Sincronía Summer 2009


Implementation of Argumentation as Process in Theoretical Linguistics: A State of the Art-Review and a Model for Argumentation in Linguistics


Fee-Alexandra Haase




- Abstract -

This article presents a grammatical language model that bridges between linguistic and literary theory after an examination of latest research regarding the states of linguistic theory in the 21st century. In linguistic theories we face present different approaches and definitions of an argument. We argue that the use of arguments in linguistics should be limited to the functions that also are related to traditional functions of rhetoric and linguistics. We will face the position arguments and argumentation have in several linguistic theories  and will present our own approach towards the argument in linguistics. Finding a general lack of argumentation as a structural element in linguistic theories serving for an interpretation of argumentative functions of linguistic productivity, this article choses the linguistic example of uttered sentences that serve as examples for the argumentative structure of the sentence. We will claim that such a text-immanent structure makes a text argumentative based upon the proper linguistic structure of its elements. In our model the argument is represented in a functional linguistic approach as a syntactic element.

We conclude with a working definition for argument and argumentation for theoretical linguistics.




I    Introduction – The State of the Art: Argumentation in the Linguistic Models and Rhetorical Theory

1.  Overview: Linguistics and Argumentation

The need of an integrative model for argumentation in linguistics is obvious, when reading de Beaugrande’s description of the stae of the art in linguistics. In Linguistic Theory: The Discourse of Fundamental Works de Beaugrande wrote: “‘Surveys’ of ‘linguistic theory’ have become so numerous that a new one calls for some justification. It seems to me that even though linguistics is about language, the major works in linguistic theory have seldom been analysed and synthesized as language, specifically: as a mode of discourse seeking to circumscribe language by means of language. Perhaps this lack is due in part to the limitations imposed by theorists who did not address discourse as a linguistic phenomenon, or only marginally so. Perhaps too, it was tacitly assumed that theories do not critically depend on the language in which they happen to be expounded. Today, however, discourse has become a major area of concern; and the dependence of concepts and arguments on the discourse that constitutes them is widely acknowledged.” (Beaugrande). In general, we can distinguish between 1. the classical model of the separation of the argument as a discoursive rhetorical element that is useful for the claim, to speak in the categories of Toulmin and 2. the linguistic models that implement argumentation as a linguistic feature. In this case the relation between rhetoric and linguistics got lost. Toulmin in The Uses of Argument as a theoretical work on argumentation stands in the tradtions of the non-linguistic approach towards argumentation and the rhetorical concept of argumentation. Several linguistic theories use the concept of argumentation in their models. We will access argumentation as a traditional concept of the rhetorical concept, which has given rhetoric a special and defininate place in the theory of rhetoric between the narration and the conclusion in a speech. But argumentation in linguistics is not a consecutive element in a apeech process, in which the aim of the speech act is the communication of contents for the persuasion of the audience. The sentence is a unit of the speech in linguistic syntax. The sentence that has the proper linguistic features described in the linguistic subsections allows the speaker to perform a sentence that is communicable. In other words expressed: The matching linguistic structures are a guarantee for the communicability of a sentence.



2.   Definition of Implementation and Implementations of Argumentations in Rhetoric and Linguistics

Generally, an implementation is a process of inserting an abstract concept into a major context and so giving evidence of its application. Implementation is the realization of an application or an execution of a plan, idea, or model. To implement is to apply in a manner consistent with its purpose of application. The argumentation is a in a linguistic compound not a part in a consecutive scheme like in the rhetorical speech, in which it the part of speech that follows the eginning and narration and is followed by the refutation and conclusion. On the contrary, in linguistics theories the argumentation is the structure of linguistic features, which is implemented in the sentence. Our model relies on the function of argumentation as the emedded faculty of a user of the language resulting from the proper use of linguistic features. The argumentation allows us to understand such sentences like "The sun is a power of live.", since we are able to understand the argumentative linguistic structure, which is implemented in it, when the sentence is communicated; we are as the receivers of the communicated contents aware of the grammatical structure of the whole sentence and its synatx, the semantic connotations of the nouns and have the ability the pronounce the sentence in a way other persons are able to understand it.



