In reviewing the syntactic treatments of the handbooks it is difficult to forget Hirt’s poignant expression: “One assembles a series of facts but doesn’t know what to do with them” (1931-4: III: vi). Many syntactic treatments were produced in the nineteenth century and the early decades of the twentieth century for the Indo-European dialects. Speyer treated in separate volumes the syntax of Vedic and of Classical Sanskrit. For the syntax of Greek we may limit ourselves at this point to citing Schwyzer’s grammar (1939-50), which was based on four earlier editions, the fourth by Brugmann. Similarly, Szantyr’s syntax of Latin (1965) has numerous pre decessors; and capable, if not as extensive, treatments of the syntax of other dialects, as well as many monographs and articles on selected syntac tic problems, might be cited. Further, after numerous earlier publications Delbriick provided a synthesis for the proto-language in his three-volume contribution to the Grundriss (1893-1900). Theoretical works also were published, and widely discussed, such as
John Ries’s Was ist Syntax?. Jacob Wackernagel contributed a remarkable set of essays called Vorlesungen iiber Syntax (1926-8), to be sure chiefly about the classical languages. Wilhelm Havers published a treatise on explanatory syntax, Handbuch der erklarenden Syntax (1931). And the major theoretical work, Paul’s Prinzipien (1920), dealt at length with syntax. An extensive chapter of the book treats the “basic circumstances of syntax” (ibid. 121-50). Subsequent chapters discuss specific matters, such as ellipsis (Sparsamkeit) (ibid. 313-24), a topic that attracted considerable attention under the rubric “gapping” in early generative grammar. Moreover, Jespersen published a monograph on formalized syntactic analysis (1937). His formal analyses are extensive, including, for example, an italicized O for the indirect object besides the three symbols S(ubject), V(erb), O(bject) among numerous others. It is quite false then to assert that the study of syntax and theoretical
attention to it was neglected in the nineteenth century and first part of the twentieth. Yet in spite of this massive attention, Hirt prefaced his final books on syntax with his startling complaint. To understand the situation it is useful to examine the general aims of previous treatments, and then to suggest remedies for the shortcomings.