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Главная » 2010 » Июнь » 17 » Philology
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Philology
     Philology is the study of ancient texts and languages. The term originally meant a love (Greek philo-) of learning and literature (Greek -logia). 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 which 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. Such a wide-ranging definition is becoming rare, and "philology" tends to refer to a study of texts from the perspective of historical linguistics.
     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 the spoken language should have primacy. In the United States, the American Journal of Philology was founded in 1880 by Basil Lanneau Gildersleeve, a professor of Classics at Johns Hopkins University.
     One branch of philology is comparative linguistics, which studies the relationship between languages. Similarities between Sanskrit and European languages were first noted in the early 16th century and led to the speculation of a common ancestor language from which all of these descended - now named Proto-Indo-European. Philology's interest in ancient languages led to the study of what were in the 18th century "exotic" languages for the light they could cast on problems in understanding and deciphering the origins of older texts.
     Radical philology is a contemporary re-appropriation of a centuries-old tradition of scholarly interaction with the materiality of texts. In its main outlines, radical philology diverges from mainstream philology in its understanding of the relationship between textual scholarship and literary interpretation. While main-stream philology uses the fruits of textual research as "evidence" for broader, more abstract claims, radical philology sees textual research as an end in itself.
     Philology also includes elements of textual criticism, trying to reconstruct an ancient author's original text based on variant manuscript copies. A related study method, known as higher criticism, which studies the authorship, date, and provenance of texts, can prove invaluable in these attempts, but also is informed by them.
     These philological issues are often inseparable from issues of interpretation, and thus there is no clear-cut boundary between philology and hermeneutics. As such, when the content of the text has a significant political or religious influence (such as the reconstruction of early versions of Christian gospels), it is difficult to find neutral or honest conclusions.
     Another branch of philology is the decipherment of ancient writing systems, which had spectacular successes in the 19th century involving Egyptian and Assyrian. Beginning with the sensational decipherment and translation of the Rosetta Stone by Jean-François Champollion in 1822, a number of individuals attempted to decipher the writing systems of the ancient Near East and Aegean.
     Work on the ancient languages of the Near East progressed rapidly. In the mid-19th century, Henry Rawlinson and others deciphered the Behistun Inscription, which records the same text in Old Persian, Elamite, and Akkadian, using a variation of cuneiform for each language. The understanding of cuneiform script led to the decipherment of Sumerian. Hittite was deciphered in 1915 by Bedřich Hrozný.
     In the ancient Aegean, Linear B was deciphered in 1952 by Michael Ventris, who demonstrated that the script recorded an early form of Greek, now known as Mycenaean Greek. Linear A, the writing system which records the still unknown language of the Minoans, resists decipherment, despite many attempts.
     Work still continues on scripts such as Maya hieroglyphics (with great progress made in the late 20th century), and on Etruscan.
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