Saussure and Bloomfield

Topics: Linguistics, Ferdinand de Saussure, Semiotics Pages: 2 (680 words) Published: May 16, 2011
The aim of this essay is to compare and contrast two important linguistics that reached a significant milestone in the history of Language. Their names are Leonard Bloomfield (April 1, 1887–April 18, 1949) and Ferdinand de Saussure (November 26, 1857– February 22, 1913). Leonard Bloomfield was an American linguist who led the development of structural linguistics in the United States during the 1930s and 1940s. Ferdinand de Saussure was a Swiss linguist who taught at the University of Geneva, whose ideas about language laid the foundation for many significant developments in linguistics in the early 20th century.

Bloomfield came from the Neogrammarian School of linguistics.  That means he focused on the historical aspects and evolution of languages.  He studied particular languages, their history and how words are generated.  Both Bloomfield and Saussure studied language as a structure or with a scientific basis.  The main difference is that Bloomfield studied linguistics diachronically: its historical and comparative development.  Saussure studied language synchronically: he made the comparison between language and chess.  There is no necessity to know the history moves; you could understand the system just by looking at the board at any single moment. This is the synchronic study of Language. 

Another marked difference is that Bloomfield himself never suggested that it was possible to describe the syntax and phonology of a language in total ignorance of the meaning of words and sentences. His view was incomplete, as he studied part of the system and not the whole. In contrast to this, Saussure studied Language as a system, including all aspects of it. He considered the system has three properties: Wholeness, since the system functions as a whole. Transformation, as the system is not static, but capable of change. Self-Regulation, this is related to the fact that new elements can be added to the system, but the basic structure of it can not be...
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