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The term "philology"[edit]

Do English-speaking people still use the term "philology" to describe their study of language? (The word sounds either archaic or foreign to me.) If not, this page should definitely be merged into linguistics. If people still do use the term, can of language, and since Saussure it is the study of the use" but "has never been current in the U.S." Finally the dictionary says that 'linguistics' is now replacing all senses. -- Heron 17:53 Mar 2, 2003 (UTC)

The usage is still well alive in the majority of the english speaking world (i.e. outside the u.S.)
This merger is a horrible idea. The term is still in usage. And even if it weren't, this page should remain for its historical value. Tedpennings 05:56, 12 March 2006 (UTC)
I agree. Philology should be kept separate from Linguistics. Although they are both all about language, Philology is a very significant word and has ties with words and meanings that "Linguistics" can never have. The word itself is nearly archaic, true, but what significance does that have? It is also an historical word and has deep meaning for many language scholars. -BK 01:12, March 23rd 2006 (UTC)
From my understanding, linguistics is the study of one or more languages for the purpose of speaking or writing them; whereas philology is the study of one or more languages for the purpose of discovering the meaning, and shades of meaning behind the words. For example, the Greek word πνευμα can, in English, render many words, including spirit, breath, wind. This is consistent with the translations of the similar ancient Hebrew word ruach. Linguistics provides the translation(s), but philology wants to know that these cultures similarly saw the meanings, and that the meanings are related in a spiritual way. As a rather stranger example, linguistics can translate Hungarian. Philogists, however, are intersted in going behind the words, behind the history that says that the precise origins of the migratory Huns is unknown, to see the strangest relationship that I, at least, have ever seen: the language is actually, apparently related to proto-Japanese. I believe that Philology is certainly a study in its own right. In these examples, it stands on its own two feet among great studies such as religion, history, and social-psychology. I am a linguist because I have studied over 25 languages and read the New Testament only in the original - in order to know what I'm actually reading: I am a philologist because I know about the Huns and Japanese, and because I can accurately translate the often-misunderstood book of James. Sabbeumnim 22:23, 30 June 2006 (UTC)
Linguistics is the scientific study of language, it includes historical linguistics, it is not the study of one or more languages for the purpose of speaking or writing them. "Linguist" can have two meanings; some one who studies linguistics, or the more informal non-technical meaning of some one who speaks several languages. A linguist in the sense of a person who speaks several languages does not study linguistics. LDHan 01:30, 20 November 2006 (UTC)
Although it's probably not a part of the vernacular of most people, 'philology' is still used in the United States, most likely carrying the definition, for most people, of love of language/study of connotation; compared with the definition of linguistics, the study of denotation. Sixwordsofadvice (talk) 23:53, 21 October 2008 (UTC)

It seems to me that "philology" has (regrettably) shifted in meaning from being vaguely synonymous with "linguistics" to being vaguely synonymous with "classical studies." Witness the journals and leigh 19:21, Sep 12, 2004 (UTC)

Even if that first sentence has been there ever since this article was created [1], I still do not think it is true. Why this restriction to ancient languages? Even if there has been a shift in meaning, the original meaning of the word should be mentioned in the first paragraph. |l'KF'l| 22:48, Sep 20, 2004 (UTC)
I would like to second the comment above. I don't think philology has become synonymous with classical studies. Especially here in Europe philology is well-rooted as a discipline, and declined in many facets: Slavic, Scandinavian, Celtic, Germanic, Indo-european, Romance philology, etc... I graduated myself in modern philology. My post-graduation was entirely focused on Medieval philology. I was never expected to study Greek (while the basics of several Germanic and Scandinavian languages were mandatory). Hroswith 17:54, 13 May 2007 (UTC)

Comments on Nietzsche[edit]

"He was also well known for his love of the dog breed the "Borzoi" and had several throughout his life." Why is this included? Does Friedrich's particular love of the Borzoi breed have anything to do with philology? --Sephiroth9611 21:35, 26 January 2006 (UTC)

