Resources for Communication Problems

Thursday, September 25, 2008

LB447-448 晟維

LB447-448 晟維

The study of language entered a new phase in the second century B.C. By this time the Greek language had changed so much that the old texts of Homeric times were no longer readily understandable. The task of their interpretation fell to the so-called critics or grammarians who had to evaluate and judge the beauty of the old manuscripts. Formal grammar owes its beginnings and development to their efforts in the succeeding two-hundred years [17].[1]

One group among the grammarians represented by the greatest Alexandrine philologist, Aristarch (220-142 B.C.) and his school, was convinced that the meaning or origin of many old words could be derived by postulating that they had been modified of declined similarly to words with which they were familiar. They therefore contended that language was ruled by analogy. This principle was supposed to rule nature (physis) and permit the establishment of natural laws. But because language had not yet acquired any degree of standardization, the claims of the analogists were not as solidly based as we might be led to suppose [18].

The analogists’ view was opposed by Krates, a philologist and grammarian, (came to Rome in 169 B.C.) and his school, who saw no law-fulness in language and, therefore, proclaimed its pervasion by anomaly (nomos). Anomaly was thought to be characteristic for everything made by man (nomos or thesis) [19]. Anomaly in language seemed to be confirmed by the observations which had already been made by Democritus (460-352 B.C.), that more than on name could apply to the same thing, that proper names could be changed and that analogy was frequently lacking. The standpoint of the anomalists was, in Steinthal’s opinion, the more solidly based in view of the paucity of grammatical rules. Yet at that time the argument could be used that language must be physis for otherwise neither blessing nor curse could have an effect [20].[2] But neither the principle of analogy or of anomaly could provide, by itself, the basis for the establishment of a formal grammar which, of necessity, would have to be based on rules but would have to make allowances for exceptions as well.

The establishment of a formal grammar became a pressing need in Roman times. Unlike their Greek predecessors, who had become preoccupied with language studies in their attempt to understand the classics, Roman men of letters required rules in order to write a Latin literature. Moreover, the standardization of Latin usage was of vital importance for the political aims of uniting the Roman Empire. The contribution of the Roman grammarians were primarily of a utilitarian nature and represent the application in practice of some Greek principles of thought. In the field of grammatical theory, Marcus Terentitus Varro (116-27 B.C.) resolved the antithesis of anomaly versus analogy by finding a place for both analogy and anomaly in grammar. For him language was a natural ability which gad been subjected to cultural development [21].

Lucretitus (91-51 B.C.) revived and elaborated the Epicurean ideas when he described language as a physiological function based on an inherent human need to name things [22]. With practical political and social goals as the impetus behind most of the extensive work on language done by the Romans—including the scholarly writings of Caesar and Cicero—the question of the biological basis or origin of language did not enter the discussion [23].

A very serious shortcoming of most Roman writers on language was the limitation of their discussions to Latin and Greek, which Steinthal regarded as the chief factor for their failure to formulate a more general language theory. In the writings of Gaius Plinius Secundus (23-79 A.D.) and of Strabo (63 B.C.-24 A.D.) only Greek and Latin are given serious consideration. One of the few to include other languages as well was the Epicurean Diogenes of Oinoanda (2nd century A.D.) who wrote that men created language everywhere quite naturally; it was not a conscious invention or the result of convention. No single man or god could have created it [24].

Summary: Greece and Rome (a table is missing here!)



[1] The Greek word gamma referred to the knowledge of language sounds and signs; a grammatikos was originally a schoolmaster who taught reading and writing. A differentiation between a Kritikos as literary critic and the Grammatikos or Grammarian was made only in Roman times. H. Steinthal, op. cit., pp. 375,436

[2] From the discussion it is clear that many of the arguments had arisen from the failure in defining the word language. First it had been used synonymously with naming, or it was referred to the Greek language. At other times, man’s specking capacity or the correct use of language were implied when language was discussed.

(vocabulary searching)


Aristarchus of Samothrace (ρίσταρχος, 220?143 BC?) was a grammarian noted as the most influential of all scholars of Homeric poetry. He was the librarian of the library of Alexandria and seems to have succeeded his teacher Aristophanes of Byzantium in that role.


