Chapter Twelve Theories and Schools of Modern Linguistics • 12.0 Introduction • Ferdinand de Saussure: father of modern linguistics • Course in General Linguistics: C. Bally, A. Sechehaye • Saussure’s ideas were developed along three lines: linguistics: W. D. Whitney, Neogrammarian tradition sociology: E. Durkheim psychology: S. Freud
Language is a system of signs. A sign is the union of a form and an idea. Saussure and Western economy of his time Dichotomies by Saussure: LANGUE vs. PAROLE SYNTAGMATIC vs. PARADIGMATIC ABSENCE vs. PRESENCE VIRTUAL WORLDS vs. ACTUAL WORLDS Saussure’s influence on modern linguistics: 1. 2.
The Prague School The London School 1. The functional perspective
1.1 The Prague School • Prague Linguistic Circle: • Started by V. Mathesius (1882-1946) in 1926, with such activists as R. Jacobson (1896-1982), N. Trubetzkoy (1890-1938) and later J. Firbas (1921-2000). • The Circle stood at the heart of important developments in structural linguistics and semiotics in the 1930's.
Three important points: • Stressed synchronic linguistics, but not rigidly separated from diachronic studies. • L is systemic in that no element of L can be satisfactorily analysed or evaluated in isolation and assessment can only be made if its relationship is established with the coexisting elements in the same language system. • L is functional in that it is a tool for performing a number of essential functions or tasks for the community using it.
Prague School Phonology • N. Trubetzkoy: Principle of Phonology (1939). • Phonetics & phonology: different for parole & langue. • Phoneme: an abstract unit of the sound system. • Distinctive features: phonological oppositions.
Trubetzkoy’s contributions • Showed distinctive functions of speech sounds and gave an accurate definition of the phoneme. • Defined the sphere of phonological studies. • Revealed interdependent syntagmatic and paradigmatic relations between phonemes. • Put forward a set of methodologies for phonological studies. • Analysis of utterances (or texts) in terms of the information they contain. • The role of each utterance part is evaluated for its semantic contribution to the whole.
A sentence contains a point of departure and a goal of discourse. The point of departure, called the theme, is the ground on which the speaker and the hearer meet. • The goal of discourse, called the rheme, presents the very information that is to be imparted to the hearer. • Movement from theme to rheme reveals the movement of the mind itself.
Therefore, the functional sentence perspective (FSP) aims to describe how information is distributed in sentences. • It deals particularly with the effect of the distribution of known (given) info and new info in discourse. • New info: to be transmitted to the reader or hearer. • Sallystands on the table. Theme Rheme • On the table standsSally. Theme Rheme
Three levels of a sentence • Grammatical Sentence Pattern (GSP) • Semantic Sentence Pattern (SSP) • Communicative Sentence Pattern (CSP) • Johnhas writtena novel. Subject Verb Object (GSP) Agent Action Goal (SSP) Theme Transition Rheme (CSP)
Communicative dynamism (CD) • J. Firbas • Linguistic communication is dynamic, not static. • CD measures the amount of info an element carries in a sentence. The degree of CD is the effect contributed by a linguistic element. For example,
He was cross. • CD: The lowest degree of CD is carried by he, and the highest degree of CD is carried by cross, with the degree carried by was ranking between them.
Normally the subject carries a lower degree of CD than the verb and/or the object and/or adverbial provided either the verb or the object and/or adverbial are contextually independent. • This is because a known or unknown agent expressed by the subject appears to be communicatively less important than an unknown action expressed by the finite verb and/or an unknown goal (object or adverbial of place) at or towards which the action is directed.
For example, • A man broke into the house and stole all the money. • The ultimate purpose of the communication is to state the action and/or its goal, not the agent.
However, if the subject is followed by a verb expressing “existence or appearance on the scene” and is contextually independent, then it will carry the highest degree of CD, because an unknown person or thing appearing on the scene is communicatively more important than the act of appearing and the scene itself, e.g. • An old man appeared in the waiting room at five o’clock.
If the subject is contextually dependent, a contextually independent adverbial of time or place becomes an important local and temporal specification, carrying greater degree of CD than both the subject and the finite verb, as in • The old man was sitting in the waiting room.
1.2 The London School • B. Malinowski (1884-1942), professor of anthropology (1927). • J. R. Firth (1890-1960), the first professor of linguistics in the UK (1944). • M. A. K. Halliday (1925- ), student of Firth. • All three stressed the importance of context of situation and the system aspect of L.
Malinowski’s theories • Language “is to be regarded as a mode of action, rather than as a counterpart of thought”. • The meaning of an utterance comes from its relation to the situational context in which it occurs.
Three types of situational context: • situations in which speech interrelates with bodily activity; • narrative situations; • situations in which speech is used to fill a speech vacuum—phatic communion.
