Bréal, Michel

 

Michel Bréal

 

From Essay de Semantique, 1897 (Engl. transl. 1900) by Michel Bréal

Language has been called an organism, a hollow deceptive word too freely lavished at the present day, and used every time that we want to dispense with the trouble of seeking for true causes. Since certain illustrious philologists have declared that man counted for nothing in the evolution of Language, that he was incapable of modifying anything, or of adding anything, and that one might as well try to change the laws of the circulation of the blood ; since others have compared this evolution to the trajectory of a shell or to the orbit of a planet ; since this is to-day currently accepted as a truth and passed on from book to book : it has seemed to me useful to have it out with these assertions, and once for all to make an end of this phantasmagoria.

Our forefathers of the school of Condillac, those ideologists who for fifty years served as target to a certain school of criticisms, were less far from the truth when they said, in simple and honest fashion, that words are signs. Where they went wrong was when they referred everything to a reasoning reason, and when they took Latin for the type of all Language. Words are signs : they have no more existence than the signals of the semaphore, or than the dots and dashes of Morse telegraphy. To say that Language is an organism is but to darken counsel and to sow a seed of error in the minds of men. It might be said, with an equal degree of truth, that writing is also an organism, since we see it evolving throughout the ages, without any one in particular having a very perceptible influence on its development. It might be said that song, religion, law, all the component parts of human life, are each an organism.

If we take nature in its widest sense, it evidently comprises man and the production of man. The history of morals, of customs, of habitation, of dress, of the arts, as well as social and political history, will, together with Language, form part of natural history. But if we admit a difference between the historical sciences and the natural sciences, if we consider man as furnishing the material for a separate chapter in our study of the universe, Language, which is the work of man, cannot remain on the other side, and the Science of Language, by a necessary consequence, will form part of the historical sciences. If, on the other hand, on account of phonetics, which study the sounds of language produced by the larynx and the mouth, it were necessary to transfer the Science of Language back to the natural sciences, all the rest, man and all his works, must inevitably accompany it, since human productions, of whatever kind, come after all from the organs of mankind and are directed to those organs.

With still more reason will Semantics belong to the class of historical investigations. There is not a single change of meaning, a single modification of grammar, a single peculiarity of syntax which should not be counted as a small historical event.   (Etc.)

( M. Bréal, Essay de Semantique, Paris (?) 1897. )
( Semantics : studies in the science of meaning ;
translated by Mrs. Henry Cust, with a preface by J. P. Postgate.
Publisher New York : H. Holt, London : Heinemann, 1900. )
Classics in Semantics, editors Hayden and Alworth,
New York : Philosophical Library 1965, pages 192-3.

 

From Significs, 1911 by Victoria Welby

In so far as it deals with linguistic forms, Significs includes "Semantics," a branch of study which was formally introduced and expounded in 1897 by Michel Bréal, the distinguished French philologist, in his Essay de sémantique. In 1900 this book was translated into English by Mrs. Henry Cust, with a preface by professor Postgate.   (Etc.)

( "Significs", The Encyclopaedia Britannica, Vol. XXV, 1911, pp. 78-81. )
The Correspondence between Charles S. Peirce and Victoria Lady Welby,
Editor C. S. Hardwick (with J. Cook). Appendix C (pages 167-175)
Bloomington and London : Indiana University Press 1977, p. 168.

 

From The Nature of Literature, 1942 by Thomas Clark Pollock

The study of the way in which the human mind (mind is a valuable term which it is dangerous to reify) acquired and manipulates symbols and through them communicates with other human minds is one of the most fascinating, useful, and baffling of inquiries. At the present stage of our knowledge, the general outlines of the process are clear, though the myriad details still awit investigation. Indeed, the serious objective study of semantics, or the science of the meanings of verbal symbols, which we may speak of as beginning with Michel Breal's Essai de Semantique (1897), has hardly passed its infancy.

THE NATURE OF LITERATURE
Its Relation to Science, Language and Human Experience
Princeton University Press 1942, p. 29.

