Roman Jakobson

Roman Jakobson (rəmän´ yäk´ôbsən), 1896–1982, Russian-American linguist and literary critic, b. Moscow. He coined the term structural linguistics and stressed that the aim of historical linguistics is the study not of isolated changes within a language but of systematic change. In Czechoslovakia in the late 1920s and the 30s, Jakobson and a few colleagues, most notably N. S. Trubetzkoy, developed what came to be known as the Prague school of linguistics. They argued that synchronic phonology, the study of speech sounds in a language at a given time, must be considered in light of diachronic phonology, the study of speech sounds as they have changed over the course of the language's history. After leaving Czechoslovakia in 1939, Jakobson went on to Denmark, Norway, and Sweden before coming to the United States to teach at Columbia (1943–49) and later Harvard (1949–67); at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1957–67) he worked with Morris Halle on distinctive-feature theory, developing a binary system that defines a speech sound by the presence or absence of specific phonetic qualities, such as stridency and nasality. Through his contact with French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss and others, Jakobson was influential in the development of structuralism.

See his Six Lectures on Sound and Meaning (1978); Framework of Language (1980).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Roman Jakobson: Selected full-text books and articles

Fundamentals of Language By Roman Jakobson; Morris Halle Mouton, 1956
On Expressive Language: Papers Presented at the Clark University Conference on Expressive Language Behavior By Joe K. Adams; Bernard Kaplan; Silvano Arieti; Susanne Langer; Solomon Asch; Roman Jakobson; Heinz Werner Clark University Press, 1955
Librarian's tip: "Aphasia as a Linguistic Problem" by Roman Jakobson begins on p. 69
The Logic of Markedness By Edwin L. Battistella Oxford University Press, 1996
Librarian's tip: Chap. Three "The Heirs of Jakobson" and Chap. Six "Jakobson and Chomsky: Bridging Invariance and Variation"
Modern Criticism and Theory: A Reader By Nigel Wood; David Lodge Pearson, 2000 (2nd edition)
Librarian's tip: Chap. 3 "Roman Jakobson"
Claude Levi-Strauss: Social Psychotherapy and the Collective Unconscious By Thomas Shalvey University of Massachusetts Press, 1979
Librarian's tip: "Metaphor: Jakobson" begins on p. 15
Parameters of Slavic Morphosyntax By Steven Franks Oxford US, 1995
Librarian's tip: "Excursus on Jakobson's Features" begins on p. 42 and "Revising Jakobson's System" begins on p. 48
The Emergence of the Speech Capacity By D. Kimbrough Oller Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2000
Librarian's tip: Discussion of Roman Jakobson begins on p. 36
The Poetics of the Mind's Eye: Literature and the Psychology of Imagination By Christopher Collins University of Pennsylvania Press, 1991
Librarian's tip: Chap. 3 "The Poetics of Play: Reopening Jakobson's "Closing Statement"
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