The Prix Volney: Volume II: Early Nineteenth-Century Contributions to American Indian and General Linguistics: Du Ponceau and Rafinesque
The Prix Volney Essay Series analyzes and reproduces, often for the first time, essays submitted for this most prestigious of linguistic prizes, awarded since 1822 by the Institut de France to recognize work in general and comparative linguistics.
In Volume II, the focus is on the authors who competed for the prize of 1835, the only year in which the theme of the contest was restricted to Amerindian (particularly Delaware) linguistics. The two competitors, Peter Stephen Du Ponceau and Constantine Samuel Rafinesque, both lived in the United States, but were of French and Swiss extraction and able to write their essays in French.
R.H. Robins, of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, describes the life of Du Ponceau and his views on general linguistics and phonological theory as seen in his first Volney essay, for the competition of 1826, `Essai de solution du problème philologique proposé en 1823 par la Commission ...', which is published here for the first time.
Pierre Swiggers, of the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium, introduces Du Ponceau's Amerindian researches and their relationship to contemporary scholarship. Then follows a reprint with annotations of Du Ponceau's famous `Mémoire sur le système grammatical des langues de quelques nations indiennes de l'Amérique du Nord', published in 1838 and based upon his prizewinning 1835 Volney manuscript which is no longer extant.
This volume shows the Prix Volney Commissioners reaching out to the Western hemisphere and selecting some of the best linguistic scholarship it could offer.