3.  The Corpus and Method of Linguistics: Methodology of Linguistics and Linguistics as Applied Technique

In The Conduct of Linguistic Inquiry Botha wrote: "As a theoretical description, a grammar does not represent an unorganized collection of grammatical concepts. A grammar is the result of the organizing of these concepts. In other words, within a grammar grammatical concepts are integrated. This brings us to a third activity involved in the giving of theoretical grammatical descriptions: the integration of grammatical concepts." (Botha 159). According to Evans and Green, "grammaticalisation results in the development of expressions for grammatical concepts". (Evans and Green 714). The question What is Linguistics? the Department of Linguistics at Stanford University answers as follows: "Linguistics concerns itself with the fundamental questions of what language is and how it is related to the other human faculties. In answering these questions, linguists consider language as a cultural, social, and psychological phenomenon and seek to determine what is unique in languages, what is universal, how language is acquired, and how it changes. Linguistics is, therefore, one of the cognitive sciences; it provides a link between the humanities and the social sciences, as well as education and hearing and speech sciences." (Department of Linguistics Stanford University). Levels of linguistic analysis we distinguish in linguistic theories are obvious subject to the same sentence of a natural language. In other words: We can distinguish between the linguistics strurcures of  lexicology, syntax, semantics, phonology, and rhetoric for one sentence like "The sun is a power of live.” The results of an analysis of any of these levels refers to meanings that are derived from the sentence and described in categories. The grammaticalisation of language as linguistic method is per se a semiotic practice of the linguist, who is giving meanings to structural elements of the language regardless of their appearance on the surface. These meanings refer to a grammatical system and were relatively constantly handled in the tradition of grammar arising from ancient Greek culture. Especially syntax is here the sub-discipline dealing with the connections of linguistic meanings drawn from rules of their orders in sentences of a specific language. The basic assumption for example for syntax is that any utterance of a language can be devided into several elements with a relatively stable order. Linguistics as applied technique has a theoretical ground we described above, but it is not limited to the sectors we introduced above. The corpus of the linguistic analysis must be defined as a text, a sentence, a word or a text corpus. In this work text means the documentary form of a text or oral utterance of any of these classifications, which was recorded and transcribed as text. The text of the corpus can be either a natural corpus, e.g. a set of utterances in a book, an article, an orally transmitted proverb, or an artificial corpus based upon selective texts chosen by the researcher according to specific criteria (e.g. a specific literary genre in a specific era, "the Post-Colonial Novel" or "Proverbs on Fun from Antiquity to Modernity"). The approaches of analysis can be synchronical or diachronical choosing a selected time frame or a diachronic timeline the text is taken from. The analysis can face questions related to the general topic of linguistics we mentioned: Lexicology, phonetics, grammar, syntax, semiotics, pragmatics, and discourse analysis and rhetoric.



4.   The Argument in Linguistic Theory and Other Theories

Nichols offered information about some of the grammatical theories compatible with the assumptions of anthropologically oriented students of language and with the theoretical work of scholars. Her study concludes “that the various functionalist approaches are essentially complementary. Most functionalists seem to perceive a unity of goals and methods, despite the plethora of senses of function. (Nicols 97). According to Nicols, theories of grammar, grammatical analyses, and grammatical statements may be divided into three types: structural, formal, and functional. (Nicols 97). Cornell stated that "central to a pragmatic perspective is the belief that mening is not an objective entity that is out there waiting to be uncovered, but rather mening is localted in human practice - in other words, it is human construction based on communication, cooperative action, and community relations." (Cornell 104). Tihanov traced the origin of literary theory back to the  discipline by the activities of Russian Formalists  who considered "investigating literature as an autonomous domain" ending with Wolfgang Iser's literary anthropology (Tihanov 61). Giving a timeline of the latest events in literary theory of the 21st century, Howard focused on the present condition of literary theory in the U.S. resuming that it is in a current situation as a free-for-all and that "theory has no material coherence, only an attitude. The theory has become so much part of the literary profession that one needs to have some familiarity with the "isms," no matter which one embraces most closely." (Howard A12). Howard also stated: "Theory, those reports make clear, is far from dead. But neither is it a unified kingdom. Theory today is a loose federation of states with permeable boundaries, no universally recognized constitution, and not much in the way of a lingua franca. It looks less like a superpower, in other words, and more like the fractious and ever-expanding European Union." (Howard A12). Literary theory examines literature defining it and classifying types and genres of literature. Literary theory as such can be traced back to earlier implementations into philosophy starting with Plato and cultural and religious writings. Autonomy of literary theory came up in the late phase of modernity after in the 19th century a new structure of academic disciplines was established. In the 21st century deconstruction and French Theory are examples of the influence of philosophical movements on literature. Literary theories have been always subject to a specific perspective or worldview, which established the settings of literature in the theories, e.g. a Marxist or Christian perspective and also a perspective of dominant in a certain time and culture. Klages wrote: "Literary theory isn't something you learn, it's something you become aware of. You already have a theory, or several theories, about literature, but you may have never thought about them or articulated them." (Klages 3). Eagleton wrote: "If there is such a thing as literary theory, then it would seem obvious that there is something called literature which is the theory of." (Eagleton 1). This hypothetical and open characterization of literary theory came hand in hand with the claim that literary theory had its decline in recent time. Also in literary theories the argument and the process of argumentation can be considered as implementations of arguments and argumentation following the linguistic and rhetorical definitions and functions of arguments and argumentation in a text. Longworth presented a philosophical exploration into the possibility of linguistic understanding as a "form of knowledge."  Longworth does not assert that "linguistic theories are implausible, but that contemporary paradigms of definition are not sound." (Longworth 50). Kretzschmar stated that "linguistics is a problematic home for language variationists. Dominant North American linguistic theories are different from NeoFirthian ideas in Britain (...). In the twenty-first century, linguists need to understand and accept the idea that there are many different valid ways to study human language." (Kretzschmar 263). Ritter mentioned that "in the last fifty or so years, the field of linguistics has become concerned with the study of language as a means for understanding how the mind works. Linguistic theories that advocate the idea that structure-building computations underlie human grammar have been assumed to reveal the same type of computational operations present in theories of other modules of the mind. At the same time, with the emergence of new scientific technical advances, more concrete and tangible light is being shed on how the brain actually operates in terms of both its mechanisms and the loci of activity that correspond to specific functions." (Ritter 117). Schalkwyk mentioned that "that Saussure has played in the recent turn towards linguistic theory in literary studies." (Schalkwyk 97). Butler discussed the relationships between corpus linguistics and functionalist theories, specifically "in the light of the distinction which has been proposed between ‘corpus-based’ and ‘corpus-driven’ approaches". Butler argued "that functional theories must take on board the findings of corpus-driven linguistics if they are to fulfil the aims they set for themselves". Butler conclided that "more should be done to test the fundamental theoretical claims of such theories rigorously against what corpora can tell us, these claims being modified or even abandoned where necessary." (Butler 147).



