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Sylvie Archaimbault
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Jean-Marie Fournier
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Valérie Raby

Deuxième partie. Grammatisations, outillages et descriptions des langues

The Doctrine of the Particles in Early Modern English Grammar

David Cram

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1The expression The Doctrine of the Particles starts to show up on the title pages of English grammars and language textbooks towards the end of the seventeenth century and goes out of use by the mid-eighteenth century. The theory in question was an unstable and short-lived one, but the term “doctrine”– meaning a unified body of principles–should be taken at face value. I wish to argue that the Doctrine of the Particles represents a distinct model or approach to grammar which is characteristic of this period and which deserves further attention and analysis than it has so far received.

  • 1 The binary distinction between radical and particle is buttressed by ideas deriving from the Hebrew (...)

2The doctrine rests on a fundamental distinction which divides the words in a language into two categories, radicals and particles. This distinction is not in itself an innovation, since it derives from Greek antiquity, and was fundamental to work on philosophical language schemes in the seventeenth century1. The key concept of the doctrine is the idea that what makes any individual language distinctive–its propriety or genius, to use contemporary terms–resides primarily, and perhaps exclusively, in its set of particles.

The necessity of a “vernacular grammar”

  • 2 See Rix (2008) for full discussion of Lane’s work and reference to earlier studies.

3At the turn of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries there was published an English grammar under the title A Key to the Art of Letters (Lane 1700). We know very little about the author of the work, a certain Archibald Lane, and the grammar itself is of scant theoretical interest2. But there is a substantial preface which argues eloquently and at length for the necessity of “a vernacular grammar”. The title-page also bears the provocative sub-title “English a Learned Language”, to which we will return below. In order to understand the import of both the preface and the sub-title, we need to explore what Lane means by a vernacular grammar.

4In England as in many other European countries, grammar was in effect synonymous with Latin grammar throughout the sixteenth and most of the seventeenth century. When Shakespeare went to grammar school, he learned not English grammar but Latin grammar. By the latter part of the seventeenth century, however, there had been a major reversal of the relation between the two languages. Although Latin continued to be the primary medium of instruction at both school and university, English was gradually to oust Latin as the medium for both science and religion, as it already had for belles lettres. It was thus natural that in the 1660s the newly-founded Royal Society should opt for the English vernacular rather than Latin as the medium for its activities.

  • 3 Wallis, ed. Kemp (1972, p. 34-38). For fuller discussion and further references, see Cram (2009).

5It took a while for the grammarians to catch up with these radical social changes. Textbooks for teaching the vernacular had started to be produced during this period, often with adventurous innovations in orthoepy–the reform and standardization of spelling. But the grammar of English, in the narrow sense of the morphology and syntax of the language, was regularly presented in the framework of nominal and verbal paradigms in a way that is appropriate for an inflectional language such as Latin, but less so for a language such as English which has largely lost the inflectional endings it once had. The point had been forcibly made by John Wallis, in his Grammatica Linguae Anglicanae (1653), that the panoply of grammatical terms associated with Latin declensions and conjugations was strictly redundant when applied to English, since what is conveyed by grammatical endings in Latin is done by other means in English3.

6Writing some fifty years after the publication of Wallis’s work, Lane bewails the fact that the knowledge of grammar has been in serious decline “ever since the Latin Tongue ceas’d to be a living Language”. It is the knowledge of grammar, he argues, “that polishes and perfects those noble Faculties of Reason and Speech, by which Men are distinguished from Brutes” and is therefore of greater importance than any other art or science (Lane 1700, p. vii). But there is nothing intrinsic in the Latin language which has the civilizing and ennobling effect he desires. After all, the common people in Rome could all speak Latin from the cradle, and yet they were not one jot more learned than the common people in England and France are today. Indeed a common seaman can learn to speak three or four languages in the places where he travels, and yet “without the art of grammar” he will remain as illiterate and unlearned as before (Lane 1700, p. x). In other words, simply learning the Latin language does not confer on the learner the benefits of the art of grammar.

