Vol. 8:1 (1984) ► pp.87–103
Remarques Critiques Sur La Linguistique Américaine Et Son Historiographie
Critical Remarks on American Linguistics and its Hitoriography The paper argues that, contrary to recent accounts offered as definitive history of the development of linguistic theory in North America, the 1950s witnessed much more of a continuity than the alleged discontinuity and break with the past. Indeed, it is suggested that a scientific revolution in the Kuhnian sense did not take place following the publication of Syntactic Structures in 1957, but that essential ingredients of transformational theory had been available in post-Bloomfieldian circles (of which Chomsky was a part) from the late 1940s onwards. Zellig S. Harris' "Transfer Grammar" and Charles F. Hockett's "Two Models of Grammatical Description", both published in 1954 (though developed several years earlier), are cited as just two instances in which a générative model of language processing was proposed. Moreover, it is suggested that Noam Chomsky, Morris Halle, and their associates had engaged, from early on, in 'revolutionary rhetoric' (Stephen Murray) which, for social, economic, and other reasons, produced the impression of a paradigm change in the minds of many of the younger generation at the time, where in effect little else than a further articulation of a structuralist conception of language took place.
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