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Linguistic Schools


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Title: Linguistic Schools

Linguistic Schools
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Brief Introduction
  • Saussure---- modern linguistics (Structuralism)
  • The Prague School
  • The London School
  • American Structuralism
  • Transformational-Generative Grammar
  • Cognitive Linguistics

1. Saussure
  • Ferdinard de Saussure (1857-1913)
  • --- He is the father of modern linguistics
  • --- a master of a discipline which he made
    modern." (Jonathan Culler)

Structural theory--Sign

  • 1.) language is a system of signs, each of which
    consists of two parts SIGNFIED (concept) and
     SIGNIFIER (sound image).

  • He showed that the principles of langue must be
    described as a system of elements composed of
    lexical,grammatical, and phonological components.
    The terminology of linguistics was to be
    considered relative to each other, and
    linguistics was really the study of signs and
    their relationships. The linguistic sign is
    constituted by the structural relationship
    between the concept (signified) and the sound of
    the word (signifier).

  • 2.) language is a SYSTEM or SIGNS.

  • To communicate ideas, we must be part of system
    of conventions, part of system of signs. The
    sign, for him, is the basic unit of
    communication, the central of language.
    Therefore, we must start from the nature of the
    sign itself.

  • 3.) The sequence which a sign forms with those it
    is in a syntagmatic relation is sometimes called
    a STRUCTURE. Any structure is formed by two
    principal types of relations which Saussure
    identified are SYNTAGMATIC and PARDIGMATIC
    relations. The former is a relation between one
    item and other in a sequence, or between elements
    which are all present.

  • Syntagmatic relationships of a word are those
    relationships that can obtain with neighboring in
    a sentence. Associative structural relations
    pertain to the ways in which words can replace
    one another, and the ways in which they do not.
    These relationships are about how words and
    sounds are associated with each other and form
    part of the synchronic relationship within the
    language structure.

  • 4.) meaning was to be found within the structure
    of a whole language rather than in the analysis
    of individual words.

Synchronic Diachronic
  • Saussure was determined to delimit and define the
    boundaries of language study. To this end he
    began by distinguishing between historical
    linguistics and descriptive linguistics, or
    diachronic and synchronic analyses respectively.

  • Linguistic was a pervasive interest of the
    Darwinist in 19th century. Diachronic linguistics
    deals with the evolution of a language through
    time, as a continually changing medium without
    end. They study the change from Old English to
    Middle English, then to modern English or from
    A Grammar of Modern Greek to The Structure of
    Shakespeare's English.

  • A language has an existence separate from its
    history. Language system is complete and operates
    as a logical system or any point in time
    regardless of influence from the past. In other
    words, there is no relation between Diachronic
    analyses and language system.

  • Synchrony is a fiction, for language changes as
    the minutes pass and grammar-writing is a lengthy
    enterprise. How ever, the fiction of synchronic
    description is essential of linguistics

  • If the signs of language had no changes, the
    distinction between Synchronic analyses and
    Diachronic analyses is meaningless. But a
    language is evolving continually, the distinction
    is significant because synchronic analyses were
    either ignored or overlooked in the past, and
    most importantly, the distinction drew attention
    to the current structural properties of language
    as well as historical dimensions.

Langue parole
  • Language is such a complex and varied phenomenon
    that it would be impossible to study it without
    assuming some basic operating principles.
    Saussure distinguished the linguistic competence
    of the speaker and the actual phenomena or data
    of linguistics as LANGUE and PAROLE.

  • Langue is an abstract system that all of us has
    in common and enables us to speak. When a man
    learns a language, he should assimilate the data
    of the langue and to some extent, obey the
    linguistic rules, including the lexicon, grammar,
    and phonology. It is the social product whose
    existence permits the individual to exercise his
    linguistic faculty., For language (langue) is
    not complete in any speaker it exists perfectly
    only within a collectivity.

  • On the other hand, PAROLE is the executive side
    of language." Parole, is the actualization of
    langue. It is a personal, dynamic and social
    activity, which exists at a particular time and
    place and in a particular situation, as opposed
    to LANGUE, which is a corporate, social
    phenomenon, existing apart from any particular

  • The distinction between Langue and parole is very
    important. In distinguishing them, we are
    separating what is social from what is
    individual, and what is essential from what is
    accessory and more or less accidental.

  • The distinction between langue and parole also
    has important implications for other disciplines
    as well. It is essential for any field of
    research to distinguish what belongs to the
    underlying system which makes possible various
    types of behavior and what belongs to actual
    instances of such behavior.

The Prague School
  • 1. The History of the Prague School Phonology

(No Transcript)
  • The forerunner of the Prague School was the
    Moscow Linguistic Circle founded in 1915. It is a
    circle consisted of a group of young scholars
    such as Trubetzkoy (25yr) and Jakobson (20yr),
    who is the president from 1915-1920. The issues
    that this circle concerns are of both language
    and linguistics including problems of poetics,
    literature analysis, and general artistic
    structure under the influence of Slavic and
    historical linguistics. The sources of their
    study are based on Saussure and Baudouins works.
    When the Revolution broke out on October 1917 the
    members of this circle fled and this circle
    nearly dismissed.

