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the name of several schools of 19th-century European linguistics united by a common understanding of the nature and functions of language and the tasks of linguistics. The neogrammarians included G. Ascoli, W. Whitney, H. G. Gabelentz, F. F. Fortunatov, F. de Saussure, and several other scholars who shared similar views. In the narrow sense, the movement also includes the Leipzig school (A. Leskien, K. Brugmann, H. Osthoff, H. Paul, and B. Delbrück), the Gottingen school (A. Fick, A. Bezzenberger, H. Collitz, and F. Bechtel), and the Berlin school (J. Schmidt and W. Schulze). The term “neogrammarian” was first applied to the Leipzig school by the German philologist F. Zarncke; the term attained wide currency among linguists.

The neogrammarians viewed language as an individual psychophysiological activity; they believed that changes occur and spread in language as a result of more or less accidental causes connected with peculiarities of linguistic usage. Therefore, the linguist should first of all apply himself to the study of living languages and to the task of establishing the laws of their development. The study of dead languages is only of secondary importance. However, the neogrammarians understood the laws of linguistic development as given a priori; they considered these laws to be capable of accounting for all causative changes that occur in language development. Another shortcoming of the neogrammarian schools was their lack of any concept of language as a system.

The neogrammarians greatly contributed to the development of comparative-historical linguistics. However, the defects of neogrammarian theory provoked criticism from various stand-points (including H. Schuchardt and I. A. Baudouin de Courtenay). In the early 20th century, neogrammarian views ceased to be the leading current in linguistics and were replaced by sociolinguistics.


Thomsen, V. Istoriia iazykovedeniia do kontsa 19 v. Moscow, 1938. (Translated from Danish.)
Paul, H. Printsipy istorii iazyka. Moscow, 1960. (Translated from German.)
Zvegintsev, V. A. Istoriia iazykoznaniia 19–20 vv. v ocherkakh i izvlecheniiakh, part 1 [3rd ed.]. Moscow, 1964. (Excerpts from the works of H. Osthoff, K. Brugmann, and B. Delbrück.)
Jankowsky, K. R. The Neogrammarians. The Hague, 1972.


References in periodicals archive ?
Two of these (Anttila's "Analogy: the warp and woof of cognition" and Hock's "Analogical change") focus on analogy, which, together with sound change, was one of the twin pillars of the Neogrammarian view of change.
Janda concludes that the Neogrammarians were largely right about sound change in the sense that it is governed by phonetic conditioning factors in its very brief point of origin.
Useful as the Neogrammarian assumption that sound changes have no exceptions may be for historical reconstruction, variationist and lexical diffusion analyses are clearly invaluable for teasing out the complex social forces associated with sound changes.
1978, Analogy, Segmentation and the Early Neogrammarians.
While this may be true, the subsequent judgement the author passes still seems a little unfair, especially if one considers the historical fact that Saussure was reacting against the abuse of naive historical analogies by the early comparative philologists and the lack of a clear synchronic focus in the theories of the Neogrammarians.
By contrast, the paternalist linguistic family tree really means what it says, for according to classic philological theory, as laid down by the 19th-century Neogrammarians and still held by most linguists, there are no 'mixed languages' (cf.
Scientific history (with the exception of Indo-European scholars themselves) seems to have largely forgotten his work, for the pigeon-hole into which we love to slot the neogrammarians is labelled "sound change and morphology", ignoring that these scholars were outstanding philologists who studied syntax as well as other aspects of language.
17) Austere Neogrammarians may reject all the facts mentioned in this paragraph as not evidence.
8) as a promisingly succinct account for students of the comparative method of the Neogrammarians too soon thereafter crashes in flames ("the only way actually to demonstrate that two or more languages are cognate descendants of a common ancestral language is to reconstruct the common language from which they descended," p.
Putschke retraces the contribution of dialectology to historical linguistics and its criticism of the Neogrammarians in lucid summary (pp.
Some neogrammarians also noticed this connection between the paradigmatic distribution of stem alternations and the semantic relevance of grammatical categories to lexical meaning (Osthoff 1899: 44-45, 55, note 7).