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LINGUISTIC SCHOOLS OF STRUCTURALISM

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LINGUISTIC SCHOOLS OF STRUCTURALISM

Post by offline on Tue Jan 11 2011, 09:18

Structuralism is a new branch of linguistics coming into existence as a reaction to the school of the preceding century. The representants of structuralism:
- Critised the overemphasis of the diachronic method.
- Established a new definition of language capturing its main features
- Language as a system of signs, as a social phenomenon, and as a medium of communication.
Their predecessors were:A.Marty, Henry Sweet, an English grammarian, Rasmus Rask, a Danish linguist, O Jaspersen, a Danish linguist, G.von der Gablentz, a German linguist, and J.Baudouin de Courtenay.As their ideas were scattered and isolated , it is De Saussure , who is considered to be the founder of structuralism.
STRUCTURALIST SCHOOLS
GENEVA SCHOOL
Ferdinand de Saussure is considered to be the” father of modern linguistics’, the founder of the Geneva school and structuralism in linguistics.His cours de linguistique generale, a posthumously published work by his students Charles Bally and Albert Sechehaye; Saussure is the author of many terms and concepts used even as a part of modern linguistic terminology:synchrony, diachrony, language, parole, langage, significant, signifier, phoneme, phonology, syntagma, sign, model , economy of speech.
Semiology is a science studying signs or signals for the purpose of communication of human society.The most important semiotic system is human language, but there are other systems, eg .Morse code, sign code, traffic signals.
The value of each sign is determined by its meaning and by its relationship to other signs within the system.
The linguistic sign is a connection of phonic substance( significant- what signifies,reflection of a physical sound in our brain) and the concept of signifie- what is signified, abstract notion).These both facets are inseparable.
Language is a system of signs, arbitrary and socially conditioned; it is supraindividual, abstract and hierarchical system of signs, their interrelations, values and combinatory possibilities.
Diachronic linguistics studies how a language changes over a period of time.
Synchronic linguistics is the study of a language system or one particular point of time (emphasised by Saussure).
Langage is an ability of humans to create in language a system of signs that is not inherited, as opposed to animals.
Langue is an abstract system of conventional rules that are generally recognized by all speakers of the particular language; it covers elements, rules, models and codifications. It enables individuals to communicate and to understand each other, thus it is a social phenomenon.
Parole is a concrete manifestation of langue uttered by an individual in a given moment. Such utterance contains errors, hesitations, false starts, sentences broken off half way through, etc.

The Prague School
In 1926, the Cercle Linguistic de Prague, later known as The Prague School of Linguistics, was established. The most remarkable representants were: V. , B. Trnka, J. Vachek and a group ofovsknek, J. MukaMathesius, B. Havr Russians R. Jakobson, N. Trubetzkoy, S. Kracevskij and others.
In 1929, the Circle published Theses submitted to the first Congress of Slavonic Philologists:
• Language is a system of expressive means, and serves for communication.
• Its functions are a system of its components.
• It is dependent on external (non-linguistic) factors, eg language of a particular culture, language of literature, of science.
• Linguistic investigation must be based on synchronic approach.
• Language is a system in development.
• It should be distinguished between the spoken and written form.
Vilem Mathesius
The most influencial personality of the Prague School. He was one of the representants of synchronic aproach to facts of language (he used terms "static" for synchronic and "dynamic" for diachronic). However, within this "static" there is a certain potentiality. It means a synchronous oscillation fo speech in the particular language community; a precondition for the development of language itself.
There are two ways of the description of a language stemming from the process of communication:
• functional onomatology - the first stage of encoding: the study of the naming units, elements capable of being denominated by language
• functional syntax is a study of the means by which naming units are brought into mutual relations to form a utterance
Josef Vachek
He was intereseted mainly in the concept of phoneme.
The written language has its specific functions and means of expression and should be investigated
The Copenhagen School
Their theory was called glossematics and based on an abstract logical-mathematical theory.
American Descriptivism
In 1924, the Linguist Society of America was established. They issued a joutnal called Language. They worked mainly with original Indian languages. It was Franz Boas who gave the basis for their method:
• practical orientation;
• structuralistic (each language has its own rules and cathegories, which cannot be based on those of Latin and Greek);
• the language was associated also with the culture and behaviour of the nation;
• overemphasis of synchronic method;
• the form was prior to lexical meaning;
• orientation to mathematical methods in linguistics, the effort to formalize the analysis of language, and to develop various models of grammatical descriptions.

Edward Sapir
He worked with American-Indian languages; was interested in psychology and anthropology.
The potentiality to learn a language is dependent on society. The language itself is largely linked to human culture. That is why he conceived language as an acquired cultural function.
Language is a conventional, arbitrary system, purely human and non-instinctive method of communicating ideas, emotions and desires by means of a system of voluntarily produced symbols. (In modern time terminology symbol is sign.) He conceived linguistic signs as bilateral units having form (speech sounds) and meaning (elements of experience).
Language is characterized by its ideal system of sounds - phonemes. There are four criteria:
• position of the vocal chords
• passage of breath through the mouth of nose
• free or impeded passage
• precise points of articulation
He distinguished six main types of grammatical processes:
• word order: juxtaposing two of more words in succession
• composition: the uniting into a single word of two or more elements
• affixation: distinguishes prefixes, suffixes and infixes
• internal modification: entailing vocalic or consonantal change that indicates fundamental change of grammatical function
• reduplication: repetition of all or part of the root element
• variations in accent: stress or pitch
Language is a dynamic system under a constant process of change. Sapir speaks about so-called drift of languages and linguistic features concerning morphological type as well as changes of grammatical classes and word significances.
Leonard Bloomfield
Leonard Bloomfield (April 1, 1887- April8, 1949 was an American linguist, whose influence dominated the development of structural linguistics in America between the 1930s and the 1950s. He is especially known for his book Language (1933), describing the state of the art of linguistics at its time.
Bloomfield was the main founder of the Linguistic Society of America ( The Linguistic Society of America (LSA) is an organization devoted to the scientific study of human language, and is the major professional society for linguistic researchers in North America and beyond.The LSA was formed in 1924. Its first president was Hermann Collitz, elected in 1925. The current president of the LSA (2006) is Sally McConnell-Ginet. A few prominent past presidents are Joseph Greenberg, Calvert Watkins, Morris Halle and Ken Hale.)

Behaviourism is an approach to psychology based on the proposition that behaviour can be researched scientifically without recourse to inner mental states. It is a form of materialism, denying any independent significance for the mind. A similar approach to.
One of the assumptions of many behaviorists is that free will is illusory, and that all behaviour is determined by a combination of forces comprising genetic factors and the environment, either through association or reinforcement.
The behaviourist school of thought ran concurrent with the psychoanalysis movement in psychology in the 20th century. Its main influences were Ivan Pavlov, who investigated classical conditioning, John B. Watson who rejected introspective methods and sought to restrict psychology to experimental methods, and B.F. Skinner who sought to give ethical grounding to behaviorism, relating it to pragmatism, and conducted research on operant conditioning.
for the study of meaning, its insistence on formal procedures for the analysis of language data, as well as a general concern to provide linguistics with rigorous scientific methodology. Its pre-eminence decreased in the late 1950s and 1960s, after the emergence of Generative Grammar.
Bloomfield also began the genetic examination of the Algonquian language family with his reconstruction of Proto-Algonquian; his seminal paper on the family remains a cornerstone of Algonquian historical linguistics today.

J. R. Firth
Worked at the University of London. He was mainly focused on phonology - prosodic analysis, and semantics; contextual theory of language.

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