Antoni M. Alcover was one of the best investigators and scientists in Romance philology of his time in Europe.
In the autumn of 1882, Alcover took up his career as a linguist. He sent the essay “Mostra de Diccionari Mallorquí: anar, dur i fer” (“Majorcan Dictionary Sample: go, take and do”) to the journal L’ignorància, participating in a contest by the journal, which he eventually won.
He created the Bolletí del Diccionari de la Llengua Catalana (Catalan Language Dictionary Bulletin) that first appeared in 1901. It was the first philological magazine in Spain and, as such, it drew the interest of many Romance philologists, among whom can be counted the French Pere Vidal, the German Wilhelm Meyer-Lübke or the Spanish Ramón Menéndez Pidal.
Meanwhile, Alcover increased the frequency of his trips around the Catalan-speaking countries for two main reasons: to collect philological material and to promote his work, which culminated with the First International Congress of the Catalan Language in 1906. Alcover travelled to collect words, verbal conjunctions, proverbs, songs and fixed expressions. He took these trips, which he referred to as “eixides”, from 1900 to 1921. He would rather interview illiterate, sedentary and senior informants, except for the verbs, for which he preferred children’s contributions.
This “eixides” were complemented with trips abroad so as to learn and receive linguistic formation from the most important linguists in Europe. He went abroad three times. The first was in 1907, to Germany and other nations, to learn German, which enabled him to delve into linguistics. He wrote a diary of the trip that was published in the second Bolletí del Diccionari. In 1912, he went abroad for the second time to France, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and Maiano (Italy). In 1913, he took a third trip to France, the United Kingdom, Italy and Alguer. He attended lessons given by Bernhard Schädel, whom he had met in 1904. They went to 52 towns in Catalan territories on a research trip to collect a large number of lexicographic and grammatical materials. In Paris, he took part in the lessons of Jules Guilliéron (founder of the linguistic geography) and Pierre Rousselot (master of experimental phonetics). He also participated in lessons by Jacob Jud and Louis Gauchat in Zurich. He met Italian linguists: Salvioni, Merlo, Guarnerio, Crescini, Todesco and Zanardelli. He visited Alguer and, passing through Provence, he visited the poet Frederic Mistral.
Thus, he published the essay Una mica de dialectologia catalana (Some Catalan Dialectology)in the Bolletí (1908-1909), which is now considered a cornerstone in Catalan dialectology. Also, Alcover collaborated with the constitution of the Philological Section at the Instituts d’Estudis Catalans in 1911 and became its first president. In 1913, the Philological Section published the Normes ortografiques per escriure en català (Orthographical Rules to Write in Catalan).