Colorado Research in Linguistics

Document Type

Working Paper


This paper attempts to show that Peter Ramus was the first scholar to consciously break with the earlier grammatical tradition and to establish a new linguistic model. In the first part, I treat the beginnings of 'Western' grammatical theory: the initial philosophical debates involving the study of language, Plato's theory, Aristotle's views, and Thrax's τέχνη. This presentation shows (1) the type of model established by the ancients and (2) how Aristotle's and Thrax's approach to language description, contrary to recent opinions, is not essentially 'structural'. In the second part, I analyze the basic tenets of Ramus' linguistic theory (scope of grammar, role of meaning, rules of grammar, separation of disciplines and division of grammar, and data analysis) in an attempt to prove my main thesis, above, and to present Ramus' position in the history of theoretical linguistics.

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