From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
In the academic traditions of several nations, a wide sense of the term "philology" describes the study of a language together with its literature and the historical and cultural contexts that are indispensable for an understanding of the literary works and other culturally significant texts. Philology thus comprises the study of the grammar, rhetoric, history, interpretation of authors, and critical traditions associated with a given language.
In its more restricted sense of "historical linguistics", philology was one of the 19th century's first scientific approaches to human language but gave way to the modern science of linguistics in the early 20th century due to the influence of Ferdinand de Saussure, who argued that spoken language should have primacy.
Philology commends the ability to recognize the words of one language from the roots of another, by recognition of common (shared) roots and grammar.