20th century linguists and their contribution to typological and contrastive linguistics
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20th CENTURY LINGUISTS (E. SAPIR, J. GREENBERG, O. ISACHENKO, N. YA. MARR, Y.ZHLUKTENKO) AND THEIR CONTRIBUTION TO TYPOLOGICAL AND CONTRASTIVE LINGUISTICS
More close cooperation between the peoples of different countries after the Second World War and the difficulty of learning and teaching foreign languages, of translating and interpreting foreign texts were the cause of appearing of numerous
comparative investigations of foreign and native languages – textbooks, manuals, articles and essays.
Centuries before, studying African and Indian languages of different tribes some of which existed in oral form, scientists compiling alphabets and writing grammar books for these languages, paid attention to some similarities of the phonetic and grammatical elements in the structure of some languages or all of them. As a result of the research into the specific and similar characteristics of African and Indian languages the first typological linguistic studies appeared.
Synchronous comparative contrastive investigations of two or more languages and typological investigations of a group of languages, which were vigorously developed in the second half of the 20th century, gave rise to a new branch of linguistics – contrastive linguistics.
Traditionally, contrastive linguistics is defined as a branch of general linguistics which reveals and studies specific individual linguistic characteristics of some phenomena of the given language and other languages and typological characteristics common to a group of languages.
It is essential to distinguish between comparative (contrastive) analysis and typology which are different parts of the same branch of linguistics. Yu.A. Zhluktenko points out that contrastive linguistics is not an independent science but a part of contrastive linguistics. The object of its study is different languages, their structure, characteristics and individual peculiarities (Жлуктенко Ю.A., 1979). The close relation between comparative (contrastive analysis) and typology was emphasized by the assertion that contrastive linguistics is a part of general linguistics was stated by Y. Uhlisch (1973) who wrote that contrastive analysis was the first step to typological analysis.
The first attempt to describe comparative characteristics of speech units of different European languages was registered at the beginning of the 20th century. ^
Wietor (1904) compared some phonetic characteristics of German, English and French.
A.I. Tomson, a professor of Odessa University, published some articles and essays devoted to the comparative description of Russian, Ukrainian and Armenian languages (Томсон А.И., 1912, 1922).
Russian scientists ^ , V.A. Bogoroditsky, E.D. Polivanov and others outlined some principles of language comparison and compared Russian with some other languages (Бодуэн-де-Куртенэ И.А., 1912; Боглродитский В.А., 1915; Поливанов Е.Д., 1928).
In 1936 ^ , a representative of a well-known “The Prague Linguistic Circle”, pointed out the importance and the necessity of the synchronic comparative linguistic analysis. V.M. Matesius wrote that synchronic comparative method of investigations contributed to a more thorough analysis of the language.
In 1953 W. Weinrich, another representative of “The Prague Linguistic Circle”, put forward an important scientifically substantiated suggestion about differential description of the languages.
Another linguist, ^ brought forward a new theoretical conception. E. Naugen in his two-volume monograph “Norwegian Language in America” (1953) brought up the concept of “dialinguistics” – synchronous comparative investigations of the individuals who have a complete command of two languages.
At the same time ^ , the “Father of English Phonetics”, was one of the first who systematically compared a foreign language with the pronunciation of the native tongue of his learners – French. In all the reprints and editions of his wellknown book “An Outline of English Phonetics”, comparing English pronunciation with the French, one he recommends French learners how to avoid mistakes in English which is a foreign language for them.
In Ukraine comparative (contrastive) linguistics and typological analysis of different languages began to be applied in the middle of the 20th century.
In 1952 systematic synchronous comparison of the foreign and the Ukrainian speech sounds, based on experimental investigations, were published: “Comparative analysis of consonants in contemporary Ukrainian and German languages”
(Прокопова Л.И., 1952) and “Comparative analysis of systems of English and Ukrainian vowels and consonants” (Бровченко Т.А., 1952).
