Linguistic Variability And Intellectual Development was propounded by Wilhelm von Humbolt. It was his most famous work which was published by his brother Alexander in 1836 posthumously. He took examples from many examples from a wide variety of languages such as Sanskrit and Delaware Indian. The author displays how the character and structure of a language can express the inner knowledge and life of its speakers. He also shows how language in turn shapes their intellectual development too.
About this work, Martin Heidegger
stated, “This treatise, in our open and covert pro and con, has ever since determined the course of all subsequent philology and philosophy of language. . . . Astounding, obscure, and yet continuously stimulating.” Noam Chomsky added, “Humboldt’s profound study is one of the classics of linguistic theory, a work of great insight and originality, of deep significance for the study of language and of human psychology and culture. His concept of linguistic forms and his ideas concerning linguistic creativity is particularly fascinating and provocative and of great contemporary interest.”
The main theme of Linguistic Variability and Intellectual Development is the “observation of the connection between linguistic variation and the distribution of tribes on the one hand, and the production of human intellectual power on the other, as a relationship developing progressively in varying degrees and in new configurations… insofar as these two phenomena are capable of clarifying each other.”
According to Cambridge University Press, the work is his, “It is the final statement of his lifelong study of the nature of language, and presents a survey of a great many languages, exploring ways in which their various grammatical structures make them more or less suitable as vehicles of thought and cultural development. Empirically wide-ranging – von Humboldt goes far beyond the Indo-European family of languages – it remains one of the most interesting and important attempts to draw philosophical conclusions from comparative linguistics.”
Humbolt appreciated the diversity in language and believed that the variations in languages often foster the development of intellect. It also enables speakers to channel their emotions and express themselves more clearly and concisely.