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  • La Grammaire castillane de Nebrija (1492). Un pas décisif dans la grammatisation de l'espagnol ed. by René Pellen, Francis Tollis
  • Steven N. Dworkin
Pellen, René, et Francis Tollis, eds. La Grammaire castillane de Nebrija (1492). Un pas décisif dans la grammatisation de l'espagnol. Lambert-Lucas, 2018. ISBN: 978-2-35935-212-2.

René Pellen, either alone or in collaboration with Francis Tollis (see Pellen and Tollis, La gramática), has devoted much of his long and productive scholarly career to studying the text of Elio Antonio de Nebrija's Gramática de la lengua castellana (1492 CE), as well as the content of that scholar's Latin-Spanish (1492 CE) and Spanish-Latin (1493/1495? CE) dictionaries. The Gramática (hereafter GC), the subject of the book under review here, marks a milestone in the history of linguistic thought and scholarship in Spain [End Page 194] in particular and in Europe in general. The GC is innovative in two major respects. It is the first systematic grammar of any Romance vernacular and it is written in a Romance language and not in Latin, still the language of most humanistic scholarship in the late fifteenth century. Unlike the two bilingual dictionaries and Nebrija's highly successful and often revised and re-edited teaching manual of Latin, Introductiones Latinae (first edition1481 CE), the GC seems to have had little (if any) impact on the tradition of grammatical studies in late medieval and early modern Spain. There was no second edition until the mid-eighteenth century (an edition whose origin is surrounded in controversy; see Álvarez de Miranda). It is not quoted or referenced explicitly in any of the grammars of Spanish produced in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in Spain or elsewhere in Europe, although some of the linguistic ideas espoused by Nebrija also appear in these works. One cannot discount the possibility that grammarians of the time did indeed utilize the GC without specifically referencing the work by title or author. Specialists have not been able to determine with any degree of certainty whether the critiques of Nebrija found in the Diálogo de la lengua (ca. 1535) of Juan de Valdés or in Cristobal de Villalón's Gramática castellana (1558) are based on direct knowledge of the GC. Pellen and Tollis (following Rodríguez-San Pedro, 98), note that the seventeenth-century grammarian Gonzalo de Correas, author of a lengthy Arte de la lengua castellana española (1625) and a far shorter Arte kastellana (1627), apparently possessed a copy of the GC. The first book of the GC took on a life of its own when Nebrija republished it separately in 1517 as Reglas de orthographia en la lengua castellana. Indeed, only the prologue, with its famous declaration that "siempre la lengua fue compañera del imperio," may have been known to many early modern readers.

The work under review consists of two parts, each of which could constitute a separate book-length publication. Its core (219-448) is a translation into French of the GC designed to give French-speaking students of linguistic historiography access to the contents of this pioneering text. This is the first translation of the GC into French and perhaps into any other language. It is based on Pellen and Tollis's critical analysis and computer-driven reconstruction of the textual tradition of the GC and not on any specific published edition. Within the translation, the editors reproduce in the original Spanish all linguistic examples and quotations from Spanish literature (e.g., the poetry of Juan de Mena, a favorite source of Nebrija in his discussion [End Page 195] of metrics) found in the GC, and accompany them with French glosses and translations. Pellen and Tollis equip their translation with hundreds of erudite notes (in French) that will also be of great benefit even to scholars who do not need the French translation. These notes identify, among other things, people and places whose names appear in the GC, vernacular literary works quoted by Nebrija, and sources for his grammatical doctrines and thought, and, in addition, offer new and innovative interpretations of many passages. Pellen and Tollis...


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