In light of the fact the Nietzsche was a Professor of classical Philology... And due to the tone of the current article, that talks about various developments in the definition of what philology is; namely the discussed differences between radical philology, hermeneutics , and historical linguistics... I suggest that a very brief example of 'radical' philology be included at the end of the discussion in that section.. such as (e.g. Nietzsche's philological explorations of ancient and modern cultures).. or (e.g. Nietzsche's philological/philosophical writings).. I am going to insert the former for now.. Any objections, please talk with me at User Talk:Drakonicon. Below is an excerpt from the Wikipedia article on Nietzsche in support of the reasoning behind this new inclusion.Drakonicon 21:06, 26 June 2006 (UTC)
"In 1865, Nietzsche became acquainted with the work of Arthur Schopenhauer, and he read Friedrich Albert Lange's Geschichte des Materialismus in 1866. He found both of these encounters stimulating: they encouraged him to expand his horizons beyond philology and to continue his schooling. In 1867, Nietzsche committed to one year of voluntary service with the Prussian artillery division in Naumburg. However, a bad riding accident in March 1868 left him unfit for service. Consequently Nietzsche returned his attention to his studies, completing them and first meeting with Richard Wagner later that year.
Due in part to [Professor Friedrich Wilhelm] Ritschl's support, Nietzsche received an extraordinary offer to become professor of classical philology at the University of Basel before having completed his doctorate degree or certificate for teaching. During his philological work in Basel [(1869 – 1879)] he discovered that the ancient poetic meter related only to the length of syllables, different from the modern, accentuating meter..."Drakonicon 21:06, 26 June 2006 (UTC)

The "Deciphering ancient texts" section[edit]

The previous version of the article incorrectly stated that there was still doubt whether Linear B recorded Mycenaean Greek; there is no doubt within the field.

A larger problem with the section is that it wasn't distinguishing between writing systems and languages, which is a grievous error for a "philology" article. I'm not sure that I got all of that out of there. Akhilleus 08:06, 14 March 2006 (UTC)

Why is philology not called "logophily"?[edit]

Can anyone explain why philology is not called "logophily"? Surely "philology" is the study of love, not the love of study or words. The word seems to be back-to-front. Philologists should be studying attraction and amorous behaviour. 19:38, 14 April 2006 (UTC)

In classical Greek "philo-" compounds are fairly common, and they all denote the love or desire for something. E.g. "philosophia", the love of "sophia", wisdom. The first attestation of "philologos" is 5th or 4th century BC. Words like zoology, geology, morphology, etc. are much later coinages. --Akhilleus (talk) 20:07, 14 April 2006 (UTC)
I was confused by that too. Philology however, is not a ology in the same way as most: it is not the study (-ology) of love (philo-), but the love (philo-) of literature (logia). "Logos" in Greek is "word" whereas "ology" comes from the Greek word for logic. (hence the confusion!) Another example is "trilogy": not the study of 3 but instead, until only recently extended to include films, means a collection of 3 related pieces of writing (novels or plays).

TheZenCowboy 05:40, 19 January 2007 (UTC)

You realize it's the same root, right? Speach, reason. Logos. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:46, 2 September 2007 (UTC)


I think a session of more important authors, and its works, should appear in this page.anyone?

Bring it on! The more discussion about who should be included here , the more i learn about philology. That is why i introduced the Nietzsche example (the sentence in the article needs refining), Nietzsche being a Professor of Classical Philology. So only philologists? Would Champollion's work on the Rosetta Stone be considered 'philology'; considering the impact on academic (Egyptological?) interpretations of Ancient Egyptian culture since that time? Or is that too far outside the context of this article? Any other translators? What about Martin Heidegger's Early Greek Thinking, in particular the essay 'The Anaximander Fragment'? Does such translation work constitute 'philology'?Drakonicon 12:30, 3 July 2006 (UTC) User talk:Drakonicon
It came to me that certain philologists are actually well known to the public, except people do not know they were philologists. The Grimm brothers, and J.R.R. Tolkien, for instance. Hroswith 17:58, 13 May 2007 (UTC)
Erich Auerbach, Friedrich August Wolf

Recognizing words?[edit]

I would like to propose that the following paragraph be deleted:

Most importantly, philology commends the ability to recognize the words of one language from the roots of another, by recognition of common (shared) roots and grammar. It is for this reason that someone who is fluent in Portuguese can, naturally and without training in the Spanish language, read a Spanish-language newspaper and know what is going on in the world[citation needed]. Although not every word is directly translatable, the overall meaning of the text is readily apparent.

