An Interdisciplinary Concept
During the Middle Ages, the various sciences shared both basic concepts and terminology without losing their autonomy. Between 1260 and 1330 grammatica speculativa, which had evolved under the influence of dialectic, asserted its independence while keeping the terminology common to philosophy and theology. This mixed autonomy and interdependence is demonstrated by the evolution and use of the term, modus significandi. The term was not proper to grammar: it is found in discussions of the sign in theology and philosophy. In these discussions, the philosopher or theologian in question often rested his case on grammatical considerations. At the beginning of our period, modus significandi is opposed in grammar to significatum, while, after 1280 or thereabouts, the significatum is termed modus significandi passivus and the modus significandi becomes modus significandi activus. It would seem that this change is due to certain implications in the way in which the Latin gerund was employed by scholastic theologians. In any case, the term, modus significandi, undergoes a parallel development in grammar, theology and philosophy; and, at the same time, is studied under different aspects according to the discipline in question. In grammar at the beginning of our period, in appearance modus significandi is a morphological concept, while, in the work of Gerson (1426), it is certainly of syntactic relevance.