About the Philological Society

The Philological Society is the oldest learned society in Great Britain devoted to the scholarly study of language and languages. It is also a registered charity. It was established in its present form in 1842, consisting partly of members of a society of the same name established at the University of London in 1830 ‘to investigate and promote the study and knowledge of the structure, the affinities, and the history of languages’. As well as encouraging all aspects of the study of language, PhilSoc has a particular interest in historical and comparative linguistics, and maintains its traditional interest in the structure, development, and varieties of Modern English. A brief account of the early history of PhilSoc can be downloaded from the panel on the right.

PhilSoc pursues its charitable aims in a number of ways:

  • PhilSoc organises seven meetings annually.
  • PhilSoc’s journal, the Transactions of the Philological Society (TPhS), is published for the Society by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
  • PhilSoc’s book series, the Publications of the Philological Society, is also published for the Society byJohn Wiley & Sons Ltd.
  • Since 2000, PhilSoc has organised a biennial student essay competition in honour of the memory of the late RH Robins, former PhilSoc President and Secretary.
  • In 2015 PhilSoc awarded approximately £11,400 in bursaries to student members to support conference attendance and fieldwork.
  • In 2016 PhilSoc established a fund to support public and outreach events with small grants.

Details of these activities can be found in the blog posts labelled reports. For information concerning PhilSoc membership, please follow this link: PhilSoc Membership.

Nov 2007 marked the 150th anniversary of the reading of one of the most important papers ever to be read to PhilSoc: Richard Chenevix Trench’s ‘On some deficiencies in our English dictionaries’, widely regarded as having created the impetus which ultimately led to the compilation of the Oxford English Dictionary. For more details, click on Trench .