7Wallis and Lane are here arguing against the supremacy of Latin on grounds which converge: Wallis on the theoretical grounds that the categories of Latin grammar are superfluous when it comes to describing the English vernacular, and Lane on the pedagogical grounds that knowledge of Latin does not anyway guarantee grammatical knowledge as such. But in both cases the negative arguments developed so far leave us with an unanswered question. If the apparatus of traditional Latin grammar is going to be dispensed with for the purposes of describing non-inflecting languages such as English, what then is going to be put in its place?

8Wallis himself did not give an answer to this question. Having identified and listed quite explicitly the full set of Latinate grammatical terms which he has shown to be strictly superfluous for the task of describing English, he nevertheless retains the Latinate terms on the (quite valid) pedagogical grounds that his readers will already be familiar with them and that the introduction of new-fangled technical apparatus would be an unnecessary burden (Wallis 1653, Preface, Sig. A8; see Kemp 1972, p. 13). Lane, however, took the argument to its logical conclusion. Given the decline of education based on traditional Latin grammar, the development of an equivalent vernacular grammar was not just desirable, but a necessity.

9The vernacular grammar which Lane has in mind is thus one that will not just teach the English language, but will teach the “art of grammar” at the same time. And this of course might take a variety of forms. In France, the Port-Royal grammar of Arnauld and Lancelot was a vernacular grammar designed for the same dual purpose, since, as its title announces, it is not just a description of the French language but one explicitly based on general and rational principles. In England, the Doctrine of the Particles had a parallel purpose.

Particles in the grammatical and logical traditions

  • 4 For a more positive view, with a useful exploration of the connection between Lane’s grammar and co (...)
  • 5 During his life, the author was known locally as “Particles Walker”; a commemorative plaque in Cols (...)
  • 6 A full listing of the various editions of Walker’s Particles is given in Alston (1965-1973, vol. II (...)
  • 7 William Willymott’s English particles exemplify’d in sentences (1703) was the primary contemporary (...)

10Whatever the eloquence and cogency of Lane’s arguments for the necessity of a vernacular grammar, his own grammar is surprisingly bland and unadventurous, and the section on particles is particularly disappointing4. For a textbook giving a paradigm example of the Doctrine of the Particles, we must turn to The Treatise ofEnglish Particles, by William Walker, master of The King’s School, Grantham5. This work was enormously successful, and ran through fifteen editions between its first publication in 1655 and 17206. Like Lane’s grammar, it has an important and powerfully-argued preface, which was fairly radically revised from edition to edition. But the work itself is strikingly, indeed disconcertingly, simple. It consists of a single alphabetical list of English particles, with entries giving a range of concrete examples to illustrate the range of distinct senses which each particle can express7.

11What then is a particle? A convenient starting point is Thomas Dyche’s English Particles Latiniz’d (1713), an abbreviated version of Walker’s Particles in question-and-answer format, designed for the teaching of Latin in the lower forms in school. The section “Of a Particle” opens as follows (Dyche 1713: 1):

Q. What is a Particle?
A. A Particle is a little Word of singular Use in Connecting, Adorning, or Illustrating of Sentences.

12Immediately following this initial definition is a further exchange which sounds almost like an echo of Lane’s preface:

Q. Is the Knowledge of the Particles of absolute Necessity?
A. The Knowledge of the Latin Particles is of that absolute Necessity, that there can be no assurance of the Propriety of that Language, nor a clear Understanding of any Roman Authors, without it.

13There are three independent traditions underpinning this definition of the particle. These are conceptually quite distinct and it is useful to identify them clearly and separately before seeing how they overlap and intersect with each other. For presentational purposes they may be associated with the three component disciplines of the trivium: grammar, logic and rhetoric.

  • 8 The text most frequently referred to in seventeenth-century discussion in connection with this dist (...)

