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Scienze Umanistiche

SiRe workshop 2024: Advances in the history of linguistics, May 27 & 28, 2024



SiRe workshop 2024: Advances in the history of linguistics, May 27 & 28, 2024

The emergence of syntactic categories in the history of linguistics:

From Medieval to Early Modern Age

A two-days colloquium on the history of linguistics to be held at the University of Palermo, Dipartimento di Scienze Umanistiche, organised under the auspices of the project funded by the Italian Ministry of University and Research: "Parts of Speech Meet Rhetorics: Searching for Syntax in the Continuity between the Middle Ages and the Modern Age" (SiRe PRIN 20172F2FEZ).

The workshop seeks to bridge gaps in linguistic historiography by delving into the emergence of syntactic categories from Late Antiquity to the pre-Port-Royal theories of 1660. In contemporary linguistic historiography, the theory of the 'clause' has often been overlooked, with a prevailing belief that concepts such as ‘main clause’ and ‘subordinate clause’ did not exist before Port Royal. Despite the rich syntactic insights found in Priscian’s Institutiones Grammaticae, they lack a cohesive syntactic theory and a specific metalanguage for syntax. Adopting a word-based approach, Priscian’s model relied on a dependency-oriented rather than a constituency-oriented structure, shaping subsequent linguistic perspectives. Even humanist grammars in the fifteenth to seventeenth centuries, including first grammars of ‘exotic’ languages, influenced by the Latin traditional model, primarily focused on morphology and the syntactic binary linkage between individual words.

We invite scholars and researchers to contribute papers on the historiography of linguistics, exploring medieval and early modern treatises dedicated to language, glossary and commentary traditions, grammars of both European and extra-European languages, and the interplay of syntax within grammar, rhetoric, and logic.

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

- Medieval and Early Modern grammatical theory of syntax

- missionary grammars and related works

- syntactic metalanguage and emergent syntactic notions

- description of subordinating strategies

- clausal embedding

- coordination vs subordination

- sentence linear vs structural order


Keynote Speakers:

Anne Grondeux (CNRS - Université Sorbonne Nouvelle)

Otto Zwartjes (Université Paris Cité – Laboratoire d’histoire des théries linguistiques (HTL)


Submission instructions:

Papers should be of 20 minutes' duration with 10 minutes for discussion. Proposals of no more than 300 words, including speakers’ names and affiliation, should be sent to the colloquium organiser, Annamaria Bartolotta ( by 7 April 2024.


Deadline for abstract submission: April 7, 2024

Notification of acceptance: April 20, 2024

Workshop dates: May 27 & 28, 2024


We look forward to your valuable contributions to this exploration of syntactic categories in the history of linguistics.


Scientific Coordination

Annamaria Bartolotta


Organizing Committee

Annamaria Bartolotta

Jan Casalicchio

Laura Conte

Gabriele Ganau

Michele Longo

Edoardo Nardi

Castrenze Nigrelli

Domenico Portera

Geraldine Quartararo


Link al Registration Form