Article published in:History of Linguistics 2005: Selected papers from the Tenth International Conference on the History of the Language Sciences (ICHOLS X), 1–5 September 2005, Urbana-Champaign, Illinois
Edited by Douglas A. Kibbee
[Studies in the History of the Language Sciences 112] 2007
► pp. 131–155
Une "Grammaire générale et raisonnée" en 1651 (1635?): Description et intérpretation d'une découverte empirique
The discovery of the works of Jean Macé has pushed back the publication of the first known French “general and rational grammar” to 1651 for certain, and perhaps as early as about 1635. The simplest way of realizing the historian’s goal of accounting for certain “phenomena” is to organize them into “series”. The Port-Royal Grammaire Générale et Raisonnée (1660), then, is the point of convergence of three distinct series:-The grammatization of vernaculars: the European movement to i) rationalize vernaculars and ii) produce universal grammars. Macé is situated in this movement, probably being the first French grammarian to develop the subject.-The movement to analyze Latin in search of “causes”: a “theoretical” approach towards languages (Lancelot).-The evolution of logic: the logic of ideas (Arnauld and Nicole)The grammatization of the vernaculars is the empirical cause that brings about the general grammar, not only as a problem, but as an intellectual and pedagogical project. The causalist tradition supplies it with a descriptive plan; the logic of ideas provides its theoretical foundation and its limits. Macé belongs to only one of these three series; his text could not have had the same impact as Lancelot’s.
Published online: 28 November 2007