14Let us first distinguish two different notions of the particle deriving respectively from the grammatical and the logical traditions. The grammatical notion is based on a system of Parts ofSpeech, which in the medieval Latin tradition (for which Donatus and Priscian were the authorities invoked) numbered eight: noun, verb, participle, pronoun, preposition, adverb, interjection and conjunction. These grammatical categories were formally distinguished in terms of their morphological attributes, as is appropriate in an inflectional language. The first four group together in that they all involve inflection for number and tense (or both), as distinct from the second set of four, which neither decline for number nor conjugate for tense. These four categories together form the set of “particles”. By contrast with this grammatical conception of a particle, a quite distinct notion emerges from the logical tradition. This derives from a binary distinction drawn by Aristotle, which divides all words into categorial terms on the one hand and syncategorematical terms on the other. The former comprises all words which denote nominal and verbal concepts of the sort that can fill the subject and predicate positions in a proposition; the latter term includes all the linking elements which join categorical words together to form speech8.

  • 9 “Quibusdam philosophis placuit nomen & verbum solas esse partes orationis; caetera verò, adminicula (...)

15As thus presented, these two traditions seem to converge. Indeed Priscian himself, the architect of the system of eight parts of speech, also acknowledges a grouping which packages together all part of speech other than the noun and the verb under the single rubric of adminicula ( “supports”) or juncturas ( “connections”)9. However, the two traditions do not in fact comfortably converge, but rather pull in quite different directions.

  • 10 For full discussion, see chapters I–VII of the section of the Essay devoted to Natural Grammar (Wil (...)
  • 11 See the section on Particles in Locke’s Essay, Book III, Chapter VII. For further discussion of Loc (...)

16For one thing, the set of items identified as a particle by the grammatical and logical approaches respectively are simply not co-extensive. The grammatical set, as we have seen, comprises all the items which do not inflect for case or tense: preposition, adverb, interjection and conjunction. The logical set of syncategorematical items turns out in practice to be fundamentally different. Thus in John Wilkins’s philosophical language scheme all verbal expressions are analyzed, in an Aristotelian fashion, into copula particle plus verbal radical. Since the category of particle thus crucially includes the copula verb (which “is a necessary part of every sentence”), the binary analysis into radical versus particle crosscuts the grammatical dichotomy based on the criterion of inflection. Wilkins’s category of particle also includes a set of sentential particles, such as markers for affirmation and negation, and a key set of “transcendental particles”, neither of which figure under the term particle in the grammatical tradition10. Furthermore this tension between the grammatical and the logical traditions applies not just to thinkers involved in a priori philosophical language schemes; a very similar conception of the particle is espoused by inductivist theorists such as John Locke, whose ideas did much to subvert the foundations on which such a priori schemes were based. Locke’s definition is very similar to that of Wilkins both in scope and function: particles are words that “connect parts, or whole sentences together” and which therefore “show what relation the mind gives to its own thoughts”11.

17From a purely conceptual point of view, a definition of the particle based jointly on logical and morphological criteria is thus at best inherently unstable and at worst simply incoherent. From a syntactic perspective, furthermore, the two traditions also pull in quite different directions. In the grammatical tradition, all major syntactic “work” (such as indicating what is the subject of a sentence and what is the object) is seen as being done in the inflectional half, while the uninflected particles are syntactically “inert”. In the logical tradition, by contrast, the particles are seen precisely as those items which do the syntactic work of joining nouns and verbs together to form sentences.

Particles and the doctrine of language excellencies

  • 12 I adopt here the term “excellency”, rather than other contemporary alternatives, since this was the (...)

18Why then did not the grammatical and the logical conceptions of the particle simply tear themselves apart? The answer is that they were held together by a third tradition, namely the doctrine of “language excellencies”12. For present purposes, it is helpful to identify this train of thought as belonging in the tradition of rhetoric –the third component of the trivium alongside grammar and logic– although its roots are ultimately more diverse and more diffuse.

  • 13 See Hüllen (1996, 2001) for a general survey of the extensive and growing literature on the topic o (...)

