Tradition and Innovation in Language and Linguistics

A Coserian Perspective

by Cristinel Munteanu (Author)
©2017 Monographs 206 Pages


This volume consists of twelve studies thematically grouped into three parts: (1) Linguistics and Philosophy of Language, (2) Hermeneutics and Text Linguistics, and (3) Lexicology and Phraseology. The phrase «tradition and innovation» characterizes almost all the texts included here, since tradition and innovation are present both at the level of the object (language) and at the level of its research (linguistics). The dominant theoretical perspective is the «Coserian» one, since the author borrowed from Eugenio Coseriu’s linguistic theory a series of essential concepts and distinctions regarding language and culture.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Preliminary Note
  • Part 1: Linguistics and Philosophy of Language
  • I. On the Real Object of Linguistics
  • II. John Dewey and Eugenio Coseriu on Creativity and Alterity in Language
  • III. On the Necessity of Free Speech in Science
  • IV. Prolegomena to a Better Definition of Intercultural Communication: The Concept of Culture
  • Part 2: Hermeneutics and Text Linguistics
  • V. Eugenio Coseriu and the Hermeneutical Principle of Trust
  • VI. Aberrant Decoding and Its Linguistic Expression
  • VII. From B.P. Hasdeu’s Noematology to E. Coseriu’s Skeology
  • VIII. On Motivated Literary Character Names
  • Part 3: Lexicology and Phraseology
  • IX. Approaching Synonymy from the Integral Linguistics Point of View
  • X. On the Importance of Coseriu’s Three Types of “Linguistic Competence” for the Study of Phraseological Units
  • XI. Tradition and Innovation in the Study of Repeated Discourse. The “Collage Technique”
  • XII. On the Tolerant “Masculinity” of the Romanian Language
  • Bibliography
  • Annex: The Original Romanian Quotations
  • Index of Names
  • Series index

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Preliminary Note

This volume consists of twelve studies and articles which, in their initial form, were published, during the last decade, in different academic journals or in conference proceedings1. When including them in this book, I operated various more or less substantial changes (by means of addition, supression, or even reorganization), with a view to either updating their content, avoiding repetitions, or creating a unitary and coherent character to the whole collection.

The dominant theoretical perspective is the “Coserian” one, since I borrowed from Eugenio Coseriu’s linguistic theory a series of essential concepts and distinctions regarding language and culture, while trying to apply non-dogmatically, in my research, some of his excellent ideas. The terms language and linguistics from the title are comprehensive enough. Given (in this case) the limits of the English language, mention must be made that by language I mainly understand what the Fr. term langage (or Sp. lenguaje) signifies, while by linguistics I mean the study of language in general (as langage), even if sometimes I undoubtedly refer to language in the sense of the Fr. langue or of the Sp. lengua, and even in the sense of the historical language (cf. Sp. idioma). Were I more rigorous, I would add in the title, besides linguistics, the terms language theory and philosophy of language.

The texts have been thematically grouped in three parts: (1) Linguistics and Philosophy of Language, (2) Hermeneutics and Text Linguistics, and (3) Lexicology and Phraseology. However, apart from this classification, it must be mentioned that almost all the texts collected here are characterized, implicitly or explicitly, by the phrase tradition and innovation. Tradition and innovation can be observed at both the level of object (language) and at the level of its research (linguistics). ← 7 | 8 →

In language as such tradition is stronger than innovation. If linguistic changes were too rapid, and too many, at the same time, then we could not understand each other, and thus communication would become impossible. According to Coseriu, tradition and innovation in language represent the consequences of two primary universals of language, which dialectically blend: alterity and creativity (about which I wrote in extenso in one of the articles included here). Alterity ensures the stability of language, its preservation, while creativity leads to diversity (internal variety) and progress in language, renewal of expression and of linguistic content, etc.

In language, tradition (as alterity) is compulsory. In science, however, tradition is not, unfortunately, a conditio sine qua non. We observe all the time the appearing and development of new trends in science (including in the language sciences) which completely ignore the sound tradition of the respective field, as well as the valuable results obtained by their forerunners. One might say that some scientists aim at being as original as the artists who want to “break with tradition”.

I have learnt from Eugenio Coseriu how important it is to apply the principle of tradition in linguistics, how important the knowledge of the history of linguistic ideas is. Such an ethical attitude (scientifically speaking) does not only imply bringing back to life some old ideas, but it also offers us the possibility of confirming our own intuitions thanks to the dialogue, beyond time, with the great thinkers. Given the fact that we discuss about the field of culture, the right interpretation of the texts of some great forerunners is possible – according to Coseriu – by virtue of the “fundamental alterity” of the human being.

