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The influence of Antoine Meillet and his school can be observed in Benveniste’s work. Nonetheless, Benveniste’s conclusions are undoubtedly original and autonomous. The article aims at shedding light on such a dialectic between tradition and innovation by analysing some preparatory notes for a course of comparative grammar, given by Benveniste at the Collège de France in 1939 and centered on the category of number. Attention will be paid to the definition of the dual and to the hypothesis concerning its disappearance. The analogies between Benveniste’s considerations and the conclusions drawn by Meillet and some of his students (Cuny, Gauthiot, Tesnière and Vendryes) are evident. Nonetheless, as it will be shown, Benveniste makes original remarks, which originate from his aptitude for problematisation.
E. Benveniste, Benveniste’s manuscripts, Dual, Collège de France lectures