Linguists have long been aware that the ubiquitous distinction between “languages” and “dialects” has more to do with political and social forces, typically nationalism, than with objective linguistic distance.1 This article, an exercise in the history of (linguistic) science, examines political and social factors operating on other levels of linguistic classification than the “language-dialect” dichotomy. Nationalism and linguistic thought are mutually interactive throughout a linguistic classification system: political and social history not only affects a list of “languages,” but also a list of “dialects.”
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