Linguistics is the study of the nature, structure, and variation of language, including phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, sociolinguistics, and pragmatics. Linguists are interested in the structure and history of language; the meaning underlying instances of language use( this part is called semantics); how languages are related; how children learn language; what goes on when people understand; mentally represented generate language; what features are shared by all languages; why languages differ, how language is used in literature, the media and by various social groups; what happens to language abilities when the brain is damaged by stroke or injury; whether computers will be ever able to understand language, how we can model human language use.
Comparative philology is often used for the historical study of language of language. Philologists study the development of individual language but want also to know how languages evolve. Whether there are rules of language change, how far change is determined by social and historical circumstances .Comparative philology has developed methods which allow to group language families to reconstruct their pre- history and to determine the features of the parent language of each family even if this not attested.
Prescriptive linguistics Before De Saussure linguistics was part of philology( ‘love of learning’).Philologists focused on classical languages and canonical texts and were often prescriptivist in their goals. They seek to develop , systematise and enforce a language standard. A ‘standrad’ is the dialect of any language that is held up as the correct version, the one that should be spoken. Other dialects are usually treated as variations from the standard, which is understood to be the ‘real’ language.
Ferdinand de Saussure (1857–1913) is a Swiss linguist, is seen to be the founder of (structural) linguistics. The posthumously published collection of his lectures, Course in General Linguistics (1916), is a seminal work of modern linguistics. One of the founders of modern linguistics, he established the structural study of language, emphasizing the arbitrary relationship of the linguistic sign to that which it signifies. Saussure distinguished synchronic linguistics (studying language at a given moment) from diachronic linguistics (studying the changing state of a language over time); he further opposed what he named langue (the state of a language at a certain time) to parole (the speech of an individual).
In the 20th century, the structural or descriptive linguistics school emerged. It dealt with languages at particular points
in time( synchronic) rather than through out their historical development ( diachronic). The father of modern structural linguistics was De Saussure who believed in language as a systematic structure serving as a link between thought and sound. He thought of language sounds as a series of linguistic signs that are purely arbitrary.
American and European structuralism shared a number of features. In insisting upon the necessity of treating each language as a more or less coherent and integrated system, both European and American linguists of this period tended to emphasize, if not to exaggerate, the structural uniqueness of individual languages. There was especially good reason to take this point of view given the conditions in which American linguistics developed from the end of the 19th century. There were hundreds of indigenous American Indian languages that had never been previously described. Many of these were spoken by only a handful of speakers and, if they were not recorded before they became extinct, would be permanently inaccessible. Under these circumstances, such linguists as Franz Boas(died 1942) were less concerned with the construction of a general theory of the structure of human language than they were with prescribing sound methodological principles for the analysis of unfamiliar languages. They were also fearful that the description of these languages would be distorted by analyzing them in terms of categories derived from the analysis of the more familiar Indo-European languages.
After Boas, the two most influential American linguists were Edward Sapir (died 1939) and Leonard Bloomfield (died 1949). Like his teacher Boas, Sapir was equally at home in anthropology and linguistics, the alliance of which disciplines has endured to the present day in many American universities. Boas and Sapir were both attracted by the Humboldtian view of the relationship between language and thought, but it was left to one of Sapir's pupils, Benjamin Lee Whorf, to present it in a sufficiently challenging form to attract widespread scholarly attention. Since the republication of Whorf's more important papers in 1956, the thesis that language determines perception and thought has come to be known as the Whorfian hypothesis.
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Join date : 2011-01-03
i would like more about F. de Saussure and the synchronic atudy of language
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Join date : 2011-09-14
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