Philology  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Philology, etymologically, is the "love of words". It is most accurately defined as "an affinity toward the learning of the backgrounds as well as the current usages of spoken or written methods of human communication". The commonality of studied languages is more important than their origin or age (that is, their etymology), though those factors are important as well. The term is derived from the Greek terms philos (φίλος) meaning love and logos (λόγος) meaning word. In a sense, to understand a language, philology seeks to understand the origins of that language, and so it is often defined as "the study of ancient texts and languages", although this is a rather narrow view and is not entirely accurate.

In the academic traditions of several nations, a wide sense of the term "philology" describes the study of a language together with its literature and the historical and cultural contexts that are indispensable for an understanding of the literary works and other culturally significant texts. Philology thus comprises the study of the grammar, rhetoric, history, interpretation of authors, and critical traditions associated with a given language.

In its more restricted sense of "historical linguistics", philology was one of the 19th century's first scientific approaches to human language but gave way to the modern science of linguistics in the early 20th century due to the influence of Ferdinand de Saussure, who argued that spoken language should have primacy.

Philology commends the ability to recognize the words of one language from the roots of another, by recognition of common (shared) roots and grammar.

In popular culture

The main character in the Academy Award Nominee for Best Foreign Language film, Footnote, is a Hebrew Philologist, and a significant section of the film deals with his work.

The protagonist of C. S. Lewis's Space Trilogy, Elwin Ransom, is a philologist. This helps him begin to understand and learn the languages of the planet of Malacandra (Mars) in the first book, Out of the Silent Planet

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Philology" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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