The first quarter century of the Linguistic Society of America, 19240–1949
The Linguistic Society of America was founded in 1925 by scholars trained in traditional philological methods but more interested in building a science of linguistics than in literary studies. Language, the official journal of the new society became an organ for structural descriptions of sound systems of diverse languages. The Linguistic Institute, a summer training program, speeded diffusion of the new structuralist methods. Focus on native speech rather than on literary texts was a hallmark of the ‘application’ of structuralist linguistics to the teaching of languages in military intensive language programs during the Second World War, and in some academic programs (notably at Cornell University) after the war. After the war Language expanded, and a number of other linguistics journals began publishing. The extent to which these other journals were complements and the extent to which they were rivals remains controversial. Patterns of publications follow lines of theoretical divergence within what is sometimes mistakenly regarded as a neo-Bloomfieldian monolith. It is argued that the self-annuling prestige of the linguistic analyst in the process of language learning contributed to the difficulty of establishing a profession based on ‘the science of language’ in the late 1940s and through the 1950s. The analytical role of native speakers in the Bloomfieldian tradition is contrasted with that in the Sapirian tradition.
Published online: 01 January 1991
Cited by 8 other publications
Murray, Stephen O.
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