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Sir William Jones

Jones, Sir William, 1746–94, English philologist and jurist. Jones was celebrated for his understanding of jurisprudence and of Oriental languages. He published an Essay on the Law of Bailments (1781), widely used in America as well as in England. For 11 years he was a supreme court judge in Calcutta (now Kolkata). Jones founded the Asiatic Society of Bengal at Calcutta. Through the Society, as well as through his publications, he had a great influence on literature, Asian study, and philology in Western Europe. Jones was the first to suggest that Sanskrit originated from the same source as Latin and Greek, thus laying the foundation for modern comparative philology.

See his letters, ed. by G. Cannon (2 vol., 1970); study by S. N. Mukherjee (1987).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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