History of Linguistics

Research Cluster Coordinator: Andrew Linn

Tower of Babel

The History of Linguistics is the study of what people have done with and thought about language in the past. In her book The History of Linguistics in Europe from Plato to 1600 Vivien Law writes, by studying the history of linguistics, we can form a pretty good idea of how people saw the human being in any given epoch. Consequently the History of Linguistics sits right at the heart of the Humanities—an interdisciplinary window on the world.

Sheffield has the most active community of historians of linguistics in the UK. The subject is taught on a range of undergraduate modules and as a core element of our MA course in Historical Language Studies. We can boast the only professorship in the History of Linguistics, as well as three members of the committee of the Henry Sweet Society for the History of Linguistic Ideas and two members of the editorial board of Historiographia Linguistica. We have a thriving community of research students and would welcome more, especially those interested in the history of linguistic ideas from an interdisciplinary standpoint.