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Philology is the study of language in written historical sources; as such it is a combination of literary studies, history and linguistics.[1]

Classical philology is the philology of the Greek, Latin and Sanskrit languages.[2] Classical philology is historically primary, originating in European Renaissance Humanism, but was soon joined by philologies of other languages both European (Germanic, Celtic, Slavistics, etc.) and non-European (Sanskrit, Oriental languages such as Persian or Arabic, Chinese etc.). Indo-European studies involves the philology of all Indo-European languages as comparative studies.

Any classical language can be studied philologically, and indeed describing a language as "classical" is to imply the existence of a philological tradition associated with it.

Because of its focus on historical development (diachronic analysis), philology came to be used as a term contrasting with linguistics. This is due to a 20th century development triggered by Ferdinand de Saussure's insistence on the importance of synchronic analysis, and the later emergence of structuralism and Chomskian linguistics with its heavy emphasis on syntax.


The term

The term philology is derived from the Greek φιλολογία (philologia),[3] from the terms φίλος (philos), meaning "love, affection, loved, beloved, dear, friend" and λόγος (logos), meaning "word, articulation, reason", describing a love of learning, of literature as well as of argument and reasoning, reflecting the range of activities included under the notion of λόγος. The term changed little with the Latin philologia, and later entered the English language in the 16th century, from the Middle French philologie, in the sense of "love of literature".

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