Prague School

Topics: Linguistics, Phonology, Structuralism Pages: 9 (3074 words) Published: November 7, 2012
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THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF THE PRAGUE SCHOOL TO THE STUDY OF LANGUAGE Asist. univ. drd. Crina Herţeg ,,Universitatea 1 Decembrie1918”, Alba Iulia The Prague Linguistic Circle represented an important moment in the development of phonology, structuralism and linguistics in general and it prepared the grounds for research and the subsequent evolution of linguistics. The paper attempts a general view on what The Prague School meant for linguistics and it aims at giving a general survey on the activity and on the contributions brought by The Prague Linguistic Circle.It focuses on the novelty which the most important members of the Prague Linguistic Circle brought to linguistics and it points out the importance of the Prague School moment in the history of linguistics. The Prague Linguistic Circle came into being and properly started its activity in 1926, the official year of its members`first meeting and the ”so-called” classical period in the activity of the circle.However, its members`earlier preoccupations and research in the field of language and their first irregular meetings should not be left aside.These supplied material for the papers and works which were later written and published by the members of the Prague School and represented the foundations on which further research was built. The circle`s roots can be dated back as far as 1911 when Vilém Mathésius, who was to become an important member of the circle, independently of and without having any connection with Ferdinand de Saussure, predicted the synchronic study of language. The preoccupations and the research of its members did not emerge out of nothing, they set out with a solid foundation behind them. The forerunners of The Prague Linguistic Circle had been Ferdinand de Saussure`s “Course in General Linguistics” and the Moscow Linguistic Circle, founded in 1915. The members of the Moscow Linguistics Circle were interested in and also dealt with problems regarding language and linguistics. The sources on which its members` studies were based were Ferdinand de Saussure`s and Baudouin de Courtenay`s works. Due to historical background and events which occurred there (The October Revolution from Russia) the members of the Moscow Linguistic Circle were forced to leave Russia and to continue their activity elsewhere. Roman Jakobson and Nicholay Serghey Trubetzkoy fled to Czechoslovakia, where they joined The Prague Linguistic Circle. Besides the scholars of Russian origin The Prague Linguistic Circle also counted among its founding members personalities such as Vilém Mathésius, Seghey Karcévsky, Jan Mukarovsky. In 1930s younger members joined the circle: René Wellek and Felix Vodicka and many visitors among whom Emile Benveniste had the opportunity of presenting papers in the circle. The circle united scholars who wrote and published their papers in German, French, Russian and Czech. They had the same preoccupations and interests without creating in and without using the same language. Up to that point mention should be made upon an important aspect in the activity of the circle, namely its multilingualism. Moreover not only did The Prague Linguistic Circle benefit from the former activity of the Moscow Linguistic Circle but it also inherited the legacy left in the field of language by Ferdinand de Saussure. All these turned The Prague Linguistic Circle into one of the most influential, multilingual and important schools of linguistics before the war. In 1928, at the first International Congress of Linguistics organized in The Hague, the Prague participants presented the Prague Circle program drafted by Roman Jakobson and co-signed by Nicholay Serghey Trubetzkoy and Seghey Karcévsky. A year later, in 1929 at The First International


Congress of Slavicists held in Prague, the Prague scholars launched “Travaux du Cercle Linguistique de Prague” where they recorded and published the results of their efforts. The first volume of “Travaux du Cercle...

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