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).

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

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.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Roman Jakobson's model of speech communication introduced 6 elements of language communication, namely addresser, addressee, context, message, contact and code.
Later on, the analysis of the communication situation and functions of communication done by Roman Jakobson suggested a balance between the information transmitting aspect (which is referential, metalinguistc and poetic) and the communication relationship aspect (the expressive function--speaker, impressive/conative function--receiver and phatic function--communication channel).
In addition to discussing incitement in relation to Excitable Speech, Aune examines Roman Jakobson's model of communication to theorize the way in which speech may be harmful in society.
A well-known definition of translation is given by a Russian linguist Roman Jakobson. He classified translation into three kinds:
If we take the dominant models in communication and mass communication like those proposed by Harold Lasswell (1948), Claude Shannon and Warren Weaver (1949), John Riley and Matilda Riley (1959), Roman Jakobson (1971), and George Gerbner (1956), we see that the kind of dualities of self that we have seen so far in Western theorizations have a direct bearing on it.
In 1960, in a text entitled Closing statements: Linguistics and poetics, Roman Jakobson expressed his theory of communication.
Petersburg and the Moscow Linguistic Circle; continues, through the intermediacy of Roman Jakobson, in the Prague Linguistic Circle of the late 1920s and 1930s; supplies inspiration for the French structuralism of the 1950s and 1960s; and receives further development on Russian soil in the Tartu-Moscow school of semiotics, formed in the mid-1960s.
Or, si les difficultes de la traduction juridique sont une preoccupation evidemment prioritaire pour cet ouvrage, celle des problemes qui en impliquent l'interpretation ne l'est pas moins, rauteure faisant intervenir des penseurs de la traduction comme Walter Benjamin, Eugene Nida, Roman Jakobson, ainsi que ceux de la philosophie et de l'hermeneutique comme Friedrich Schleiermacher, Martin Heidegger, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Paul Ricoeur, Wilard V.O.
Rudy (Ed.), Roman Jakobson: Selected Writings (Vol.