Structuralism is a new branch of linguistics coming into existence as a
reaction to the school of the preceding century. The representants of
- 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.
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.
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.
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
Language is a system of signs,
arbitrary and socially conditioned; it is supraindividual, abstract and
hierarchical system of signs, their interrelations, values and
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.
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
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
ofovsknek, J. MukaMathesius, 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.
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
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.
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
He worked with American-Indian languages; was interested in psychology and anthropology.
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.
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
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
(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.
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.
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.
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