The History of General and Comparative Linguistics in 19th Century Russia
The article attempts to demonstrate how problems in general and historical-comparative linguistics were worked out and developed during the 19th century in Russia. Largely following the tradition established by 18th-century Russian scholars, especially M. V. Lomonosov (1711–65), who is regarded as the founder of Russian linguistics, 19th-century linguists displayed a lively interest in investigating the social nature of language. Other key interests of these scholars were the study of the systematic character of language, the development of the phonemic principle (including the distinctive feature concept), the typological study of related and unrelated languages, etc. It is shown that their work generally mirrored the intellectual trends of their period, with biologistic views giving way to sociological and psychological ones, as is evident in the work of N. I. Greč, A. X. Vostokov, A. A. Potebnja, J. Baudouin de Courtenay, F. F. Fortuna-tov, and many others. The intellectual climate of 19th-century Europe allowed for a free exchange of scientific information; thus, in its earlier stages, the Russian scientific scene was sometimes influenced by ideas from the West, whereas it can be said that Russian scholars working in linguistics paid back toward the end of the 19th and in the earlier 20th centuries by furthering research leading to a structural concept of language, the study of morphophonology, typology and language universals as is evident in the theories advanced by members of the Prague and Copenhagen schools.
I have included, in addition to items referred to in the text, bibliographical data in an effort to show the vast scope of work on the history of linguistics carried out in the Soviet Union in the hope that Western scholars may find them useful.
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