At the same time, the specific nature of cultural (re)discoveries must be emphasized. Let us consider, for instance, the difference between the cultural rediscovery and the geographical rediscovery. The Vikings are known to have discovered America long before Columbus, but it is the latter’s discovery that really mattered, since it placed America on the world map, changing the already existing “meanings”. In the case of culture, things are different. For example, an old theory or idea regarding language, rediscovered nowadays, can still have an important effect, although it was not noticed in the past. This thing is possible, for a theory is made of “meanings” which can be resumed later, in order to contribute to the progress of cultural sciences. ← 8 | 9 → (This is what I aimed to prove mainly in the study devoted to B.P. Hasdeu’s noematology.)

In the studies in which I dealt with various aspects or issues belonging to semantics, lexicology, phraseology and literary onomastics, most of the examples given come from the Romanian language and literature, and this is not only because I resorted to the cultural field I master, but also because I intended to make a little part of the Romanian treasure known to the others. Since the Romanian language is a less known language (as compared to the other Romance languages), I inserted in the body of my articles the English translation of the quotes extracted from the Romanian specialized and artistic literature, and placed the original fragments in the annex at the end of this book.

I cannot conclude this preliminary note before addressing many thanks to those who made this project possible. I would like to express my gratitude to Professor Rudolf Windisch – an important direct Coserian disciple and a great friend of the Romanian language and culture – for the support and appreciation he has shown to me during the last decade. I also want to thank Professor Jürgen Schmidt-Radefeldt and Professor Aurelia Merlan for having accepted to include my book in the excellent series Romanistische Arbeiten interkulturell und interdisziplinär, which they coordinate together with Professor Rudolf Windisch.

Mention must be made that this book is also one of the scientific works I completed as a member of the Center for Danubian Studies and Research of “Danubius” University of Galati. I wish to thank Associate Professor Andy Puşcă, the Rector of “Danubius” University, and Associate Professor Florian Nuţă, the Vice-Rector for Scientific Research (from the same institution), for their support and encouragement.

Last but not least, I would thank my wife, Silvia Munteanu, for assisting me in the process of writing these articles in English.

It gives me great pleasure to underline the fact that this book, which was also inspired by a volume of linguistic historiography published by Coseriu in 1977 (Tradición y novedad en la ciencia del lenguaje), is published under the aegis of the famous Rostock University, whose motto is Traditio et Innovatio.

1 They are recorded in the bibliography at the end of this volume with the following references: Munteanu 2012a, 2013c, 2013e, 2013f, 2015c, 2016a, 2016b, 2016c, 2016d and 2017. Apart from these texts, two more studies published here are English translations of Munteanu 2013d (also cf. Munteanu 2014c and my commentaries in Hasdeu 2013: 176–190), and Munteanu 2015a.

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Part 1:
Linguistics and Philosophy of Language

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I. On the Real Object of Linguistics

1. In an introduction to an unfinished history of the Romanian language, entitled Principie de linguistică [Principles of Linguistics], published in 1881, B.P. Hasdeu, an important Romanian linguist – who deserves better appreciation for his contributions – was making a synthesis of the linguistic ideas written up to that moment. He referred, among other things, to A. Schleicher and other advocates of “naturalistic” linguistic conception and declared that such a belief (“that linguistics, to a certain extent, separated from the rest of philology, would be a natural or biological science, as botany, for example”)

can only have an anecdotal importance these days. Linguistics is not a natural science, even if it uses a biological method, just as it is not a mathematical science, in spite of the fact that it often resorts to algebrical formulae, with plus, with equation, with proportion, etc., what is more, it is not even scared of the sign √. (Hasdeu 1984: 23–24)

1.1. Indeed, Hasdeu had already remarked that the comparative method


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2017 (July)
Romanian language General linguistics Hermeneutics Text linguistics Lexicology Phraseology
Frankfurt am Main, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2017. 206 pp.

Biographical notes

Cristinel Munteanu (Author)

Cristinel Munteanu is Senior Lecturer and researcher at Danubius University of Galati, Romania. His fields of interest are the philosophy of language, general linguistics, phraseology, semantics, hermeneutics and communication studies.


Title: Tradition and Innovation in Language and Linguistics
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208 pages