253. Let Me Count the Ways: Speculative Grammar

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The modistae explore the links between language, the mind, and reality.



Further Reading

• J.E. Ashworth, The Tradition of Medieval Logic and Speculative Grammar from Anselm to the End of the Seventeenth Century (Toronto: 1977).

• G.L. Bursill-Hall, Speculative Grammars of the Middle Ages: The Doctrine of the partes orationis of the Modistae (The Hague: 1971).

• S. Ebbesen, Collected Papers of Sten Ebbesen, 2 vols (Aldershot: 2008-9).

• S. Ebbesen and R.L. Friedman (eds), Medieval Analyses in Language and Cognition (Copenhagen: 1999).

• J.L. Fink, H. Hansen and A.M. Mora-Márquez (eds), Logic and Language in the Middle Ages: a Volume in Honour of Sten Ebbesen (Leiden: 2013).

• C. Marmo, Semiotica e linguaggio nella Scolastica (Rome: 1994).

• A.M. Mora-Márquez, The Thirteenth-Century Notion of Signification (Leiden: 2015).

• J. Pinborg, Die Entwicklung der Sprachtheorie im Mittelalter (Münster: 1967).

• I. Rosier, La grammaire spéculative des Modistes (Paris: 1983).

Stanford Encyclopedia: Medieval Semiotics, Thomas of Erfurt, Simon of Faversham

Thanks to Ana María Mora-Márquez for her advice on this episode!


Joseph on 8 May 2016

Arabic parallel contributions?

Yet another lovely podcast, Peter.

Is there anything to be suggested by way of comparative insights into the philosophy of grammar by medieval Arabic grammarians, linguists, jurists and philosophers? Would love to hear your insights.

In reply to by Joseph

Peter Adamson on 8 May 2016

Arabic parallels

I was, as you might imagine, thinking about that too. One point that didn't make it into the script is that the idea of universalizing grammar to turn it into an Aristotelian science is actually taken, to some extent, from al-Farabi. So it is not just parallel but even historically connected. One thing we don't see though in the Latin tradition is the animosity between logic and grammar, which I looked at back in the episode on the Baghdad Peripatetics (128).

Mei on 31 January 2017

Thanks for the podcast! It

Thanks for the podcast! It really helped me understand what speculative grammar was all about, as we're going over the history of lingusitcs in my theory class.

Richard Hennessey on 3 February 2022

Arabic Philosophical Grammar of Turkish

I have long thought that, if there is were a peripatetically informed Arabic, or Persian, study of Turkish, it is or would be fascinating.


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