4.1.   Argument and Linguistic Theory

Linguistic theories use in different concepts argumentation and arguments in order to indicate grammatical phenomena of words, phrases, and sentences. In linguistics mainly associated with meaning are semantics and pragmatics. Meaning is often called connotation. Reference is denotation. Sense and meaning can be in an idea, an image, a metaphor, or a symbol. In Linguistics Meets Exact Sciences Hajic wrote: “A description of a (correct) behavior of a particular language is typically called a grammar. A grammar usually generalizes: it describes the language structurally and in terms of broad categories, avoiding the listing of all possible words in all possible clauses (it is believed that languages are infinite, making such a listing impossible). An English grammar, for example, states that a sentence consisting of a single clause typically contains a subject, expressed by a noun phrase, and a verb phrase, expressed by a finite verb form as a minimum. A grammar refers to a lexicon (set of lexical units) containing word-specific information such as parts of speech (noun, verb, adjective, particle, etc.) or syntactic subcategorization (e.g., that the verb "to attach" has a subject and an indirect object with the preposition "to").” (Hajic). Lüpke wrote: “Lexicalist approaches are based on the assumption that argument structure features are specified at the lexical level andprojected into syntax. Constructionalist approaches argue for a specification of argument structure properties through the construction(s) in which verbs appear. An investigation of the semantic determinants of argument structure and the level at which they apply are extremely relevant in order to understand how participants of an event are mapped onto argument positions at the syntax-semantics interface. There are detailed (and partly conflicting) proposals for the design of this information structure made on the basis of English and a few other well-studied languages. In contrast, systematic cross-linguistic accounts of argument structure determining properties are in most cases available only for limited numbers of verbs or restricted semantic domains.” (Lüpke). Tenny and Pustejovsky mentioned that “time, space, change, and causation are things that we expect to encounter as elements of physics; either the scientific physics of deep study and rigor, or the time-tested folk physics of common sense. But the notion that these concepts should figure in the grammar of human language - both explicitly and formally in syntactic and semantic representations - is a relatively new idea for theoretical linguists.” (Tenny and Pustejovsky). In syntax, the theta criterion states that in a grammatical sentence, every theta role that a verb can assign must be realized by some argument, and each argument may bear only a single theta role. For the verb give associated with the theta-roles of agent, goal and theme, an example of a sentence is this: John gave Anna a book. Here the three theta roles are assigned to John, Anna, and book. These nouns are arguments were absent. In linguistics a verb argument is a phrase that has a syntactic relationship with the verb of a clause. In English the two most important arguments are the subject and the direct object. Information about the arguments themselves are grammatical gender, number, and person.



4.2.   The Argument in Linguistic Morphology, Syntax, and Semantics

Lebarbé differentiated the different functions of the argument in linguistics for syntax and semantics. According to Lebarbé, the argument in syntax is “a phrase which is a referential expression and which is associated with a theta-role assigned by a lexical head.” (Lebarbé). Example: the NPs John and apples in (i)a are arguments of eat and the embedded sentence in (i)b is an argument of obvious. The phrase next week in (ii) is not an argument (of visit), and is assigned no theta-role.


               (i)  a       John eats apples

                     b  That you're in love, is obvious


              (ii) Next week, I will visit you


Arguments can be construed as chains. Now we can say that in (iii) the theta-role of hit is assigned to the °trace t, which is given referential substance by its antecedent John, hence is associated with the argument (John_i, ti), which is a chain.

      (iii) Johni was hit ti


In semantics in the formula P(a), a is called “the argument of the predicate P”. Generally, for a predicate with °arity n, in P(a1,...,an), a1,...,an are called the arguments of P.


In morphology, the “'Argument-linking Principle' is a principle intended to account for the interpretation of synthetic compounds. This principle accounts for the fact that the interpretation of the non-head in synthetic compounds such as truck driver and hand-woven - which are assumed to have the morphological structures [[[truck] [drive]] er] and [[[hand] [weave]] en] - is quite restricted.” (Lebarbé). According to Lebarbé, in morphology and syntax the 'argument structure' is “what makes a lexical head induce argument positions in syntactic structure is called its argument structure”. (Lebarbé). Example: the head ´open´ has an argument structure which induces obligatorily one argument position (Theme), and optionally two more (Agent and Instrument). This argument structure explains what the sentences in (i) have in common. The argument structure of open is usually indicated as in (ii)a or b.


