CriticaLink | Aristotle: Poetics | Guide to Book XX

Many scholars agree that this detailed description of the phenomenon of language is an interpolation into Aristotle's text. Words–"significant sounds"–are built up, this chapter argues, of letters and syllables and their corresponding sounds. Some of the comments here apply to particular features of the Greek language. We can, however, understand his distinction between nouns and verbs, the latter having a temporal dimension insofar as they describe actions that take place in time. If we want to try to situate this microscopic analysis of language into the overall discussion of tragedy, we should observe that meaningful sentences, like the tragedies for which they supply the building blocks, are composed of linked parts, all of which are necessary to preserve their unity and meaning.