Firth’s theories • Regarded L as a social process, a means of social life. • In order to live, human beings have to learn and learning L is a means of participation in social activities. • L is a means of doing things and of making others do things, a means of acting and living.
L is both inborn and acquired. • The object of linguistic study is L in use. • The goal of linguistic inquiry is to analyse meaningful elements of L in order to establish corresponding relations between linguistic and non-linguistic elements. • The method of linguistic study is to decide on the composite elements of L, explain their relations on various levels, and ultimately explicate the internal relations between these elements and human activities in the environment of language use.
Firth attempted to integrate linguistic studies with sociological studies: • because human beings are inseparable from cultural values, and L is an important part of cultural values, linguistics can help reveal the social nature of human beings. • Meaning is use, thus defining meaning as the relationship between an element at any level and its context on that level.
Therefore the meaning of any sentence consists of five parts: • the relationship of each phoneme to its phonetic context; • the relationship of each lexical item to the others in the sentence; • the morphological relations of each word; • the sentence type of which the given sentence is an example; • the relationship of the sentence to its context of situation.
In analysing typical context of situation, one has to carry out the analysis on four levels: • Internal relations of the text: • syntagmatic relations in structure • paradigmatic relations in system • Internal relations of the context of situation: • relations between text and non-linguistic elements • analytical relations between elements of the text and elements within the situation
A model covering both the situational context and the linguistic context of a text: • The relevant features of the participants: persons, personalities • verbal action of participants • non-verbal action of participants • The relevant topics, inc. objects, events, and non-linguistic, non-human events. • The effects of the verbal action.
Prosodic analysis: prosodic phonology • Since any human utterance is continuous speech flow made up of at least one syllable, it cannot be cut into independent units. Mere phonetic and phonological descriptions are insufficient. • It is not phonemes that make up the paradigmatic relations, but Phonematic Units, the features of which are fewer than those of phonemes and are called prosodic units.
He did not define prosodic units, but his discussion indicates that they include such features as stress, length, nasalisation, palatalisation, and aspiration. • In any case, these features cannot be found in one phonematic unit alone.
Systemic-functional grammar • M A K Halliday (1925- ). • Two components and inseparable parts: • systemic grammar: internal relations in L as a system network, meaning potential. • functional grammar: L as a means of social interaction, uses or functions of language form.
Systemic grammar finite… clause nonfinite… nominal-group… group adjectival-adverbial-group… prep-phrase… word …
Functional grammar • Ideational function (experiential & logical): to convey new info, communicate a content unknown to the hearer • Interpersonal function: to express social and personal relations • Textual function: to make any stretch of spoken or written discourse into a coherent and unified text and make a living passage different from a random list of sentences.
2. Generative Grammar • NOAM CHOMSKY (1928- ), institute professor at MIT. Linguist, philosopher, and political activist.
The Logical Structure of Linguistic Theory (1955/1975) • Syntactic Structures (1957) • Aspects of the Theory of Syntax (1965) • Cartesian Linguistics (1966) • The Sound Pattern of English (1968) • Language and Mind (1968/1972/2006) • Reflections on Language (1975) • Rules and Representations (1980) • Lectures on Government and Binding (1981) • Knowledge of Language (1986) • Barriers (1986) • Language and Problems of Knowledge (1988) • Language and Thought (1993) • The Minimalist Program (1995) • New Horizons in the Study of Language and Mind (2000) • On Nature and Language (2002)
2.1 Early theories (1957) • Innateness hypothesis • Language acquisition mechanism • Competence and performance • Transformations: generating an infinite set of sentences from a finite set of elements • Deep structure and surface structure • Phrase structure rules • Transformations
Phrase structure rules • S NP VP • VP V NP • NP Det N • V act, beat, catch, dive, … • N man, boy, book, flower, ...
Transformational rules • NP1 + Aux + V + NP2 • John + will + write + a story • NP2 + Aux + be + en + V + by + NP1 • a story + will + be + en + write + by + John
2.2 The standard theory (1965) • Colorless green ideas sleep furiously. • Subcategorization • N [+N, Common] • [+Common] [Count] • [+Count] [Animate] • [-Common] [Animate] • [+Animate] [Human] • [-Count] [Abstract]
sincerity • [+N, +Common, -Count, +Abstract] • boy • [+N, +Common, +Count, +Animate, +Human]
Trace theory: a phonetically null element to occupy the position from which a syntactic element has been moved. • I really love Mary • Mary I really love t
Indexing: • Whoi said Mary kissed himi? • whoi [S ti said Mary kissed himi] • *Whoi did hei say Mary kissed? • *whoi [S hei said Mary kissed ti] • Johni said Mary kissed himi • *hei said Mary kissed Johni
2.4 GB/PP theory (1981) • Government and Binding Theory (early) • or • Principles and parameters Theory (later) • 1980s
Principles • X-bar theory • Government theory • Binding theory • Case theory • -theory • Bounding theory • Control theory