Letters - September 2009

A selection of your letters this month

William Jones and His Circle’ (July, 2009) ends with a box about his son, William Jones the Younger. While, of course, this was incidental to the main article, there was, even in the space available, a point about the younger Jones that would have been worth making.

It is indeed true to describe the younger Jones as ‘one of the great linguists of his or any other age’, but even this understates his achievement for, like his father, he was a pioneer in his chosen field and equally worthy of an article in History Today in his own right. While being one of the earliest Europeans, though not the first, to study Sanskrit or note its links to European languages, it was Jones, in an oft-quoted paper of 1786 given to the Asiatic Society in Calcutta, who made the connection more explicit than any of his predecessors had and, with his hypothesis of a proto-Indo-European language, formed the framework for subsequent European linguistics. In the words of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (ODNB) entry on Jones:

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