Sunday, December 14, 2008

the geneva school of linguistics

The Geneva school:
The leader and pioneer of this school was saussure in general the supporter of this school have tried to remain whole heartedly loyal to the reaching and spirit of saussure for a long time leader s were charles bally and A sechehaye who had assumed the responsibility of publishing the cours bally who tackled the difficult problem of the relationship between thought and its linguistics expression renewed the study of stylistics by defining it as the study of effective element ofand by devoting his attention to the deviation that individual usage (parole ) imposes on the system (longue) his work is remarkable for strict logic and care. Sechehaye himself to constructing a grammatical method (the psychological analysis of thought) that would introduce saussurian concept effectively in to the field teaching. henri freiis known as the promoter of functional linguistics
The major concern of the linguist of this school was the classification and interpretation of the principle of the cours.
Ferdinand de Saussure:
The credit for bringing a revaluation in the field of linguistics goes to the swiss scholar Ferdinand de Saussure he is the founder of modern linguistics the father of structural linguistics which come to be called descriptive linguistics also. At the age of twenty while still a student at Leipzig he left his linguistic imprint by publishing his monumental treatise on the proto-indo European vocalic system saussure knew many language – Sanskrit, Greek, Latin ,Swiss, French ,old German etc .at Paris where he taught Sanskrit for ten years from 1881 to 1891 and served as secretary of the linguistics society of the Paris his influence on the development of linguistics was decisive Later on he accepted the chair of linguistics at the university of Geneva where he taught linguistics between 1906 and 1911
His course de linguistique generale (hereafter the course) was published in 1916 three year after his death , from his lecture note by his two students charles bally (1865 -1947)and alber sechehaye (1870-1946) , although saussure has about 600 page on linguistics to his credit yet his main work is course it this book that marks the beginning of modern linguistics and tries to study language synchronically for its own sake and questions many traditional grammatical distinctions at language in a new way .

Saussure introduces the following notion in linguistics:
1. synchronic and diachronic
2. language , langue and parole
3. linguistics sign
4. linguistics value
5. syntagmatic and paradigmatic

Synchrony and diachrony:
Synchrony is the study of a language in a given time , diachrony through time synchrony or descriptive linguistics studies a language at one period in time it investigates the way people speak in a given speech community in a given point in time diachronic or historical ( or temporal) linguistics studies the development of language through time it also investigate language change saussure says: “synchronic linguistics will be concerned with the logical and psychological relation bind to gather co-existing term and from a system in the collective mind of speaker. Diachronic linguistics, on the contrary, will study relations that bind together successive terms not perceived by the collective mind but substituted for each other without forming a system” synchronic linguistics deals with systems, diachronic with units. These two approaches had to be kept clearly apart and pursued separately. Suassure considered synchronic linguistics to be more important: “the first thing that strikes us when we study the factys of language is that their succession in time does not exist insofar as the speaker is concerned. He is confronted with a state. That is why the linguist who wishes to understand a state must discard all knowledge of everything that produced it and ignore diachrony”

Langue and parole:
Ferdinand de Saussure made a sharp distinction between three main terms le langage, la langue and la parole, and then concentrated on two of them. He envisaged le langage (human speech as a whole) to be composed of two aspects, which he called langue (the language system) and parole (the act of speaking).
Le langage has no exact equivalent in English; it embraces the faculty of language in all its various forms and manifestations.
Le langage is the faculty of human speech present in all normal human beings due to heredity, but which requires the correct environmental stimuli for proper development, it is our faculty to talk to each other. Taken as a whole it is many sided and heterogeneous, straddling several areas simultaneously physical, physiological and psychological it belongs to the individual and to society; we cannot put it onto any eatetory of human facts for we cannot discover its unity. Langage thus is a universal behaviour trait more of interest to the anthropologist or biologist than to the linguist, who commences his study with langues and paroles. To quote Saussure ‘la langue est pour nous le langage moins la parole’ language is for us le langage less speech.
Langue, according to saussure, in the totality (the ‘collective fact’) of a language, deducible from an examination of the memories of all the lanuge users. It a storehouse, the sum of word images in the minds of individuals. It is not to be confused with human speech (langage) of which it is only a definite part, though certainly an essential one. ‘It is both a social product of the faculty of speech and a collection of necessary conventions that have been adopted by a social body to permit individuals to exercise that faculty. Langue, therefore, is a corporate, social phenomenon; it is homogeneous whereas langage is heterogenous.
It is concrete and we can study it. It is a system of linguistic sings which are not abstract but real entities, tangible to be reduced to conventional, written symbols. Putting it loosely, langue is grammar + vocabulary + pronunciation system of a community. As stated by hjelmeslev.
Parole is the set of all utterances that have actually been produced, while langue is the set of all possible grammatical sentences in the language. From this it follows that parole is a personal, dynamic, social activity, which exist at a particular time and place and in a particular situation as opposed to langue, which exist apart from any particular manifestation in speech.