  • By the 1920s, the terms phoneme and phonology
    were well known to European linguistics. More
    importantly, de Saussure had left a legacy of
    modern structuralism which greatly influenced
    linguistics in general. Working within this
    structuralist tradition were, among others, a
    group of scholars known from 1926 as the
    Linguistic Circle of Prague. In phonology, two
    members of the Circle stand out Roman Jakobson
    (1896-1982), who began his career in Moscow but
    moved to Czechoslovakia and worked there in the
    1930s before fleeing via Scandinavia to the USA
    and Nikolai S. Trubetzkoy (1890-1938), also of
    Russian origin, who was a professor in Vienna
    from 1923 until his death

Chronicle of the Prague School Phonology
  • a.   1915.  The foundation of the Moscow
    Linguistic circle, Jakobsons being the president
  • b.   1917  Members fleeing Moscow due to October
  • c.    1926  The foundation of the Prague School
    Linguistic Circle, Jagobsons being the vice
  • d.   1928  Presenting the Prague Circle
    manifesto( drafted by Jakobson and cosigned by
    Trubetzky and Karcevskij) at the first
    International Congress of Linguistic at Hague.
  • e.   1938  Trubetzkoy died.
  • f.      1982  Jakobson died in Massachusetts

The Representative Characters
  • Roman Jakobson (1896-1982)
  • Jakobsons contribution to linguistics can be
    represented as the concept such as feature,
    binary  opposition, markedness, redundancy, and
    universals. He also focuses the importance of
    linguistics on language acquisition, aphasia, act
    of communication, meaning in grammar, poetry, and
    the systematicity of language change. Jakobsons
    greatest insight, distinctive feature, (after the
    phoneme) belongs to the (Functional)
    Structuralist Phonology. So, for more
    information, you may consult functional
    phonology. Jakobsons contribution in the Prague
    school phonology can be represented as the Prague
    Circle manifesto, which changes the direction of
    the development of the European phonology.

  • Trubetzkoy, Nikolai Sergeyevic (1890-1938)
  • Trubetzkoys chief contribution in phonology was
    taken in the sense of functional phonology. (So,
    for more information, see the functional
    (structuralist) phonology. Trubetzkiys notable
    contributions made to phonological theory are as
  • a.      Clarifying the distinction between
    phonetics and phonology by the criterion of
  • b.      Investigating insistently on phonic
    substance in terms of its various functions in
    individual languages
  • c.      Emphasizing on the concept of
    phonological opposition (primary) over phoneme
  • d.      Classifying phonological oppositions
    typologically instead of binaristic

Main Theories
  • Following de Saussures emphasis on the
    differential function of linguistic elements,
    both Jakobson and Trubetzkoy attached great
    importance to the oppositions among phonemes
    rather than to the phonemes themselves. Thus to
    say that English has phonemes /s/ and /z/ is a
    statement about a distinction which English
    speakers make and recognize rather than a claim
    about phonemes as mental images or phonetic
    entities. This was a significant insight, which
    seemed to accord with linguistic experience. By
    the very nature of spoken language, a speaker is
    aware of differences and reacts to
    mispronunciation or interference with the system
    of oppositions. But the isolation of individual
    phonemes from their spoken context is neither a
    typical nor an easy task. Most speakers seem
    incapable of doing it in any systematic way, and,
    in literate societies, usually resort to naming
    letters and spelling out a word rather than
    attempting to articulate separate phonemes.

  • Jacobson (and others of the Prague School)
    published actively during the 1920s and 1930s,
    but it was Trubetzkoy who provided the Schools
    most comprehensive and widely consulted work on
    phonology, GrundzÜge der phonologie (Principles
    of Phonology), which first appeared in 1939, the
    year after his death. Besides discussing the
    nature of distinctive oppositions in theoretical
    terms, Trubetzkoy also surveys analytical
    procedures and gives extensive examples of the
    different oppositions of various languages. He
    follows through the implications of the
    structural approach in a number of ways,
    particularly in the classification of
    oppositions. He is also responsible for the
    concepts neutralization and archiphoneme which
    are consistent with a functional view of the

  • Jacobson and Trubetzkoy also initiated modern
    distinctive feature theory. The notion of
    component features is already implicit in the
    idea of opposition. The notion was made explicit
    by Jakobsons and Trubetzkoys recognition of
    such features as differential qualities or
    relevant properties. This further strengthened
    their point that phonemes represented points in a
    system rather than physical or mental entities.

