Reconstructing Ideologies. Part One: Animadversions of John Horne Tooke on the Origins of Affixes and Non-designative Words.
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I present a brief biographical sketch, a summary of some necessary comments on Tooke the philosopher and Tooke the political figure, and a description and illustration of Tooke the theorist of language. We do not arrive at the present stage of historical linguistics by following either an unbroken evolution of knowledge, or by charting a succession of intellectual paradigms. Linguistic ideas are not autonomous or easily separate from their social context. The primary focus of this essay is on linguistic ideas: I challenge the assumption that Tooke's work had only a negative influence on the development of historical comparative linguistics in England. I will not attempt to place Horne Tooke in a Kuhnian-style drama of paradigm formation or decay. Because the "Diversions of Purley" was a financial success and had a varied readership, we should not reduce the influence or reputation of the text to its impact on historical comparative philology.