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Leonard Bloomfield (1887-1949)



School/tradition

  • American structuralism

Research Interests

  • Structural linguistics, behaviorism

Notable Ideas

  • Linguistic phenomena can be properly and successfully studied when isolated from their non-linguistic environment.


Biography

  • born in Chicago, graduated from Harvard at the age of 19 and received his doctorate from the University of Chicago in 1909.
  • studied in Leipzig and Göttigen (Germany) from 1913 to 1914.
  • worked as an assistant professor for Comparative Linguistics and German at the University of Illinois, and as a professor of German and Linguistics in Chicago and Yale until 1949.

Contribution to Linguistics

The methods suggested by Bloomfield influenced the development of structural linguistics in America between the 1930s and the 1950s.
In his main work Language (1933), Bloomfield concentrates on the theory and techniques of linguistics as an established and defined science.
Bloomfield was the main founder of the Linguistic Society of America.

Influence

  1. Behaviorist linguistics
    Language learning: a chain of stimulus-response reinforcement.
  2. Phonology
    Phoneme is the minimal sound unit.
    Minimal pairs are applied to identify phonemes.
  3. Structural grammar
    Units: free form, bound form, etc.
    Method of analysis: Immediate Constituent Analysis (ICA).

Main Publications

  • Introduction to the Study of Language. 1914.

  • Tagalog Texts with Grammatical Analysis. 1917.

  • Menomini Texts. 1928.

  • Language. 1933.

  • The Stressed Vowels of American English. 1935.

  • Linguistic Aspects of Science. 1939.


Categories: People