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The grammar or grammar ( Latin [ars] grammatica , ancient Greek [τέχνη] γραμματική [téchnē] grammatike , German , art of writing ' , from ancient Greek γράμμα gramma , German , Written' , letter ') referred to in the linguistics (linguistics) any form of systematic language description. The term grammar stands on the one hand for the set of rules itself, on the other hand also for the theory about a certain language orLanguage family ( grammar theory ). Parts of the more recent grammatical research, largely inspired by Noam Chomsky , deal with the question of how far natural languages can be reduced to formal languages .

The adjectives grammatical and grammatical (from late Latin grammaticalis ) are mostly used synonymously today in the meanings “concerning the grammar” or “according to the rules of grammar”. Sometimes the word is grammatically not assigned the latter meaning. Accordingly, ungrammatic (for “not following the rules of grammar”) is much more common as a negated form .

The demarcation of grammar from other areas

On the one hand, grammar is the term for a field of knowledge that is the subject of “grammar theory”, that is, the linguistic system itself, in its abstract form. In linguistics , this term includes all areas in which the structure of linguistic units is examined, i.e. the theory of forms of words (i.e. morphology ), the construction of sentences ( syntax ), phonology ( phonology ) and the theory of meaning ( semantics ), as far as it relates to rules for building linguistic meaning.

On the other hand, the expression “a grammar” denotes a concrete description of a single language . Often other areas are also dealt with here, even if they are not the subject of grammar theory: such as stylistics , rhetoric and verse theory (metrics), in some grammars, especially historical languages, also number representation , measures and weights as well as time calculation .

The examination of the processes in the use of a language, which are dealt with by pragmatics , discourse analysis or sociolinguistics , is not part of grammar . However, these areas often have repercussions on the description of the language system.

Types of grammars

With regard to the objectives, a distinction can be made between prescriptive or normative (prescriptive) grammars on the one hand and descriptive (descriptive) grammars on the other. A normative grammar aims to teach a certain form of a language as a binding standard. In contrast, the descriptive grammar approach is to describe a language as competent native speakers actually use it spontaneously (without perceiving what is said as a slip of the tongue). In this perspective, there is no distinction between “good” and “wrong or bad language use” (so that certain forms are to be avoided), but rather controversial grammatical phenomena can be assigned to certain speaking styles, text types or social groups as typical, but otherwise documented from a neutral point of view. A descriptive approach generally leads to the recognition of different varieties (language variants) that can be characterized by their social evaluation. The term "grammatically incorrect" is then reduced to grammatical phenomena that do not occur in any variety of a language. In the recorded content, normative and descriptive grammars do not necessarily have to differ significantly, since the definition of a standard variant also requires its description. Descriptive grammars usually cannot cover the full range of variation either, but often deal with an idealized form, i.e. a standard variant of a language.


Grammars in ancient India

In the Indian Sanskrit worked Yaska ( 7th century BC. Chr. ) And Panini .

Grammars in Antiquity and in the Middle Ages

The Greek sophists , in particular Protagoras , are considered to be the creators of a scientific grammar , to whom, among other things, the naming of the three genders ( genera ) and the distinction between tenses and modes are ascribed. Dionysios Thrax later wrote a well-known grammar.

In late antiquity , grammar became the first of the seven liberal arts (septem artes liberales) . Along with rhetoric and dialectic , i.e. H. Logic , it formed the trivium here . Many of the rules and terms were adopted by Roman scholars and grammarians and transferred to Latin and thus found their way into the European, ecclesiastical Middle Ages. The logical and philosophical considerations were also retained and were reflected in the universal dispute. For a long time, occupation with grammar was limited to the important languages ​​found in the Bible (the Old and New Testaments ) and their translations, Greek , Latin and also Hebrew (Eco 1997). A large part of the discussions, however, mainly focused on semantic aspects and their theological implications. For grammar, like the rest of the Artes Liberales, was first and foremost regarded as a propaedeutic of biblical hermeneutics . It was only with Luther's translation of the Bible and the age of the Reformation that one broke away from the fixation on Latin.

Among the well-known authors of Latin grammars, who were also important in the late Middle Ages, were Aelius Donatus in the 4th century and Alexander von Villa Dei in the early 13th century with his rhyming grammar Doctrinale based on Donatus .

Grammars in Modern Times

While the focus of interest in the Middle Ages was still mainly on semantic questions, with the research of Sanskrit by Friedrich Schlegel and Franz Bopp and with the discovery of the Indo-European languages , grammatical interests and conventionalistic and relativistic positions prevailed again.

From comparative linguistics , Ferdinand de Saussure developed the theory of language as a synchronous system at the beginning of the 20th century , which is the basis of structuralist linguistics of the 20th century. Without any influences from philology, the work of George Boole and Gottlob Frege at the same time created the first formal systems that tried to break away from the templates of a certain language.

Noam Chomsky developed a classification of such formal languages ​​and the grammars on which they are based . Grammars of a certain type within the Chomsky hierarchy generate precisely those sentences and expressions of a language that are recognized by a particular interpreter, and they generate all sentences and expressions that can be recognized. In such cases of a formal grammar, interpreters are abstract computing machines from automaton theory . Such formal grammars, especially context-free grammar , are used in computer science in investigations into compilers and interpreters . But such languages ​​are also used in philosophy and philosophy of science , as well as in research areas of descriptive grammar.

Descriptive grammars differ from formal grammars in that they arise from an empirical research approach. You deal with natural languages , which are generally considered to be more expressive. The linguist first sifts through a certain number of expressions and sentences that belong to a language. The criterion that certain expressions and sentences belong to a language can primarily be their occurrence in the written language and literature , but also the acceptance of the expressions in a language community . Then he tries to create these expressions through rules. The completeness of the explained phenomena stands in contrast to an economic principle of simplicity.

More rule-based, syntax-based grammars, which get by with as few assumptions and rules as possible, are above all the rule and attachment theory that emerged from Chomsky's generative grammar and the minimalist program . Extensions of purely syntactic rules by semantic ones can be found in the Generalized Phrase Structure Grammar as well as in the unification grammars , for example the head-driven Phrase Structure Grammar or the lexical-functional grammar . Semantic approaches that work primarily with the structures of lexicon entries are the dependency grammars and Richard Montague's grammar .

See also

Portal: Language  - Overview of Wikipedia content on language


Web links

Commons : Grammar  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: grammar  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Linguistics  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wikiquote: Grammar  - Quotes
Wikisource: Grammars  - Sources and Full Texts

Individual evidence

  1. a b Duden - German Universal Dictionary. 6th edition. Mannheim 2006.
  2. "Belonging to grammar" Brockhaus Wahrig German Dictionary (six volumes)
  3. Duden - Correct and good German. 5th edition. Mannheim 2001 [CD-ROM].
  4. a b Word usage and confusion: grammatical or grammatical? , (accessed on July 14, 2010).
  5. After the eighth edition of Dudens from 1905, only the last-mentioned meaning was grammatically (cf. word usage and confusion: grammatical or grammatical?, (accessed on July 14, 2010)).
  6. On this change: Ursula Stangel: grammar writing in change. From the grammar tradition of the Middle Ages to the description of languages ​​of the New World. (PDF; 623 kB) In: Helikon. A Multidisciplinary Online Journal, 1, pp. 78-88. 2010, accessed March 12, 2015 .
  7. ^ Friedrich Winterhager : Latin lessons for nuns in the Ebstorf monastery around 1490 under the influence of the Bursfeld reform movement. In: Medical historical messages. Journal for the history of science and specialist prose research. Volume 34, 2015, pp. 79–85, here: pp. 80–82.