(i)   John opened Bill's door (with his key)

      John's key opened Bill's door

      Bill's door opened

      Bill's door was opened (by John)


(ii)  a:  OPEN    (John door  key)

                | |       |

            Agent Theme Instrument


      b:  OPEN    <Ag, Th, Instr> (Lebarbé)


To summarize, we have here a topical structure of the arguments we can reduce to the following topoi:


Who/What?   (Agent /Subject)

Who/What?   (Theme /Object)

How?            (Instrument/ Object)   


1.    Elements of the Theta-role Referring to the Argument in Linguistics



4.3.   The Argument in Logic

In logic an argument is a set of one or more meaningful sentences also called propositions known as the premises along with another meaningful declarative sentence as proposition known as the conclusion. Classical forms of the use of arguments are in deductive reasoning:


Premise 1:    Socrates is a human.

Premise 2:    Humans are mortal.

Conclusion:  Socrates is mortal.


From the second premise's argument to be mortal attributed to humans the conclusion derived. In The Uses of Argument (1958), Toulmin introduced the generally accepted concept of the argument consisting of the following components:

Claim       The claimed conclusion

Data         Facts

Warrant    Statement moving from data to claim

Backing    Credentials for the warrant

Rebuttal    Conditions that are limition the claim 

Qualifier   Expressions indicating the conditions of a claim


Here the linguistic apprearance of the argument is not emphasized.



4.4.   The Argument in Rhetoric

The classical place of the argument is the rhetorical theory. The argument is the element or auxiliary tool in a rhetorical process that serves for the acceptance of a statement. In classical rhetoric the place of the arguments is in the part of the speech called argumentation. Rhetoric distinguished different arguments. Arguments can be 1. enthymemata (????µ?µata), 2. epicheiremata (?p??e???µata), or 3. apodeixeis (?p?de??e??) (Inst. Orat. 5, 10, 1). The enthymeme (????µ?µa, commentum or commentatio) has three meanings: Anything conceived in the mind, a proposition with a reason, a conclusion of an argument drawn either from denial of consequents or from incompatibles. It is also called a rhetorical syllogism (5, 10, 1). Epicheireme (?p??e???µa) is reasoning (5, 10, 6). Apodeixis (?p?de????) is clear proof (5, 10, 7). These three means are called p?ste?? (fides), which is a warrant of credibility. The word was translated by Quintilian as probatio (proof) (5, 10, 8).


                                    via              Artificial Arguments


                                                       Proof           Probatio          p?ste?? (fides)


                                                         Enthymentes enthymemata  (????µ?µata) “rhetorical syllogism”“commentatio”

                                                       Epichairemes epicheiremes   (?p??e???µata)

                                                       Apodeixeis     apodeixeis      (?p?de??e??)



                                 via                Inartificial Arguments



                                                      Arguments from persons and arguments from things

                                                      Derived from loci (topoi)


2.    Types of Arguments in Argumentation


An enthymeme consists of three parts:


Major premise


Conclusion (5, 13, 10)


According to Quintilian, inartificial arguments are signs also called indications from arguments (5, 10, 12). Probable arguments (e???ta) are related to credibility (5, 10, 15). Quintilian lists the following types of places of arguments (5, 10):


1.    Commonplaces (5, 10, 20)

2.    Arguments from persons and arguments from things (5, 10, 23)


Quintilian lists the following systematic places of arguments.


Arguments drawn from the causes of past or future actions (5, 10, 33)

Argument from contraries (5, 10, 2)

Arguments from place (5, 10, 37)

Arguments from time (5, 10, 42)

Arguments from circumstances (5, 10, 46)

Arguments from definition (5, 10, 54)

Arguments from similarities, from unlikes, from contraries, from consequences necessary or probable (5, 10, 73)

?pa???? (induction) (5, 10, 73)


Inconsequential arguments derive from facts that have no mutual support.

Consequential arguments are those derived from facts which lend each other mutual support and are by some regarded as forming a separate kind of argument, which they call ?? t?? p??? ?????a, arguments from things mutually related (5, 10, 73)

Arguments from causes (5, 10, 80)

Arguments from conjugation (5, 10, 85)

Arguments from apposite or comparative (5, 10, 86)

Arguments from genus to species (5, 10, 90)

Arguments from admitted facts (5, 10, 90)

Arguments from fictitious suppositions (5, 10, 95)

              Arguments from circumstances (pe??stas??) (5, 10, 104)


3.    Places (topoi) of Arguments in Rhetoric according to Quintilian




II   The Model: Towards a Foundation of Argument and Argumentation in Linguistics

      Propedeuticum: Linguistics as Grammaticalization and Structures of Meaning and Argumentation

1.   Meaning as the Condition of Existence in Language
What makes humans able to communicate is actually highly based on the exchange of meanings. In languages we exchange meanings and not objects. I say that the apple is green and I give the apple to someone is a depending status. It depends as a conditional perspective of linguistic features that are meaning in relation to human understanding of the world. Having an apple in the hand and giving it to another person is an active process without a meaning. Science depends on language. Science as the essence of knowledge approached in a reasonable, communicable and communicated way with an intersubjectively agreed linguistic output for the concrete knowledge of the topic of the scientific approach. Linguistics here must not considered as a specific scientific discipline regarding the studies of language(s). Linguistics in the general disposition of the relation between the language and the surrounding it is placed in faces any science. It is a conditio sine qua non. Facing this condition, we can conclude that the barrier between the hard and the soft science, the pure science and the applied sciences, the humanities and the other core fields of academic studies are actually not relevantly facing the condition of the relation between language and knowledge in general.


