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Re: [xmca] Transhistorical or embodied

Roman Jakobson (1896-1982) was a Russian linguist and literary theorist who studied at the Historical-Philological Faculty of Moscow University, and helped found the Moscow Linguistic Circle (active from 1915 to 1924), though he moved to Prague in 1920. Jakobson is described in Wikipedia as focusing on the synchronic study of language, under the influence of Saussure. It is clear from some of his own writing, however, that this is not accurate. Here is Jaksobson on the importance of paying attention to change and history in language, in terms that I think accord well with LSV's position:

(From Jakobson, R., Pomorska, K., & Hrushovski, B. (1980). Dialogue on Time in Language and Literature. Poetics Today, (2),15-27.

“the identification of two real oppositions, synchrony-diachrony and statics-dynamics, is fictitious.  In synchrony we find many dynamic elements, and a synchronic approach has to take them into account. Synchrony, then, is dynamic. On the other hand, language diachrony, i.e. the observation and confrontation of various stages of a language in the course of a long period of time, cannot and should not be confined to the dynamics of language changes: one has to take into account static facts as well. ” (16)

“Saussure, and in this his merit is considerable, gave priority to the study of the language system as a whole, accounting for the relations between all its constituent parts. On the other hand, however - and in this his theory had categorically to be overcome - he tried to abolish the links between the language system and its changes, considering the system to be an exclusive property of synchrony and relegating all changes to the sphere of diachrony. However, as the development of various social sciences has shown, the concepts of system and change are not merely compatible with each other, but inextricably linked.” (16)

“The Saussurean idea of changes which are "blind and accidental” ("aveugles et fortuits") from the point of view of the system, loses its grounding. Every change occurs at first on a synchronic plane, and thus becomes a component of the system, whereas diachrony accounts only for the results of such changes.” 17

“It is interesting to note that the theme of a historical approach had attracted general interest in the [Russian] science of the late 20’s.” 19

In the late 1920s Jakobson and Jurij Tynjanov wrote a manifesto for language studies in which they declared:

"The opposition between synchrony and diachrony was an opposition between the concept of system and the concept of evolution"; "it loses its importance in principle as soon as we recognize that every system necessarily exists as an evolution, whereas, on the other hand, evolution is inescapably of a systemic nature.” (19)

Jakobson & Tynjanov (1928) "Problems in the Study of Language and Literature,"  New LEF. 

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