Structures, Categories, Methods
The history of the European linguistic sciences in general, and particularly the last decades thereof, has been characterized by a constantly increasing openness towards extra European linguistic domains more or less distant from the so-called ‘Old World’. Thus, from a mostly self-oriented approach (aiming to the description of such languages as Latin and, eventually, English) the linguists have gradually shifted their concern to a universalistic viewpoint, the main purpose of which being the description and the explanation of the grammatical structures of all the languages of the World, as much objectively as possible. The risks to avoid, in this respect, are those of using the descriptive means of ‘our own’ languages in order to describe totally ‘alien’ languages. Indeed, every new ‘exotic’ language discovered by the western scholars, every new phenomenon observed in phonology, morphology or syntax, challenges our Eurocentric way of thinking the mechanisms of the linguistic communication. Every new bit of linguistic diversity being discovered, described and, possibly, explained represents the most interesting matter of concern for the contemporary linguists.
The present panel aims to discuss whether, and, if yes, to which degree, are we allowed to apply the most famous categories of the European tradition to some very dissimilar languages of the East.