Theory of Language as a Semiotic Unit                             
Language is a semiotic unit based upon selected and fixed semiotic unit. For example a letter serves as a sign for a phonetic value or a group to phonetically tradited sounds serves as a sign for a word. A unit of letters or sounds share a common meaning. The meaning `DOG` is represented in the phonetic values of the acoustic sign `d-o-g` and the letters d o g.  The words represent also a meaning, which can be expressed for example in an image showing a dog.
                                           Entity of Linguistics 
                                           Linguistic Unit  
                               Reference to Object                Has Meaning
                               Representation Unit               Subject of Reference      
                               Depending Status                   Autonomous Status
                               e.g. in descriptions                 e.g. in numbers
4.           Semiotic Dimensions of Language


In the tradition of de Saussure we connect semiotics and grammaticalization with the assumption that each grammatical unit carries a meaning. In grammatical theories the specific meanings are typologically classified in descriptive terms for the related phenomena in concrete utterances.


                Meaning    as Indicator of Grammatical Constitution

                Meaning    as Indicator of Semiotic Connotations


5.    Semiotics and Grammar: Meaning of the Grammatical Level and Semiotic Level


An example we take the sentence:


1   I                 go         quickly     in                  the            big            house.                 .

2   Pronoun    Verb     Adverb    Preposition  Article       Adjective   Noun.

3   Subject   Predicate  Adverbial Attribute    Adverbial   Expression with   Attribute                    


     S                  P              O


             1 Original Sentence

             2 Grammatical Descriptions

             3 Description of Syntax


In common language we often say that we have no reason to do something. Such phrases indicate that the action of reasoning is already internalized and that we reflect the reason as the result of the mental activity. The principle of reason, as important as it is in the history of philosophy, shared with the other sciences and the common ordinary life, but also with spiritual and religious thinking, the importance of the word, the Greek term logos is its origin. Reason can produce meaning depending on the principles and methods we apply as strategies for reasoning. The produces meanings derive from the technical processes that fall under the category of reasoning. This is a general question and it touches everything around us starting from the number system we use to the sensual experience, which makes us able to approach the world around us with our senses. Hard sciences and full science operates based upon connoted meanings that are standardized and known among the group of the users. In linguistics, we ask questions about the general conditions of language and the specific forms that produce language and the special forms and types of languages. The abitily to translate one language into another language allows us to assume that there are general common features languages share that are transmittable and transformable meanings. This not only involves that translation of a word into another language we can call the transformation of a term. It also includes recognizable pattern of languages that are transformable and transferable from one language into another. Here we have the condition of two unequal objects, e.g. sentences that are different and not identical in the way they appear. The one who knows the linguistic conditions of the meta-system they derived from, the specific language, and the linguistic features they possess both in common, might be able to do the translation. Language is genetic and changeable under certain conditions. It is not an elementary entity in the way it is practically used and differentiated into different languages. It is as an entity elementary. It includes several features that allow considering it as a condition of the hard ad the soft science as well as the condition of science eo ipso. Common theories of linguistics access linguistics in differentiation between several areas and one among them is semantics interested in the production of meanings. But it is rather selected to see semantics as just a branch on linguistics and semiotics not as a general condition of language. The semeion, the sign, is the general quality a language has. Any piece of language stands for something else and its function is also not the self-reference to itself, but the reference to something else. The same can be different depending on the context it appears in. We can compare this to a situation where the same color appears lighter or darker depending on its surrounding or visual effects that make an object appear in another way. The same thing can become different and get a different meaning. Especially in the context of diachrone linguistics, the word can have several different meanings and changes of meanings occur. The actual event or object meant, when using a word changes for example in the case of the word “reception”, which means the process of receiving e.g. in academic language and the word used as a place and event where people meet. (We will also see a change of semiotics below for “mean”). The meaning is here the produced attribute of the sign, in our case the sign is a word. Bearers of meaning (signs) can be words. Objects in our world have no meaning. We also cannot argue about them or apply arguments to them. The place of argumentation is not the `real world`. Argumentation works with signs. In other words: We produce with argumentation a (new) meaning. This is e.g. obvious in the processes of inductive reasoning stepping from “All humans are mortal” over “Socrates is a human” to the new meaning “Socrates is mortal”. The (derived) meaning is here the specific constellation between the subject (Socrates) and the predicate (is mortal). Language is a concept that consists of meanings associated between written phonetic expressions and graphics positioned in a specific way organized according to commonly shared rules among the persons that use it. Language enables us to describe objects and processes in praesentia and in absentia, existing or not existing. Language acts in several ways to represent meaning. In the following cases the meaning is on the grammatical level indicated by the abstract categories of parts of speeches and the inflected use of the related words.


