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The structuralists

Saussure's ideas spread first to Russia, being brought there and developed by Ramon Jacobson (1896-1982). Strictly speaking, the product was not Structuralism, which dates from Jakobson's acquaintance with L?vi-Strauss in the 1960's, but formalism

Structuralism –from which structural analysis derives – is the methodological principle that human culture is made up of systems in which a change in any element produces changes in the others.

2 main streams in the 20th century

1st: structuralism represented by 1)the Prague School (created functional l-cs)

2) the Copenhagen School (created glossematics)

3) the American School (created descriptive l-cs)

2nd stream is connected with the name of Noam Chomsky, whose work meant a fundamental breakthrough in the development of linguistic theory in the second half of the 20th century.

The essence of Structuralism is in the tenet that every element has it place in the integrity of language structure and it is important to establish its place , its relations to other elements and consequently to function.


Developed in the US from the necessity of studying half known or unknown languages of the American-Indian tribes that had no writing, no history.

Descriptive analysis aims at analyzing linguistic elements in terms of their distribution.


The principle of linguistic relativity holds that the structure of a language affects the ways in which its respective speakers conceptualize their world, i.e. their world view, or otherwise influences their cognitive processes. Popularly known as the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis, or Whorfianism, the principle is often defined to include two versions. The strong version says that language determines thought, and that linguistic categories limit and determine cognitive categories, while the weak version says only that linguistic categories and usage influence thought and certain kinds of non-linguistic behaviour.


  • Inverse of the structural app

  • Functional relations are primary

  • Constituent structure is interpretative of functional structure.

The London School

The London School of Harry Sweet (1845-1912) and David Jones (1881-1967) stressed the practical side of phonetics, and trained its students to perceive, transcribe and reproduce each minute sound distinction very precisely — far more than the American behaviourists, for example, and of course the Chomskians, who are extending models rather than testing them. And this phonetic competence was much needed when J.R. Firth (1891-1960) and others at the School of Oriental and African Studies helped to plan the national languages and their writing systems for the new Commonwealth countries. Overall, the School has been very far ranging — noting, for example how stress and tone co-occur with whole syllables, and developing a terminology to cope: a basis for poetic metre. Firthian analysis also finds a place for aesthetic considerations and develops a system of mutually exclusive options, somewhat like Saussure but more socially and purposively orientated.

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