St. Petersburg School of Linguistics

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

St. Petersburg School of Linguistics


a group of students of I. A. Baudouin de Courtenay from the University of St. Petersburg who developed his views on general linguistics in the first decade of the 20th century. The “older” generation of the St. Petersburg school is represented by L. V. Shcherba, whose works reflect the general-phonetic and phonological opinions of Baudouin de Courtenay. Other, younger students of Baudouin who belonged to the school included E. D. Polivanov, L. P. Iakubinskii, and B. V. Tomashevskii. Also close to the school in some of their views were K. Buga and M. Vassmer. From 1915 to the early 1920’s, S. I. Bernshtein, V. V. Vinogradov, and N. V. Iushmanov gravitated to the school.

The basic positions uniting the St. Petersburg school were an understanding of language as a form of collective thinking and a form of linguistic activity, attention to the social factors in linguistic evolution, a consistent distinction between the conscious and the unconscious in linguistic thinking and an interest in “sprachgefühl,” an original understanding of the relationship between historical and descriptive linguistics, and development of the concept of linguistic levels.


Leont’ev, A. A. “I. A. Boduen de Kurtene i Peterburgskaia shkola russkoi lingvistiki.” Voprosy iazykoznaniia, 1961, no. 4.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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