Verb                                       I am great.

Noun                                       The greatness of the person

Adjective                          The great person.

Adverb                                                     The person is known as greatly performing.

Preposition                                                        With the greatness …

Conjunction                                                       When this person was great, …

Interjection                                                        Oh, how great!


Verb                                       I mean the person.

Noun                                       The meaning of the person

Adjective                          The mean person

Adverb                                                     The person is meanly skilled.

Preposition                                                        With the meaning

Conjunction                                                       When I meant this person

Interjection                                                         How mean!


The meaning of “mean” is in the examples of the verb, noun, preposition, and conjunction different from the one used in the phrases with adjective, adverb, and interjection.


Verb                                       I am poor.

Noun                                       The poorness of the person

Adjective                                                  The poor person.

Adverb                                                             The person is poorly known.

Preposition                                                        With the poorness

Conjunction                                                       When this person was poor,

Interjection                                                         Oh, how poor!


          6.     Paradigms of Word Change in Parts of Speech


What distinguishes the categories of parts of speech is the difference between them as sign for an entity or a quality refering to the entity. Refering to the real world these are esthetical categories.


Entity                                                  Noun

Action of Entity                                                               Verb

Attribute of Entity                             Adjective

Attribute of Action of Entity                   Adverb

Condition of Entity                             Preposition

Condition of Action of Entity                   Conjunction

Emotion/Comment                           Interjection


Esthetical Category                                        Linguistic Category


7.    Meaning as Reference between Esthetical Categories and Linguistic Categories



2.       Meaning in Linguistics

2.1.    Meaning and Morphological Level

Starting from the morphological perspective and the relationship between related lexemes, for example the verb "speak", the adjective "spoken", the noun "speech", we can assume that the basic form for a word with the grammatical function changes, while the basic morphological elements do not change. A part of the word is a carrier of meaning indicating grammatical function and the related meaning in this word. In German the indication of the grammatical function is even more obvious; the verb "sprechen", the adjective "gesprochen", the noun "Sprache" refer to a specific grammatical function of each word. Meaning as indicator of semiotic connotations can be expressed by definitions or in words with identical meanings. The analysis of morphological structure of a single word and the comparisons of structures allows to describe the changes between words (or lexems) that have similarities (e.g. speak and speech).


2.2.   Semiotic Level

The first line's meaning can be expressed in the paraphrase "A person speaking about himself/herself says that he/she goes in a house that is big." This derived semiotic meaning is limited. A semiotic analysis world include all connotations that an utterance contains.


2.3. Grammatical Level

The second line contains the indicators of the grammatical constitution according to traditional grammatical terms.


2.4. Syntactical Level

The third line refers to syntax and the constellation of parts of speech, in our case SPO. A complete syntactical analysis would include the description of the relations of parts of speech (or parts of an utterance).


2.5. Other Grammatical Structures

Other grammatical structures are phonetics (with a description of the phonetical constitution based upon an internationalized transcription alphabet), pragmatics (with the description of the function of the utterance in a communicative perspective), and discourse analysis (with the description of texts). Also rhetorical analysis falls in the area of other linguistic structures to be analyzed. In the classical understanding of the humanities, the argument has to act as a valididator of a statement. In linguistics a valid sentence relies on the Proper use of a linguistic setting structure of grammar:


Syntactical structure         Proper setting of words in sentence

Semantic structure            Proper meaning of words and sentence

Morphological structure   Proper words

Phonetical structure          Proper phonetics


8.       Topical Structure of Linguistic Arguments


The syntactical structure is the most comprehensive one. We can define an argument as a valididator of any of the structures mentioned above.


Arguments of the Syntactical structure

                     for    Proper setting of words in sentence

Arguments of the Semantic structure     

                     for    Proper  meaning of words and sentence

Arguments of the Morphological structure

                     for    Proper words

Arguments of the Phonetical structure

                     for    Proper phonetics (when spoken)


                                           9.            General Linguistic Arguments


Any argument is in the sentence or a word the element that refers to the validity of the sentence.



I give him the book.


Here the validity is archieved using a fitting syntactical structure matching the construction SPO in English, a semantically clear composition of selected words that have a fixed morphological structure.


Contrastive example missing the arguments:


I his book giving.



2.6.  Congruence as Argument for Grammatical Structure

Congruence is the state of agreement. Different languages have different levels of congruence depending on 1. the markers of words or 2. syntactical positions they use to show the congruence.


English:   I give him the book.


German:  Ich gebe ihm das Buch.


Spanish:  I le da el libro.