19The basic idea underlying the doctrine of language excellencies is that each human language has characteristics which mark it off uniquely from all other languages. The way that this idea is elaborated differs greatly from period to period, both in terms of the sustained metaphors in which it is expressed and the grammatical apparatus (if any) in which it is more formally articulated. Approaches which are heavily evaluative, as implicit in the very term “excellency”, tend to single out one definitive characteristic per language: thus Greek is deemed to be particularly “copious”, French is deemed to be particularly “elegant”, and so on. Other approaches based on the notion of the “genius” or “propriety” of individual languages simply postulate a set of common parameters on which languages can be compared13.

20The doctrine of the particles brings the doctrine of language excellencies into a very specific focus: the propriety or genius of a language resides largely (and perhaps wholly) in the usage of the particles. Walker makes this claim quite explicitly in his preface: “[M] uch, if not the most, of that quaintness, that any language can boast of, consists in the elegant use of the Particles thereof, which, like the Arteries in the body, running through the whole, add life and motion, strength and grace to every part” (Walker 1655, Sig. A1r). Note that in making this claim Walker invokes a body-based variant of the organic metaphor for language, as do many others who echo him at this period. But this is not associated (as in future Romantic versions of the doctrine of language excellencies) with a anti-rationalist notion that the genius of a language, like the soul in the body, makes it incommensurable with other languages, and hence not amenable to scientific analysis. The claim is precisely that the particles are the yardstick for language comparison, and that these may be straightforwardly investigated and learnt.

  • 14 “[N] ova prorsus methodo incedendum esse mihi visum est, quam non tam usitata Latinæ Linguæ, quàm p (...)

21I have claimed that this third “rhetorical” tradition is what holds the grammatical and logical conceptions of the particle from pulling themselves apart. But this also has the effect of introducing an additional typological dimension to the definition of the particle. What might otherwise be compared are the grammatically load-bearing particles in languages such as English on the one hand with the rhetorically important but grammatically marginal particles in inflecting languages like Latin on the other. But for thinkers such as Wallis that is not the issue. The crucial comparative observation for Wallis is that the grammatical functions which are signalled by inflections in Latin are signalled in English by grammatically independent units such as prepositions and auxiliary verbs. In other words, the English particles are being compared not with the Latin uninflected discourse markers, but with the inflectional endings themselves. It is this perception that Wallis says is the foundation for his “new method”, one that aims to capture the distinctive propriety or genius of the English language14. It is also noteworthy that when in a subsequent edition Wallis claims that his method has been followed by certain Frenchmen in their Grammaire Universelle (i. e. the Grammaire générale et raisonnée), the note to this effect is inserted at precisely this point in the preface (Wallis, ed. Kemp, 1972, p. 111). The grammar attributed to John Brightland, recognizing a particular indebtedness both to “the great Dr. Wallis” and also to “Messieurs of Port-Royal” (Brightland 1711, Sig. A7r) articulates this typological view as follows: “The Construction of Government […] is different in all Languages. For one Language forms their Government or Regimen by Cases; others make use of little Signs or Particles in their Place” (Brightland 1711, p. 142).

  • 15 Compare Arnauld and Lancelot (1660, p. 46-48) and Wallis (ed. Kemp 1972, p. 305-313). For more deta (...)

22An analytic example which amply illustrates this approach is the juxtaposition of the genitive construction in Latin (e. g. Timor domini) with the parallel prepositional and possessive constructions in the European vernaculars (e. g. The fear of the Lord), which is explored both by Wallis and, mutatis mutandis, by Messieurs de Port-Royal. Both grammars dwell on the fact that the same logical structure can have alternative grammatical realizations in the vernaculars. Both grammars also observe that there is a similar range of polysemy in both cases: thus in addition to simple possession (divitiæ Croesi) the Latin genitive also may indicate the part-whole relation (caput hominis), the efficient cause to effect (opus Dei), and so on; the prepositional and possessive constructions in both English and French likewise15.

