Language, Science and Globalization in the Eighteenth Century

R. Fernández Rodríguez*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Asia, America, and Europe have been intellectually intertwined for centuries. Several studies have been published revealing European scholars’ interest in the “exotic” languages of Asia and America, as well as in ethnographic and anthropological aspects. Some scholars such as Polymath Leibniz (1646–1716), were interested in these languages in an attempt to construct a universal language, while others tried to establish language families, like the Jesuit Hervás y Panduro (1735–1809). However, all acknowledge the importance of language and the circulation of knowledge. This paper analyzes the dissemination of the compilation of eighteenth-century multilingual lexical compilations for comparative purposes as an early globalized project. These compilations were designed by European scholars and subsequently elaborated in different languages by missionaries, explorers, and scientists in the Philippines and America. Taking the correspondence and relations between botanist Mutis (1732–1808) and bureaucrats, European scientists such as polymath Humboldt (1769–1859) and Botanist Linnaeus (1707–1778) among others, and navy officers of the scientific exploration commanded by Malaspina (1754–1809) and Bustamante y Guerra (1759–1825) into consideration, I will analyze how simultaneous projects followed a unified aim, and illustrate their substantial contribution to the study of language in the late eighteenth century.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-53
Number of pages16
JournalBerichte zur Wissenschaftsgeschichte / History of Science and Humanities
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 6 Mar 2023


  • lexicography
  • polymaths
  • Spain
  • America
  • Philippines
  • Catherine II
  • Mutis
  • Malaspina


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