Lecturers: Sudarsono, Ph. D

Download 55.26 Kb.
Size55.26 Kb.

Course Syllabus

Theoretical Linguistics (MKE-101)

Program Studi Magister (S2) Pendidikan Bahasa Inggris

FKIP Universitas Tanjungpura
Lecturers: Sudarsono, Ph.D. and Dr. Ikhsanudin


  1. Course Title : Theoretical Linguistics

  2. Code : MKE-101

  3. Credits : 3

  4. Level : S-2

  5. Students : Master’s Program Students of English Language Pedagogy of

Fakultas Keguruan dan Ilmu Pendidikan of UniversitasTanjungpura


This course is intended to provide deep overviews on the history of modern linguistic theories and to introduce methods of conducting linguistic analysis.


  1. Overview of Linguistic Theories

    1. Theory and Praxis

    2. The Nature of Language

    3. Origin of Language

    4. Linguistics vs. Traditional Grammar

    5. An Outline of the History of Linguistics

    6. Overview of Modern Linguistics Theories

  1. Grammatical Analyses

    1. Phonetics and Phonology

    2. Morphology

    3. Syntax

    4. Semantics


  1. Overview of Linguistic Theories

  1. Linguistics is scientific study of language

  2. Scientific (Theory):

    • Explicit

    • Logical

    • Systematic

    • Objective

  3. Praxis is the process by which a theory, lesson, or skill is enacted, practiced, embodied, or realised. "Praxis" may also refer to the act of engaging, applying, exercising, realizing, or practicing ideas.

  1. The Nature of Language

  1. Definitions: Language

  • "Language is the expression of ideas by means of speech-sounds combined into words. Words are combined into sentences, this combination answering to that of ideas into thoughts."

  • (Henry Sweet, an English phonetician and language scholar)

  • "A language is a system of arbitrary vocal symbols by means of which a social group cooperates."

  • (The U.S. linguists Bernard Bloch and George L. Trager).

  • Language is “a system of communication by sound, i.e., through the organs of speech and hearing, among human beings of certain group or community, using vocal symbols possessing arbitrary conventional meaning”.

  • (Mario Pei and Frank Gaynor. 1975. Dictionary of Linguistics. Littlefield, U.S.A.: Adams & Co.. p. 119)

  • “Language is a system of arbitrary vocal symbols which permits all people in a given culture, or other people who have learned the system of that culture, to communicate or to interact.”

  • (Mary Finnochiaro. 1974. English as a Second Language From Theory to Practice. New York: Regents Publishing Company, Inc.. p. 3.)

  • Language is “a system of arbitrary vocal symbols used for human communication”.

  • (Ronald Wardaugh. 1972. Introduction to Linguistics. New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc.. p. 3.)

  1. The Properties of Language

  • System

  • Arbitrary

  • Vocal

  • Symbols

  • People/human

  • Culture (given/learned)

  • Learned/Mental Faculty

  • To communicate or to interact

  1. The Origins of Language

  • Evidence from Anthropology and Archeology

  • Genetic Evidence (DNA)

  • Primatological Evidence

    • Vocal call systems

    • Cognitive abilities

    • Sign language experiments

  • Neurobiological Evidence

  • Linguistic Evidence

  • Protolanguage and “true” language

  • Actual grammar versus conceivable grammars

  1. The functions of Language

  • Descriptive and Explanative function;

  • Predictive and Developmental function, and

  • Control function

  • (Reconstruct the history of language)

  1. Dichotomies

  • Synchronic Linguistics vs. Diachronic Linguistics

  • Theoretical Linguistics vs. Applied Linguistics

  • Microlinguistics vs. Macrolinguistics

  • Langue and Parole

  1. Linguistics and Traditional Grammar


Traditional Grammar

  • Descriptive

  • Focus: spoken language and all aspects

  • Every language is unique

  • Scope: Lang. as a complex and organized system

  • An autonomous subject

  • How features of language are related to each other

  • Has notational convention

  • Prescriptive

  • Focus: written language and syntax

  • Latin-based framework

  • Scope: Language in relation to other disciplines

  • Not an autonomous subject

  • How features of language are related to the human beings

  • No notational convention

E. An Outline of the History of Linguistics

    • Babylonian Tradition

    • Hindu Tradition

    • Greek Linguistics

    • Roman Tradition

    • Arabic and Hebrew Tradition

    • Middle Ages in Europe

    • European Colonialism

F. The History of Modern Linguistics

  • Beginnings

  • Diversification:

    • The Prague School

    • British Structuralism

    • Danish Structuralism

    • American Structuralism

  • Contemporary Approaches to Linguistics

    • Formal Linguistics

    • Functional Linguistics

    • Scope of Modern Linguistics

1. The Beginnings of Modern Linguistics

  • Phonetics and phonology were dominant

  • The International Phonetic Association was established in 1886 by a group of European phonetician

