology
The paper attempts to reconstruct when and by whom the terms ‘assimilation’ and ‘dissimilation’ were used for the first time in an expressly linguistic context, and thus became part of the scientific nomenclature. In the case of ‘dissimilation’, it may be said that it received wide currency through A. F. Pott’s use of the term in volume II of his Etymologische Forschungen in 1836. However, Pott used ‘dissimilation’ as early as 1832 and it appears that he was the introducer of the term into linguistics. The history of the term ‘assimilation’ goes further back than has thus far been assumed. Franz Bopp made use of it in 1824, and Jacob Grimm used it earlier in the second edition of volume I of his Deutsche Grammatik (1822) and even two years earlier in a letter to Karl Lachmann. It would appear, however, that the original source of ‘assimilation’ was Rasmus Rask’s Vejledning til det Islandske eller gamle Nordiske Sprog (1811), in which the term is frequently used. Grimm reviewed the book in 1812. Yet there is no indication in Rask’s writings that he considered himself the coiner or first user of ‘assimilation’ in linguistics.