Source of the pic.:

Charles F. Hockett (1916-2000)


  • the post-Bloomfieldian phase of structuralism

Research Interests

  • distributionalism, taxonomic structuralism

Notable Ideas

  • "linguistics wrapped in anthropology"



Charles Hockett was an American linguistic theorist. He received his B.A. and M.A. in Ancient History at the Ohio State University in 1936 and his Ph.D. in Anthropology at Yale in 1939.

Before his retirement in 1982, Dr. Hockett was the Goldwin Smith Professor of Anthropology and Linguistics at Cornell University.

Contribution to Linguistics

Hockett proposed a widely acknowledged comparative approach of language by using a zoological method to identify the main points of connection, especially those found in animals.

He invented a set of 18 design features of communication using spoken language including auditory vocal channel, broadcast transmission and directional reception, specialisation, semanticism, and arbitrariness.

Central Knowledge

  • Hockett never ceased to consider linguistics as a component of anthropology, as this branch was devoted to the discovery of the place of human language in the universe.
  • He belived that "linguistics without anthropology is sterile; anthropology without linguistics is blind." (authobiographical interview)

Main Publications

  • A Course in Modern Linguistics'. New York, 1958.

  • The Origin of Speech in: Scientific American, September 1960.

Categories: People