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  Philology (Greek, ‘love of learning and literature’) was a discipline established at the Library and University of Alexandria in the 2nd century  BCE. Until then, knowledge had not generally been kept in written form, but had been passed on and developed in a complex oral tradition. The scholars of Alexandria consciously set out to acquire a written statement of every piece of human knowledge until their time: they talked of the Library as ‘the world\'s memory’. Philology was the discipline of caring for this body of learning. (The philologists were intellectual curators only; the brute skills of looking after the actual books were left to menial hands.) It involved two activities in particular: study and codification of the niceties of language (so that no nuance of meaning in the stored texts would be missed), and systematic critical assessment of the actual contents of the books. From these studies developed such modern disciplines as exegesis, lexicography, linguistics, textual criticism—and in an extension which began with the decoding of ancient Sanskrit in the early 19th century—comparative philology: a study of the history, structure and affinities of all the languages of the world. KMcL  



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