1887
Volume 3, Issue 3
  • ISSN 0302-5160
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9781
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Abstract

SUMMARYAlthough the semantic theory proposed by Harris in Hermes (1751) was not well received in 18th-century England and has been generally neglected by scholars ever since, it is certainly deserving of our attention because it is a perceptive analysis of the logico-semantic structure of language. In the tradition of philosophical or universal grammar, Harris argued that the subject matter of the linguist should be the conceptual level or the deep structure of language rather than the utterance or the surface structure. Therefore, Harris reasoned that an adequate explanation of meaning required a description of the relationship of language and thought. Furthermore, since he recognized that the study of language was necessary for the advancement of learning, which he considered to be the essence of science, he regarded the limits of 18th-century science too narrow in that they excluded semantics. Harris' theory advanced that an analysis of the sentence, the basis of the synthesis of the mind and language, was crucial to a semantic theory. Since the number of utterances is infinite, Harris attempted to discover a finite and universal set of psychological principles which he believed generated sentences. Although he concluded that a notion of general and particular ideas would ultimately explain verbal communication, he hoped that identifying the source of these ideas would be the work of future scholars.RESUMEBien que la theorie semantique proposee par James Harris (1709-80) dans Hermes (1751) n'ait pas ete bien reÇue au XVIIIe siecle en Angleterre, et meme ait ete en general negligee par les specialistes jusque la, elle merite certainement notre attention en tant qu'analyse perceptive de la structure logique ou semantique du langage. Se situant dans la tradition de la grammaire universelle ou philosophique, Harris soutenait que l'objet d'etude du linguiste devait etre le niveau conceptuel, autrement dit la structure profonde du langage plutot que son expression orale ou structure superficielle. Cependant, Harris demontrait qu'une explication convenable du processus de signification necessitait une description des relations existant entre le langage et la pensee, et meme, dans la mesure ou il reconnaissait que l'etude du langage etait necessaire pour le progres de l'ensignement (qu'il considerait comme etant la science essentielle), il indiquait que les limites de la science du XVIIIe siecle etaient trop etroites en ce qu'elles excluaient la semantique. La theorie de Harris a mis en evidence qu'une analyse de la phrase — ce fondement de la synthese de la pensee et du langage — etait essentielle a une theorie semantique. C'est parce que les possibilites d'expression orale sont infinies que Harris a tente de decouvrir un nombre fini et universel de principes psychologiques dont il pensait qu'ils engen-draient les phrases. Bien qu'il ait conclu qu'une connaissance des idees generates et particulieres put en definitive expliquer la communication ver-bale, il esperait que l'identification de I'origine de ces idees serait la tache des specialistes des genérations futures.
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/content/journals/10.1075/hl.3.3.02sub
1976-01-01
2019-10-14
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References

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  • Article Type: Research Article
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