Acceptable language about language

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Acceptable language about language

Post by cwconrad » October 22nd, 2012, 3:33 pm

(Note: this is an offshoot of the recent thread, "Various Types of Pronouns," which originated 14 Oct 2012 in the "Grammar Questions" of the "Beginner's Forum" and was later moved to this "Syntax and Grammar" subforum of "Greek Language and Linguistics")

In response to a note in that thread by Stephen Carlson, to wit:
"All kidding aside, I do think that, since this topic is now in the linguistics sub-forum, we should use terms that are standard. For example, in linguistics, articles are a kind of determiner, so if there's a statement to the effect that they are not, one should chose other terms to avoid the self-contradiction."

I replied:
" ... Does this imply a standard glossary of linguistic terms or some prerequisite coursework in linguistics for admission to the forum? While the expectation that we should all use words and phrases that communicate precisely what we want to say is doubtless wholly reasonable, there's a hint here at an esoteric technical language to be spoken by an inner circle of initiates. If proponents and "suppoters" of such regulations could assure us that they would always "chose" the right word and avoid typos, this might conceivably work. Winston Churchill once commented on a proposal to drop a requirement that British public school students learn Latin, "First make them learn English; if they succeed at that, reward them by letting them learn Latin." (That's the gist, not the verbatim transcript of what he said.) In that vein, I suggest that we table Stephen's suggestion until such time as we all use perfect English every time we post here."

I think it would be good to have some reputable glossary of terms to which we could refer; I think it ought to be online and readily accessible to all rather than to be found in some reference tome that is not ready to hand for all to use. I note from a quick Google search that there are quite a few online linguistic glossaries; can one or more of them be acknowleged as authentically "standard."

I confess that I abhor "jargon" and find myself cringing when I hear or read words like "grammaticalize." Nevertheless I do understand what is meant by "grammaticalize", and if the linguists insist that there's no other word that is less offensive that quite fills the bill, so be it: I'll bite the bullet and use the word, cringing all the time. I am upset by typographical errors and misspellings and malapropisms and the like, but I know that I am as guilty of such as others -- I think we are all of us too lazy to proofread our own writing before dispatching it to public view. I don't much like "syntactical" when used in the sense that my dictionary assures me is a real word meaning the same as "syntactic"; I don't like it, but I don't take offense at it.

What I'm asking is that we take steps, if we can, toward adoption of a standard glossary for reference so that we can indeed steer clear of idiosyncrasy in the terminology we use to describe usage and grammatical constructions. At the same time I would ask that we exhibit some tolerance for inelegant formulations when we are not in doubt about what the writer intended to say. Is there a consensus to be reached here?
οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)

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Re: Acceptable language about language

Post by MAubrey » October 22nd, 2012, 4:17 pm

I would advocate using as a foundation the SIL Glossary of Linguistic terms. It's a theory neutral, cites recognized sources, and covers a substantial amount of grammatical terminology. A lot of the terms are probably irrelevant to Greek, but that's a result of work on so many other languages. I would expect that virtually standard terms already in use for Koine Greek are already included. ... ntents.htm
Mike Aubrey, Linguist

Stephen Carlson
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Re: Acceptable language about language

Post by Stephen Carlson » October 22nd, 2012, 4:38 pm

Christian Lehmann has a site called LIDO for linguistic terminology in English, German, French, etc.:
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
Melbourne, Australia

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