Physis (φύσις) is a Greek theological, philosophical, and scientific term usually translated into English as "nature". In the Odyssey, Homer uses the word once (its earliest known occurrence), referring to the intrinsic way of growth of a particular species of plant.[1] In other very early uses it had such a meaning: related to the natural growing of plants, animals, and other features of the world as they tend to develop without external influence. But in the pre-Socratic philosophers it developed a complex of other meanings.

擴散;普及 / 彌漫;滲透

Democritus (Greek: Δημόκριτος) was a pre-Socratic Greek materialist philosopher (born at Abdera in Thrace ca. 460 BC - died ca 370 BC). Democritus was a student of Leucippus and co-originator of the belief that all matter is made up of various imperishable, indivisible elements which he called atoma (sg. atomon) or "indivisible units", from which we get the English word atom. It is virtually impossible to tell which of these ideas were unique to Democritus and which are attributable to Leucippus.


Hermann Steinthal (born at Gröbzig, Anhalt, May 16, 1823; died at Berlin March 14, 1899) was a German philologist and philosopher.
He studied philology and philosophy at the University of Berlin, and was in 1850 appointed privat-dozent of philology and mythology at that institution. He was a pupil of Wilhelm von Humboldt, whose Sprachwissenschaftliche Werke he edited in 1884. From 1852 to 1855 Steinthal resided in Paris, where he devoted himself to the study of Chinese, and in 1863 he was appointed assistant professor at the Berlin University; from 1872 he was also privat-dozent in critical history of the Old Testament and in religious philosophy at the Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judenthums. In 1860 he founded, together with his brother-in-law Moritz Lazarus, the Zeitschrift für Völkerpsychologie und Sprachwissenschaft, in which was established the new science of racial psychology. Steinthal was one of the directors (from 1883) of the Deutsch-Israelitische Gemeindebund, and had charge of the department of religious instruction in various small congregations.

前任;前輩 / (被取代的)原有事物 /【古】祖先
全神貫注的;入神的[(+with)] / 被搶先佔有的
utilitarian a.
功利主義的 / 功利的;實利的 / n. 功利主義者;實利主義者
Marcus Terentitus Varro
對立面;對立;對照;對偶 / (修辭學中的)對語,對句

推動,促進;推動力;刺激[U][S1][(+to)][+to-v] / 衝力[U]


Marcus Tullius Cicero was a Roman statesman, lawyer, political theorist, and philosopher. Cicero is widely considered one of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists.

Gaius Plinius Secundu


Strabo was born in a wealthy family from Amaseia in Pontus (modern Amasya Turkey),[2] which had recently become part of the Roman Empire.[3] His mother was Georgian. He studied under various geographers and philosophers; first in Nysa, later in Rome. He was philosophically a Stoic and politically a proponent of Roman imperialism. Later he made extensive travels to Egypt and Kush, among others. It is not known when his Geography was written, though comments within the work itself place the finished version within the reign of Emperor Tiberius. Some place its first drafts around AD 7, others around 18. Last dateable mention is given to the death in 23 of Juba II, king of Maurousia (Mauretania), who is said to have died "just recently."[4] On the presumption that "recently" means within a year, Strabo stopped writing that year or the next (24 AD), perhaps because of his death.
Strabo's History is nearly completely lost. Although Strabo quotes it himself, and other classical authors mention that it existed, the only surviving document is a fragment of papyrus now in possession of the University of Milan (renumbered [Papyrus] 46).
Several different dates have been proposed for Strabo's death, but most of them place it shortly after 23.

Diogenes of Oinoanda

Diogenes of Oenoanda (or Oinoanda) was an Epicurean Greek from the 2nd century AD who carved a summary of the philosophy of Epicurus onto a portico wall in the ancient city of Oenoanda in Lycia (modern day southwest Turkey). The surviving fragments of the wall, which originally extended about 80 meters, form an important source of Epicurean philosophy.

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