This paper deals with the views on language and language study put forward in a number of essays, composed by an eighteenth-century Dutch scholar, professor Meinard Tydeman (1741–1825). In his linguistic studies published from the early 1760s onwards, Tydeman emphasized the importance of and the imperative need for the study and cultivation of the mother tongue within the context of a ‘civil society’. As such, Tydeman’s works mark the transition to a ‘civil’ approach to the study of the Dutch language. Furthermore, attention is paid to the theoretical underpinnings of his 1805 essay on the origin of language, which was mainly directed against the ideas of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. As it appears, Tydeman has always remained a true follower of the famous eighteenth-century Dutch linguist Lambert ten Kate (1674–1731).