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Leonard Bloomfield (1887-1949)

Leonard Bloomfield (1887-1949)

Leonard Bloomfield was born on 1 April as as 1887 in Chicago, Illinois , United States . Born in a family of Judeo-Germanic origin, he moved to Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin , where he attended school.

Work history

He studied at Harvard and Chicago universities , and graduated from the latter university in 1909. He taught Philology and Linguistics in Chicago and Yale, where he worked as a professor from 1940 until his death. Indo-European and Germanist, he was also interested in the Malay-Polynesian and Amerindian languages, which he described in detail.

Its importance in the field of modern linguistics (immersed in American linguistics, whose mainstream was defined as postbloomfieldian) is due mainly to its theoretical positions. In 1914 his first manual, An introduction to the study of language, came to light. In 1917, his second book, Tagalog Texts with Gramatical Analysis, came to light. The author, based on the data offered by an Illinois student, carried out a detailed description of the different linguistic aspects of this Austrian language. In 1925 he founded the magazine Language; and in 1933 he published his masterpiece, also titled Language.

Although the title coincides with that of E. Sapir‘s book, the spirit and method of its positions are radically different. Bloomfield wanted to apply a rigorously scientific method. Theoretical problems were raised and solved through operationism (that is, using only initial propositions and provisions that involve specific material operations) and physicalism (that is, using only terms derived, through rigid definitions, from a set of everyday terms referred to physical facts). Applying these principles, he collaborated in the elaboration of the Universal Encyclopedia of Unified Science.

Bloomfield theories

According to Bloomfield’s theories, linguistic events are reduced to a set of physically determinable segments arranged according to a stimulus-response scheme, in which the only effective reality is individual behavior, manifested through a series of speech acts. in his physical appearance. Bloomfield’s anti-mentalism systematically avoids resorting to the study of the mental operations of the speaker. It focuses solely on speech acts, on perfectly delimited and concrete material facts.

For their study, these speech acts (“utterances”) must be broken down into smaller segments (immediate constituents) until reaching the last constituents or morphemes, the minimum grammatical units. On the other hand, the Bloomfieldian conception places meaning outside the field of study of linguistics, considering it as a set of practical facts related to the statement. In this way, meaning is an extralinguistic fact that must be considered by particular sciences.

Actually, due to the very demands of the description, Bloomfield contravened these principles, since he had to recognize that in order to describe and delimit the linguistic units (the phoneme is a minimum unit within the field of distinctive phonic features) it is necessary to rely on the meaning . Thus, for example, he referred to connotation, defining it as the emotional halo that accompanies the denotative reference, properly semantic, acknowledging that the description of meaning is the weak point in the study of language . Finally, it should be remembered that Bloomfield knew and received the influence of Saussure, whom he quoted in his works.


He died on April 18 , 1949 in New Haven, Connecticut , in the United States . After his death, four works were published: from his manuscripts of the Algonquian languages, and edited by CF Hockett, appeared Ojibwa Texts (Texts of the Chipeva, 1957), The Menomini Language (La lengua menomini, 1962) and Menomini Lexicon ( Menomini Lexicon, 1975); Finally, CL Barnhart published Let’s Read (Let’s read, 1961), a text related to the teaching of reading in primary school.