All three languages, English, German, and Spanish, have the same SPO syntax for subjet I, verb, and the accusative object except that in Spanish the dative object is placed after the verb. In German and Spanish exists a unique congruence between the verb and the subject marked by a suffix indicating the related person (1st person singular). In English this marker doesn't exist (except in the case of the 3rd person singular). Languages weak in inflections of words like English force linguists to look for descriptions facing syntactical structures instaed of lacking morphological indicators or individual word classes and their grammatical structures. In English basic linguistic theories the argument is considered to be the noun(s) attached to the verb. It is a functional approach with a defined and a undefined quality. We present now a definition of the argument as an element of a function. This function is the sentence, the smaller unit of syntax. We can express this function in the following formula:


                               f(x)= a + y


When a is here the noun or a similar object (for example the pronoun "I") and y the verb (the argument), e.g. an inflected form of to give matching the congruence with the noun, the results of the function are in the English language much more identical with other forms of the verb than in the German language. In German the inflected forms would determ a relative destinct number of results that fit. German "gebe" for example would only allow a sentence with a subject of 1st Person Singular to be generated. Here y would be only one value, in our case “gebe”. On the contrary, just syntactically determining languages with no or less inflection of a verb need less congruence between noun and verb or subject and predicate.


                   The function of the sentence

                               f(x)= a + y


can be realized in English with the argument “give” as


                               f(x)= I + give

                               f(x)= You + give

But not:                  f(x)= He, she, it + gives

                               f(x)= We + give

                               f(x)= You + give

                               f(x)= They + give


                 The function of the sentence

                               f(x)= a + y


can be realized in German with the argument “gebe” as


                                f(x)= Ich + gebe

But not:                   f(x)= Du + gibst

But not:                   f(x)= Er, sie, es + gibt

But not:                   f(x)= Wir + geben

But not:                   f(x)= Ihr + gebt

But not:                   f(x)= Sie + geben


                    10. Valid and Invalid Arguments of a Linguistic Function


III   The Argumentation Model

We can distinguish between the micro area of argumentation of a linguistic syntactic unit (the sentence) referring to the elements of the sentence and the macro area referring to the linguistic unit as an element in an argumentation process; this is the case in deductive and inductive reasoning, when sentences form the propositions or conclusion. The micro area of argumentation refers to argumentative structures in linguistics and arguments on the linguistic level.

              Micro Area     Linguistics

              Macro Area    Argumentation in Exterior Settings



Micro Area                   Linguistic Theory  

                                      Linguistic aspects       Grammaticalisation

                                      Syntax                        Structure

                                      Morphology               Structure 

                                      Semantics                   Meaning

                                      Lexical structures       Word

                                      Phonetics                    Orality


          Linguistic Setting


Macro Areas                Literary Structure       Text Type / Forms /  Genres

                                      Semiotics                    Meaning

          Rhetoric                      Persuasion

          Logic                           Validitation             


          Post-Linguistic Setting






          Medial Setting. Communication


                              11.  Areas of Argumentation in Micro and Macro Areas of Language Studies


The argumentative structure of a sentence from a linguistic perspective is based upon the proper implementation of linguistic structures and rules. Only if theses criteria exist, the sentence is communicable and can serve as an argument in the macro area, e.g. in a philosophical induction.


       At home      I         listened to the song    yesterday in the afternoon        played by a local radio station.


       Where       Who               What                              When                                          How


             12.   Example of Event. Topological Elements of a Statement of Evidence  


We can also distinguish between argumentation relying of intrinsic or extrinsic arguments. The intrinsic arguments derive from the use of the language eo ipso, while the extrinsic arguments rely on exterior factors. Deductive and inductive argumentation are related to intrinsic and extrinsic arguments.


      Deduction    Intrinsic Argumentation / Arguments from universals

                                           / Arguments from typology of linguistic phenomena


      Induction    Extrinsic Argumentation / Arguments from contexts,

                                             relations of language to exterior things  


              13.   Intrinsic and Extrinsic Argumentation in Linguistic Theory


The formula f(x)= a + y as the function we used previously in order to describe the minimal condition for the syntax of a sentence consisting of a subject and a predicate, e.g. a verb and a noun, we can extent the formula adding the other elements called parts of speech:


                                   f(x)= a + b + c + d + e  + f + g + h + y


                                   f(x)= I  + give   + the new book    + to him + immediately, + if + needs, +  yeah!


                                   f(x)= a  + y       + (g +  b + a)      + (f + a)      + c,                +  e + y,        +   f!


y                                                                                Verb

a                                                 Noun and replacements of nouns

b                                                           Adjective

c                                                                       Adverb

d                                                     Preposition

e                                                                           Conjunction

f                                                           Interjection

                           g                                                                                               Article


                            14.    Example for Lingusitic Functions as Arguments of Syntax


This example refers now to just one level of linguistics, the syntax. We will look now at other levels of linguistics, in which we have a similar separation of functional arguments according to the linguistic functions of lexicology, semantics, and phonetics. Instead of a definition of y to g as grammatical parts of speech we chose in the paradigm above, we can also replace the values of the variables by values taken from the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) in order to have a matrix for the description of functions for the phonetival level of a sentence.  Here each variable as reference to the phonetic acticulation of words serves as an argument for the valid pronounciation making the sentence understandable and communicable. In the case of a lexical or semantic set of values represented by variables, the chosen variables can be the same like in the case of the syntactic example above with the addition of semantic meanings for each unit, e.g. the value of the variable a with the value `book` would be added with the description `written set of collected papers of a size in a order arranged referring to a title` or a valid common definition. Using the  model applied to the morphological linguistic structure, we can use the matrix of the syntactical arguments above again with the addition of the morphological stem of each part of speech.


