A Short History of Structural Linguistics

A Short History of Structural Linguistics

A Short History of Structural Linguistics

A Short History of Structural Linguistics

Synopsis

This book is a concise historical survey of structural linguistics, charting its development from the 1870s to the present day. Peter Matthews examines the beginnings of structuralism and analyzes the vital role played in it by the study of sound systems and the problems of how systems change. He discusses theories of the overall structure of a language, the "Chomskyan revolution" in the 1950s, and the structuralist theories of meaning. The book includes exposition, in particular, of the contributions of Saussure, Bloomfield and Chomsky.

Excerpt

The last chapter of this book was finished on the day when Bobby Robins, whose A Short History of Linguistics has been admired for more than thirty years, was found dead. It is with sadness and affection that I dedicate it, with its presumptuously similar title, to his memory.

I was initially not at all sure how this history should be written: in particular, how selective and, in consequence, how long it should be. For advice at that stage I am especially grateful to Jeremy Mynott and, in a sense that they will understand, to my fellow editors of the Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics. Conversations with Kasia Jaszczolt have since helped, at various times, to clarify my thinking.

I am also grateful to Andrew Winnard for waiting patiently for the book to be written.

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