During Tolkien month we had a brief discussion of philology regarding the author’s creation of the languages found in The Lord of the Rings. Today, because I recently got asked how to define philology at the library’s reference desk, I want to give a more formal definition.
Two definitions of philology
The study of literary texts and written records, the establishment of their authenticity and their original form, and the determination of their meaning.
It also uses, as an obsolete definition, “love of language,” which has always been my understanding of the phrase.
From the Oxford English Dictionary
Love of learning and literature; the branch of knowledge that deals with the historical, linguistic, interpretative, and critical aspects of literature; literary or classical scholarship. Now chiefly U.S.
And there you go. Definitions of modern philology and the older form as well.