23The notion of a particle which thus emerges from the intersection of the rhetorical tradition with the grammatical and logical traditions is an element which, in a “vernacular” language, is functionally equivalent to inflectional endings in Latinate languages. This provides the conceptual underpinning for a free-standing “vernacular grammar”, formulated in the framework of the doctrine of the particles.

Conclusion: English as a “Learned Language”

  • 16 As proposed, programmatically, on the title page of Lane’s Key to the Art of Letters (1705).

24The doctrine of the particles, as developed in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, is of interest and importance because for the first time it provided a theoretical framework which allowed English (and by extrapolation other vernacular languages) to be viewed as a “Learned Language”, on a par with Latin, Greek and Hebrew16. The English language had of course established itself very much earlier than this, first as a literary language in the period of Shakespeare and Milton, and subsequently as the preferred language for scientific and theological purposes. But the theory of grammar took a longer time than is often assumed to catch up with the social and institutional developments which have famously been termed the “triumph of the English language” (Richard Foster Jones 1953).

  • 17 At the risk of anachronism, this can usefully be compared to a modern generative grammar consisting (...)

25I have attempted to demonstrate that the theoretical underpinnings of the doctrine of the particles were complex and diffuse, and involved independent contributions from all three strands of the medieval trivium of grammar, logic and rhetoric. I have further sought to show that all three contributions were conceptually necessary to hold the framework in place, since there were internal discrepancies which otherwise made the framework intrinsically unstable. The descriptions of English grammar based on this doctrine were remarkably simple and elegant: a list of the particles of the language with a specification for each one of the range of constructions in which it could function17.

  • 18 The distinction between separable and inseparable particles was of course available in the Hebrew g (...)
  • 19 This terminological lacuna is comparable to the one noted by Vivian Law in late medieval grammar, w (...)

26In conclusion, it is worthwhile returning briefly to the fundamental question of what constitutes a particle, since the typological dimension introduced an additional conceptual dilemma. We have seen that the doctrine of the particles allows the grammar of vernacular languages to be described in their own terms, quite independently of the traditional framework developed for inflectional languages like Latin and Greek. But this new status of English as a learned language on a par with Latin also opens up a new perspective, namely that of viewing inflectional languages from the viewpoint of the vernaculars. If the English particle is functionally equivalent to an inflectional ending in Latin, the converse also holds: the inflectional ending is functionally nothing other than an non-separable particle18. But note that while the generalised doctrine of the particles creates the conceptual space for expressing this two-way equivalence, it does not provide a segmental category for such a unit19. This will remain to be implemented by subsequent theories of language typology, of which the doctrine of particles is an important precursor.

Bibliographie

References

Alston Robin C., 1965-1973, A Bibliography of the English Language from the Invention of Printing to the Year 1800, Menston, Scolar Press.

Arnauld Antoine and Claude Lancelot, 1660, Grammaire générale et raisonnée, Paris, Le Petit.

Auroux Sylvain, 1992, “Introduction”, Histoire des idées linguistiques, vol. 2. Le développement de la grammaire occidentale, Liège, Mardaga.

Brightland John, 1711, AGrammar of the English Tongue, with notes, giving the grounds and reason of grammar in general, London, John Brightland.

Camden Wiliam, 1614, Remains Concerning Britain, London, Simon Waterson.

Carew Richard, 1614, “The Excellency of the English Tongue”, printed in the second edition of William Camden’s Remaines of a Greater Worke, Concerning Britaine, London, Simon Waterson, p. 32-39.

Cram David, 1994, “Collection and classification: universal language schemes and the development of seventeenth-century lexicography”, Proceedings of the Anglistentag 1993 Eichstätt, Günther Blaicher and Brigitte Glaser ed., Tübingen, Max Niemeyer Verlag, p. 59-69.

Cram David, 2009, “John Wallis’s English grammar, 1653: Breaking the Latin mould”, Beiträge zur Geschichte der Sprachwissenschaft 19/1, p. 177-201.

