Date: Wed, 14 Feb 1996 23:23:43 -0700
From: Rudy Troike RTROIKE[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]CCIT.ARIZONA.EDU
Subject: A.A. Hill Festschrift reference re traditional grammarians
For those interested, the Arch Hill Festschrift reference is:
Linguistic and Literary Studies in Honor of Archibald A. Hill.
Mohammad Ali Jazayery, Edgar C. Polome, and Werner Winter, eds. Vol. I:
General and Theoretical Linguistics. [there are 3 vols.] Lisse: Peter de
Ridder Press, 1976.
The article in question is "Lest the wheel be too oft re-invented:
Towards a reassessment of the intellectual history of linguistics", pp. 297-
It includes a "revisionist" consideration of the work of traditional
grammarians, arguing that Charles Fries created a "devil image" of them,
which was accepted within the linguistics profession and repeated from
one book to another. When I was a grad student, this was the received view,
with no audible dissent (one, by J.R. Hulbert in PMLA in 1947, was ignored,
probably because he was a "philologist" -- a dirty word at the time). Only
when a teacher in one of my classes gave me an 1835 grammar she had picked
up at a yard sale, and I started to read it, did I discover that things were
very different from what I had been taught. Because of the disparagement of
these grammarians, people have been discouraged from reading them, either
to avoid contamination or because they were presumably totally benighted.
It is also interesting to discover that sentence diagramming was an
American invention, by practical-minded teachers seeking a way to make
grammatical structure visible (one of the first visual aids), instead of
going through the catechism of "parsing", still used in the rest of the
English-speaking world (including Canada) and in other countries for Spanish,
etc. I argue that Chomsky would likely not have come up with his tree-
diagrams if he had grown up in another country.
--Rudy Troike (rtroike[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]ccit.arizona.edu)