Chapter 3

The Descriptivist

Book Name : Schools of Linguistics

Writer : Geoffrey Sampson

Summarized by Saeed Mojarradi PhD student

Dr.Nader Assadi

At the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century when Saussure was working out his ideas in Europe, synchronic linguistics was emerging independently, and in a very different style, in America under the leadership of the anthropologist Franz Boas.

It turned out to be enormously fruitful, which was never disputed until Noam Chomsky appeared on the scene in the late 1950s.

We call the school founded by Boas by the term ” Descriptivist”.

It is better we know that the great majority of synchronic linguists have been Americans.

The key to Boasts’ thought lay in the realization.

Language came to seem especially important to Boas. This was not only because language was the key to the other aspects of culture, but because people are normally unconscious of the principles on which their language operates, while when it comes to the other aspects of their culture.What made Boas not just as an isolated scholar interested in language but the founder of a large and productive school of linguistic research was his work as organizer …

His book ” Handbook of American Indian Languages” was published in 1911.

Boas,s introduction to it contains what is still a good summary of the Descriptivist approach to language. Several of the chapters on individual languages were written by Boas , and he trained the men who investigated the other languages, for decades subsequently , all the great names of American linguistics learned their subject from Boas at first or second hand.

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Published by S Mojarradi

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