Dyche Thomas, 1713, English Particles Latiniz’d: Or, a Compendious Improvement of the Doctrine of English and Latin Particles, Delivered Familiarly and Plainly, by Way of Question and Answer, London, E. Curll, R. Gosling and J. Pemberton.

Greenwood John, 1711, An Essay towards a Practical English Grammar. Describing the Genius and Nature of the English Tongue, London, R. Tookey.

Hüllen Werner, 1996, “Some yardsticks of language evaluation 1600-1800”, Linguists and their Diversions: A Festschrift for R. H. Robins, Vivian Law and Werner Hüllen ed., Münster, Nodus, p. 275-306.

Hüllen Werner, 2001, “Characterization and evaluation of languages in the Renaissance and in the Early Modern Period”, Language Typology and Language Universals: An International Handbook, Martin Haspelmath ed., Berlin, de Gruyter, vol. 1, p. 234-248.

Isermann Michael, 1996, “John Wallis on adjectives: The discovery of phrase structure in the Grammatica Linguae Anglicanae, 1653)”, Historiographia Linguistica 23, p. 47-72.

Jones Richard Foster, 1953, The Triumph of the English Language: A Survey of Opinions Concerning the Vernacular from the Introduction of Printing to the Restoration, London, Oxford University Press.

Kemp J. Alan, 1972, John Wallis’s Grammar of the English Language, with an introductory grammatico-physical treatise on speech: A new edition with translation and commentary, London, Longman.

Kessler-Mesguich Sophie, 1992, “Les grammaires occidentales de l’hébreu”, Histoire des idées linguistiques, vol. 2, Le dévelopement de la grammaire occidentale, Sylvain Auroux éd., Liège, Mardaga, p. 251-270.

Lane Archibald, 1705, AKey to the Art ofLetters […] With a Preface Shewing the Necessity ofa Vernacular Grammar, London, Ralph Smith and William Hawes.

Law Vivian, 2003, The History of Linguistics in Europe from Plato to 1600, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Lewis Rhodri, 2007, Language, Mind and Nature: Artificial Languages in England from Bacon to Locke, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Locke John, 1975, An Essay concerning Human Understanding, edited with an introduction by Peter H. Niditch, Oxford, Clarendon Press.

Maat Jaap, 2009, “Dalgarno and Leibniz on the particles”, Language and History 52/2, p. 160-170.

Michael Ian, 1970, English Grammatical Categories and the Tradition to 1800, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Nuchelmans Gabriel, 1986, “The historical background to Locke’s account of particles”, Logique et Analyse 29, p. 53-71.

Padley George Arthur, 1985, Grammatical Theory in Western Europe 1500-1700, Trends in Vernacular Grammar, vol. 1, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Rix Robert W., 2008, “A key to the art of letters: an English grammar for the eighteenth century”, Neophilologus 92, p. 545-557.

Robins Robert H., 1966, “The development of the word class system of the European grammatical tradition”, Foundations of Language 1/1, p. 3-19.

Walker William, 1655, A treatise of English particles shewing how to render them according to the proprietie and elegance of the Latin, London, T. Garthwait.

Wallis John, 1653, Grammatica linguae anglicanae, Oxford, Leonard Lichfield.

Wilkins John, 1668, A Essay towards a Real Character and a Philosophical Language, London, S. Gellibrand and J. Martyn.

Willymott William, 1703, English Particles Exemplify’d in Sentences, London, S. Smith, B. Walford, and T. Newborough.

Notes

1 The binary distinction between radical and particle is buttressed by ideas deriving from the Hebrew grammatical tradition, which separates off a broad category of particles on the one hand from the nominal and verbal categories on the other (Kessler-Mesguich 1992, p. 258-259). For a discussion of the role of the Arabic/Hebrew tradition in the development of Western ideas about the Parts of Speech, see Auroux (1992).

