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THE INDIANS

1000 BC - 500 BC
  • They didn't know about the Greco-Roman traditions.
  • Their purpose was to preserve the language and pronunciation of their sacred texts.
  • They dinguished between "nouns" and "verbs" in the same way as Plato.

THE GREEKS

500 BC - 100 BC
  • They debated whether language was governed by "convention" or "nature".
  • They discussed how far language was "regular". There were two approaches: the analogists and the anomalists.

THE ROMANS

116 BC - 501 AD
  • They followed the Greek model in the study of grammar.
  • They wrote books of grammar which were divided into three parts: grammar as the art of correct speech and of understanding poets; parts of speech; and discussion of good and bad style.

MEDIEVAL PERIOD

500 AD - 1400 AD
  • Latin had an important place. It was the language of the church but also of scholarship, diplomacy and culture.
  • A tradition of "speculative" grammar developed in the 13th and 14th century, in which grammatical notions were reinterpreted within the framework of scholastic philosophy.
  • The differences of languages were thought to be superficial, hiding the existence of a universal grammar.

THE RENAISSANCE

1300 AD - 1600 AD
  • They concentrated their energies upon the collection and publication of texts of classical authors; especially after the invention of the printing in the late 15th century.
  • Once again Latin as an aid to the undestanding of literature.
  • Greek also became the object of intense study, and, somewhat late Hebrew.
  • Vernacular languages of Europe began to attract the notice of scholars.
  • Grammars were written in great number.

"SCIENTIFIC" LINGUISTICS

1800 AD - 1900 AD
  • Comparative philology (the study of language historical development)
  • The founders od comparative philology were aware of "loan.words"
  • Evolutionary point of view.
  • Romanticism as a reaction to classicism.
  • The discovery that Sanskrit was related to Latin and Greek and to other languages of Europe.

MODERN LINGUISTICS

1900 AD - 1999 AD
  • Priority to spoken language.
  • The linguistic task is to descrive the way people acyually speak (and write) their language, not to prescibe how they ought to speak and write.
  • The linguist is interested in all languages

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Panini's grammar (5th - 7th century BC)

501 BC

Grammar of Sanskrit

Alexandrian period (4th - 5th centure BC)

500 BC - 300 BC
  • Language used in the literary works of the past was "purer" than their current colloquial speech.
  • The grammar produced had the double purpose of establishing and explaining the language of the classical authors with the desire to preserve Greek from corruption by the ignorant and unlettered.
  • Alexandrian scholars searched for the regularities in language and established patterns of inflection.

The Stoics (3rd century BC)

300 BC - 200 BC
  • They established more formally the basic grammatical notions that have become traditional in western thought.
  • They made the disctinction between form and meaning.
  • They distingushed parts of speech (proper and common nouns, verb, conjunction and article)
  • They developed the classification of inflexion.
  • They introduced the term "case" to distingueshed the true form of the noun (the upright cases and the oblique cases)
  • They realised about the factor of completion and non-completion in an action.

Darwin's "Origin of Species" (1859)

1859 AD

The apparent succes of the positivist outlook in biology tended to promote the search for laws of evolution in all the social sciences.

Saussure's "Cours de linguistique générale" (1915)

1915

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Plato

427 BC

He was the first one to distinguish between "nouns" (subject of a predication) and "verbs" (action or quality predicated)

Aristotle

384 BC
  • He kept the distinction between "nouns" and "verbs" but he added the "conjunctions" (words which weren't members of the major classes)
  • He added the term "intermediate" to the threefold classification of gender.
  • He recognised the category of "tense".

Dionysius (late 2nd century BC)

101 BC

He wrote the first formal grammar description to be published in the western world