Language and Linguistics

Schools of linguistics

Schools of linguistics. Throughout history there have been various movements, and for these to get started, precursors. In this timeline we will deal with the distinguished pioneers of the movements on how to understand linguistics in modern times. These movements are also called schools of thought.

Mainly, we will deal with the nineteenth century with the comparative movement, and the twentieth with structuralism, generative linguistics, and cognitive linguistics.

The comparative movement 

In 1786, Sir Williams Johns established a family relationship between Sanskrit, Latin, Greek, and the Germanic languages.

Why is the comparative movement so important? According to the notes and ideas explained in Linguistics class:

1) It is the beginning of general linguistics in the modern concept. Before there was no end to this work.

2) They look for relationships between languages ​​(compared vocabularies, compilations of known languages…)

Language families began to be described, such as Indo-Germanic. Laws that exist in the evolution of languages ​​are discovered, logic begins to be applied, unlike before where the dominance of a language was a matter of faith. Schools of linguistics

The generative linguistics with Noam Chomsky.

According to his official website, Chomsky is a renowned linguist and Professor Emeritus of Linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology ( MIT ).

As a linguist: He is the founder of Generativism. In this, syntax is placed at the center of the study: Syntactic Structures (1957). He grows up with the X-Bar Theory, where he explains the different semantic levels that are reached with mathematical thinking.

His paradox says that with a limited number of structures we can create infinite new structures.

Chomsky defends innatism, since he considers that humans have language devices. This explains that if we do not have a linguistic input, the language would not exist and we would not develop the language.

Cognitive Linguistics 

According to Lakoff and ideas extracted in class, cognitive linguistics is the branch of linguistics that, after the validity of Chomskian mentalism and given the growing importance in the pragmatic study of language, guides research towards the functioning of cognitive mechanisms. of representation, storage of information and its possible influence on oral and written communication as well as on the grammar of the language itself.

It speaks of corporeal experiences through the experience of life.

George Lakoff (Berkeley, 1941) is Professor of Linguistics at the University of California. Along with Ronald Wayne Langacker he is one of the eminent symbols who thought about the role of Cognitive Linguistics.

As explained on his official website, in 1975, George was part of the nascent community of cognitive sciences at Berkeley and became convinced that Linguistics should be based on the nature of cognition.

The word ”cognition” is related to the brain. Cognitivists give importance to the brain, since it is the organ in charge of processing information.

  • Thus, cognitive linguistics is based on bodily experience and information processing.
  • I also develop various hypotheses around what we now call generative semantics. This is based on the idea that all the information necessary to semantically interpret a sign is in the syntactic structure of the text.

According to information taken from ”The Arctic University of Norway” and from my own notes written in class, Ronald Wayne Langacker is currently Professor Emeritus at the University of California, San Diego. He is a well-known and reputed linguist, like Lakoff, for his role in the study of cognitive linguistics and for being the creator of Cognitive Grammar, one of his most important publications.

Both Langacker and Lakoff do not believe in linguistic nativism, since they think that the context is very important, and by context we understand the situation. Schools of linguistics

AMERICAN DESCRIPTIVE SCHOOL

Well, many North American linguists were trained studying indigenous languages ​​that, being unknown in their earlier phases, were not susceptible to diachronic research. They had to be studied, then, as they were, in their current state.

It is precisely this attention paid to indigenous languages ​​that shaped and gave originality to the Descriptive School and its methods. Indeed, those languages ​​could not be described with the categories established secularly by traditional linguistics (noun, adjective, verb, tense, aspect mode…). This forced
his scholars to look for new categories and, incidentally, showed the weakness of the old ones, which had been created based solely on European languages. This search took North American linguists to more advanced stages than their European colleagues, especially in terms of their studies of morphology and syntax.

