Edited by András Imrényi and Nicolas Mazziotta
[Studies in Language Companion Series 212] 2020
► pp. 163–188
The paper presents the syntactic work of Sámuel Brassai with special regard to his dependency-based theory of the sentence. Brassai is already relatively well-known as a pioneer in the study of information structure, where his discoveries predate Gabelentz by several years. The present work aims to show that Brassai also developed a consistently dependency-based theory of syntax long before Tesnière. The paper first discusses the motivations and influences underpinning Brassai’s work. Secondly, it presents Brassai’s verb-centred theory, expressed both metaphorically and by sentence diagrams. The latter appeared as early as 1873, thus Brassai may well have been the first to produce verb-centred dependency diagrams of clause structure. Finally, we show that Brassai’s discovery of a bipartite (information structural) division of the sentence does not amount to an early adoption of constituency; rather, it is seamlessly integrated into his dependency-oriented approach.
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