Selected Works by Edward Sapir

Time Perspective in Aboriginal American Culture, A Study in Method

This monograph formalizes the method of historical inference implicit in Boas's reconstruction of the history of cultures and languages, developed at a time when there was scant archeological evidence from American prehistory. 

"Drawing on linguistic examples from a remarkable range of cases, Sapir ... distinguished methodologically between the properties of language and culture for historical reconstructions. Sound change in language, unlike the other parts of culture, he argued, retained traces of the past historical relationships of language. In consequence, genetic relationships could be discerned and distinguished from other kinds of relationships by the application of methods used in Indo-European historical linguistics, even in the absence of written records. Sapir's treatise remained the ethnologist's guide to historical method for a generation and still repays careful attention to the forms of his logic"

from "Edward Sapir" by Regna Darnell and Judith T. Irvine in Biographical Memoirs V71 (1997)

Language: An Introduction to the Science of Speech

"This was Sapir the linguist writing at his most lyrical and persuasive.  The book was directed at an educated general audience, but its broad canvas and penetrating vision of linguistic form, as well as its treatment of specific topics, have greatly influenced professional linguists ever since. The discussion of "drift," for example, remains fundamental to linguistic theory about processes of language change."

from "Edward Sapir" by Regna Darnell and Judith T. Irvine in Biographical Memoirs V71 (1997)

 Selected articles on Culture and Personality

Selections from the Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences


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