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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
▪ At the start of the novel Julia sees philology as a lifeless and uncreative pursuit.
▪ Biography, bibliography and philology wait in attendance on literary appreciation; these four together cover the whole field of literary research.
▪ But Nietzsche's motive in opting for classical philology, when he finally did so, was not simple.
▪ Classical philology is a subject and institutionalized as such.
▪ Cornparative philology had not been invented.
▪ I have been quietly considering if we too should not break with philology as practised till now and its educational perspective.
▪ On its own terms, meanwhile, the new philology went from strength to strength.
▪ This view of language brings philology to life for Julia; she suddenly sees its object as the product of individual creativity.
The Collaborative International Dictionary

Philology \Phi*lol"o*gy\, n. [L. philologia love of learning, interpretation, philology, Gr. ?: cf. F. philologie. See Philologer.]

  1. Criticism; grammatical learning. [R.]

  2. The study of language, especially in a philosophical manner and as a science; the investigation of the laws of human speech, the relation of different tongues to one another, and historical development of languages; linguistic science.

    Note: Philology comprehends a knowledge of the etymology, or origin and combination of words; grammar, the construction of sentences, or use of words in language; criticism, the interpretation of authors, the affinities of different languages, and whatever relates to the history or present state of languages. It sometimes includes rhetoric, poetry, history, and antiquities.

  3. A treatise on the science of language.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

late 14c., "love of learning," from Latin philologia "love of learning, love of letters, love of study, literary culture," from Greek philologia "love of discussion, learning, and literature; studiousness," from philo- "loving" (see philo-) + logos "word, speech" (see logos).\n

\nMeaning "science of language" is first attested 1716 (philologue "linguist" is from 1590s; philologer "linguistic scholar" is from 1650s); this confusing secondary sense has not been popular in the U.S., where linguistics is preferred. Related: Philological.\n


n. (context linguistics English) The humanistic study of historical linguistics.


n. the humanistic study of language and literature [syn: linguistics]


Philology is the study of language in written historical sources; it is a combination of literary criticism, history, and linguistics. It is more commonly defined as the study of literary texts and written records, the establishment of their authenticity and their original form, and the determination of their meaning. A person who pursues this kind of study is known as a philologist.

Classical philology studies classical languages. Classical philology principally originated from the Library of Pergamum and the Library of Alexandria around the 4th century BCE, continued by Greeks and Romans throughout the Roman and Byzantine Empires, preserved and promoted during the Islamic Golden Age, and eventually resumed by European scholars of the Renaissance, where it was soon joined by philologies of other non-Asian (European) ( Germanic, Celtic), Eurasian ( Slavistics, etc.) and Asian ( Sanskrit, Persian, Arabic, Chinese, etc.) languages. Indo-European studies involves the comparative philology of all Indo-European languages.

Any classical language can be philologically studied, and, indeed, describing a language as "classical" is to imply the existence of a philological tradition associated with it.

Philology, with its focus on historical development (diachronic analysis), is contrasted with linguistics due to Ferdinand de Saussure's insistence on the importance of synchronic analysis. The contrast continued with the emergence of structuralism and Chomskyan linguistics alongside its emphasis on syntax.

Usage examples of "philology".

There was an absence from this section both of the modern philological and archeological spirit, and the report reads more like that of a congress of University tutors of the last century met to discuss the reading of a passage in a Greek play, or the accentuation of a vowel, before the dawn of Comparative Philology had swept away the cobwebs of the Scholiasts.

Almost without exception, every Orientalist began his career as a philologist, and the revolution in philology that produced Bopp, Sacy, Burnouf, and their students was a comparative science based on the premise that languages belong to families, of which the Indo-European and the Semitic are two great instances.

Friedrich August Wolf of 1777 and the Friedrich Nietzsche of 1875 there is Ernest Renan, an Oriental philologist, also a man with a complex and interesting sense of the way philology and modern culture are involved in each other.

Besides, a field can change so entirely, in even the most traditional disciplines like philology, history, or theology, as to make an all-purpose definition of subject matter almost impossible.

Orient and of the traditional disciplines of philology, history, rhetoric, and doctrinal polemic.

Orient, power that dwelt in the new, scientifically advanced techniques of philology and of anthropological generalization.

Nevertheless the process he started would continue, as philology in particular developed systematic and institutional powers Sacy had never exploited.

Orient with the most recent comparative disciplines, of which philology was one of the most eminent.

Renan, it was his adaptation of Orientalism to philology and both of them to the intellectual culture of his time that perpetuated the Orientalist structures intellectually and gave them greater visibility.

Orientalism from philology, and it is the extraordinarily rich and celebrated cultural position of that discipline that endowed Orientalism with its most important technical characteristics.

In other words, what may to us seem like paradox was the expected result of how Renan perceived his dynastic position within philology, its history and inaugural discoveries, and what he, Renan, did within it.

Renan understood, received, and was instructed in philology, the discipline imposed a set of doxological rules upon him.

His memoirs record how the crisis of religious faith that culminated in the loss of that faith led him in 1845 into a life of scholarship: this was his initiation into philology, its world-view, crises, and style.

Renan had assimilated himself to philology according to his own post-Christian fashion.

Christianity and the history offered by philology, a relatively new discipline, is precisely what made modern philology possible, and this Renan knew perfectly.