The First Grammatical Treatise and American structuralism
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"The First Grammatical Treatise (abbreviated FGT) is often referred to in various articles and books, whether they deal with linguistics, Old Norse, the sound changes of Germanic or Scandinavian languages, or Icelandic Eddas and Sagas. But why should this anonymous work, which was appended to the end of Snorri's Edda, enjoy this kind of recognition? The only extant copy of the FGT is found in the Codex Wormianus, where it is placed untitled and unmarked. However, following Einar Haugen's translation into English in 1950, the FGT received a high level of attention from English-speaking linguists in the 1950s through the early 1970s. In this report, I will examine why the First Grammatical Treatise generated so much interest among American structural linguists such as Haugen. During that period of linguistic theory, many linguists were studying non-Indo-European languages and creating orthographic systems for previously unwritten languages or improving earlier orthographic systems. Because the First Grammarian (abbreviated FG) was attempting to come up with a more accurate way of writing the Icelandic language using the Latin alphabet, he tackled many of the same problems and sought similar solutions in the 12th century as structural linguists did in their work in the 20th century. The FG's use of concepts and devices, which can be compared to modern terms like phonemes and minimal pairs, offered a validation of structural linguistic theory, and he came to be viewed as a protostructural phonologist"--Leaves 1-2.