Etymology is defined as "the study of the origin of words and the way in which their meanings have changed throughout history", but is there a similar name for the study of the history of grammar?

  • 3
    There is, but the search terms are "historical linguistics" and "syntactic change". A lot is known about what has happened, but not much about why. Oct 10, 2017 at 13:49
  • @JohnLawler If you've got some supporting links for that, it'd be great to see an answer around it.
    – Polynomial
    Oct 10, 2017 at 20:58
  • It's always better when the student does the research themself. Oct 10, 2017 at 22:41
  • @JohnLawler I'm honestly not that invested; this was just a passing thought. If you don't fancy writing an answer you don't need to - it just leaves this question in somewhat of a limbo state. I'm guessing you're the one who VTC'ed this question anyway. It would've been preferable if you'd have just asked what research I did beforehand, rather than assuming I did none.
    – Polynomial
    Oct 12, 2017 at 11:50

1 Answer 1


I believe the word, itself, 'grammar' covers not only the subject but the discipline of the subject :

In the West, grammar emerged as a discipline in Hellenism from the 3rd century BC

Grammar Wikipedia [Under the heading 'History']

  • Yes, Grammar (meaning the grammar of Latin; anything written in Europe about grammar was written in Latin for 1500 years) was one of the Seven Liberal Arts. It's part of the Trivium (the Three Primary Arts: Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric). These correspond to the modern fields of Syntax, Semantics, and Pragmatics. That's most of linguistics, outside of phonetics and phonology, but Aristotle didn't know about them; though they had recently been invented in India, he didn't read Sanskrit, either. Oct 10, 2017 at 13:39
  • @JohnLawler Thank you. I've pasted your note to myself to read up on, later.
    – Nigel J
    Oct 10, 2017 at 14:09

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