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date: 13 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

A literary canon remained the core of élite education in Classical Antiquity for centuries, while the discipline of grammar emerged to produce correct texts, explain, and evaluate it. But it was to philosophy that grammarians owed, not merely powerful theories of language’s origins, functions, constituents, and structures, all formulated in a rich meta-language, but the very conception of linguistic phenomena – as constituting a fundamentally rational system – that makes expert or scientific knowledge of them possible. Grammatical interests, whether accounting for (apparent) departures from formal or syntactic regularity, determining both the correct reading of a disputed Homeric verse and the correct rules for such a procedure, or defining the parts of speech in a school primer, of course ousted the original philosophical contexts and purposes: when the Stoic Chrysippus advised using nannies who spoke pure Greek, his aim, probably, was to improve their charges’ souls, not their economic or social prospects.

Keywords: nature, convention, analogy, etymology, normativity, pathology

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