3

There were grammarians in antiquity, and they analyzed Latin. Several grammarians have studied various aspects of Latin grammar in the modern era as well. I find it hard to believe that modern scholars would be in perfect agreement with the ancient ones. Is there something about Latin grammar that we confidently think we understand now but one or more Roman grammarians misunderstood? If there were several such misunderstandings or discrepancies, what were the biggest or most important ones? The Romans did not have the theoretical framework we have today and were bound to misunderstand something; it is unlikely in any field that modern theorists agree perfectly with ancient ones. Let me exclude etymology from this question and restrict it to other aspects of the language.

  • Is this a "fair" question, in light of our modern concept of linguistics being a mere couple hundred years (give or take, if Wiki can be trusted) old? – Marakai Sep 6 '17 at 10:59
  • @Marakai I am not sure what you mean by fair. The Romans did not have the theoretical framework we do and therefore were likely to misunderstand something. My purpose is not to mock any Roman grammarian, but to see what misunderstandings they might have had. – Joonas Ilmavirta Sep 6 '17 at 11:04
  • 1
    That's pretty much what I meant, hence putting "fair" in quotes. Couldn't think of a better term. My meaning was whether it was "possible" (quotes again) for the Romans to misunderstand something about their language when they lacked the systemic ability for analysis as we do today (or since the days when it was still called philology). It's actually an interesting question. – Marakai Sep 6 '17 at 11:06
  • 2
    Off the top of my head, they thought Greek and Latin were much more closely related than they actually were. This involved e.g. suggesting that the contracted third person perfect was a remnant of the dual number. – Draconis Sep 7 '17 at 20:21
  • 1
    @Draconis, what's the source for the statement about the perfect/dual? – TKR Sep 7 '17 at 22:43

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.