From Whitney to Chomsky: Essays in the History of American by John E. Joseph

By John E. Joseph

What's ‘American’ approximately American linguistics? Is Jakobson, who spent part his existence in the US, a part of it? What turned of Whitney’s really American perception of language as a democracy? and the way did advancements in 20th-century American linguistics relate to broader cultural trends?This booklet brings jointly 15 years of study via John E. Joseph, together with his discovery of the assembly among Whitney and Saussure, his ground-breaking paintings at the origins of the ‘Sapir-Whorf speculation’ and of yank sociolinguistics, and his seminal exam of Bloomfield and Chomsky as readers of Saussure.
Among the unique findings and arguments contained herein:

• why ‘American structuralism’ doesn't finish with Chomsky, yet starts with him;
• how Bloomfield controlled to learn Saussure as a behaviourist avant los angeles lettre;
• why in the end Skinner has emerged successful over Chomsky;
• how Whorf was once at once stimulated by means of the paranormal writings of Madame Blavatsky;
• how the Whitney–Max Müller debates within the nineteenth century connect with the highbrow disparity among Chomsky’s linguistic and political writings.

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Early in Lecture 2 the gloves come off. Whitney makes only his second allusion to a contemporary; it is again Max Müller, but this time he is called "a recent popular writer" and one of his lectures (no. 35). In the offending passage, Müller (1861:36-37) had written: [A]lthough there is a continuous change in language, it is not in the power of man either to produce or to prevent it. We might think as well of changing the laws which control the circulation of our blood, or of adding an inch to our height, as of altering the laws of speech, or inventing new words according to our own pleasure.

For despite nu­ merous attempts in the 18th and 19th centuries to found history on a scientific basis, the dichotomy between the two remained powerful. As Müller put it, There are two great divisions of human knowledge, which, according to their subjectmatter, are called physical and historical. Physical science deals with the works of God, historical science with the works of man. (Müller 1861:22) Even in an increasingly secular age much more value was put on understanding what came before man and what was beyond his control than on understanding the products of wilful human action.

Was learned by every person who employs it from some other person who had employed it before him. He adopted it as the sign of a certain idea, because it was already in use by others as such. Inner and essential connection between idea and word, whereby the mind which conceives the one at once apprehends and produces the other, there is none, in any language upon earth. ]. Early in Lecture 2 the gloves come off. Whitney makes only his second allusion to a contemporary; it is again Max Müller, but this time he is called "a recent popular writer" and one of his lectures (no.

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