  • British phonetician Henry Sweet (1845-1912): a leading figure

  • Cours de linguistique générale by Ferdinand de Saussure was published posthumously by his students (1916)

a. European Structuralism: Main tenets

Language has a structure; Language is a system of signs; Language operates at two levels: langue and parole

b. Ferdinand de Saussure: Structuralism

  • Swiss linguist: 26 Nov. 1857 – 22 Feb. 1913 (English: /sɔ:’sʊr/ or /soʊ’sʊr/; French: [fɛʁdinɑ̃ də sosyʁ])

  • Legacy:

    • Sign: signifier – signified (form and substance)

    • Langue Parole

    • Synchronic – Diachronic

  • For him:

    • Language is the form not the substance

    • Langue is a repertoire of linguistic signs

    • Sign: association of acoustic image and concept

c. Some of Saussure’s Ideas

  • His book Cours de linguistique générale or Course in General Linguistics (1916) –was published posthumously by former students

  • The Course became one of the seminal linguistics works of the 20th century, not primarily for the content but rather for the innovative approach that Saussure applied in discussing linguistic phenomena.

  • SIGN:

  • Content (Fr. contenu) consist of value and signification

    • Value (Fr. valeur) (Ind. valensi or nilai)

      • Relation: a sign and the other signs

      • (sintagmatic and paradigmatic)

    • Definition (Fr. signification)

      • Relation: sound – concept

    • Examples:

      • We just talked on the board yesterday

      • I couldn’t screw in the bulb.

      • Nitrate; Night rate

      • I scream

      • Ice cream

    • Semiotics: Sign (in Cours)

d. Roy Harris summarized Saussure’s contribution

  • Language is no longer regarded as peripheral to our grasp of the world we live in, but as central to it.

  • Words are not mere vocal labels or communicational adjuncts superimposed upon an already given order of things. They are collective products of social interaction, essential instruments through which human beings constitute and articulate their world.

  • This typically twentieth-century view of language has profoundly influenced developments throughout the whole range of human sciences.

  • It is particularly marked in linguistics, philosophy, psychology, sociology, and anthropology.

e. Language as “Social Facts”

  • Influenced by David Émile Durkheim (French: [emildyʁkɛm] or [dyʁkajm] (1858-1917): “social fact” and “collective consciousness”.

  • Dichotomy: langue and parole

    • Langue: socially shared system (language system)

    • Parole: speech or the language of the individual (language behavior)

Ogden and Richards (1923)

2. Diversification

a. The Prague School

  • The Prague school, or Prague linguistic circle, is a tradition of linguistic thought that is associated with a group of Czech and other linguist who formed a the Linguistic School of Prague, established in 1926.

  • The group held a regular meetings and published a journal Travaux du cercle linguistique de Prague (launched in 1929).
1) Phonology

  • Primary interest: phonology (Nicholai Trubtzkoy 1890-1838 in Vienna) Grundzüge der Phonologie [Principles of Phonology]

  • Example (First Principle):Two sounds of a given language are merely optional phonetic variants of a single phoneme if they occur in exactly same environment and are interchangable without a change in a lexical meaning of words.
2) Roman Jakobson

  • Most famous: Roman Jacobson (1896-1982); emigrated to USA in 1942 and subsequently had a significant impact on the development of phonological theory there.

  • The aim of historical linguistics is the study not of isolated changes within a language but of systematic change
3) Theme – Rheme

  • Another interest: the relation between word order and discourse

    • theme/topic and rheme/comment) AND

    • given information and new information.

  • THE PRAGUE SCHOOL was an influential group of literary critics and linguistics in Prague. Its proponents developed methods of structuralist literary analysis during the years 1928–1939. It has had significant continuing influence on linguistics and semiotics.

  • Following the Czechoslovak coup d'état of 1948, the circle was disbanded in 1952, but the Prague School continued as a major force in linguistic functionalism (distinct from the Copenhagen school or English Firthian — later Hallidean — linguistics).

  • American scholar Dell Hymes cites his 1962 paper, "The Ethnography of Speaking," as the formal introduction of Prague functionalism to American linguistic anthropology.

b. British Structuralism

1) Daniel Jones (1881-1967):

  • He took up and extended Henry’s work in phonetics. Jones’ books:

  • An Outline of English Phonetics (1914)

  • English Pronouncing dictionary

The Standard IPA Vowel Trapezium
(an application of Jones's work)

2) J.R. Firth

  • General linguistics in Britain really began with the work of J.R. Firth (1890-1960), who held the first chair in Linguistics, in the University of London (1944-1956) – London School.