In 1957 the first contrastive manual, “Contrastive Grammar of the Ukrainian and English languages”, a fundamental textbook written by a group of linguists appeared (Баймут Т.В., Бойчук М.К., Волынский М.К., Жовтобрюх М.А. и Самойленко С.П., 1957).
In the 1960s a fundamental textbook for teachers, “Comparative Grammar of Ukrainian and English languages” (Жлуктенко Ю.О., 1960) and the manual “English Phonetics”, based on the experimental bilingual contrastive analysis of phonetic systems of English and Ukrainian languages (Brovchenko Т., Bant I., 1964) were published.
In the collective monograph, “Intonation of Speech” published by the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (1963) an article written by ^ , “Intonation characteristics of rhetoric questions in Ukrainian and French dialogical speech” was the result of comparative experimental investigation of the intonation of rhetorical questions in French in comparison with the native language of the learners – Ukrainian (Борисюк И.В., 1968).
The intonation structure of English and Ukrainian utterances in dependence on the position of the semantic centre was investigated by ^ in the article “Intonation contour of semantic centre in English and Ukrainian speech”. The comparative analysis made it possible to reveal acoustic characteristics of the intonation structure of the utterances with different positions of the semantic centre common in English and Ukrainian and those specific in each of the analysed languages (Бровченко Т.А., 1979).
^ in his article, “Contrastive analysis as a method of speech investigations” (1979), emphasized that contrastive linguistics is not an independent science but is a branch of linguistics that has the same subject and aim, investigates the nature and peculiarities of different languages and differs from linguistics only in its method – synchronous comparative method.
Yu.A. Zhluktenko asserts that the main requirements to contrastive investigations are:
- the choice of the most important and effective language elements for the analysis;
- the choice of an adequate and reliable basis for comparative analysis;
- taking into consideration interlanguages equivalence, which as a rule is not connected with the equality of form (Жлуктенко Ю.А., 1979).
^ in his article, “Gnoseological basis of Contrastive analysis” analyses, from the point of gnoseology (theory of science), psychological treatment of the process of learning a foreign language on the basis of the native language and describes the peculiarities of this process, its difficulties and complexity (Бублик В.Н., 1979).
The collective monograph, “Comparative investigations of English, Ukrainian and Russian languages” published in 1980 by the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, edited by Yu.A. Zhluktenko, was devoted to the problems of comparative analysis of phonological, morphological and syntactic peculiarities of the three languages.
In the introductory section, “The foundation of the contrastive analysis of speech”, Yu.A. Zhluktenko gives a survey of the history of development of contrastive linguistics, discusses and develops further its main problems – the subject of contrastive linguistics, the discrimination between contrastive and typological studies, connection between theoretical and pragmatic aspects of contrastive and typological analysis, the choice of the model of contrastive analysis and others (Жлуктенко Ю.А., 1981).
In the section, “Comparative analysis of English, Ukrainian and Russian phonological systems”, T.A. Brovchenko came to theoretically and practically well
founded conclusions about the main specific and common phonetic peculiarities of
the speech sounds characteristics of the phonematic systems of the two examined languages. A list of the most typical mistakes of Ukrainians learning English and the methods of avoiding them was presented (Бровченко Т.А., 1981).
In the monograph, “Typology of speech intonation”, ^ gave a detailed analysis of acoustic characteristics of various types of emotions in English in
comparison with the corresponding emotional variants in Ukrainian, and presented an original classification of English and Ukrainian emotions (Нушикян Э.А., 1982).
In the monograph, “Intonation of modality in sounding speech”, by T.M. Koroljeva the phonetic structure and functions of modal utterances in English and Ukrainian speech were investigated. Original systematic semantic approach and electronic experimental analysis made it possible to determine intonation peculiarities of the main types of modal utterances and their variants (Королёва Т.М., 1989).
Contrastive linguistics continued to be developed vigorously since the 1970s up to the end of the 20th century in different countries of the world.
Greenberg's reputation rests in part on his contributions to synchronic linguistics and the quest to identify linguistic universals. In the late 1950s, Greenberg began to examine corpora of languages covering a wide geographic and genetic distribution. He located a number of interesting potential universals as well as many strong cross-linguistic tendencies.
