Roman Jakobson: Russian Formalism

December 30, 2011, Posted by Admin at 9:35 pm


(Moscow, 1896 – Boston, 1982) Russian linguist and philologist. Before his graduation (1918) participated in the creation of the Moscow Linguistic Circle (1915) and the Society for the Study of Poetic Language in Leningrad (“Opoyaz”, 1917), the two main distribution centers of the movement that later became known as “Russian Formalism.”

In these areas began to address the problems of language, art theory and their relationships. In the early twenties he moved to Prague (in 1923 he was appointed Professor of Philology Russian there, in 1937, in Brno, Czech literature was of old), and published the interesting results of this first phase of their studies: The new Russian poetry , 1921, and on Czech verse, with particular reference to Russian verse , 1923. In these works, especially in the second, and clearly stated his vision of poetry as a linguistic system dominated by their own specific laws, which always confronts a distinction between significant and insignificant elements, and also the use of these poetic purposes.

The interest will be a constant literary phenomena of the studies of Jakobson, in his Observations on the prose of the poet Pasternak , 1935, said (later re-address these issues in their studies of aphasia) the overall relationship and dialectic between “metaphor “(similarity) and” metonymy “(contiguity), two opposite and complementary guidelines, based on the bipolarity of language itself, and in 1942 took up the poetic verses of Mayakovsky unknown .

In Closing statements: Linguistics and Poetics (1958) identified six functions of language, based on the factors constituting each linguistic process: The “reference”-oriented context, “moving” the issuer “connotes” the receiver, “factual” contact, “metalinguistic” code and “poetic” to the message. The Poetics, as the study of the function, should be considered an integral part of linguistics. Back in Prague, Jakobson had begun to be interested in phonology. In 1926 he was among the founders of the Linguistic Circle of Prague in 1928 participated in the First International Congress of Linguistics at The Hague, where he presented a comprehensive program of structural and functional linguistics, and developed with Trubeskoi Karcevski, with particular attention to phonology , and gave the first analytical demonstration of the existence of phonemic systems.

The originality of this approach lies in the renewal of phonemes, until then considered in a spray, a phonetic principle which can be defined through its distinctive traits. In various works, among which are the inputs to the fourth and the sixth International Congress of Linguistics (Copenhagen, 1936, and Paris, 1948) developed this theory up to the last general textbooks: Preliminaries to Speech Analysis (with C . Fant and M. Halle, 152) and Fundamentals of Language (with M. Halle, 1956).

Jakobson sought to further extend the concept of binary opposition to other aspects of language, based on two studies of structural morphology Struktur des Russische Verbums Zur (1932) and Beitrag zur allgemeinen kasuslehre (1936), and therefore was an early and the few who took care of diachronic phonology Remarques phonologique sur l’évolution du russe à celle des centers comparée Slavic langues (1929) and Prinzipien Phonologie historischen der (1931).

In 1939, after the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia, moved to Scandinavia: there issued Kindersprache, und allgemeine Aphasie Lautgesetze (1941), which framed his theories into a unified account of the pace of acquisition and loss of language. In 1941 he went to America, where he finally settled. He taught first in New York at L’Ecole Libre des Hautes Etudes and the University of Columbia, and later between 1947 and 1957 at Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he eventually stayed.

Among its more than seven hundred works, the main collection is Selected Writings , in eight volumes. In 1963 was published in Paris, an anthology of his Trials of General Linguistics , which can capture the general intent of their studies and the diversity of their interests. Other articles in 1956 and 1957 are set forth in the development of semiotics.


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