Abstract / Description of output
Having Plato discuss ‘words’ or Humboldt ‘phonemes’ is anachronism at its most striking -- what I term 'corpse puppetry' -- but for that very reason also its least deceptive. Harder to see through is the level of anachronism brought out in Bergs’s (2012) discussion of how ‘social class’ is used in historical sociolinguistics. To write the history of linguistics well requires navigating a path through this polarized conceptual field. It means constantly bearing in mind, and finding discreet ways to remind readers, that our continuity with the past is always a semi-fictional construct; and not forgetting what Skinner’s point about consistency implies: that views belonging to the distant past often still have a reflex somewhere, and the potential to be rediscovered as what Levelt (2013) calls ‘sleeping beauties’.