2 See Rix (2008) for full discussion of Lane’s work and reference to earlier studies.

3 Wallis, ed. Kemp (1972, p. 34-38). For fuller discussion and further references, see Cram (2009).

4 For a more positive view, with a useful exploration of the connection between Lane’s grammar and contemporary work on universal language, see the previously-cited article by Rix (2008). On Walker’s work in the larger context of 17th century grammatical theory, see Padley (1985, p. 181-190).

5 During his life, the author was known locally as “Particles Walker”; a commemorative plaque in Colsterworth church, where he is buried, reads: “Here lie the particles of William Walker” ( “Heic [sic] jacent Guilielmi Walkeri Particulæ Obijt 1mo Augti Anno Dom: 1684, Ætat. 61”). This inscription is thought to have been composed by Walker’s friend and neighbour Sir Isaac Newton, whose parents are buried in the same church.

6 A full listing of the various editions of Walker’s Particles is given in Alston (1965-1973, vol. III, part 1, p. 43-45). For a discussion of Walker’s treatise in the context of the English lexicological tradition, see Cram (1994).

7 William Willymott’s English particles exemplify’d in sentences (1703) was the primary contemporary competitor, albeit without the same elaborate preface and theoretical reasoning.

8 The text most frequently referred to in seventeenth-century discussion in connection with this distinction is Aristotle’s tract De interpretatione; categorial terms are broadly identified as those discussed in Aristotle’s Categories. For further discussion and references, see Maat (2009).

9 “Quibusdam philosophis placuit nomen & verbum solas esse partes orationis; caetera verò, adminicula vel juncturas earum”, Priscian, Institutiones Grammaticæ, XI, 2. 6; see Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria, I. 4. p. 17-21. For fuller discussion, see Robins (1966) and Michael (1970, chapter 3).

10 For full discussion, see chapters I–VII of the section of the Essay devoted to Natural Grammar (Wilkins 1668, p. 309-351).

11 See the section on Particles in Locke’s Essay, Book III, Chapter VII. For further discussion of Locke and particles, see Nuchelmans (1986) and Maat (2009).

12 I adopt here the term “excellency”, rather than other contemporary alternatives, since this was the one established in the English-speaking world by Thomas Carew’s “Excellency of the English Tongue”, which was incorporated in the second edition of Camden’s Remains concerning Britain (Carew 1614).

13 See Hüllen (1996, 2001) for a general survey of the extensive and growing literature on the topic of language excellencies and the “genius” of languages.

14 “[N] ova prorsus methodo incedendum esse mihi visum est, quam non tam usitata Latinæ Linguæ, quàm peculiaris linguæ nostræ ratio suadet: totâ nempe Nominis Syntaxi Præpositionum ferè auxilio præstitâ, & Verborum Conjugatione facili Auxiliarium ope peractâ, illud levissimo negotio peragitur, quod in aliis linguis iungentem solet affere molestiam” (Wallis 1653, A7v).

15 Compare Arnauld and Lancelot (1660, p. 46-48) and Wallis (ed. Kemp 1972, p. 305-313). For more detailed discussion see Isermann (1996) and Cram (2009).

16 As proposed, programmatically, on the title page of Lane’s Key to the Art of Letters (1705).

17 At the risk of anachronism, this can usefully be compared to a modern generative grammar consisting of a list of the “functional categories” of a language, with a full specification of their combinatorial properties. In both cases, all that is further needed is a single combinatorial principle and a Nomenclator into which it can be plugged.

18 The distinction between separable and inseparable particles was of course available in the Hebrew grammatical tradition, which informs much of the work on philosophical languages (Lewis 2007, p. 43-44, p. 124-125) on which in turn the doctrine of the particles depends.

19 This terminological lacuna is comparable to the one noted by Vivian Law in late medieval grammar, which had a term for both prefix and termination as parts of a word, but no term for what was left when prefix and termination had been removed (Law 2003, p. 132).

Auteur

Jesus College, Oxford

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