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НазваThe Development of Linguistics before 19th Century (реферат)
РозділІноземна мова, реферати англійською, німецькою
ФорматWord Doc
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Реферат на тему:


The Development of Linguistics before 19th Century


Early history


Crystal D. The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language. –


New York: Cambridge University Press, 1987. – pp. 404-406.


A religious or philosophical awareness of language can be found in many

early civilizations. In particular, several of the important issues of

language analysis were addressed by the grammarians and philosophers of

Ancient Greece, Rome, and India.




The earliest surviving linguistic debate is found in the pages of Plato

(c. 427-347 BC). Cratylus is a dialogue about the origins of language

and the nature of meaning – first between Socrates and Hermogenes, then

between Socrates and Cratylus. Hermogcnes holds the view that language

originated as a product of convention, so that the relationship between

words and things is arbitrary: 'for nothing has its name by nature, but

only by usage and custom'. Cratylus holds the opposite position, that

language came into being naturally, and therefore an intrinsic

relationship exists between words and things: 'there is a correctness of

name existing by nature for everything: a name is not simply that which

a number of people jointly agree to call a thing.' The debate is

continued at length, but no firm conclusion is reached.


The latter position is more fully presented, with divine origin

being invoked in support: 'a power greater than that of man assigned the

first names to things, so that they must of necessity be in a correct

state.' By contrast, Aristotle (384-322 BC) in his essay De

interpretatione ('On interpretation') supported the former viewpoint. He

saw the reality of a name to lie in its formal properties or shape, its

relationship to the real world being secondary and indirect: 'no name

exists by nature, but only by becoming a symbol.'


These first ideas developed into two schools of philosophical

thought, which have since been labelled conventionalist and

naturalistic. Modern linguists have pointed out that, in their extreme

forms, neither view is valid. However, various modified and intermediate

positions were also argued at the time, much of the debate inspiring a

profound interest in the Greek language.


Another theoretical question was discussed at this time: whether

regularity (analogy) or irregularity (anomaly) was a better explanation

for the linguistic facts of Greek. In the former view, language was seen

to be essentially regular, displaying symmetries in its rules,

paradigms, and meanings. In the latter, attention was focussed on the

many exceptions to these rules, such as the existence of irregular verbs

or the lack of correspondence between gender and sex. Modern linguistics

does not oppose the two principles in this way: languages are analysed

with reference to both rules and exceptions, the aim being to understand

the relationship between the two rather than to deny the importance of

either one. The historical significance of the debate is the stimulus it

provided for detailed studies of Greek and Latin grammar.

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