Teoría linguística

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American Structuralism

American and European structuralism shared a number of features. In insisting upon the necessity of treating each language as a more or less coherent and integratedsystem, both European and American linguists of this period tended to emphasize, if not to exaggerate, the structural uniqueness of individual languages. There was especially good reason to take this pointof view given the conditions in which American linguistics developed from the end of the 19th century.

After Boas, the two most influential American linguists were Edward Sapir (died 1939) andLeonard Bloomfield (died 1949). Like his teacher Boas, Sapir was equally at home in anthropology and linguistics, the alliance of which disciplines has endured to the present day in many Americanuniversities. But it was Bloomfield who prepared the way for the later phase of what is now thought of as the most distinctive manifestation of American "structuralism."

When he published his first bookin 1914, Bloomfield was strongly influenced by Wundt's psychology of language. In 1933, however, he published a drastically revised and expanded version with the new title Language; this book dominatedthe field for the next 30 years. In it Bloomfield explicitly adopted a behaviouristic approach to the study of language, eschewing in the name of scientific objectivity all reference to mental orconceptual categories. Of particular consequence was his adoption of the behaviouristic theory of semantics according to which meaning is simply the relationship between a stimulus and a verbal response.Because science was still a long way from being able to give a comprehensive account of most stimuli, no significant or interesting results could be expected from the study of meaning for someconsiderable time, and it was preferable, as far as possible, to avoid basing the grammatical analysis of a language on semantic considerations. Bloomfield's followers pushed even further the attempt to...
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