A brief history of the Henry Sweet Society

The origins of the Henry Sweet Society go back to a garden-party held at the Oxford home of Paul and Vivian Salmon in Oxford, in August 1983. There, a group of scholars who were interested in Linguistics and its history decided to found a society to act as a focus for like-minded colleagues in the English-speaking world.

A further meeting was held in January 1984, at which the Society’s first officers were elected: R.H. Robins, President; Ian Michael, Vice-President; Leslie Seiffert, Chairman of the Executive Committee; Vivian Salmon, Hon. Secretary; John Flood, Hon. Treasurer, and David Cram, Editor of the Newsletter.

The main aims of the Society were to act as a forum for those interested in the History of Linguistics, to hold colloquia on a regular basis, to publish a Newsletter, and to establish a monograph series on the History of Linguistics.

The Society has members in most if not all countries in the world in which research is done into the History of Linguistics. Three- to four-day colloquia are held annually, except in those years in which an International Conference on the History of the Language Sciences (ICHoLS) takes place. In those years, a one-day conference is held, usually in the spring. In the past, colloquia have been held both in the UK and overseas (e.g. Amsterdam, Helsinki) and the Society is always keen to hold colloquia in new countries. In addition, joint meetings have been held with the Studienkreis Geschichte der Sprachwissenschaft.

The first issue of the Newsletter appeared in April 1984. In 1997 the Newsletter became a Bulletin, and since 2009 the Bulletin has been fully peer-reviewed and published by Maney as the Society’s journal under the title History and Language.

The Society’s monograph series goes under the title The Henry Sweet Society Studies in the History of Linguistics. Occasional volumes in this series are published by the Nodus Verlag, Münster, Germany.

The Henry Sweet Society awards an annual essay prize in memory of Vivien Law and up to two bursaries in memory of Paul Salmon and Pieter Verburg to allow early-career researchers to attend the annual colloquium.

Sister societies to the Henry Sweet Society exist in France (Société d’histoire et d’épistémologie des sciences du langage ), in Germany (the Studienkreis Geschichte der Sprachwissenschaft), in the United States (The North American Association for the History of the Language Sciences), and in the Netherlands (Werkverband Geschiedenis van de Taalkunde), and the Society stresses the value of being part of this international network.

Two short articles on the History of the Society

This page was last updated on 16 September 2013 at 11:17 am.