Volume 6, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0302-5160
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9781
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SUMMARYThe purpose of this paper is to show how John Home's criticism in The Diversions of Purley (1786/1805) of James Harris'Hemes (1751) can be seen as a landmark in the process towards autonomy of British linguistic thinking in the second half of the Eighteenth Century. 1) Harris distinguishes between 'logic' and 'grammar', which, formally, sets him apart from the 'Cartesians'; yet the construction of linguistic categories remains dependent upon an a priori typology of ideas grounded on the philosophical analysis of mental processes. Tooke criticises Harris' idealism from the standpoint of radical empiricism and proceeds to reject the mentalist framework; he further contends that philosophy can't offer no adequate tools for linguistic analysis. The Tooke/Harris opposition, developped at first on purely philosophical grounds, entails an important change in the theory of linguistic processes now conceived in autonomous terms. 2) Tooke's specific analyses of conjunctions and prepositions reveal the methodological and theoretical consequences of this change; to interpret meaning by strictly linguistic procedures, Tooke uses a paraphrastic system built upon his theory of 'abbreviation'. He intuitively uses the propriety of the metalanguage as being in the language and attempts to show that every sentence of the language can be stated as an abstract sequence of noun 4- verb which he thinks to be fundamentals of communication. 3) His etymology cannot be primarily understood as a step towards philology; its function is equivalent to that of the non-historic analyses also present in the Diversions: to provide elements for a metalanguage by specifying the meaning of a given element or unit whose metalinguistic equivalent can then be part of the paraphrase. Tooke thus intends to exemplify the priority of language over thought and to demonstrate that language itself offers adequate tools for linguistic analysis.RÉSUMÉCet article cherche a montrer dans quels termes la critque globale du Hermes (1751) de James Harris par John Home Tooke (Diversions of Purley, 1786/ 1805) prend place dans le mouvement d'autonomisation de la reflexion lin-guistique qui paraît se dessiner en Grande-Bretagne dans la seconde moitie du XVIIIe siecle. 1) Harris proposé une distinction entre le 'grammatical' et le 'logique', ce qui, formellement, le differencie des 'carte'siens', mais maintient l'elaboration des categories linguistiques dans la dependance d'une typologie des idees determinee a priori par l'analyse philosophique des processus mentaux. CommenÇant par une critique empiriste radicalisee de l'idealisme harrisien, Tooke rejette ce cadre; il soutient que les instruments fournis par la philosophic sont inadequats a l'objet conside're. L'opposition au depart philosophique, debouche sur une mutation de la theorie linguistique: l'inversion du rapport pensee/langage conduit a une conception autonome des catégories linguistiques. 2) Les analyses particulieres de Tooke (conjonctions, prepositions. . .) traduisent les repercussions theoriques et méthodologiques de cette mutation; pour expli-quer les mecanismes de la signification en termes purement intra-linguistiques, Tooke elabore un systeme paraphrastique appuye sur sa these des 'abrevia-tions'; utilisant intuitivement la propriete de la metalangue d'etre dans la langue, il formule des 'resolutions' permettant de réduire toute sequence d'une langue donnee a une sequence abstraite de deux classes fondamentales nom 4- verbe. 3) L'etymologie n'est pas pour l'essentiel, une pre-philologie, mais a le meme statut que les analyses 'synchroniques' qui lui sont paralleTement developpees; elle fournit pour une part les elements de la metalangue, en specifiant la valeur de la relation ou de l'unite etudiee de telle sorte qu'elle puisse etre integree dans les paraphrases. Tooke entend ainsi montrer que le langage, qui constitue la realite' premiere, fournit les moyens necessaires a son analyse.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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