  • Firth’s theory of prosodic analysis focused on phonetics elements larger than individual sounds. Firth was also deeply concerned with meaning and developed a contextual theory of meaning that accorded a crucial role to use in context.

  • Firth’s student, Michael A.K. Halliday (1925--), developed coherent theory of language and systematic functional grammar.

c. Danish Structuralism

  • The Copenhagen School was headed by Louis Hjelmslev.

  • Hjelmslev (1899-1965) and Hans Ulldal (1907-1957) developed glossematics.

  • His father was a mathematician

  • Hjelmslev (1899-1965) and Hans Ulldal (1907-1957) developed glossematics. It is an approach that focuses on the relations between units in the language system, in accordance with Saussurean thought which held that it is the relation between the linguistic entities rather that the entities themselves that is significant.

  • Hjemslev introduction to the theory:

    • Omkring sprogteoriens grundlægese (1943)

    • Revised and annotated English translation Prolegomena of a theory of language (appeared a decade later)

  • Highly abstract ‘algebraic theory’ to his father’s influence

d. American Structuralism

  • Franz Boas (1858-1942)

  • Edward Sapir (1884-1939)

  • Benjamin Lee Whorf (1987-1941)

  • Leonard Bloomfield (1887-1949)

North American Structuralism: Intro

Beginning: a group of anthropologists describing fast-disappearing American-Indian tribes.

They found that there was no methodology for them to follow in order to describe these languages.

A new step in the American Structuralism: NA Structuralism centers in what people actually say (Leonard Bloomfield 1887-1949)
North American Structuralism: Main tenets

  1. Linguistics is a descriptive science: Describe what people say, not what people should say.

  2. The primary form of language is the spoken one

    1. Not every language has a written form.

    2. Everybody learns an oral language.

    3. The spoken form comes first than the written one.

  1. Every language is a system on its own right: Language should not be described in terms of another language, but rather, it should be described on its own terms.

  2. Language is a system in which smaller units arrange systematically to form larger ones: These linguists proposed a procedure in which they began analyzing the smallest units and classifying them, and describing the patterns into which they combined to form larger units.

  3. Meaning should not be part of linguistic analysis: Bloomfield and many other structuralism followers consider meaning as abstract and unobservable, therefore, unscientific.

  4. The procedures to determine the units in language should be objective and rigorous: NA Structuralism rejected traditional definitions of, for example, a noun as “the word that refers to persons, animals or things” (definition based on meaning).

  5. Language is observable speech, not knowledge.

    1. In this respect, they provide two observable criteria for defying the items of language: Form and Distribution.

    2. Langue and parole were rejected as unscientific abstractions. The main objective would be to make a taxonomy of language based on observable samples of speech (corpus/corpora)

American Structuralism

  •    The term

  • Two general phases

  • Bloomfield’s Language

  • Distributionism

  • Discovery procedures

  • General term for variously developed branches of structuralism pioneered above all by E. Sapir (1884 - 1939)and L. Bloomfield (1887 - 1949).

Two general phases

  • Although the various schools cannot be clearly distinguished from one another, a distinction is made between two general phases: the so-called ‘Bloomfield Era’, and distributionalism, with Z. Harris as chief representative.

Discovery Procedures

Two analytical steps

  • Segmentation

  • Classification
1) Franz Boas (1858–1942)

  • The founder of American linguistics and American anthropology.

  • Obtained information on Native American languages and cultures

  • Examples: Lower Chinook, Cathlamet, Chemakum, Pentlach, Pochutec, and Tsetsaut.

  • His method became the basis of American structuralism, a dominant force in twentieth-century linguistics.

  • Handbook of North American Indian Languages (1911) as a morphological classification of American Indian languages (morphological classification and psychological characterization).

  • Boas used Humboldt’ s concept of “inner form” to deal with the diversity of American Indian languages, seeing languages as conditioning the world view of their speakers.
2) Bloomfield

  • Language, 1933

  • Behaviourism

  • Empiricism

  • An approach to acquiring knowledge that emphasizes repeatable observations through the physical senses

  • Stimulus-response theory

a) Behaviorism

  • School of psychology which seeks to explain animal and human behavior entirely in terms of observable and measurable responses to environmental stimuli. Behaviorism was introduced (1913) by the American psychologist John B. Watson, who insisted that behavior is a physiological reaction to environmental stimuli.

  • Tabula Rasa (The mind comes as a blank slate)

  • The conditioned-reflex experiments of the Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov and the American psychologist Edward Thorndike were central to the development of behaviorism. The American behaviorist B. F. Skinner contended that all but a few emotions were conditioned by habit.

