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As the Babylonians made some early attempts at language description, the first systematic grammars emanated from Iron Age India, about the Sanskrit with authors spanning from the 6th, to the 2nd, century B.C.). The grammar is thought to have originated then from the Greeks, who managed to withdrew partially from the immediacy of their spoken language and analyse it into its functional elements: nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, moods, conjugations, and declensions. The word 'grammar' itself is of a Greek origin, meaning 'letter.' It was particularly the Hellenism which had grammar emerge like a domain by the 3rd century A.D., with authors like Rhyanus and Aristarchus of Samothrace, the oldest extant grammar work being the Art of Grammar attributed to Dionysius Thrax (c. 100 B.C.). Romans, as heirs to the Greek culture, latter theorized than learning to read was instrumental to the art of grammar, and then reading with comprehension. Latin grammar developed by following Greek models from the 1st century B.C., with authors like Orbilius Pupillus, Remmius Palaemon, Marcus Valerius Probus, Verrius Flaccus, and Aemilius Asper

According to Carolingian abott and scholar Rabanus (780-856), grammar is 'the science which teaches us to explain the poets and historians, and the art which qualifies us to speak and write correctly.' Grammar thus allowed to read what the Antiques had written, and to speak and write oneself. Grammar was the basis to read and write, studying one's language from the alphabet to the grammatical rules as that also allowed thence to read authors, the Church Fathers included. Traditionally, during the Middle Ages, the seven classical arts were figured with allegories. The one of grammar was a woman holding a lash in her left hand, to encourage children to learn. Grammar was a core discipline, following the influence of authors from Late Antiquity, such as Priscian. Middle Ages men understood grammar in broader sense than we do nowadays. Study of grammar included all things necessary to interpret a text, and, in some cases, the knowledge of geography or history. Grammar developed both dialectic and rhetoric. Under Charlemagne's impulse who wanted a unified language to be used by his administrators, they endeavoured to restore Latin into its 6th century A.D. form, according to a grammar by Aelius Donatus. As Alcuin revised the Bible according to St. Jerome, that likely also contributed to the use of grammars. Grammar by the Carolingian times, also was a art of importance when it came to missionarize, as Christian texts and concepts needed to be translated to reach new folks. It was also of importance when the languages in the Carolingian empire get differentiated, like in vulgar Latin, Court Latin, Tudesque and Roman languages, because it turned necessary to understand the mechanisms of each. Grammars of languages other than Latin, generally, existed, like a grammar of Irish (7th century A.D.), or of Arabic (idem, with Abu al-Aswad al-Du'ali) along with the first treatises on Hebrew grammar in the context of Mishnah. A Karaite tradition originated in Abbasid Baghdad and the Diqduq (10th century) is one of the earliest grammatical commentaries on the Hebrew Bible. Ibn Barun then, in the 12th century A.D., compared the Hebrew language with Arabic in the Islamic grammatical tradition

Grammar, in facts, was the only trivium's discipline actually practiced during the Carolingian renaissance, because there was a absence of a real knowledge of dialectic. It encompassed text commentary and exegesis. Grammar was to make it possible to copy the sacred texts correctly. The references of the Carolingian renaissance were more that of the late Antiquity while the Church tended more to present itself as heiress of classical Antiquity. A grammar inherited from late Antiquity (4th-6th centuries A.D.; Isidore, Julien of Toledo, Venerable Bede, the pseudo-Augustine) was added with commentaries, glosses and paraphrases. But they are poorly known as oral; they added syntactic and rhetorical aspects to the questions of morphology, spelling or metric. The references remained Christian poets of late Antiquity like Juvencus, Prudentius, Sedulius, Arator or even more recent poets like Anglo-Saxon Aldhelm of Malmesbury. Only Virgil, Horace, Cicero, historians or copies of the 9th century, who were less represented in libraries, remained classical references but they were used only in the form of scattered verse without recourse to all the original texts. The complete manuscripts were rare and essentially made offerings to the patrons of monasteries. The symbolic value of the antique classics was strong but the reality was that of extracts of late Antiquity writers. History only, a Christian classical centre of interest, was sometimes reproduced in the entirety of the manuscripts (Caesar, Titus-Livius, Tacitus, Suetone, Orose, Eusebe of Caesarea, Flavius Josephe, the Venerable Bede, Grégoire de tours) which were inserted into the Chronicles and stories of the time. Carolingian latin at last, due to the lack of real grammars, turned into late Latin. Latin grammars had their rules set before true Latin disappeared before national languages. There was generally, under the Carolingians, a 'romanization' of the cultural model. At the end of the period (circa 950-11th century A.D.), on the basis of Priscian -- and not Donat anymore -- with a Abbo de Fleury or a Aimeri, a original Carolingian effort developed, concerning spelling and morphology. Pronunciation and syntax remained oral. Irishmen, on the other hand, had developed the influence of their theories since around 850 A.D. through a network linking Laon, Reims, Metz, and Auxerre

Website Manager: G. Guichard, site Learning and Knowledge In the Carolingian Times / Erudition et savoir à l'époque carolingienne, Page Editor: G. Guichard. last edited: 5/14/2019. contact us at
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