The Philosophy of Grammar

The Philosophy of Grammar

Otto Jespersen

Language: English

Pages: 372

ISBN: 0226398811

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

This study grew out of a series of lectures Jespersen gave at Columbia
University in 1909-10, called “An Introduction to English Grammar.”
It is the connected presentation of Jespersen's views of the general
principles of grammar based on years of studying various languages
through both direct observation of living speech and written and
printed documents.

“[The Philosophy of Grammar and Analytic Syntax] set
forth the most extensive and original theory of universal grammar
prior to the work of Chomsky and other generative grammarians of the
last thirty years.”—Arne Juul and Hans F. Nielsen, in Otto
Jespersen: Facets of His Life and Work

“Besides being one of the most perceptive observers and original
thinkers that the field of linguistics has ever known, Jespersen was
also one of its most entertaining writers, and reading The
Philosophy of Grammar is fun. Read it, enjoy it.”—James D.
McCawley, from the Introduction

Otto Jespersen (1860-1943), an authority on the growth and structure
of language, was the Chair of the English Department at the University
of Copenhagen. Among his many works are A Modern English
Grammar and Analytic Syntax, the latter published by the
University of Chicago Press.

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nouns they can be said to be substitutes for. It is true that he, she, and it are most often used instead of naming the person or thing mentioned, and it would indeed be possible to establish a class of words us('d for similar purposes, but then not all of them are reckoned among pronouns, viz.: PRONOUNS (1) he, she, it, they used instead of a substantive. (2) that, those similarly; cf. .. his house is bigger thun tl~aJ of his neighbour." (3) one, ones: "a grey horse and two black ones," "I

barks. These form complete sentences, i.e. complete communications, and this, of course, is very important, even from the grammarian's point of view. But exactly the same relation between a primary and a secondary word that is found in such complete sentences is also found in a great many other combinations which are not so rounded off and complete in themselves as to form real sentences. We need not look beyond ordinary subordinate clauses to see this, e.g. in (I see) that the rose is red, or

Jeppe under bordet ION. peir bitsja hans. gra.ta Baldr 6r helju ' they ask her to weep B. out of Hn,des.' Paul P. 154 mentions combinations like: die augen rot wcinen I die fUsse wund laufen I er schwatzt das blaue vom himmel herunter I denke dich in meine lage hinein; but his remarks do not show clearly how he apprehends this" freie verwendung des akkusativs." In Finnish we have here the characteristic case called" translative," as in: iiiti makasi lapsensa kuoIiaaksi ' the mother slept her

Peter' and 'son' in the nominative would be Pierres and fils, and in the oblique case Pierre and jiZ. Though there is no such formal distinction in the English substantives, I can imagine someone saying that on the strength of my own principles I should recognize the distinction, for it is found in pronouns like I-me, he-him, etc., and just as I say I Finnish haa no dative proper, but the • allative ' which expreeeee motion or into the neighbourhood of, often correapondi to the Aryao dative. on

it was found, through [e'] (still represented in the E spelling) became [i'] in Present English (cp. feed, green, wed, etc.). Further, the [00'] of fm·t has been shown to be So mutation of the original vowel [0'], which was preserved in the singular fo·t, where it has now through So regular raising become [u] in the spoken language, though the spelling still keeps 00. The mutation in question was caused by an i in the following syllable; now the ending in So number of plurals was -iz in

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