200 Years of Syntax: A critical survey by Giorgio Graffi

By Giorgio Graffi

This e-book argues convincingly opposed to the frequent opinion that only a few syntactic experiences have been conducted ahead of the Nineteen Fifties. hoping on the unique research of a giant quantity of unique resources, it exhibits that syntactic issues have been actually conscientiously investigated all through either the nineteenth century and through the 1st 1/2 the twentieth century. additionally, it illustrates how the big improvement of syntactic examine within the final fifty years has already condemned even a number of contemporary rules and analyses to oblivion, and deeply motivated present study courses. The wealth of analysis undertaken during the last centuries is gifted the following in a scientific approach, taking as its place to begin the connection of syntax with psychology all through this era. The severe principles expressed within the textual content are in response to an in depth representation of different syntactic versions and analyses instead of at the polemics among the several faculties.

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3). THE RISE AND FALL OF 'PSYCHOLOGISTIC' SYNTAX 23 The verb (to speak first of this by itself) differs in a sharply determined way from the noun, and from the other parts of speech that might possibly occur in a simple sentence, in that to it alone is assigned the act of synthetic positing as a grammatical function. ] Between it and the other words of the simple sen­ tence there is therefore a difference which forbids us to count it along with them in the same category. All the other words of the sentence are like dead matter lying there for combination; the verb alone is the center, containing and dis­ seminating life.

9 Here Rask says that one of the tasks of the philosophy of language is "to understand the occurring phenomena all the way to their innermost motivation" (Rask 1932-33:376). It is interesting to note that this 'philosophical' approach is framed in a naturalistic-organicistic and Pott a 'founder' or a 'perfectioner'? I therefore adopt such labels only for practical con­ venience. 9 I quote this paper only from the Rask's edition by Hjelmslev, since the original edition is not available to me. THE RISE AND FALL OF 'PSYCHOLOGISTIC' SYNTAX 27 view of language: "language is a natural object and its science is similar to natural history" (Rask 1932-33: 377).

3). 1). 2 Humboldt's views on syntax Given the depth and width of Humboldt's work, I do not make any claims to exhaustiveness in presenting his positions here; nor I will discuss the copious literature about him in any detail. Instead I will limit myself essentially to stress his points of contact with the General Grammar tradition as well as his innovative proposals in the domain of syntax. Humboldt is generally renowned for having insisted on the differences be­ tween languages. Also the title of his last and most famous work (Humboldt 1836) explicitly refers to this fact.

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