I am interested in learning grammar and syntax. I use those words because that's what I learned in middle school, perhaps what I'm really trying to learn is more aptly described by the term 'linguistics', but I wouldn't know.

There's many sources to learn English grammar and syntax, but what if I want to understand those concepts in a more abstract setting, not specific to English, Latin, Greek or even something less western like say Arab or Cantonese. Is there a universal linguistic context where somebody can learn the "truths", or rules of grammar independent of a specific language, or do you always have to begin your investigation of these concepts using a specific language?

For a little bit of context: I am fluent in English and Modern Greek, I studied a little bit of Ancient Greek a while ago. I understand a little bit of Italian. This question arose when I was thinking whether learning Ancient Greek grammar would be linguistically "richer" than learning English grammar, from my very naive feeling that ancient Greek has a richer structure to investigate. But then again English is an impressively malleable language with arguably equally interesting linguistic properties. This brings me to my more general question, does it make sense to compare the grammar and syntax of two different languages? Perhaps there are linguistic properties that are attributed to EVERY language human beings develop and in that case I would rather pursue that kind of knowledge.

PS I am not sure if this belongs to the Language site, I avoided the Linguistics site because it feels like that is reserved for researchers. If you feel like this should be moved somewhere else let me know.

  • 1
    So you want to learn about grammar and syntax. I think Linguistics SE would fit better, but I'd like to hear the voice of the community here before making a decision.
    – Hatchet
    Commented Jul 11, 2017 at 23:25
  • 2
    I think you are looking for things such as linguistic universals or, alternatively, what linguists since Chomsky have called universal grammar. I recommend that you have a look at those Wikipedia articles and then confirm whether that matches what you are looking for. If yes, the appropriate site would be Linguistcs SE. (Moderators can migrate questions, so no need to re-ask.)
    – Tsundoku
    Commented Jul 12, 2017 at 8:35
  • Craig, if you are still interested in this question, please clarify whether my previous comment is in the right direction. It is not nice to have abandoned questions.
    – Tsundoku
    Commented Jul 21, 2017 at 21:31
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    @ChristopheStrobbe Thanks for getting back to me, I spent some time on Wikipedia on those concepts and it has lead me down a path that can further motivate more precise questions. I am considering shutting this down, I have posted the same question on Linguistics however it has received almost no attention there.
    – Mike
    Commented Jul 22, 2017 at 20:01


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