Leonard Bloomfield

Leonard Bloomfield (April 1, 1887 – April 18, 1949) was an American linguist who led the development of structural linguistics in the United States during the 1930s and the 1940s.


  • As one of the greatest monuments of human intelligence is by no means an exaggeration; no one who has had even a small acquaintance with that most remarkable book could fail to agree. In some four thousand sutras or aphorisms - some of them no more than a single syllable in length - Panini sums up the grammar not only of his own spoken language, but of that of the Vedic period as well. The work is the more remarkable when we consider that the author did not write it down but rather worked it all out of his head, as it were. Panini's disciples committed the work to memory and in tum passed it on in the same manner to their disciples..
  • While in the classical world scholars were dealing with language in a somewhat metaphysical way, the Indians were telling us what their language actually was, how it worked, and how it was put together. The methods and techniques for describing the structure of Sanskrit, which we find in Panini have not been substantially bettered to this day in modem linguistic theory and practice. We today employ many devices in describing languages that were already known to Panini's first two commentators.
  • The descriptive Grammar of Sanskrit, which Panini, brought to its high- est perfection, is one of the greatest monuments of human intelligence and (what concerns us more) an indispensable model for description of languages. The only achievement in our field, which can take rank with it is the historical linguistics of the nineteenth century and this indeed owed its origin largely to Europe’s acquaintance with the Indian Grammar. One forgot that the Comparative Grammar of the Indo- European languages got its start only when the Paninian analysis of an Indo-European language became known in Europe. . . . If the accen- tuation of Sanskrit and Greek, for instance had been unknown, Verner could not have discovered the Pre-Germanic sound change, that goes by his name. Indo-European Comparative Grammar had (and has) at its service, only one complete description of a language, the grammar of Panini. For all other Indo-European languages it had only the traditional grammars of Greek and Latin woefully incomplete and unsystematic. (1933: 267–76)
    • quoted in Bryant, E. F., & Patton, L. L. (2005). The Indo-Aryan controversy : evidence and inference in Indian history. Routledge. 183
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