In particular, Greenberg invented the notion of "implicational universal", which takes the form, "if a language has structure X, then it must also have structure Y." For example, X might be "mid front rounded vowels" and Y "high front rounded vowels" (for terminology see phonetics). This kind of research was taken up by many scholars following Greenberg's example and remains important in synchronic linguistics.
Like Noam Chomsky, Greenberg sought to discover the universal structures underlying human language. Unlike Chomsky, Greenberg’s approach was empirical rather than logico-deductive. Greenberg’s approach, often characterized as "functionalist", is commonly opposed to Chomsky’s rationalist approach. An argument to reconcile the Greenbergian and Chomskyan approaches can be found in Linguistic Universals, edited by Ricardo Mairal and Juana Gil (2006).
Greenberg rejected the view, prevalent among linguists since the mid-20th century, that comparative reconstruction was the only tool to discover relationships between languages. He argued that genetic classification is methodologically prior to comparative reconstruction, or the first stage of it: you cannot engage in the comparative reconstruction of languages until you know which languages to compare.
He also criticized the prevalent view that comprehensive comparisons of two languages at a time (which commonly take years to carry out) could establish language families of any size. He pointed out that, even for 8 languages, there are already 4,140 ways to classify them, while for 25 languages there are 4,749,027,089,305,918,018 ways . (By way of comparison, the Niger-Congo family has some 1,500 languages.) It is evident, therefore, that all language families of any size were established by some means other than bilateral comparison. The theory of mass comparison is an attempt to demonstrate what those means are.
Greenberg argued for the virtues of breadth over depth. He advocated restricting the amount of material to be compared (to basic vocabulary, morphology, and known paths of sound change) and increasing the number of languages to be compared - to all the languages in a given area. This would make it possible to compare numerous languages reliably. At the same time, the process would provide a check on accidental resemblances through the sheer number of languages under comparison. The mathematical probability that resemblances are accidental decreases sharply with the number of languages concerned.
Greenberg noted that mass "borrowing" of basic vocabulary is unknown. Borrowing, when it occurs, is concentrated in cultural vocabulary and clusters "in certain semantic areas", making it easy to detect . With a goal of determining broad patterns of relationship, the issue was not to get every word right but to detect patterns. From the beginning with his theory of mass comparison, Greenberg addressed why the issues of chance resemblance and borrowing were not obstacles to its being useful. Despite that, some critics suggested those areas were shortcomings of the theory.
Greenberg first called this method "mass comparison" in an article in 1954 (reprinted in Greenberg 1955). As of 1987, he replaced the term "mass comparison" with "multilateral comparison", to bring home its contrast with the bilateral comparisons recommended in linguistics textbooks. He believed that multilateral comparison is not in any way opposed to the comparative method, but is, on the contrary, its necessary first step. Comparative reconstruction has the status of an explanatory theory for facts already established by language classification. His
method was to establish the facts first, reflecting the methodological empiricism also visible in his typological work.
The use of mass comparison as a tool for establishing genealogical relationships between languages is rejected by most historical linguists. Among the most outspoken critics of mass comparison have been Lyle Campbell, Donald Ringe, William Poser, and the late R. Larry Trask.
Marrism, founded in the 1920s by the Soviet archeologist and linguist ^ (1865–1934), was quintessentially Marxist in holding that all linguistic phenomena are purely a reflection of economic functions and social forces (superstructure). Marr considered Caucasian as the proto-language of Europe (the so-called Japhetic theory), which oddly coincided with German racialist theories of Johann Friedrich Blumenbach (1752–1840). Joseph Stalin (1879–1953) (who, incidentally, had much to say about language), however, put an end to Marr's influence on Soviet linguistics when in 1950 he refuted the superstructure theory of language, declaring that it was independent of human productivity.
