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American structuralism

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  • 1. American structuralism and Bloomfield Lecture 5
  • 2. Structuralism
    • The term structuralism is used in many contexts in different disciplines in the 20th century. Structuralism proposes the idea that many phenomena do not occur in isolation, but instead occur in relation to each other, and that all related phenomena are part of a whole with a definite, but not necessarily defined, structure.
  • 3. Structuralist
    • Structuralists, in any area of knowledge, attempt to perceive that structure and the changes that it may undergo with the goal of furthering the development of that system of phenomena or ideas.
  • 4. In Linguistics
    • Collective term for a number of linguistic approaches in the first half of the twentieth century , all based on the work of F. de Saussure, but strongly divergent from one another.
  • 5.
    • While ‘structuralism’ in its narrower sense refers to de Saussure’s linguistic theories , in its broader sense it is an umbrella term for approaches in anthropology, ethnology, sociology, psychology, and literary criticism, which – in analogy to linguistic structuralism – concentrate on synchronic analysis rather than on genetic / historical preconditions, in order to expose the universal structures at work under the surface of social relations
  • 6. American Structuralism
    •    The term
    • Two general phases
    • Bloomfield’s Language
    • Distributionism
    • Discovery procedures
  • 7.
    • General term for variously developed branches of structuralism pioneered above all by
    • E. Sapir (1884 - 1939)and
    • L. Bloomfield (1887 - 1949).
  • 8. 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.
  • 9. Discovery Procedures
    • Two analytical steps
    • Segmentation
    • Classification
  • 10. Boas
    • Anthropologist
    • Handbook of American Indian Languages, 1911
  • 11. Sapir
    • Anthropological linguist
    • Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech, 1921
  • 12. Benjamin Lee Whorf
    • Whorfian hypothesis
    • Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis
  • 13. Bloomfield
    • Language, 1933
    • Behaviourism
    • Empiricism
    • An approach to acquiring knowledge that emphasizes repeatable observations through the physical senses
    • Stimulus-response theory
  • 14. 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
  • 15.
    • 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.
  • 16. 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.
  • 17. 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”
  • 18. 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( 操作性条件反射 )
    • Skinner box
  • 19.  
  • 20.
    • 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
  • 21.  
  • 22. Post-Bloomfieldian linguistics
    • Z. Harris
    • C. Hockett
    • K. Pike
  • 23. Characteristics of American structuralist
    • Almost complete negligence of semantics
    • attempt to formulate a set of "discovery procedures"
  • 24. 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.
  • 25.
    • 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.
  • 26. Text-reading
  • 27. 2.1 The task of language study
    • “ Scholarship has approached the study of
    • language without actually entering upon it. (36) ”
    • Not writing;
    • Not literature;
    • Not ‘good’ speech
    • “ We can save ourselves this detour by turning at once to
    • the observation of normal speech. We begin by
    • observing an act of speech-utterance under very
    • simple circumstances (37-8) .”
  • 28. Why not “writing”?
    • Writing comes later than spoken language.
    • Literacy was confined to a very few people.
    • Written form doesn’t affect spoken form.
  • 29. Why not “literature”?
    • The limited concerns: certain persons; the content; the unusual features.
    • Philologist: cultural and background significance.
    • Linguist: the language of all persons alike.
  • 30. Why not ‘good speech’?
    • “he observes all speech-forms alike.”
  • 31. 2.2 Example of his behavioral method
    • The story of Jill and Jack;
    • Language enables one person to make a reaction (R) when another person has the stimulus (S). (P.39)
    • The division of labor, and, with it, the whole working of human society, is due to language. (P. 39)
  • 32. 2.3 His Formula
    • S -> r ……….. s -> R
    • The gap between the bodies of the speaker and the hearer---the discontinuity of the two nervous systems---is bridged by the sound-waves (P. 41).
  • 33. 2.4 The difference between human voice and animal sounds
    • The physiological fact of voice : larynx and vocal chords;
    • Difference from animals’
    • great differentiation
    • great precision
    • Benefits of human language
    • relaying communication;
    • abstraction;
  • 34. 2.5 The speech community
    • Definition and the idea of language universality (see Sapir’s)
    • The process for learning language
    • (1) an inherited trait
    • (2) teaching and imitating
    • (3) using words to offer stimulus
    • (4) habit-forming
    • (5) speech is perfected by its results
  • 35. 2.6 The mechanism which governs speech
    • The linguist deals only with the speech-signal (r…….s);
    • The complex and delicate mechanism which governs speech
    • The mentalistic theory
    • The materialistic theory
  • 36. 2.7 The experiment method
    • Aphasia:
    • Aphasia 1: mispronunciation or confusion
    • Aphasia 2: unconventional construction
    • Aphasia 3: naming things difficulty
    • Aphasia 4: incorrect response
    • The viewpoint of language from physiology
  • 37. 2.8 Another way of study human response—observation
    • Mass observation
    • The study of conventional actions
    • Language change: statistical observation through a length of time
  • 38. 2.9 Other reactions resulted from stimulus
    • Gesture
    • ---differs with individual speaker but governed by social convention;
    • ---symbolic
    • ---gesture languages are based on the convention of ordinary speech
    • Marking and drawing
    • The importance of writing
    • The significance of other means of recording