Structural Linguists: rareified style

A faint notion of the rarefied realms in which Structural Linguists operated, and the mode in which they wrote, could be easily grasped through a random sampling of the style. From Syntactic Structures by Noam Chomsky ( 1957):

When transformational analysis is properly formulated we find that it is essentially more powerful than description in terms of phrase structure, just as the latter is essentially more powerful than description in terms of finite state Markov processes that generate sentences from left to right.

Iggy Pop reading. click image for source...

Iggy Pop reading. click image for source…

From such passages which marched in sesquipedalian splendor through volume after volume of the expanding bibliography of Structural Linguistics, there emerged new concepts in the theory of communication, in psychology, epistemology, the theory of signs, cultural anthropology, and the general philosophy of language. Still, the question that many parents and educators began asking was that how did the concepts of this extremely abstruse discipline come to permeate and effect American education to the extent it did and the forced exclusion of many traditional methods?

---William Burroughs reads...

—William Burroughs reads…

To begin with , linguistic pioneer Leonard Bloomfield was never content to present his analysis of linguistic structure as an intellectual insight free from social connotations. That where the rub and rubber of Socialism and with Chomsky, Anarchism, found their habitat within the educational system where they could fawn off ideas not really presentable through the front door. Bloomfield’s studies of Indian tongues coincided in time with the development of egalitarian theoroes of education, which began to flower in the 1930′s, the everyone is the samr school of thought.

Hence, in Bloomfield’s major work, Language, published in 1933, he set forth the idea that insistence on “correct” or “good” English is a form of social snobbery stemming from the British upper classes, perpetuated by the “fanciful doctrine” of grammaticians imbued with eighteenth-century authoritarianism, and swallowed by a naive American public eager to climb the social ladder. He observed that many Americans have a foreign background and “are easily frightened into thinking that a speech form which is natural to them is actually ‘not English.’ ”


(see link at end)…In 1933, Leonard Bloomfield (1887-1949) published the ominously titled Language. The principles outlined in this book would officially set the program for linguistic science from its publication until 1957, although the weight of its early popularity is still strongly felt today. The year also saw the publication of the equally boldly titled Science and Sanity by Alfred Korzybski (1879-1950). At the time this book had a comparable effect to Bloomfield’s. It called for the creation of a new study of humanity to be known as general semantics, a discipline that flourished for several decades but is presently only marginally practiced as a complete system.

Both books were published in 1933. Both books made broad claims about the nature an

thodology of science. Both books examined language and its relation to humankind. Both books elicited an almost fanatical adherence by their readers.

The difference between the two books, which ricochets like machine-gun fire through the text of both, is the place from which each scholar began. Both aimed at understanding language, both used similar ammunition, but they shot from opposite sides of the field.Read More:

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