In our model the argument is represented in a functional linguistic approach as a syntactic element we indicate here by a letter. Each of the letters can represent an argument. In our case the y for the verb represents an argument of the narrative unit, the sentence. We saw previously that the argument y must match with the conditions defined by a, the noun, so that grammatical congruence between them exists. But also semantic and semiotic congruence must be given. (We could e.g. not take the verb “eat” for the sentence). Also the phonetic realization of the word must be proper, so that we are able to communicate the sentence successfully to another person.




IV   Conclusions

We come now to the following working definitions for argument and argumentation in linguistics: The argument is any matching element in written or spoken language that allows the whole text unit to present a meaningful unit regarding the linguistic parts of lexicology, syntax, semantics, phonetics, and morphology. Argumentation is as a theoretical structural element in linguistic the process that allows a narrated text to be linguistically proper in order to be communicated. The model here allows us to connect the grammatical linguistic levels as basic levels of linguistics to more complex units related to utterances such as rhetoric, logic, and semiotics. We have seen that in linguistic theories the argumentation has quite different functions and that here the theoretical approaches are neither compatible nor can they be intregrated to one model. What we presented in the second part of this article as linguistic model of argumentation is the integration of the classical definition of argumentation in rhetorical and logical science. A linguistic model employing argumentation must use a definition of argumentation fitting with the classical definitions in rhetoric and logic. In our model the argument is a superstructural element of any linguistic utterance, which completes the utterance matching the needs of linguistic brances. When the argumentation (i.e. the use of proper arguments) is successfully and valid, we have a linguistic unit, which can be integrated in a discourse or can serve in a rhetorical setting. It is also communicable and can be narrated.





V   Works Cited


"What is Linguistics?" Department of Linguistics. Stanford University. March 12, 2009.



Beaugrande, Robert de. Linguistic Theory. The Discourse of Fundamental Works. London: Longman 1991. Discurso. Revista Electrónica. 4.7 (2001). March 13, 2009.



Botha, Rudolf P. The Conduct of Linguistic Inquiry: A Systematic Introduction to the Methodology of Generative Grammar. The Hague; New York: Mouton Publishers, 1981.


Butler, Christopher S. "Corpus Studies and Functional Linguistic Theories." Functions of Language 11.2 (2004): 147-186.


Connell, Jeanne M. "The Emergence of Pragmatic Philosophy’s Influence on Literary Theory: Making Meaning with Texts from a Transactional Perspective." Educational Theory 58.1 (2008): 103-122.


Eagleton, Terry. Literary Theory: An Introduction. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008.


Evans, Vyvyan and Melanie Green. Cognitive Linguistics: An Introduction.  Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh Press, 2005.


Hajic, Jan. “Linguistics Meets Exact Sciences”. A Companion to Digital Humanities. Ed. Susan Schreibman, Ray Siemens, John Unsworth. Oxford: Blackwell, 2004. Digital Humanities. March 23, 2009. <>. 


Howard, Jennifer. "The Fragmentation of Literary Theory." Chronicle of Higher Education 52.17 (2005): A12-A16.


Klages, Mary. Literary Theory. A Guide for the Perplexed. London; New York, NY: Continuum, 2006.


Kretzschmar, Jr., William A. "What's in the Name "Linguistics" for Variationists." Journal of English Linguistics 35.3 (2007): 263-277.


Lebarbé, Thomas. Linguistic Lexicon. Université Stendhal Grenoble 3. March 23, 2009. <>.


Longworth, Guy. "Linguistic Understanding and Knowledge." Nous 42.1 (2008): 50-79.


Lüpke, Friederike. “Under Construction: Theories of Argument Structure and Empirical Data from Language Description and Documentation”. In: Proceedings of Conference on Language Documentation and Linguistic Theory. Ed. Peter K. Austin, Oliver Bond, David Nathan. London: SOAS: 155-156. The Hans Rausing Endangered Languages Project at SOAS. March 13, 2009. < >.


Nichols, Johanna. “Grammatical Theories. Functional Theories of Grammar. ” Annual Review of Anthropology 13 (1984): 97-117.


Quintilian, Marcus Fabius. Institutio Oratoria. Forum Romanum. March 23, 2009. <>.


Ritter, Nancy A. "On the Status of Linguistics as a Cognitive Science." Linguistic Review 22.2-4 (2005): 117-133.


Schalkwyk, David. "A Report to the Academy: Talbot Taylor and the Rhetorical Roots of Contemporary Language Theory." Language Sciences 27.1 (2005): 97-112.


Tenny, Carol and James Pustejovsky. "Introduction. A History of Events in Linguistic Theory". Objects. The Converging Perspectives of Lexical Semantics, Logical Semantics and Syntax. Ed. Carol Tenny and James Pustejovsky. Stanford: CSLI Publications, 2002. Linguist. March 23, 2009. <>.


Tihanov, Galin. "Why Did Literary Theory Originate in Central and Eastern Europe?" Common Knowledge 10.1 (2004): 61-81.

Sincronía Summer 2009