By Wilhelm von Humboldt
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print Publication Year:2011
Online Publication Date:March 2012
Original Publication Year:1838
Subjects: Asian language and linguistics
Wilhelm von Humboldt (1767–1835) was a German philologist, diplomat and philosopher. While Minister of Education he was responsible for reforming the Prussian education system. His pioneering achievements in linguistics influenced many later scholars including Chomsky. Written in 1830–3, this monumental three-volume study of Kawi, a traditional formal and literary language of Java belonging to the Austronesian language family, was published posthumously in 1836–9. The manuscript was prepared for the press by J. K. E. Buschmann, a protégé of Humboldt's friend and colleague Bopp, whose work is also reissued in this series. Humboldt considered Kawi, which includes many Sanskrit loan-words, to be the common ancestor of all the Malayo-Polynesian languages, though this view is no longer accepted. Volume 2 analyses the roots and grammatical structures of Kawi as attested in religious texts and heroic epics, and provides cross-linguistic data to demonstrate its relationship with other languages of the region.