Sapir and Boas stand out in this section  Both will establish a close
relationship between language and the social context to which it belongs, considering that each language manifests its own special way of seeing the world and interpreting it. In this language-context relationship, it will be impossible for them to study the social environment without paying attention to the language used, as well as to study a language without paying attention to the social context that makes it possible and with which it interacts.

Language can be studied from two points of view: from the formal expression or grammatical procedure and from the combination or distribution of the concepts expressed.

STRUCTURALIST SCHOOL

According to ”An Introduction to Saussure’s Linguistic Theory”, Saussure inaugurated the first school of thought in modern linguistics.

This school is called Structuralism (perspective, approach). 1916.

Why is Saussure novel? One of the reasons was the approach of various dichotomies.

Which schools consolidated structuralism in Europe?

There are 2 schools:

1) Prague Linguistic Circle (1926) Nicolai Trubetzkoy and Roman Jakobson

2) Copenhagen Linguistic Circle (Mid 1930s) ​Louis Hjemslev

Compared to European structuralism, North American structuralism is considered to have followed a more formalistic and mechanistic mechanism in the study of language. The goals of the North American linguists were more limited and modest than those of the Europeans since they were especially interested in finding methods that would allow an adequate and precise description of a language. For this reason, it is evident that North American structuralism advanced much more morphological and syntactic analysis than its European counterpart. The American structuralism that appears in various schools derived from Bloomfield has been fundamentally analytical and descriptive. He starts from the sentence as the maximum unit to be analyzed and creates methods of great scientific subtlety to be able to decompose it into its constituent elements until reaching the phoneme as the minimum and indivisible unit. North American linguistics is more homogeneous because it develops in the same environment and the same language, while in Europe there are very different nations, cultures and languages. North American linguistics is more empirical and pragmatic; however, this perspective has evolved and since Chomsky there has already been an interest in speculation about language. A common feature is the growing use of graphic and conceptual formalism as a consequence of the influence of logical and mathematical language. North American linguistics is more homogeneous because it develops in the same environment and the same language, while in Europe there are very different nations, cultures and languages. North American linguistics is more empirical and pragmatic; however, this perspective has evolved and since Chomsky there has already been an interest in speculation about language. A common feature is the growing use of graphic and conceptual formalism as a consequence of the influence of logical and mathematical language. North American linguistics is more homogeneous because it develops in the same environment and the same language, while in Europe there are very different nations, cultures and languages. North American linguistics is more empirical and pragmatic; however, this perspective has evolved and since Chomsky there has already been an interest in speculation about language. A common feature is the growing use of graphic and conceptual formalism as a consequence of the influence of logical and mathematical language.

BLOOMFIELD

  • Leonard Bloomfield, Chicago 1887 was an American philologist and linguist, one of the most important representatives of American structuralism.

Bloomfield’s work is distinguished by a great internal coherence that made possible advances in the analysis of numerous languages, even if they are very different in their structure. In the relationship between form and meaning, he affirms that a verbal act constitutes an expression. The phonic features common to two or more expressions constitute forms, to which correspond stimulus-response relationships, determining their meaning. The minimum physical form is the morpheme to which it corresponds -in the plane of meaning- another minimum unit called sememe. A word can have a single morpheme or be broken down into several. In addition, every form can be free or dependent (depending on whether they are roots or endings). The word is the minimal free form. Phrases consist of at least two words and may be identical, in the order of their constituent forms;

GENERATIVIST SCHOOL

It is a model of grammar that has specific rules and principles so that the speaker can understand, speak and produce all the sentences of their own language. It is characterized as a school opposed to Bloomfield’s American structuralism. Here the syntagmatic relations are shown, that is to say the grammatical functions such as concordance and function of the words. On the other hand, through generativism Chomsky tries to show why behaviorism is wrong.
Syntax studies the ways in which words are combined, as well as syntagmatic relationships, that is, grammatical functions such as agreement and function of words within a sentence and paradigmatic, that is, the relationship of meaning that exists between the signs of the sentence. same category that can appear in the same context.

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