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History of Linguistics Jack Hoeksema & Jan Koster
History is bunk (Henry Ford)
Lecture 1: The early beginnings Greece, Indiaaround 400 AD Linguistics started out in societies with a writing system, like most sciences
Importance of writing to convey insights and to allow cumulative development of science to provide food for thought on the relationship between sounds and letters (fonology) the mind seems to have a better grasp on written material than on the fleeting words of spoken language
Primacy of Letters over Sounds Until well into the 19th century, linguists spoke mainly about letters, not sounds
Contexts in which linguistics arose philosophy (Greece) language teaching (Alexandria) philology (study of ancient texts, often of sacred nature) (India, Greece)
The Greek world
Greece Plato (Platoon) in Kratylos: Are signs (e.g. words, expressions) arbitrary (conventional) or natural ?
A natural (iconic) sign Horseback-riding path
A conventional sign Give right of way
Cratylus: a Socratic dialogue Protagonists: Cratylus: words are natural signs some names are ‘correct’, others are not Hermogenes: names are arbitrary/ conventional Socrates: middle position: there is such a thing as a correct name, but names may be corrupted, and yet be used
Hermogenes “I believe that any name you give a thing is its correct name. If you change its name and give it another, the new one is as correct as the old.” In its extreme form, this is the Humpty- Dumpty view on meaning
Humpty-Dumpty and Alice
`I thought it looked a little queer. As I was saying, that seems to be done right -- though I haven't time to look it over thoroughly just now -- and that shows that there are three hundred and sixty-four days when you might get un-birthday presents --' `Certainly,' said Alice. `And only one for birthday presents, you know. There's glory for you!' `I don't know what you mean by "glory",' Alice said. Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. `Of course you don't -- till I tell you. I meant "there's a nice knock-down argument for you!"' `But "glory" doesn't mean "a nice knock-down argument",' Alice objected. `When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less.' `The question is,' said Alice, `whether you can make words mean so many different things.' `The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, `which is to be master -- that's all.' (Lewis Carroll – Through the Looking Glass)
Socrates Names can be ‘correct’ or not They are given by a name-giver Hector (‘possessor’) is a good name for a ruler Orestes (‘mountain-man’) is a good name for a brutish savage
Etymology of theos ‘god’ Socrates: It seems to me that the first inhabitants of Greece believed only in those gods in which many foreigners still believe today – the sun, the moon, earth, stars and sky. And, seeing that these were always moving or running, they gave them the name ‘theoi’ because it was their nature to run (thein).
Cratylus The name ‘Hermogenes’ (offspring of Hermes) is not correct.
Socrates We see that some names are fit and proper, and some are not. Sometimes, this is because they were wrong in the first place, sometimes because they were corrupted (letters disappeared, others were added for no good purpose) or borrowed from alien languages (and therefore opaque to the Greek ear).
Sound Imagery Socrates: r is hard, indicative of motion l is soft, smooth, passive But note: Latin arbor > Spanish arbol peregrinus > Dutch pelgrim
Modern View (F. de Saussure) words and expressions are basically conventional: arbitrary by agreement in a speech community no Humpty-Dumpty partial motivation of signs possible: 1.when they are complex 2.onomatopoetic words 3.(maybe) sound symbolism
i: small a: large ietsiepietsie itsy bitsy teeny weeny grand petit
Up to idiomaticity moonshine egghead dog’s ear ezelsoor
also derivations Lively Livelihood Deadly Womanize / Victimize
Aristotle Organon: Collection of works on reasoning and logic, brought together posthumously by Aristotles pupils
Art of reasoning syllogistic logic (further systematized in the middle ages)
BARBARA (all – all – all) All men are swine All swine are dirty All men are dirty
DARII Some – all – some All soldiers are cruel Some men are soldiers Some men are cruel
CELARENT No – all – no No spirit is a body All humans are a body No human is a spirit
Structure of a syllogism Two premisses: major and minor Major contains the predicate of the conclusion, the minor the subject of the conclusion Conclusion
So the notion of a main division between subject and predicate stems from Aristotles logic still debated in 20th century syntax (is the division of S in NP and VP universal, or just useful for languages like English)
Aristotelian logic was the main theory of quantification until the advent of predicate logic in the late 19 th century (Frege)