1 Language and History, Linguistics and Historiography: Theoretical Outlook and Methodological Practices 1
Part 1 Language and History, Linguistics and Historiography: Theoretical Outlook and Methodological Practices Steffan Davies, Nils Langer and Wim Vandenbussche Language and History, Linguistics and Historiography: Interdisciplinary Problems and Opportunities For the past few years, the notion of interdisciplinarity has been a buzz- word to be found in any programmatic research outline or grant proposal, understood to be a vital break away from scholarly isolation and too narrow a focus on one’s own methodology and research questions. This pertains to the humanities just as much as to the natural sciences, and it is hardly a new idea. The historian Marc Bloch stated in the 1940s that ‘it is indis- pensable that the historian possess at least a smattering of all the principal techniques of his trade’ (Bloch 1992: 57). More specifically with regard to the disciplines of linguistics and History, Bloch exclaims: ‘What an absurd illogicality that men who half the time can have access to their subject only through words, are permitted, among other deficiencies, to be ignorant of the fundamental attainments of linguistics’ (ibid.).1 Yet in practice, exchange between the two fields has often remained a desideratum rather than actual achievement. The fragmentation of traditional philology into a broad subset of highly specialized branches of linguistics from the 1960s (computational linguistics, feminist linguistics, language acquisition stud- ies, etc.), all of which tended to focus on present-day language use only, meant that the study of language structure and texts in their historical context lost the prominence it had...
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