Imitazione e fonosimbolismo: importanza e limiti della teoria di Hensleigh Wedgwood per il pensiero linguistico darwiniano

  • Michela Piattelli «Sapienza», Università di Roma
Keywords: Darwin, Wedgwood, imitation, sound-symbolism, language


The paper deals with the imitative theory of language set forth by English philologist Hensleigh Wedgwood (1803-1891) in mid-Nineteenth Century Britain, and with the influence it had on Charles Darwin’s hypotheses on the origin of language. Particular attention will be bestowed on the philosophical and epistemological bases of Wedgwood’s linguistic imitation, which may be identified in Thomas Brown’s conception of resemblance and in Charles Lyell’s Uniformitarian method respectively. As it will be shown, Wedgwood’s linguistic theory features in Charles Darwin’s Descent of Man with regard to the origin of articulate language: in confronting with such a theoretically difficult issue, Darwin resumed and readapted Wedgwood’s imitative hypothesis to account for the emergence of speech in terms of continuism among species.

Misc articles