Grammar, writing and the city

 The instrumentation of languages through the creation of writing and the elaboration of grammar and dictionaries is an urban technology. Historically, it appears associated to the political and economic needs that the administration of the cities creates.

This is the case of writing, invented 3,000 years before our era, in the city of Uruk, in ancient Sumer (Mesopotamia), to face the economic needs of accounting and management of an administration confronted with more complex tasks, related to factors such as the densification of the habitat, the existence of almost industrial organization indices of work and the construction of monumental architecture (temples, buildings with economic functions).

This is also the case of Greek grammar in Antiquity or of the massive diffusion of greco-latin grammar during the Renaissance, in the context of the urbanization process operated in the waning years of the Middle Ages in Europe, and of associated political, economic and socio-cultural factors (the formation of the national States; the development of mercantile capitalism, the demand for access to the lettered culture of the new bourgeoisie, among others). We must also take into account the grammatization of the Amerindian languages during this period, based on the same greco-latin model associated to the foundation of cities in the new territories conquered by the Europeans.

The grammatical production based on the indigenous languages that developed in Brazil during the colonial period occurred in city-forming nuclei (Piratininga, Salvador). When reading the letters written by the Jesuits, we see that there is a parallel between the needs to establish a language, by writing and grammar, and the need to settle the Indians by their establishment in villages, since they were dealing with languages of oral tradition (subject, therefore, to an enormous variability), of semi-nomad societies. Limiting the mobility of the language and of its speakers was a means of exercising their political control, the finality of grammatical work carried out at that time.

As for the grammatization of Portuguese in the XIX century, it was equally linked to the urban growth during that period and to the factors resulting from this fact: structuralization of the scholastic institution and of other administrative institutions, amplification of the lettered culture and of the reading public, among others.

The grammar and the dictionary function as places in which the image of the city as a place of civilization and scholarization is constructed, which are part of the imaginary of the urban subject, citizen of the modern State, and of the ideal of the language associated to it. The comprehension of these relations between subject and city through the imaginary of an urban and national language, as constructed by the grammar and the schools, is part of Labeurb’s interests and of the elaboration of an instrument such as the bvCLB.





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