Vilém Mathesius

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Mathesius, Vilém


Born Aug. 3, 1882, in Pardubice; died Apr. 12, 1945, in Prague. Czech linguist. Founder and president of the Prague Linguistic Circle. Specialist in general linguistics and English.

Mathesius was one of the first to justify the synchronic approach to the study of language (in “On the Potentiality of Linguistic Phenomena,” 1911). He was one of the founders of functional linguistics, which considers the elements of a language from the viewpoint of their role in the communication process. He concerned himself with the “characterology” of language, by which he meant the comparison of elements of different languages in order to elucidate the typical characteristics of a given language. He elaborated the theory of the actual division of a sentence. His basic works include The Czech Language and General Linguistics (1947) and Functional Analysis of Modern English on the Basis of General Linguistics (1961; both published posthumously).


Prazhskii lingvisticheskii kruzhok. Moscow, 1967.
Trnka, B. “V. Mathesius.” In Portraits of Linguists, vol. 2. Bloomington, 1966.


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