The Library of Original Sources, Vol 10


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Philology may be said to have made its first beginning as a Science when Bopp (1791–1867) in 1816 showed the original identity of personal endings of verbs with personal pronouns, and of the endings of what are called in Gothic weak verbs with the verb to do. The second great step was Grimm’s law of consonant permutation (1822), which showed that there are regular consonant changes and correspondences between the Teutonic and other so-called Aryan languages. The law and illustrations of it are given below. The law established an Aryan family of languages, and subsequent scholars have done much to trace out the primitive Aryan civilization through the study of the words that can be traced back to that prehistoric time. In 1877 Karl Verner showed that the apparent exceptions to Grimm’s law depended on an original difference of accent. Verner’s law is given below. This emphasized the fact that there is a cause for all changes in language, and that all are conformable to regular law. In pursuance of this idea, philologists have since traced the history of the vowels and found them as regular as the consonant mutations.

The histories of the Germanic and Romance languages have been written. The wonderful changes undergone by Latin words in being mouthed over by the Gauls at the time of the Roman occupation of France have been shown regular for each class. This forms the basis of modern French. The history of English is another great result of the science, and there are few words in English that cannot be shown to correspond on the one hand if native to German or classical cognates, or on the other if derived, traced back either directly or through French to their classical originals.

It must be remembered that all this is the study of the ideas of the race as well as of words or forms, because the words carry in them the primitive conceptions of their originators. Comparative philology has lent a great interest to the study of Sanscrit and Persian, and our knowledge of the Indian and Persian classics, of Brahmanism, Buddhism, Zoroasterism, is all due to the advance in the science of language.


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Chicago: "Philology," The Library of Original Sources, Vol 10 in The Library of Original Sources, ed. Oliver J. Thatcher (Milwaukee, Wisconsin: University Research Extension Co., 1907), 368. Original Sources, accessed May 19, 2024,

MLA: . "Philology." The Library of Original Sources, Vol 10, in The Library of Original Sources, edited by Oliver J. Thatcher, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, University Research Extension Co., 1907, page 368. Original Sources. 19 May. 2024.

Harvard: , 'Philology' in The Library of Original Sources, Vol 10. cited in 1907, The Library of Original Sources, ed. , University Research Extension Co., Milwaukee, Wisconsin, pp.368. Original Sources, retrieved 19 May 2024, from