From Whitney to Chomsky

Essays in the history of American linguistics

John E. Joseph | University of Edinburgh
ISBN 9789027245922 (Eur) | EUR 105.00
ISBN 9781588113498 (USA) | USD 158.00
ISBN 9789027245939 (Eur) | EUR 40.00
ISBN 9781588113504 (USA) | USD 60.00
ISBN 9789027275370 | EUR 105.00/40.00*
| USD 158.00/60.00*
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What is ‘American’ about American linguistics? Is Jakobson, who spent half his life in America, part of it? What became of Whitney’s genuinely American conception of language as a democracy? And how did developments in 20th-century American linguistics relate to broader cultural trends?

This book brings together 15 years of research by John E. Joseph, including his discovery of the meeting between Whitney and Saussure, his ground-breaking work on the origins of the ‘Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis’ and of American sociolinguistics, and his seminal examination of Bloomfield and Chomsky as readers of Saussure.

Among the original findings and arguments contained herein:

  • why ‘American structuralism’ does not end with Chomsky, but begins with him;
  • how Bloomfield managed to read Saussure as a behaviourist avant la lettre;
  • why in the long run Skinner has emerged victorious over Chomsky;
  • how Whorf was directly influenced by the mystical writings of Madame Blavatsky;
  • how the Whitney–Max Müller debates in the 19th century connect to the intellectual disparity between Chomsky’s linguistic and political writings.
Publishing status: Available
Table of Contents
“Pour conclure, il convient de souligner l'intérêt de cet ouvrage, qui met en lumière l'intrication du structuralisme européen, avec la linguistique américaine.”
“[...] broad in scope, eclectic in coverage, and highly original in its insights about a history that has alays been far too simple, self-contained, and sanitized to be the whole story.”
Cited by

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Main BIC Subject

CF: Linguistics

Main BISAC Subject

LAN009000: LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / General
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U.S. Library of Congress Control Number:  2002035615 | Marc record