This paragraph is nonsense. Philology does not commend anything, let alone "the ability to recognize words." Nor am I interested in the example, even if it is correct. Philology is the close study of words and texts. "The ability to recognize words of one language from the roots of another" is called etymology, not philology. This paragraph is not to the point. Lufiend 15:43, 19 May 2007 (UTC)

I agree. It should be deleted or amended. "Philology commends the ability to recognize the words of one language from the roots of another"? I don't know what this person is trying to say. (Maybe: "If you study study the history of a language family, it'll be easier for you to learn new languages in that family, since you'll be able to find cognates for unfamiliar words"? If so, "Philology" is being used in its old sense "historical linguistics" or, as Lufiend says, "etymology" .)

--Gheuf 19:50, 21 May 2007 (UTC)


I don't feel that this introduction is particularly clear, particularly the first paragraph. I'm not convinced that giving literal meanings or explaining Greek roots are really useful to someone who has come on to the page looking for a quick definition. I think that the second and third paragraphs are much more useful and should have greater importance. Perhaps the origins of the word could be put at the bottom of the introduction, or in a separate section of the article body. Looking at the first paragraph, why does the sentence about incorrect definitions of philology come before the second and third paragraphs, which give a proper definition of philology? I would also agree with removing the paragraph about Portuguese people being able to read Spanish. Tbtommyb 18:41, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

I agree. Though as the article is probably mainly edited by philologists, it is perhaps not surprising that it begins with a discussion of etymology! Saluton (talk) 17:55, 29 April 2008 (UTC)

Also agree, I came on here looking to understand what it was and it took me three readings of the first paragraph and then reading through some of the discussion to understand what it was. It needs a simpler cleaner introduction. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:37, 2 March 2009 (UTC)

Svetislav Bilbija[edit]

I removed the claim that Svetislav Bilbija had 'most completely' deciphered Etruscan. As far as I can see no-one outside of a handful of Serb nationalist sites give any credence to his (very limited release) publication, The Mummy of Zagreb. --cjllw ʘ TALK 07:38, 21 July 2008 (UTC)

Incorrect Source[edit]

In the paragraph within the section on Comparative Philology, one finds the following statement:

"One branch of philology is comparative linguistics, which studies the relationship between languages. Similarities between Sanskrit and European languages were first noted in the early 16th century[8] and led to the speculation of a common ancestor language from which all of these descended — now named Proto-Indo-European."

However, this source [8] reads:

"This fact is noted in Juan Mascaro's introduction to his translation of the Bhagavad Gita, in which he dates the first Gita translation to 1785 (by Charles Williams). Mascaro claims Alexander Hamilton stopped in Paris in 1802 after returning from India, and taught Sanskrit to the German critic Friedrich von Schlegel. Mascaro says this is the beginning of modern study of the roots of the Indo-European languages."

It seems to me that either this is an incorrect source or the writer meant to write the 18th century rather than the 16th century. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:28, 16 December 2009 (UTC)

Origin of word should be included[edit]

The Greek origin of the word should be included in the introduction paragraph. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:24, 17 September 2010 (UTC)

Sanskrit and Classical Philology[edit]

The second paragraph currently opens: "Classical philology is the philology of the Greek, Latin and Sanskrit languages" with a dead link to the course catalog of the university of Costa Rica catalog. I'm pretty sure that this school's inclusion of Sanskrit as part of its Classical Philology track shouldn't alter what is really the most common usage: Classical Philology as the study of Ancient Greek and Classical Latin. I'm being WP:BOLD here and removing Sanskrit from the definition of Classical Philology, leaving Sanskrit in the lists in the following sentence, as appears to have been the intent aside from whichever editor added the course catalog link. If anyone disagrees, please revert me and respond either on this talk page or, better yet, here. Thanks, The Cardiff Chestnut (talk) 04:15, 19 July 2011 (UTC)

This was just a random undiscussed addition anyway[2] Thanks for spotting it. --dab (𒁳) 14:09, 3 March 2012 (UTC)