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MARCUS BERQUIST ON THE ART AND SCIENCE OF GRAMMAR (c) 2013 Bart A Mazzetti

1. Excerpts.
Cf. Marcus Berquist, unpublished paper on Speculative Grammar, The Art and Science of Grammar (Thomas Aquinas College Handout, 1994): Introduction. Liberal education begins with the seven liberal arts, which are an introduction to the life of study and a preparation for the more difficult sciences, which are the principal concerns of such a life. Grammar is the first among these arts, not in excellence or in intrinsic importance, but in the order of learning, insofar as it is presupposed to all the other liberal arts and sciences, is involved in the learning and exercise of them, and is necessary for their well-being. It has its reward, not in itself, but in what it contributes to the others. Like logic, the principal part of the trivium, it is not so much an intrinsic part of philosophy as its instrument. [Part I, p.1] Definition of the Art. Grammar may be simply defined as the art of putting words together fittingly (congrua vocum constructio). Or, even more simply, [it may be defined] by its object: the right construction of the sentence. [Part I, p.1] Difficulties raised about whether there is an Art of Grammar. So what sort of congruity or fittingness is left for the grammarian to consider? Is there only a sort of elegance or etiquette of the language as it is currently spoken which he needs to observe? Or are there principles inherent in language itself, apart from peculiar and variable circumstances, which the lover of wisdom must understand if he is to think well and speak well of the matters which properly concern him.? When one has gained a clear understanding of the congruity of speech which is the proper concern of grammar, one will be able to see whether there is an art about it which can be learned, and what may be the scope of such an art. [Part I, p. 1] Nor is it true that the study of grammar is simply a study of the conventional and customary, which is singular and contingent rather than universal and necessary, and thus not the object of any art. This view has some plausibility, for there is Latin grammar, English grammar, French grammar, and so forth, and one might well wonder whether there is any grammar to learn beyond these particular grammars. However, it cannot withstand a more exact examination. For within the various languages, certain forms are universally present, such as the noun and the verb, and it does not seem there could be a language at all, still less an adequate language, without them. [Part I, p. 4] The formal study of grammar. The formal study of grammar concentrates on these fundamentals: (1) The subject and end of grammar: the construction of the sentence. (2) The principles of grammar: the modes of signifying. (3) The integral parts of its subject: the parts of speech and the modes of signifying which define them. (4) The species of these parts especially the principal parts of the noun and verb. (5) The principal accidental modes of the noun and the verb: number, gender, and case; and tense, mood, and voice. [Part II, pp. 6-7]

The discovery of the universals of art. It is natural for us to discover the universals of art through induction. For art is not experience, but science and art come to men through experience, and art arises when from many notions gained by experience, one universal judgement about a class of objects is produced. (Metaphysics I, 981a 2-7) [Part II, p. 7] I. On the subject and end of grammar. Grammar may be simply defined as the art of putting words together fittingly (congrua vocum constructio). Or, even more simply, [it may be defined] by its object: the right construction of the sentence. Logic, rhetoric, and grammar are all concerned with speech, but grammar is distinguished from these other two scientiae sermocinales, says St. Thomas, insofar as it considers the congrua vocum constructio as its proper concern ( In I Peri Hermeneias, L.i., n.6). But the vocum constructio which grammar considers is the sentence, which St. Thomas calls oratio perfecta, that is, speech which complet sententiam and [facit] perfectum sensum in animo audientis. ( Loc. cit., n.4) Further, we see that the grammarian regards the sentence as a construction rather than as a sign of some actual state of affairs. Though with the logician and the philosopher he supposes that the sentence is significant vocal sound, and thus intended to conform to what it signifies, he does not concern himself formally with that aspect. Rather, he looks to the parts of the sentencethe constructiblesand in view of the kinds of words they are and their particular accidents (such as number and case), he judges whether they have been rightly put together. Thus, the right way of putting together a sentence is not reduced to the signification of the words, but to the mode in which they have been adapted to construction, however this may be related to their signification. Further, it is common ground that grammar must consider the noun and the verb and the other parts of speech. These words are called parts of speech because it is recognized that they are essentially ordered to some whole, and this whole can only be the sentence. For neither in virtue of its essence, nor in virtue of its various accidents, is a part of speech actually related to another except in the sentence to which it first belongs. Thus the grammarian considers no greater whole than the sentence, since his principles have no power which might extend beyond the composition of a single sentence. The end of grammar, then, will correspond to its subject. As it is about the construction of the sentence, and determines what makes that construction congruous or incongruous, its end will be to direct the reason in constructing the sentence, so that the parts of speech may be put together fittingly. Like every art, it will inform the reason so that its activity may be performed easily, with order, and without error. [Part III, pp. 10-12]

2. The place of grammar in the liberal arts. Cf. Marcus Berquist, On the Art and Science of Grammar. Introduction. Part I, p. 1:
Liberal education begins with the seven liberal arts, which are an introduction to the life of study and a preparation for the more difficult sciences, which are the principal concerns of such a life. Grammar is the first among these arts, not in excellence or in intrinsic importance, but in the order of learning, insofar as it is presupposed to all the other liberal arts and sciences, is involved in the learning and exercise of them, and is necessary for their wellbeing. It has its reward, not in itself, but in what it contributes to the others. Like logic, the principal part of the trivium, it is not so much an intrinsic part of philosophy as its instrument.

Cf. Michael A. Augros, Philosophical and Theological Scrapbook. Summer, 1994. Logic, n. 9: n. 9. Is Logic Speculative?
I asked Mr. Marcus Berquist (in June of 1994) how there can be a speculative science of grammar if it is of things less intelligible than the subject of logic, which is considered to be primarily a tool. He answered that logic, too, is speculative, and more so than grammar, precisely because there is so much necessity in its subject matter. It is called practical because of its end; it is a knowledge sought primarily for its utility. But if a knowledge is useful, it is not necessarily not worth knowing for its own sake; it is not necessarily knowledge of contingent singulars. Also, he said, there is some necessity in the subject matter of grammar, and it is to the extent that there is such that there is a speculative science there. For instance, what is signified must be signified in some way (in some mode of signifying). Although the familiar modes of signifying, such as the genders and numbers and cases etc. are not any one of them absolutely necessary, it is necessary that anything signifying have more in it than just sound and agreement about what the sound is to signify. Likewise, although no one accident is necessary in a substance, it must have some accidents.

(c) 2013. Bart A. Mazzetti. All rights reserved.