 

Michel Bréal was born near Landau, France, in 1832. Educated in the French lycée, he attended graduate school in Germany. At the University of Berlin he studied linguistics under the direction of Professor de Bopp and Professor Weber. He returned to France and became professor of comparative grammar at the Collège de France in 1864. Later he was appointed Inspector General of Public Instruction for the French school system. One of his first scholarly works was a translation of Bopp's Comparative Grammar of European Languages. His original work in the field of linguistics includes La Reforme de l'Ortographe Française, 1890; and Essai de Semantique, 1897. He died in Paris in 1915. Our selection is chapter 26 of Semantics: Studies in the Science of Meaning, published in 1900 by William Heinemann Company.

Hayden & Alworth (1965), page 185.

 

MICHEL BRÉAL

ESSAI

DE

SÉMANTIQUE

(SCIENCE DES SIGNIFICATIONS)

PARIS

LIBRAIRIE HACHETTE ET Cie

79, BOULEVARD SAINT-GERMAIN, 79

1897

Droits de traduction et de reproduction réservés

[Source : http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/epc/langueXIX/breal/breal_sem.htm ]

Selected bibliographic

Author Bréal, Michel, 1832-1915. Title Essai de sémantique; science des significations./Michel Bréal. Imprint Genève, Slatkine Reprints, 1976. Descript 372 p. 23 cm. Note Reprint of the 1924 ed.
[ source :   New York Public Library Author Bréal, Michel, 1832-1915 Title Essai de sémantique : science des significations Publisher Paris : Hachette, c1924 Description 372 p

Author Bréal, Michel, 1832-1915. Title Dictionnaire étymologique latin / par Michel Bréal et Anatole Bailly. Publisher Paris : Librairie Hachette, 1911. Description 463 p.

Author Bréal, Michel, 1832-1915. Title Essai de sémantique : (science des significations) / Michel Bréal. Edition 5. éd. Publisher Paris : Hachette, 1911. Description 372 p. ; 19 cm. Note Includes bibliographical references and index. Contents 1. ptie. Les lois intellectuelles du langage -- 2. ptie. Comment s'est fixEle sens des mots -- 3. ptie. Comment s'est formée la syntax.

Author Bréal, Michel, 1832-1915. Title Pour mieux connaître Homère. Publisher Paris : Hachette & cie, [1906] Description 3 p. L., [v]-viii, 309 p., 1 L. 19 cm.

Author Bréal, Michel, 1832-1915. Title Les mots latins groupés d'après le sens et l'étymologie : cours intermédiaire / par Michel Bréal et Anatole Bailly. Edition 12. éd. Publisher Paris : Hachette, 1905. Description xvi, 203 p. ; 19 cm.

Author Bréal, Michel, 1832-1915. Title Essai de sémantique, science des significations. Edition 3. éd. rév., corr. et augm. Publisher Paris, Hachette et Cie., 1904. Description 372 p. 19 cm. Contents Pt. 1 Les lois intellectuelles du langage.--Pt. 2. Comment s'est fixEle sens des mots.--Pts. 3. Comment s'est formée la syntaxe.

Author Bréal, Michel, 1832-1915. Title Les mots latins groupés d'après le sens et l'étymologie : cours intermédiaire / par Michel Bréal et Anatole Bailly. Edition 12. éd. Publisher Paris : Hachette, 1905. Description xvi, 203 p. ; 19 cm.

Author Bréal, Michel, 1832-1915. Title Essai de sémantique, science des significations. Edition 3. éd. rév., corr. et augm. Publisher Paris, Hachette et Cie., 1904. Description 372 p. 19 cm. Contents Pt. 1 Les lois intellectuelles du langage.--Pt. 2. Comment s'est fixEle sens des mots.--Pts. 3. Comment s'est formée la syntaxe.

Author Bréal, Michel, 1832-1915. Uniform Title [ Essai de sémantique. English] Title Semantics : studies in the science of meaning / by Michel Bréal ;
translated by Mrs. Henry Cust, with a preface by J. P. Postgate. Publisher New York : H. Holt, 1900. Description lxvi, 341 p. ; 21 cm.

Author Bréal, Michel, 1832-1915. Title Deux études sur Goethe : Un officier de l'ancienne France ; Les personnages originaux de la "Fille naturelle" / par Michel Bréal. Publisher Paris : Hachette, 1898. Description 199 p., [1] leaf of plates : facsim. ; 18 cm.