John Watson (1878-1958)

  • John Broadus Watson founded the behaviorist movement in American psychology. His view that only observable events, and not mental states, are the substance of psychology provided the behavioristic flavor that still characterizes much of psychology today.

Pavlov (1849-1936)

  • Ivan Petrovich Pavlov (1849-1936), a Russian physiologist who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1904 for his work on the physiology of gastric secretion.

  • Famous for studies on reflexes and for laying the foundations of the field of behavioural psychology.

  • “conditioned reflex”

Skinner (1904–90)

  • American psychologist, leading exponent of the school of psychology known as behaviorism, which explains the behavior of humans and other animals in terms of the physiological responses of the organism to external stimuli.

  • Skinner maintained that learning occurred as a result of the organism responding to, or operating on, its environment.

  • operant conditioning

  • Skinner box


  • Meaning: Sàr……sàR

  • The stimulus (S) led someone to speak (R) and the response (R) was resulted from the speech (s). Bloomfield argues that we can tell what the meaning of r….s must just by observing the event that accompanied it.

S → r ……….. s → R

S: the girl feels hungry

r: the girl asks the boy to pick an apple

s: the boy hears the girl’s request

R: the boy picks an apple and gives it to the girl

…. sound waves

3) Post-Bloomfieldian linguistics

  • Z. Harris

  • C. Hockett

  • K. Pike

Characteristics of American structuralist

  • Almost complete negligence of semantics

  • attempt to formulate a set of "discovery procedures"

To sum up

  • Structuralism is based on the assumption that grammatical categories should be defined not in terms of meaning but in terms of distribution, and that the structure of each language should be described without reference to the alleged universality of such categories as tense, mood and parts of speech.

  • Firstly, structural grammar describes everything that is found in a language instead of laying down rules;

  • Secondly, structural grammar is empirical, aiming at objectivity in the sense that all definitions and statements should be verifiable or refutable.


Let us discus these questions together:

  1. How Structuralism, Functionalism and Generativism have contribute to our present understanding of language?

  2. Why haven’t the questions what is language and how does language work haven’t been completely answered?

  3. In which aspects European and North American Structuralism meet and differ?

3. Contemporary Approaches

  • Formal Linguistics

    • Noam Chomsky

  • Functional Linguistics

    • J.R. Firth

    • André Martinet

    • Simon Dijk

    • Roland Langacker (1942--) cognitive grammar

    • Charles Fillmore (1926) construction grammar

  • Scope of Modern Linguistics

G. Grammatical Analyses

  1. Phonetics and Phonology

  2. Morphology

  3. Syntax

  4. Semantics


Aitchison, J. (1999) Teach Yourself Linguistics (5th edition). London: Hodder & Stoughton.

Bloch, Bernard and George L. Trager. 1942. Outline of Linguistic Analysis. Baltimore: Linguistic Society of America/Waverly Press. p. 5).

Chomsky, Noam. 1957. Syntactic Structures. The Hague: Mouton.

de Saussure, Ferdinand. 1973. Cours de Linguistique Générale. Paris: Payot (First publication 1916). Trans. By Rahayu S. Hidayat. Ed. Harimurti Kridalaksana 1988. Pengantar Linguistik Umum. Yogyakarta: Gajah Mada University Press.

Finocchiaro, Mary. 1974. English as a Second Language From Theory to Practice. New York: Regents Publishing Company, Inc.

Geertz, Clifford Geertz. 1973. The interpretation of Culture. New York: basic Books.

Goodenough, Ward H. 1971. Culture, Language, and Society. Addison-Wesley Modular Publication. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Publishing Co., Inc.

Johnson, dora. 2006. “Linguistics”. ERIC/CLL Resource Guides Online. Available at www.cal.org/ericcll/faqs/rgos/linguistics.html. Accessed on July 5th, 2006.

Littlejohn, Stephen W. 1992. Theories of Human Communication. Belmont, California: Wadsworth Publishing Company.

Lyons, John. 1981. Language and Linguistics: An Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Lyons, John. 1968. An Introduction to theoretical Linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

M.A.K. Halliday. 1985. An Introduction to Functional Grammar. London: Edward Arnold.

Montagu, Ashley. 1959. The Cultured Man. New York. P. 129.

Pei, Mario and Frank Gaynor. 1975. Dictionary of Linguistics. Littlefield, U.S.A.: Adams & Co.

R.A. Hall, R.A. 1968. An Essay on Language. Philadelphia & New York: Chilton Books.

Sapir, Edward. 1921. Language. New York: Harcourt Brace.

Wardaugh, Ronald. 1972. Introduction to Linguistics. New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc.

Share with your friends:

The database is protected by copyright ©dentisty.org 2019
send message

    Main page