Aristotle and linguistics
Seuren, P. A. M.
Aristotle and linguistics. In K. Brown (Ed.
), Encyclopedia of language and lingusitics (vol.1)
(pp. 469-471). Amsterdam: Elsevier.
Aristotle's importance in the professional study of language consists first of all in the fact that he demythologized language and made it an object of rational investigation. In the context of his theory of truth as correspondence, he also provided the first semantic analysis of propositions in that he distinguished two main constituents, the predicate, which expresses a property, and the remainder of the proposition, referring to a substance to which the property is assigned. That assignment is either true or false. Later, the ‘remainder’ was called subject term, and the Aristotelian predicate was identified with the verb in the sentence. The Aristotelian predicate, however, is more like what is now called the ‘comment,’ whereas his remainder corresponds to the topic. Aristotle, furthermore, defined nouns and verbs as word classes. In addition, he introduced the term ‘case’ for paradigmatic morphological variation.