13.1951, Review: History of Linguistics,Koerner & Szwedek (2001)

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LINGUIST List:  Vol-13-1951. Sun Jul 21 2002. ISSN: 1068-4875.

Subject: 13.1951, Review: History of Linguistics,Koerner & Szwedek (2001)

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Date:  Fri, 19 Jul 2002 16:46:09 +0000
From:  Andrzej Zychla <zychla at poczta.onet.pl>
Subject:  Koerner & Szwedek, eds. (2001) Towards a History of Linguistics in Poland

-------------------------------- Message 1 -------------------------------

Date:  Fri, 19 Jul 2002 16:46:09 +0000
From:  Andrzej Zychla <zychla at poczta.onet.pl>
Subject:  Koerner & Szwedek, eds. (2001) Towards a History of Linguistics in Poland

Koerner & Szwedek, eds. (2001) History of Ling: Towards a History of
Linguistics in Poland Koerner E F.K (2001)Towards a History of
Linguistics in Poland. From the early beginnings to the end of the
20th century..  John Benjamins Publishing Company, xx+317 pp.,
hardback ISBN: 90 272 4591 6, Studies in the History of the Language
Sciences, 102

Book Announcement on Linguist:

Andrzej Zychla, The College of Foreign Languages, University of
Zielona Gora, Poland.

This collection of 10 contributions should appeal to all professionals
interested in the history of linguistics in Poland and, to a lesser
extent, the neighbouring areas and countries. It is the outcome of
intensive co-operation between specialists in the respective fields,
translators and proof-readers and a successful attempt to summarise in
one volume the major achievements of Polish linguists and
linguistics. Most of the chapters have previously been published as
papers in other, mainly historiographical, sources: for reasons of
space they appear here in their abridged versions.

Even though there have already been some attempts to come up with
similar compilations, their final outcomes were either edited in
Polish (which makes them largely inaccessible to the English-speaking
world), incomplete or prejudiced. The introduction itself deems most
of those works 'textbook history' meant generally for 'neophyte'
rather than a specialist reader, mostly 'derivative and unoriginal' in

I would like to present brief overviews of the chapters first, then
comment on the volume as a whole.

The book has been divided into two major parts -- the first 5 chapters
are devoted to the various subfields of linguistics and the historical
developments thereof, the remaining five paint fascinating portraits
of some of the finest Polish linguists.

Part One:Chapter 1 -- Z. Wasik 'The Development of General Linguistics
within the History of the Language Sciences in Poland: Late 1860s '
late 1960s' ' It is one of the longest chapters in the collection,
covering a century of linguistic activity, carefully subdivided into
further periods marked not so much by historically (or politically)
significant events as by the major stages in the professional careers
of the linguists depicted.

Chapter 2 -- F. Grucza 'Origins and Development of Applied Linguistics
in Poland' -- The author argues that although certain applied aspects
of language science have been pursued for many centuries, the
conscious separation of applied linguistics can only be traced 200
years back. The author then goes on to clarify how applied linguistics
became a separate science and touches upon the various disciplines it
has evolved into.

Chapter 3 -- T. Piotrowski 'Lexicography in Poland: From the early
beginnings to the present' -- It is an overview of Polish (mainly
monolingual) lexicography with comments on the most important
lexicographic works published (basic information on the most important
bi-/multilingual dictionaries published in Poland given). The author
discusses the co-existence of liberal and prescriptive approaches to
language and dictionary and makes very interesting comments on how
Polish dictionary makers are trying to adjust to the new, free market,

Chapter 4 -- S. Gogolewski 'Dialectology in Poland, 1873-1997' -- It
is devoted to the development of dialectology in Poland, discusses the
origins of the science, its major achievements (e.g. particular
dictionaries or atlases) and provides some insight into the historical
influences of dialects on literary Polish.

Chapter 5 -- S. Gala 'Onomastics in Poland: From 19th-century
beginnings to the present' -- It discusses the history of the study of
names in Poland and its relation to other branches of linguistics (and
sciences). The paper stresses the high status accorded to onomastics
in Poland.

Part Two:Chapter 6 -- A. Adamska-Salaciak 'Jan Baudouin de Courtenay's
Contribution to General Linguistics' -- It is an account of the
professional career of a scholar whose influence on science is still
difficult to assess. Although Baudouin de Courtenay never wrote a
major synthetic compilation of his theories, linguists do acknowledge
some of them. There are other theories, the author suggests, that are
yet to be acknowledged.

Chapter 7 -- F. M. Berezin 'Mikolaj Kruszewski and 20th-Century
Linguistics'- It is written by the only non-Polish contributor to the
volume (a renown Russian historian of linguistics) and draws attention
of its readers to Mikolaj Kruszewski, a largely forgotten genius, very
close to structuralism) long before the appearance of de Saussure's
lectures on general linguistics). Kruszewski is acknowledged by many
as one of the founders of modern linguistic theory.

Chapter 8 -- J. Banczerowski 'Mikolaj Rudnicki's General Linguistic
Conceptions' -- the author presents Rudnicki's (1881-1978) views, the
linguist who contributed significantly to general linguistics,
phonology and structural phonetics.

Chapter 9 -- W. Smoczynski 'Jerzy Kurylowicz as Indo-Europeanist and
Theorist of Language' -- The author suggests that Kurylowicz
(1895-1978) was one of the greatest scholars in the history of Polish
linguistics. Although he was most successful in Indo-European and the
theory of language (and all areas of language structure), he was also
interested in language structure and its mechanisms (he himself knew
more than 10 languages).

Chapter 10 -- J. Banczerowski 'Aspects of Ludwik Zabrocki's Linguistic
World' -- The portrait of Zabrocki's (1907-1977), whose wide
interests, apart from general linguistics, included: comparative
linguistics, psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, cybernetics
linguistics, Indo-European linguistics and applied linguistics.

The book serves as an excellent starting point for those wishing to
investigate the history of Polish linguistics, In particular, it
contains: --extensive (and very detailed) bibliographies (including
sources in English, provided they are available) -- I found a few
valuable references I had been previously unaware of; --5 photographs,
2 maps, title pages of important books; --pictures of Polish
linguists, Polish abstracts under each chapter; --an Index of Authors
and Index of Titles.

The two little problems I noticed were technical in character:
- the Polish font is not satisfactory;
- there are a few misprints.


The author of this review is an assistant at the College of Foreign
Languages, University of Zielona Gora, Poland. He defended his MA
thesis (a critical evaluation of one of the Polish bilingual
dictionaries) in 1998. He is currently working on his PhD dissertation
(Defining strategies used by EFL teachers and their possible
implications for dictionary definitions). His interests include:
(meta) lexicography and applied linguistics (language teaching
methodology and translation, both technical and literary). He is also
in charge of the ELT section of WSz PWN's official webpage (one of the
major publishing houses in Poland).


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