Saussure’s Theory of linguistic sign:
Saussure mentions; “some people regard language, when reduced to its elements, as a naming-process only a list of words, each corresponding to the thing that it names”
This conception assumes that “ready-made ideas exist before words…, it does not tell us whether a name is vocal or psychological in nature…; finally, it lest us assume that the linking of a name and a thing is a very simple operation an assumption that is anything but true” It is this assumption that makes him regard, language as “a system of signs in which the only essential thing is the union of meanings and sound-image, and in which both parts of the sign are psychological .
Saussure’s sign is a two-sided psychological entity whose components are concept and sound-image.
In other words, a ‘sign’ is a union of signified (concept) and signifier (sound-image). To speak more neatly, a sign is a wedding union of content and expression. The linguistic sign to Saussure is the basic unit of communication; a unit within the langue of the community. Being a relationship, and part of langue, it is thus a mental construct; a ‘concrete entity’ concepts according to him could not exist prior to words.
The linguistic sign has two primordial characteristics arbitrariness and immutability. For example, the signified (the concept of a dog) has different signifiers (sound-image) in different languages ‘dog’ in English, ‘kutta’ in Hindi, ‘shwan’ in Sanskrit, ‘nai’ in Kannada, ‘kukka’ in Telegu, ‘kukur’ in Bengali, etc.
This signifier is handed over to us by convention or custom. Hence it is unchangeable or immutable. The signs are multiple in numbers; their system is quite complex and can be grasped only through reflection,
It is on the basis of the linguistic sign that Saussure recalls th study of language ‘semiology’ (from Greek semeion ‘sign’). He says, “ a science that studies the live of signs within society is conceivable; it would be a part of social psychology and consequently of general psychology … linguistics is only a part of the general science of semiology…
Saussure theory of associative value:
Saussure attributed to each linguistics sign a value which is determined by its relationship within the total vocabulary in a language.
the value of each word according to saussure is determined by its opposition to other word value in writing function only through reciprocal opposition within a fixed system that consist of a set number letters it this interdependence among the value of the word which transforms them all into a uniform language system and that which pertains the content of words pertains to their form as well it is not sounds in themselves which give word their meaning but phonetic differences enabling us t o distinguish a given word from all others for it is with these phonetic differences that meaning is connected
Saussure applied his principle of value not only to the conceptual but also to the material aspect of language just as the conceptual value of the sigh determined by its relation to all the other sing in the language by its environment, so are the sound characterized, not, as one might think, by their own positive quality but simply by the fact that they are distinct .language according to saussure is simply the functioning of linguistics oppositions, these opposition yield a pattern of relationship the study of which linguistics constitutes linguistics.
Each one the units of a system is thus defined by relations which it maintain with the3 other units and by the oppositions into which It enters. Thus the idea that the data of a language have value in themselves and are objective “facts”, absolute quantities, susceptible of being considered in isolation, was abandoned. In reality, linguistic entities can be determined only within the system that organizes and governs them and in terms of each other. They have no value except as elements in a structure. It is first the system which hast to be isolated and described. Thus a theory of language as a system of signs and as an arrangement of units in a hierarchy was worked out by saussure, replacing the positivist notion of the linguistic fact by that of relationship.

Syntagmatic and paradigmatic:
The structure of a language according to Saussure can be segmented into two kind of relationship, the syntagmatic and paradigmatic. Combination supported by linearity are syntagms word become a sentence because they are chained together so the syntsgmstic relationship is the combinatorial or chain relationship for example: we can come tomorrow is a sentence because in this linear arrangement of word we is correlated with can, can with come and so on, the relationship is that of pronoun +auxiliary verb +main verb +temporal adverb. This relationship is restricted to certain orders. That is why come can tomorrow we is not a sentence.
The paradigmatic relationships are contrastive or choice relationships words that have something in common are associated in memory resulting in group marked by diverse relation for example, the English word learning will unconsciously call to mind a host of other words – study knowledge discipline etc. all these word are related in some way. This kind of relationship is called associative or paradigmatic relationship, here the co-ordinations are outside discourse and are not are supported by linearity. They are relations in absentia, and are vertical type relations their set is in the brain, they are a part of the inner storehouse that make up language of each speaker.

Saussure’s contribution:
Saussure’s contribution to linguistics is of great significance. He revolutionized linguistics, made it descriptive and structural, gave it a methodology and objectivity and brought it out of the rut it was in. he is indeed one of the greatest theoreticians of the new era of linguistics. It was he who first of all emphasized repeatedly the importance of seeing language as a living phenomenon (as against the historical view), of studying speech (in place of isolated phonetic tendencies and occasional grammatical comparisons), and in placing language firmly in its social milieu (as opposed to seeing it solely as a set of physical features). The tradition of study which has grown up around Saussure has been to extract various theoretical dichotomies from his work and to concentrate on the clarification of these.
Saussure’s great service to the study of language lies in a series of rigorous distinctions and definitions which he made concerning the nature of language. Though a historical linguist in the beginning, he detached himself from the tradition of linguistics as a purely historical study.

No comments: