Linguistics is the study of language, including its elements, character, structure and modifications.
In pre-Christian Greece, several old school philosophers discussed issues arising around logos (speech, account, reason, definition, rational faculty, proportion) and onoma (name).¹
Reflecting on language also came into play in the Middle Ages with Nominalism. Intense debates took place among the scholastics who questioned whether universals like stength, beauty, and love were real in themselves or merely linguistic concepts devised by human beings.
So the next time some university “intellectual” tries to impress you with their trendy linguistic terms, just tell them that they’re not really doing anything new!
¹ Definitions of Greek terms are from F. E. Peters, Greek Philosophical Terms: A Historical Lexicon (New York: New York University Press, 1967, pp. 110, 144).
- Bourdieu (Pierre)
- Chomsky (Noam)
- Foucault (Michel)
- Lévi-Strauss (Claude)
- Ryle (Gilbert)
- Wittgenstein (Ludwig)