Among the anthropologists trained by Franz Boas in the early decades of the twentieth century Edward Sapir alone was regularly acknowledged by his peers as a genius. In 1916 his Time Perspective in Aboriginal American Culture: A Study in Method laid out the method of historical inference implicit in the Boasian reconstruction of the history of cultures and languages. Drawing on linguistic examples from a remarkable range of cases, Sapir in Time Perspective distinguished methodologically between the properties of language and culture for historical reconstruction. Sound change in language, unlike the other parts of culture, he argued, retained traces of the past historical relationships of languages. In consequence, genetic relationships could be discerned and distinguished from other kinds of relationships by the application of methods used in Indo-European historical linguistics, even in the absence of written records. Sapir's treatise remained the ethnologist's guide to historical method for a generation and still repays careful attention to the forms of his logic.
In 1921 Sapir published ^ the only book he completed during his lifetime. He included written and unwritten
languages on an equal footing, marvelling at the precision and beauty of grammatical forms and structural typologies. Also in 1921 Sapir published a one-page summary of his six-unit classification of American Indian languages, based on a paper read to the American Association for the Advancement of Science.Although the 1929 version of this classification is better known and is accompanied by considerable justification, including a medial classification of twenty-three units acceptable even to conservatives among Amerindian linguists, the 1921 version was essentially complete. It was based on the comparative work Sapir and his colleagues had done over the past two decades. The most daring of the proposals made by Sapir in this period involved linking Athabaskan to Haida and Tlingit to form Na-dene and then linking Na-dene, largely on the basis of its tonal structure, to Sino-Tibetan. Some of Sapir's most famous contributions to linguistic theory lie in phonology, the study of sound systems. In 1925 the inaugural issue of Language—the journal of the Linguistic Society of America, of which Sapir was a crucial founder—carried his paper, "Sound Patterns in Language," which defined the concept of the phoneme in terms of significant relationships among sounds, rather than their objective qualities. Sapir is also especially noted for his dynamic conception of grammar. Sapir's discussions of the role of meaning in grammatical form and the relationships of these to the use of language in formulating and conveying ideas have been taken as his contribution to what is often called the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. In fact the hypothesis was developed largely by his student Benjamin Lee Whorf after his mentor's death. But there are certainly intimations in Sapir's own writing of the way in which habitual thought might be influenced, if not determined, by linguistic structures.
Considerable research work in phonological typology was carried on by ^ who investigated the Slavonic languages on their quantitative representation of vowels and on the musical accent in words and b) on the existence or non-existence of palatalised consonants. As a result, two types of languages have been identified:
The vocalic type languages, like Serbian, Croatian and Slovenian, in which a) some consonants have historically changed into vowels and some have become syllable forming /r, l/ as in trg, vlk etc.; b) languages in which there occurs an
insertion of vowels between consonants and c) languages in which the double consonants have reduced to single consonants.
The consonantal type languages whose characteristic features are as follows: a) the existence of the binary opposition of palatalised consonants versus non-palatalised ones; b) the loss of the syllable forming consonants; c) the retention of double consonants [17, 106 — 125].
Similar rapid development was observed in the sphere of comparative phonetics as well. Contrastive linguistic phonetic investigations may be divided into three main
a. the theory of contrastive linguistics;
b. the methods of contrastive linguistic analysis of speech;
c. comparative linguistic analysis of phonetic characteristics and the structure of different languages.
It should be taken into consideration that the division of comparative investigations is formal to some extent. On the one hand, systematic comparative researches may be not purely theoretical and are often supplied with some definite results of comparison between or among linguistic phonetic phenomena. On the other hand, systematic practical comparative descriptions may contain some theoretical considerations and conclusions.
For the sake of convenience some contrastive investigations of the 20th century
may be divided into the three mentioned above groups.
II. Methods of contrastive linguistics
III. Comparative and typological phonetic description of different languages
In the 21st century theoretic and applied problems of contrastive linguistics have been elaborated as well. Theoretic and practical investigation of contrastive linguistics and the phonetic interference of the peculiarities of the native language into the characteristics of the foreign language pronunciation were emphasized by numerous linguists.
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