On the "pre-history" of Romance linguistics: precursors of Friedrich Diez

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University of Calgary
It is received opinion that Romance linguistics is a scientific discipline that begins with Friedrich Diez, who in his Grammatik der romanischen Sprachen (1836-43) first applied to Romance the principles and methods of IE comparative linguistics newly developed by Rask, Bopp, and Grimm. In fact, however, many of the innovations attributed to Diez (and his Indo-Europeanist contemporaries) were anticipated by now-forgotten predecessors like Pierre Nicholas Bonamy (1694-1770), Carlo Denina (1731-1813), and Carl Ludwig Fernow (1763-1808). It even seems probable that the concept of an Indo-European proto-language and the IE family tree was indirectly inspired by the generally recognized relationship between Latin ("Proto-Romance") and its "daughter languages", French, Italian, Spanish, etc., and that the beginnings of IE linguistics owe at least as much to Romance linguistics as Diez's Romance linguistics owes to the Indo-Europeanists.
Linguistics, Historical linguistics, Romance languages, Diez, Friedrich, 1794-1876, Indo-European philology, Indo-European languages
Izzo, H. J. (1991). On the "pre-history" of Romance linguistics: precursors of Friedrich Diez. Calgary Papers in Linguistics, 14(Fall), 43-54.