Distinctive Features
  • Jakobson (1939, 1949) drawing on earlier
    phonological concepts of de Saussure and
    Hjelmslev, pointed to the limited number of
    differential qualities or distinctive
    features that appeared to be available to
    languages. Jakobsons interest was in showing hoe
    oppositions as the constitutive features of
    relations among phonemes reflected a hearers
    response to an acoustic signal. Just as this
    signal contains a limited number of variables, so
    perceptual response to it operates with a limited
    number of categories.

  • The most famous elaboration of this approach is
    clarified in works by Jakobson, Fant and Hlle
    (1952) and Jakobson and Halle (1956). This scheme
    uses perceptual terms which reflect acoustic cues
    rather than articulatory mechanics. In 1939,
    Jakobson took Grammonts terms acute and
    grave representing opposite ends of a scale
    that measures the predominance of upper or lower
    components of the acoustic spectrum. The
    acute-grave feature distinguishes both high
    front vowels (i, y) from back vowels (u, o, a)
    and palatal consonants from velar consonants.

  • Jakobson and Halle employed only 12 features,
    which were listed with articulatory correlates as
    well as acoustic cues. All of the features are
    polar oppositions, allowing relative values. So
    the acute vowels of one language need not to be
    identical in nature with the acute vowels of
    another, provided that they are more acute than
    the grave vowels to which they are opposed.
    Moreover, the same acoustic effect can be
    achieved by different articulatory means. Lip
    rounding, pharyngealization and retroflexion, for
    instance, may all be covered by the one
    distinctive feature of flatness. Each feature
    is binary, with only two opposed values along a
    single dimension.

  • For any particular system, biuniqueness is a
    requirement that phonemes and allophones can be
    unambiguously assigned to each other. A problem
    in this connection is that contrastive systems
    are often unequally exploited. This means, for
    example, that two phonemes may be distinguished
    in some structures but not in others. Following
    Trubetzkoy (1939) we may say that some phonemic
    oppositions are suspended or neutralized under
    certain conditions. Trubetzkoy distinguishes
    three kinds of neutralization.

  • Firstly, a language has a contrast but only one
    of the relevant phonemes occurs under
    neutralization. Suppose a language has a contrast
    of voiced and voiceless plosives in word-initial
    and word-final positions, nut only voiceless
    plosives occur word-finally. Since the word-final
    plosives are not in contrast with voiced
    plosives, the contrast of voicing is inoperative
    or neutralized word-finally.

  • Secondly, neutralization may be represented by
    some kind of variation or alternation among the
    otherwise contrasting phonemes. For example, in
    Indonesian, there are four nasal consonant
    phonemes (bilabial, alveolar, palatal and velar).
    But sequences of nasal plus other consonants are
    homorganic, that is the nasal and following
    consonants are at the same point of articulation.
    So, we can find clusters such as /mb/ and /nd/,
    but not /md/ and /nb/.

  • Thirdly, neutralization may be represented by a
    sound which is distinct from both of the
    otherwise contrasting phonemes. One of the most
    common instances of this kind of neutralization
    is where vowel contrasts are reduced under
    certain conditions.

Historical Status
  • a. Prague school linguistics success essentially
    changed the character of European linguistics.
  • b. Trubetzkoys contributions were inherited and
    further elaborated by Martinet and his associates
    who found the Functionalist School, i.e., Prague
    School is the cradle of Structuralism.

  • The concept of neutralization and the theory of
    markedness is expanded in generative grammar as
    well as nowadays.

The London School
American Structuralism
  • It became popular and influential in the 1930s
    and 40s through the world.
  • Two forerunners
  • Franz Boas Edward Sapir
  • The father
  • Leonard Bloomfield

  • Franz Boas the traditional grammatical model
    could not be used to analyze the structures of
    those languages.
  • Edward Sapir Although Indians languages had no
    written forms, they were very communities.

  • Leonard Bloomfield
  • Accepted the theories and principles of
  • Characterized language and language acquisition
    in terms of behaviorist terminology. Language was
    a habit of verbal behavior which consisted of a
    series of stimuli and response.
  • Argued that to acquire a language was to form a
    habit of verbal behavior and learning a L2 was
    learning a new habit.
  • Thought speech was primary and writing was

Transformational-Generative Grammar
  • Put forward by Norm Chomsky in 1957.
  • Wrote a book Syntactic Structures to spread his

  • Main points
  • 1) Children are born with a LAD. This is made up
    of general principles called UG. Once the child
    is born, the particular environment will trigger
    the LAD. The child will use and text the
    principles again and again until his hypotheses
    agree with the actual grammar of the language.

  • 2) Made the distinction between linguistic
    competence and linguistic performance. He
    believes that linguistics should study the
    linguistic competence, not the performance, of
    the native speaker so as to set up a system of
    rules that will generate an infinite number of
    grammatical sentences. To gain the goal, he
    argues we should use a deductive,
    hypothesis-testing approach.

Cognitive Linguistics