On the Cusp: Antoine Meillet as a Sociologist of Language
The sub-discipline sociology of language is generally associated with a particularly fruitful symbiosis formed between sociology, historical studies and linguistics in the 1950s and the 1960s in the United States in particular. In this form it is associated with the work of scholars such as Heinz Kloss, Charles A. Ferguson, Einar Haugen and (later) Joshua A. Fishman. But discussions of the relationship between sociopolitical structures, historical processes and language use had already surfaced in inter-war Europe and may have helped to inform and develop the more renowned later discussions. This similarity should not blind us to the fact that the ideologies which underpinned these earlier discussions were often not equivalent to the more liberal ones adopted after the war. This essay will discuss a particularly pointed example of these convergences and divergences to be found in the work of Antoine Meillet.