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A Brief History of the Verb To Be$
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Andrea Moro

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780262037129

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262037129.001.0001

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Anatomy of a Sentence

Anatomy of a Sentence

(p.69) 2 Anatomy of a Sentence
A Brief History of the Verb To Be

Andrea Moro

The MIT Press

This chapter reconstructs the environment in which the verb to be will be understood in a new way. It identifies three radical changes, conceptually distinct but not completely unrelated, that come into play when looking at language from the structuralist perspective. First, if what matters are the relationships, elements that have the same relationships to other elements of the system must be considered equivalent and, in principle, they can be exchanged (the commutation principle). Second, given an incompletely filled grid that combines certain properties, if the grid is correct, it will lead to the discovery of new objects that could fill the empty grid spaces (the retrieval principle). Third, not all possible combinations of primitive elements are used in every language (the redundancy principle).

Keywords:   to be, verbs, linguistics, language, structuralism, commutation principle, retrieval principle, redundancy principle

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