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In contrast to the academic study of languages that was institutionalised as a distinct university discipline from the first half of the nineteenth century onwards, language research in the previous centuries was not practiced as an independent discipline. Whereas the ars grammatica was long time considered a mere propaedeutic exercise, other linguistic research (dealing with comparative, historical or philosophical issues) constituted an auxiliary branch of learning for the benefit of philosophy, theology, history or ethnology.

In contrast to scholars dealing with the history of nineteenth- or twenthied-century linguistics, researchers investigating linguistic thought from earlier periods are not only confronted with primary sources embedded in various scholarly traditions, but also with crucial secondary sources that have not been published in journals devoted to linguistics. Hence, it makes sense to gather secondary sources covering the linguistic ideas developed by Renaissance and Enlightenment scholars in Europe. In addition, such an initiative enables us "to overcome the separation between the different national traditions in the study of Renaissance linguistics, which has been an obstacle to the understanding of the actual historical processes at work and to the necessary European dimension of research on Renaissance linguistic thought. […] This allows the barriers between scientists working on different national languages to be surmounted, permits access to information about the expansion of a given phenomenon within the whole of Europe at a given time" (Damis 1997).

This is why the Renaissance Linguistics Archive was founded in the early eighties. Whereas bibliographic projects were highly esteemed during the late eighties and the early nineties —from 1988 onwards, the Renaissance Linguistics Archive enjoyed the support of the Patronage of the Commission of the European Communities— the situation seems to have become less favourable since the end of the nineties, probably owing to the emergence, development, and proliferation of alternative heuristic tools (such as search engines and online databases). The manual collection of bibliographic data is a very time-consuming (and hardly ‘academically rewarded’) occupation, even if the data are kindly provided by colleagues. Moreover, given the masses of new publications in our publish-or-perish climate of scientific research, it was impossible to attain completeness.

REMEL (Resources for Early-Modern & Enlightenment Linguistics) aims to be a kind of 'RLA 2.0', and tries to resuscitate the old project in a new format that is better adapted to modern scholarly needs. REMEL just wants to offer an additional auxiliary means for scholars interested in Early Modern and Enlightenment linguistics. We hope that the many references gathered here —thanks to scholars willing to share them and thanks to the modern technology enabling us to do so in an easy way— might facilitate considerably the heuristic process.

References:
Damis, Christine. 1997. “The Renaissance Linguistics Archive”. The Henry Sweet Society Bulletin 29. <http://users.ox.ac.uk/~cram/iss29/front.htm>
Further information on RLA at http://www.arts.kuleuven.be/iks/RLA/index.html.

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