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date: 20 October 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The chapter firstly deals with Saussure, then with the scholars most directly influenced by Saussure’s linguistic thought, the schools of Geneva, Prague, and Copenhagen, and finally with other European linguists essentially independent from it, but who are nevertheless labeled as “structuralist”: the Frenchmen Guillaume and Tesnière, and the London school. Saussure’s views are summarized by means of his four classical “dichotomies” (langue vs. parole, synchrony vs. diachrony, signifiant vs. signifié, associative vs. syntagmatic relations). They were differently developed by Saussure’s followers: the Geneva school (Bally, at least) and the Prague school choose a functionalist approach. The Prague school also aimed at overcoming the synchrony/diachrony dichotomy, especially in the domain of phonology, where its most important contributions lie (by Trubetzkoy, Jakobson, and Martinet). On the other hand, the Copenhagen school (whose leader was Hjelmslev) adopted a strictly formal approach. Guillaume’s and Tesnière’s approaches differ from those of the just mentioned schools by focusing on syntax rather than on morphology and phonology. The London school (especially its leader, Firth) worked out a particular approach to phonology (“prosodic phonology”).

Keywords: Saussure’s dichotomies, Prague school, Copenhagen school, Tesnière, London school

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