language

(a) language is begotten* in three phases:

•possible meaning
•possible structure
•possible usage

The above classifications themselves and the tripartite model itself effectively demonstrate the phenomenon they are set to describe. This presents an epistemological difficulty, as though language were a spontaneous phenomenon with no point of origin.

Conventional fields of study fall within and through varying combinations of the above focuses.

The preceding classifications are approximate equivalents of levels of study within Arabic/Semitic Linguistics:

nahwنحو – usually translated as grammar, but more literally meaning “about-ness”, or direction; it is both descriptive and prescriptive and covers topics primarily in basic syntax, but also morphology and semantics:  traditionally defined as the manner of the formation of sentences and the principles of declension.

sarfصرف – usually translated as morphology, though perhaps more appropriately as “generation”, or more literally as “dispersal”, or a sending away. The primary focus is morphology, though all Semitic morphology is non-concatenative and reflects an entirely non-linear approach to structure (perhaps one of “micro-syntax”); it is closely related to phonology and phonetics: traditionally defined as the changing of single principle forms into varying [secondary] formations to render an intended meaning.

balāghahبلاغة – most usually translated as rhetoric and associated with exegesis and literary studies; it is most closely related to pragmatics, semantics and syntax:  traditionally defined as the attributes of speech for the given appropriate circumstance.  Etymologically, the word is related to ideas of “reaching”, or “attainment”.

 

*this is to consider the “life of language”; a complete theory of language would account for meaning and usage through structure, or structure and meaning through usage, or structure and usage through meaning.  in other words, all linguistic phenomenon must reflect identical modes or aspects of cognition and reality, or, perception and conception, respectively. or, in more pragmatic words, a theory of meaning, structure and usage would all essentially be one unified theory, though they would each retain distinct terminology relative to their respective focuses. this difficulty can be seen as more so an issue of terminology and description than epistemology:

 

meaning:
reference, establishment, and collocation & colloquialization

structure:
the relative point (the etymon), its “velocity” and “momentum“, or “direction” and “effect

usage:
claritycohesion, and novelty 

 

 

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