Inner Form

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Inner Form


in linguistics.

(1) The inner form of a word is usually defined as the idea of the fundamental feature underlying the concept that has been retained in the word. The inner form of a word would be more precisely defined as the semantic or structural correlation of the lexical or grammatical morpheme of a word with other morphemes of the particular language that may occur in the mind of a speaker when analyzing the structure of that word. This correlation may be caused objectively by the retention of the original etymon in the word structure (Russian snegir’ [bullfinch] and sneg [snow]), but it may also be the result of so-called folk or false etymology (Russian blizorukii [nearsighted]; from the form blizo-[near] -zorkii [sighted], influenced by ruka [hand]). The inner form is understood differently in semantics and stylistics, in which the term is associated with the notion of the inner figurativeness of the word (word combination)—that is, of the connotations that arise when it is used in context because of the different denotative and systemic correlations of the word (word combination) as a whole and in its separate parts. The Russian-Ukrainian scholar A. A. Potebnia and his students understood inner form in terms of the literary work as a whole, as well as in terms of the individual word.

(2) Inner form of language. The German scholar W. von Humboldt distinguished in language the outer form (“the expression that language creates for thinking”) and the inner form—that is, the system of concepts that reflects the particular features of the Weltanschauung of the speakers of a given language and which is reinforced by the outer form of language. Taken together, the inner and outer forms constitute the form of language, which Humboldt contrasted with content. As understood by the German scholar H. Steinthal, inner form is a means of expressing the psychic content of language; it is opposed to phonic material (the “outer phonetic form”) and to psychic content. Thus, Steinthal’s inner form corresponds more readily to the Humboldtian form and not to the inner form. On the other hand, the German scholar W. Wundt returns to Humboldt’s conception, differentiating the “outer linguistic form” as the structure of language and inner form as the complex of latent psychic processes that are manifested by the outer linguistic form.

In modern science the problem of inner form is primarily examined from various neo-Humboldtian points of view (L. Weisgerber, E. Sapir, and B. Whorf). Marxist scholars lean toward a sociolinguistic and psycholinguistic interpretation of the concept of inner form.


Humboldt, W. von. O razlichii organizmov chelovecheskogo iazyka …. Translated by P. Biliarskii. St. Petersburg, 1859.
Shpet, G. G. Vnutrenniaia forma. Moscow, 1927.
Potebnia, A. A. Mysl’ i iazyk, 5th ed. Kharkov, 1926.
Zvegintsev, V. A. Semasiologiia. Moscow, 1957. Chapter 7.
Budagov, R. A. Vvedenie v nauku o iazyke. Moscow, 1958.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Chandos replies that he's unsure if he is the same person who, when younger, had written with such enthusiasm, believing with each new work that he was about to access 'that deep, deep inner form', which for the writer is the heart of literature, and to create work that so 'penetrates' and 'dissolves' the subject matter that the resulting text beams out as 'at once both dream and reality, an interplay of eternal forces, something as marvellous as music or algebra.' His was the artist's dream that 'conceived the whole of existence as one great unit', the spiritual and physical worlds entirely absorbed in each other.
Curved Form With Inner Form is expected to fetch up to PS700,000.
(3) Nevertheless, artistic form itself as "the inside" compared with the "materialness" of the outside in its turn has two sides: inner form and outer form.
The problem of poetic form is an interesting and difficult one, especially if by "form," we mean, not a classification of poems by speech act, content, or versification (or some combination of these three), but poetic form proper, what Helen Vendler likes to call "inner form"--the flowing architecture created by a poem's internal structure and dynamic shape (Vendler 106, 113-19).
The Dialectic of Artistic Form was Losev's intervention in the lively debates of the 1920s which, drawing on the new philology of European and Russian Formalism, spawned philosophical reflection within Soviet Russia (for example, Gustav Shpet's Inner Form of the Word [1927]) and in German philosophy (from Cassirer's Philosophy of Symbolic Forms [1923-1929] to Heidegger's Origin of the Work of Ait [1935-6]).
Over the next 14 years, he wrote a series of important books, including Istoriia kak problema logiki (History as a Problem of Logic [1916]), Germenevtika i ee problemy (Hermeneutics and Its Problems [1918]), (3) Esteticheskie fragmenty (Aesthetic Fragments [1922-23]), Vvedenie v etnicheskuiu psikhologiiu (Introduction to Ethnic Psychology [1927]), and Vnutrenniaia forma slova (etiudy i variatsii na temy Gumbol'ta) (The Inner Form of the Word: Studies and Variations on Humboldt's Themes [1927]).
We cannot understand the inner form of a society unless we understand its religion.
It means that the relation between the inner form and lexical meaning is manifested in concordance of the only one semantic notion.
The frames are the result of a new design technology which joins a transparent inner form with a contrasting outer form to create eyewear which is expressive, yet soft and elegant.
I just placed one stone at a time against the inside face of the inner form and then placed concrete behind it, filling in the concrete with what we called "uglies," or stones without a flat face, to use less concrete.
If you fill only from one side, you'll bend the inner form. When you've dropped in about 6 in.
Bunzel discusses the relationship between the prose poem and the early modern Feuilleton as well as the significance of the general return to established genres just after 1900, which sought to reestablish the difference between poetry and prose on the basis of the concept of 'inner form' (Johannes Schlaf, ArnoHolz, Rilke).The final chapter explores the first resurgence of the prose poem in Expressionism as a renewed challenge to preceding forms of modernism, now finally based on the reading of Baudelaire and his French successors.