[ Essai de Semantique, 1897 -- missing in the University of California, the New York Public Library, catalogs, one wonders why. — (WPT) ]

Author Bréal, Michel, 1832-1915. Title De l'enseignement des langues vivantes; conférences faites aux étudiants en lettres de la Sorbonne, par Michel Bréal. Publisher Paris : Hachette et cie, 1893. Description 2 p. l., 147 p. 18 cm.

Author BreEl, Michel, 1832-1915. Title De l'enseignement des langues anciennes confeEeces faites aux eEudiants en lettres de la Sorbonne, par Michel BreEl. Publisher Paris : Hachette et cie, 1891. Description 2 p. l., 154 p.

Author Bréal, Michel, 1832-1915. Title Dictionnaire étymologique latin, par Michel Bréal et Anatole Bailly. Edition Deuxième édition. Publisher Paris, Hachette, 1886. Description viii, 462 p. 21 cm.

Author Bréal, Michel, 1832-1915. Title Quelques mots sur l'instruction publique en France, par Michel Bréal. L'école. Edition 3. éd. Publisher Paris : Hachette et cie, 1885. Description 2 p. l., 151 p., 1 l. 18 cm.

Author Bréal, Michel, 1832-1915. Title Dictionnaire étymologique latin, par Michel Bréal et Anatole Bailly. Publisher Paris, Hachette, 1885. Description viii, 463 p. 21 cm.

Author Bréal, Michel, 1832-1915. Title Mélanges de mythologie et de linguistique. Edition 2. éd. Publisher Paris, Hachette, 1882. Description vi, [2], 416 p.

Author Bréal, Michel, 1832-1915. Title Excursions pédagogiques / par Michel Bréal. Publisher Paris : Hatchette et Cie, 1882. Description 364 p. ; 19 cm.

Author Bréal, Michel, 1832-1915. Title Mélanges de mythologie et linguistique. Publisher Paris : Hachette, 1877. Description 416 p.

Uniform Title [ Eugubine tables.] Title Les tables eugubines; texte, traduction et commentaire, avec une grammaire et une introduction historique, par Michel Bréal ... Publisher Paris, F. Vieweg, 1875. Series Recueil de travaux originaux ou traduits relatifs Ela philologie & El'histoire litéraire, ser. 2,no. 18 Bibliothèque de l'Ecole des hautes études. Sciences philologiques et historiques ;26. fasc.

Author BreEl, Michel, 1832-1915. Title Quelques mots sur l'instruction publique en France / par Michel BreEl. Publisher Paris : Hachette, 1872.

Author BreEl, Michel, 1832-1915. Title Les ideEs latentes du langage; leçon faite au ColleEe de France pour la reEuverture du cours de grammaire compareE le 7 deEembre 1868 par M. Michel Breal ...

Author Bopp, Franz, 1791-1867. Title Grammaire compareE des laÌngues indo-europeEnnes comprenant le sanscrit, le zend, l'armeEien, le grec, le latin, le lithuanien, l'ancien slave, le gothique et l'allemand, par M. François Bopp; traduite sur la 2. eE. et preEeEeE d'une introduction par M. Michel BreEl. Publisher Paris : Imprimerie impeEiale, 1866-1874. Description 5 v. 25 cm. Note Title and imprint of v. 4-5 vary slightly. Translation of the 2d German ed. "Table des mots": v.5, p. [89]-226.

Author BreEl, Michel, 1832-1915. Title Hercule et Cacus; eEude de mythologie compareE, par Michel BreEl. Publisher Paris : A. Durand, 1863. Description 2 p. l., 177 p., 1 l. Note Bibliographical foot-notes.

* * *

Author Bréal, Michel, 1832-1915. Title De la grammaire comparée Ela sémantique / textes de Michel Bréal publiés entre 1864 et 1898 ; introduction, commentaires et bibliographie par Piet Desmet et Pierre Swiggers. Imprint Leuven ; Paris : Peeters, 1995. Descript ix, 360 p. ; 24 cm.

 

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Last updated 12 December 04

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