On the Origin of Language again: Ceci’s Criticism of Trombetti

  • Francesca M. Dovetto University Federico II of Naples
Keywords: Linguistic historiography, Monogenesis of languages, Polygenesis of languages, Luigi Ceci, Alfredo Trombetti


Alfredo Trombetti’s L’unità d’origine del linguaggio was published in 1905, at a time when the glottogonic interest concerning the monogenesis or polygenesis of languages was waning. Trombetti’s arguments were sharply rebutted by the Roman linguist Luigi Ceci on the journal La Cultura in 1907. Ceci not only criticised Trombetti’s method as inadequate, but he found that Trombetti deliberately ignored that any matter of language is a matter of people. As Ceci stated, every language is at the end of an infinitely long evolutionary series and the unity is to be conceived not at the beginning, but at the end of evolution. Focussing on Ceci’s criticism of Trombetti, this paper intends to pinpoint the reasons that contributed to the critical fortune of Trombetti’s monogenetic theory, despite its indemonstrability on linguistic grounds.