The retreat from meaning

John M. Anderson

in The Substance of Language Volume I

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780199608317
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191732034 | DOI:
The retreat from meaning

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This chapter traces the development in the structuralist tradition of the exclusion of reference within what was seen as syntax to other domains, including ultimately both semantics and phonology. Early structuralists varied in their views of how strictly considerations of meaning should be excluded from syntactic generalizations. This is illustrated from the work of Saussure and Hjelmslev, in particular. The tendency to minimize reference to meaning partly arose from a desire to avoid what was viewed as the indiscriminate recourse to extralinguistic phenomena characteristic of much nineteenth‐century work on language. An extreme form of syntactic autonomy from meaning is reached with the pre‐transformational post‐Bloomfieldian structuralists of North America. This continues into the transformational‐generative era, but with the addition of autonomy from phonology.

Keywords: autonomy of syntax; structuralism; Saussure; Hjelmslev; post‐Bloomfieldian; transformational‐generative syntax

Chapter.  12140 words. 

Subjects: Grammar, Syntax and Morphology

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