Jones, William

 The founder of comparative linguistics.
The founder of comparative linguistics.




(1746 - 1794) An extremely learned philologist who was also the judge of the Supreme Court of Judicature at Calcutta, he became fascinated by Sanskrit.

In his book The Sanscrit [sic] Language (1786), Jones presented the notion that Sanskrit, Greek, and Latin (and even Celtic, Gothic, and Persian) might have derived from a common ancestor language. Because of this claim, some have dubbed him the founder of comparative linguistics, though he wasn't the first to spot this phenomenon and write about it (see Marcus van Boxhorn).

Quotation -
"The Sanscrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of a wonderful structure; more perfect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either, yet bearing to both of them a stronger affinity, both in the roots of verbs and the forms of grammar, than could possibly have been produced by accident; so strong indeed, that no philologer could examine them all three, without believing them to have sprung from some common source, which, perhaps, no longer exists."
(Source: Jones, Collected Works, Volume III : 34-5)



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