History of linguistics

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Linguistics as a study endeavors to describe and explain the human faculty of language.

In ancient civilization, linguistic study was originally motivated by the correct description of classical liturgical language, notably that of Sanskrit grammar by Pāṇini (fl. 4th century BC), or by the development of logic and rhetoric among Greeks. Beginning around the 4th century BC, China also developed its own grammatical traditions and Arabic grammar and Hebrew grammar developed during the Middle Ages.

Modern linguistics began to develop in the 18th century, reaching the "golden age of philology" in the 19th century. The first half of the 20th century was marked by the structuralist school, based on the work of Ferdinand de Saussure in Europe and Edward Sapir and Leonard Bloomfield in the United States. The 1960s saw the rise of many new fields in linguistics, such as Noam Chomsky's generative grammar, William Labov's sociolinguistics and also modern psycholinguistics.



Across cultures, the early history of linguistics is associated with a need to disambiguate discourse, especially for ritual texts or in arguments. This often led to explorations of sound-meaning mappings, and the debate over conventional versus naturalistic origins for these symbols. Finally this led to the processes by which larger structures are formed from units.

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