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[262a]

Stranger
One called nouns, the other verbs.1

Theaetetus
Define each of them.

Stranger
The indication which relates to action we may call a verb.

Theaetetus
Yes.

Stranger
And the vocal sign applied to those who perform the actions in question we call a noun.

Theaetetus
Exactly.

Stranger
Hence discourse is never composed of nouns alone spoken in succession, nor of verbs spoken without nouns.

Theaetetus
I do not understand that.


1 The science of language, in all its branches, was young in the time of Plato. Words of general meaning were necessarily used in a technical sense. So here ὄνομα and ῥῆμα are used as parts of grammatical terminology in the sense of “verb” and “noun,” though Plato elsewhere employs them with their ordinary meanings. Similarly the distinction between vowels and consonants (Plat. Theaet. 203; cf. Plat. Soph. 253) was at least relatively new, as was that between the active and the passive voice. How important Plato's part was in the development of linguistic study can no longer be accurately determined.

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hide References (6 total)
  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • James Adam, The Republic of Plato, 9.577B
  • Cross-references in notes to this page (1):
    • Raphael Kühner, Bernhard Gerth, Ausführliche Grammatik der griechischen Sprache, KG 1.3.2
  • Cross-references in notes from this page (2):
    • Plato, Sophist, 253
    • Plato, Theaetetus, 203
  • Cross-references in general dictionaries to this page (2):
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