Publications made by the author

  • Bloomfield, Leonard. 1909/1910. “A semasiological differentiation in Germanic secondary ablaut.” Modern Philology.
  • Bloomfield, Leonard (1911). “The Indo-European Palatals in Sanskrit”. The American Journal of Philology 32 (1): pp. 36–57.
  • Bloomfield, Leonard. 1914. Introduction to the Study of Language. New York: Henry Holt. Reprinted 1983, John Benjamins. Retrieved April 19, 2009.
  • Bloomfield, Leonard (1914a). “Sentence and Word”. Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association 45:pp. 65–75.
  • Bloomfield, Leonard (1916). «Subject and Predicate». Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association 47:pp. 13–22.
  • Bloomfield, Leonard. 1917. Tagalog texts with grammatical analysis. University of Illinois studies in language and literature, 3.2-4. Urbana, Ill.
  • Bloomfield, Leonard (1925). «Why a linguistic society?». Language 1: p. 1–5.
  • Bloomfield, Leonard (1925a). «On the sound-system of Central Algonquian». Language 1 (4): p. 130–156.
  • Bloomfield, Leonard. 1925-1927. “Notes on the Fox language.” International Journal of American Linguistics 3:219-232; 4:181-219
  • Bloomfield, Leonard (1926). «A set of postulates for the science of language». Language 2 (3): p. 153–164. (reprinted in: Martin Joos, ed., Readings in Linguistics I, Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press 1957, 26-31).
  • Bloomfield, Leonard (1927). «On Some Rules of Pāṇini». Journal of the American Oriental Society 47:pp. 61–70.
  • Bloomfield, Leonard (1927a). «Literate and illiterate speech». American Speech 2 (10): pp. 432–441.
  • Bloomfield, Leonard. 1928. Menomini texts. Publications of the American Ethnological Society 12. New York: GE Stechert, Agents. [reprinted 1974. New York: AMS Press] ISBN 0-404-58162-5
  • Bloomfield, Leonard (1928a). “A note on sound change”. Language 4 (2): p. 99–100.
  • Bloomfield, Leonard. 1929. Review of Bruno Liebich, 1928, Konkordanz Pāṇini-Candra, Breslau: M. & H. Marcus. Language 5:267-76. Reprinted in Hockett, Charles. 1970, 219-226.
  • Bloomfield, Leonard. 1930. Sacred stories of the Sweet Grass Cree. National Museum of Canada Bulletin, 60 (Anthropological Series 11). Ottawa. [reprinted 1993, Saskatoon, SK: Fifth House]. ISBN 1-895618-27-4
  • Bloomfield, Leonard. 1933. Language. New York: Henry Holt. ISBN 0-226-06067-5, ISBN 90-272-1892-7
  • Bloomfield, Leonard. 1934. Plains Cree texts. American Ethnological Society Publications 16. New York. [reprinted 1974, New York: AMS Press]
  • Bloomfield, Leonard. 1935. “Linguistic aspects of science.” Philosophy of Science 2/4:499-517.
  • Bloomfield, Leonard. 1939. “Menomini morphophonemics.” Etudes phonologiques dédiées à la mémoire de M. le prince NS Trubetzkoy, 105-115. Travaux du Cercle Linguistique de Prague 8. Prague.
  • Bloomfield, Leonard. 1939a. Linguistic aspects of science. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-57579-9
  • Bloomfield, Leonard (1942). «Outline of Ilocano syntax». Language 18 (3): p. 193–200.
  • Bloomfield, Leonard. 1942a. Outline guide for the practical study of foreign languages. * * * * Baltimore: Linguistic Society of America.
  • Bloomfield, Leonard. 1946. “Algonquian.” Harry Hoijer et al., eds., Linguistic structures of native America, 85-129. Viking Fund Publications in Anthropology 6. New York: Wenner-Gren Foundation.
  • Bloomfield, Leonard. 1958. Eastern Ojibwa. Ed. Charles F. Hockett. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
  • Bloomfield, Leonard. 1962. The Menomini language. Ed. Charles F. Hockett. New Haven: Yale University Press.
  • Bloomfield, Leonard. 1975. Menomini lexicon. Ed. Charles F. Hockett. Milwaukee Public Museum Publications in Anthropology and History. Milwaukee: Milwaukee Public Museum.
  • Bloomfield, Leonard. 1984. Cree-English lexicon. Ed. Charles F. Hockett. New Haven: Human Relations Area Files. ISBN 99954-923-9-3
  • Bloomfield, Leonard. 1984b. Fox-English lexicon. Ed. Charles F. Hockett. New Haven: Human Relations Area Files. ISBN 99954-923-7-7

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