Roman Jakobson

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Jakobson, Roman

(rəmän` yäk`ôbsən), 1896–1982, Russian-American linguist and literary critic, b. Moscow. He coined the term structural linguistics and stressed that the aim of historical linguistics is the study not of isolated changes within a language but of systematic change. In Czechoslovakia in the late 1920s and the 30s, Jakobson and a few colleagues, most notably N. S. Trubetzkoy, developed what came to be known as the Prague school of linguistics. They argued that synchronic phonology, the study of speech sounds in a language at a given time, must be considered in light of diachronic phonology, the study of speech sounds as they have changed over the course of the language's history. After leaving Czechoslovakia in 1939, Jakobson went on to Denmark, Norway, and Sweden before coming to the United States to teach at Columbia (1943–49) and later Harvard (1949–67); at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1957–67) he worked with Morris Halle on distinctive-feature theory, developing a binary system that defines a speech sound by the presence or absence of specific phonetic qualities, such as stridency and nasality. Through his contact with French anthropologist Claude Lévi-StraussLévi-Strauss, Claude
, 1908–2009, French anthropologist, b. Brussels, Belgium, Ph.D Univ. of Paris, 1948. He carried out research in Brazil from 1935 to 1939.
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 and others, Jakobson was influential in the development of structuralismstructuralism,
theory that uses culturally interconnected signs to reconstruct systems of relationships rather than studying isolated, material things in themselves. This method found wide use from the early 20th cent.
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See his Six Lectures on Sound and Meaning (1978); Framework of Language (1980).

Jakobson, Roman Osipovich


Born Oct. 11 (23), 1896, in Moscow. Russian and American linguist and literary scholar.

Jakobson graduated from the Lazarev Institute of Oriental Languages in 1914 and from Moscow University in 1918. He emigrated in 1921. Jakobson eventually became a professor at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. One of the founders of the Moscow, Prague, and New York linguistics circles, he helped develop the theories of structuralism and structural linguistics.

Jakobson has done research in a number of areas of linguistics. His principal studies in theoretical linguistics deal with phonology, the theory of distinctive features, the problem of language unions, typology, language universals, the general theory of cases, and the description of verbal systems. He has also published important studies dealing with the Slavic languages, primarily Russian, and with poetics, particularly versification and metrics.

Jakobson has made contributions to the study of Slavic mythology and rituals. He has produced studies on early Slavic poetry, epics, Old Russian literature, and the linguistic and stylistic characteristics of many literary figures, including Dante, Shakespeare, M. Eminescu, B. Brecht, and a number of Russian writers of the 19th and 20th centuries. He has also published numerous articles on poetic texts.

Jakobson is an honorary member of many national academies, scholarly societies, and universities.


Selected Writings, vols. 1–2,4. The Hague-Paris, 1962–66, 1971.
Questions de poétique. Paris [1973].


Roman Jakobson: A Bibliography of His Writings. The Hague-Paris, 1971.


References in periodicals archive ?
My purpose is not to object to this basic structure, but to call attention to two qualifying factors, drawn from the Indian traditions of poetics, that, first, establish that Jakobson and Halle have been largely anticipated by several centuries in the formulation of these parameters; and secondly, that these same Indian traditions (with their peculiar emphasis on the significance of language itself) force interesting reexamination of some of the more lapidary contrasts ("poles") implied by Jakobson and Halle's outline.
But, at the same time, it is a given, by virtue of his speaking, that Gyson differentiates speech / voice from writing / text by his delivery style whose qualities are not those of writing / text at all but of a unique personal voice (the qualities Ivan Fonagy paraphases, from Jakobson, above).
This, to quote Jakobson, actualization of the imperfective verbal aspect (zdrabniac) may also be taken as a case of the poetics of grammar.
What led Jakobson to postulate a similarity relationship among paradigmatic units?
In addressing this question I will focus on the chiasmus, or inverted parallelism, a trope that Jakobson mentions repeatedly in his essays on poetry.
An underlying assumption of the study is that the concept of markedness, associated with functional grammar and text linguistics, might be used to shed light on this process of integration (Greenberg, 1966; Halliday, 1994; Jakobson, 1957; Rutherford, 1982).
When Jakobson associated metaphor with poetry (as the figure par excellence of similarity and hence image-making), metonymy with prose, he was thinking of the "realist" prose of Tolstoy and Chekhov.
Live music with tap always enhances a stage and Blumenfeld's eclectic group of musicians included Greg Burrows, Erik Jakobson, Josh Ginsburg, Peter Hess and Dan Pratt.
From Aristotle to Roman Jakobson and beyond, metaphor's status as the pre-eminent literary trope has been accepted largely without question.
Indeed he recognizes that Jakobson and Bogatyrev's notion of folklore as a specific mode of creation, which he claims to endorse (39-40, 256-7), leads to "'transcendent' interpretation" of an underlying system that is coterminous to Levi-Strauss's "later notion of a (mythical) meta-language" (43).
Here he makes explicit his use of the terms |lyric' and |lyrical', which he seeks to justify by appealing to such authorities as Northrop Frye and Roman Jakobson, as well as to ordinary critical usage, and defines in relation to such traits as |brevity, subjectivity, emotion, and melody'.
Another important book is Vallan vaihto (Change of Power) by Max Jakobson (Helsinki, 1992).