L. V. Ščerba’s conception of language
This contribution offers an introduction to an essay by the Russian linguist Lev Vladimirovič Ščerba (1880–1944), “О трояком аспекте языковых явлений и об эксперименте в языкознании” (“The threefold aspect of linguistic phenomena and experiment in linguistics”), which was first published in 1931. This introduction is followed by an annotated translation of Ščerba’s essay, proposed here for the first time to an English-speaking readership (Read the English translation at https://doi.org/10.1075/hl.00075.sce).The critical introduction provides the backstory behind Ščerba’s conception of language as a means of helping the reader to understand the connectedness of the various strands of his linguistic research. As is shown in our introduction, Ščerba’s general distinction between linguistic raw material, the linguistic system and individual speech activity (the “threefold aspect” alluded to in the title of his essay) serves as a framework to conceptualise metalinguistic practice and the relation of the social dimension of language to its individual embodiment. An examination of the explanatory potential of Ščerba’s conception of language for general linguistic problems suggests that his achievements lay in formulating a cohesive account of the interconnectedness of language phenomena, identifying the linguistic means with which to understand the social nature of language, and providing a theoretical basis for addressing the practical tasks of linguistics.
- 2.Baudouin de Courtenay and the St. Petersburg school of linguistics
- 3.Dialectological studies and European linguistics
- 4.Ontological paradigms in linguistic research at the time of Ščerba’s writing
- 6.Ščerba’s conception of language
- 7.Concluding remarks
- Notes to the text
Published online: 02 March 2021
Matthews, William K.
Nerlich, Brigitte & David Clarke
Saussure, Ferdinand de
Ščerba, Lev V.
1912 “Russkie glasnye v kačestvennom i količestvennom otnošenii” [Russian vowels in qualitative and quantitative respects]. Zapiski Istoriko-Filologičeskogo Fakul’teta Imperatorskago S. Petersburgskago Universiteta, Čast’ CVII [Notes of the Historical-Philological Faculty of the Imperial St. Petersburg University, Part 107] St. Petersburg.
Vinogradov, Viktor V.
1951 “Obščelingvističeskie i grammatičeskie vzgljady akademika L. V. Ščerby”. [Views of academician L. V. Ščerba on general linguistics and grammar] in Pamjati akademika L’va Vladimiroviča Ščerby (1880–1944): Sbornik statej ed. by Boris A. Larin, Lev R. Zinder & Margarita I. Matusevič, 31–62. Leningrad: Leningrad State University Press.