London School of Linguistics

London School of Linguistics


or the London school of structuralism, a trend in contemporary structural linguistics (J. R. Firth, W. Sidney Allen, R. H. Robins, and M. A. K. Halliday).

The London school of linguistics is involved with the study of language on the descriptive plane (synchrony), the distinguishing of structural (syntagmatics) and systemic (paradigmatics) concepts, and the social aspects of language. In the forefront is semantics. The school’s primary contribution to linguistics has been the situational theory of meaning in semantics (the dependence of the meaning of a linguistic unit on its use in a standard context by a definite person; functional variations in speech are distinguished on the basis of typical contexts) and the prosodic analysis in phonology (the consideration of the phenomena accruing to a sound: the number and nature of syllables, the character of sound sequences, morpheme boundaries, stress, and so on). The distinctive function is considered to be the primary function of a phoneme.

The London school rejects the concepts of the speech collective and social experience and studies the speech of the individual person; it is subject to terminological and methodological inaccuracy and proves in many aspects to be linguistics of speech and not language.


Firth, J. R. “Tekhnika semantikj.” In Novoe v lingvistike, vol. 2. Moscow, 1962.
Kubriakova, E. S. “Iz istorii angliiskogo strukturalizma.” In Osnovnye napravleniia strukturalizma. Moscow, 1964.
Firth, J. R. Papers in Linguistics. London, 1957.
Studies in Linguistic Analysis. Oxford, 1957.
Langendoen, T. D. The London School of Linguistics. Cambridge, 1968.
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