LINGUIST List 13.2976

Sat Nov 16 2002

Sum: Roger Bacon Quote

Editor for this issue: Dina Kapetangianni <>


  1. Dirk Elzinga, Summary: Roger Bacon quote

Message 1: Summary: Roger Bacon quote

Date: Fri, 15 Nov 2002 08:14:50 -0700
From: Dirk Elzinga <>
Subject: Summary: Roger Bacon quote


On Wednesday, 6 November, I sent the following query:

I am searching for the Latin original and the full citation of a
passage by Roger Bacon which is often cited by linguists (though
usually without a reference). The passage runs (in one translation)
"He that understands grammar in one language understands it in another
as far as the essential properties of grammar are concerned."

Thanks go to Michael Covington and Paul Kiparsky for their quick responses.

Paul Kiparsky wrote:

"According to Jakobson (Selected Writings II.581) Roger Bacon said:
Grammatica una et eadem est secundum substantiam in omnibus linguis,
licet accidentaliter varietur. ("In substance grammar is the same in
all languages, though it may vary in accidental (i.e. non-essential)
ways.") Jakobson's source is G. Wallerand, Les Oeuvres de Siger de
Courtrai (1913)."

However, I was unable to find the passage in the work cited by
Jakobson (which is not to say that it isn't there).

Michael Covington referred me to his book _Syntactic Theory in the
High Middle Ages_, where he also quotes the Latin passage, citing an
edition of Roger Bacon's Greek Grammar as the source (Nolan, E. and
S. A. Hirsch, eds. 1902. _The Greek Grammar of Roger Bacon and a
Fragment of his Hebrew Grammar_. Cambridge: The University Press). I
consulted the edition myself and found the passage on page 27.

Dirk Elzinga
Dirk Elzinga, Assistant Professor
Department of Linguistics and English Language
Brigham Young University
2079 JKHB
Provo, UT 84602
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