This book makes available, for the first time in English, a selection of the writings of André-Georges Haudricourt (1911–1996) on linguistics, ethnology, and the history of technology. Best known for his work on the evolution of languages, Haudricourt first trained in agronomy in Paris, and studied plant genetics in the laboratory of Nikolaï Vavilov before beginning research in ethnobotany. A deep understanding of evolution and genetics, a functionalist perspective drawn from his interest in technology, and a firm belief that “science is one” inform his work.
His main articles, an unpublished item in linguistics, and a book excerpt on the history of the plough are translated here from Haudricourt's famously elliptical French by area specialists, with notes and epilogues to help readers appreciate their scientific and methodological relevance. The collection includes the seminal articles in which Haudricourt argued from comparative and functional linguistics and from cultural history that East Asian tone systems are not a common inheritance but arose in parallel, according to common principles, in languages originally without tone.
Martine Mazaudon and Alexis Michaud, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris, France.