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The First Linguist Recorded by History


Herodotus was a historian who lived in the 5th century BC (484 BC-425 BC). He is known because of his writing 'history', a collection of stories about different places and people that he collects during his travels. Because of his work, he is often regarded as the 'father of history'.

The scientific contribution of the Greeks in the linguistic world was in their carefulness of observation on the language development as the result of the trade interaction and political diplomacy between the Greeks and other countries and also the occupation of the colonies. Such interactions brought about a change of language in terms of lexical (borrowing), sentence patterns, and changes the meaning of an utterance. As a result, Greek dialect which used to be only one  (monolect) turns into many dialects (multilect). The first study of Greek dialects was introduced by Herodotus.

The development of the Greek dialects remained a problem to be solved, which should be the dialect used by the scholar? In studying the various dialects of the Greek language, Herodotus made an observation of foreign words which had been mixed into Greek language. Herodotus suggested the scholars to use the dialect used by Homeric scholars who have truly mastered the works of Homer, of which the most famous are the Iliad and Odyssey. He realized that the language used in the works of Homer did not follow the dialects used by the Greeks at the time, in other words, the language used in the works of Homer in Greek were still 'original' which was not yet 'contaminated' by foreign languages​​. These works occupied a high position in the world of Greek education at that time, scholars had made ​​it as a source of reference in character education.

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