Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Humboldt, Worldview and Language$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

James Underhill

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780748638420

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748638420.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 27 February 2021



(p.74) Chapter 10 Form
Humboldt, Worldview and Language

W. Underhill James

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter makes the crucial distinction between contemporary formalist uses of the term ‘form’ in literary studies and linguistics, and Humboldt's use of the term. Form is never empty of meaning for Humboldt. Form is not a container or a structure. Humboldt does not adopt a form-content opposition. Humboldt regarded the study of grammatical forms and syntactic details to be a crucial step in comparing languages. But it was, he believed, only a preliminary step. Real understanding means understanding the way a linguistic community thinks, what paths its speakers follow in developing their own individual thoughts and sharing and discussing them. In Humboldt's thought, form is closer to ‘patterning’ in Sapir and Whorf's thinking: it refers to the concepts, and channels of understanding that have been carved out by a linguistic community and which is constantly being maintained and transformed by creative thinking and expression.

Keywords:   Form, Grammar, Patterning, Structure, Trajectory of a nation, Word-Order

Edinburgh Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.