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Dynamic Linguistics

Wmffre, Iwan

Dynamic Linguistics

Labov, Martinet, Jakobson and other Precursors of the Dynamic Approach to Language Description

Series: Contemporary Studies in Descriptive Linguistics - Volume 28

Year of Publication: 2013

Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien, 2013. 589 pp., 6 fig.
ISBN 978-3-0343-1705-4 pb.  (Softcover)

Weight: 0.870 kg, 1.918 lbs

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Book synopsis

Analysis of language as a combination of both a structural and a lexical component overlooks a third all-encompassing aspect: dynamics. Dynamic Linguistics approaches the description of the complex phenomenon that is human language by focusing on this important but often neglected aspect.
This book charts the belated recognition of the importance of dynamic synchrony in twentieth-century linguistics and discusses two other key concepts in some detail: speech community and language structure. Because of their vital role in the development of a dynamic approach to linguistics, the three linguists William Labov, André Martinet and Roman Jakobson are featured, in particular Martinet in whose later writings – neglected in the English-speaking world – the fullest appreciation of the dynamics of language to date are found. A sustained attempt is also made to chronicle precursors, between the nineteenth century and the 1970s, who provided inspiration for these three scholars in the development of a dynamic approach to linguistic description and analysis.
The dynamic approach to linguistics is intended to help consolidate functional structuralists, geolinguists, sociolinguists and all other empirically minded linguists within a broader theoretical framework as well as playing a part in reversing the overformalism of the simplistic structuralist framework which has dominated, and continues to dominate, present-day linguistic description.


Contents: Structuralism’s neglect of dynamics – Labov’s contribution to dynamics – Martinet’s contribution to dynamics – The Prague School and Jakobson’s contribution to dynamics – Problems of definition of concepts and terms relevant to dynamic linguistics – Martinet and Labov – Dynamics: Martinet’s precursors – Some problems of reification in linguistics – What is dynamics in language and dynamic linguistics? – Principles of a dynamic description of language.

About the author(s)/editor(s)

Iwan Wmffre is Lecturer of Celtic at the University of Ulster, Northern Ireland. He is a specialist in the Celtic languages, especially the Brittonic branch, and general linguistics, especially descriptive and phonetic issues. Recent publications include Breton Orthographies and Dialects: The Twentieth-Century Orthography War in Brittany (2007), and the forthcoming A Dynamic Description of Lampeter Welsh: The Traditional Language and A Practical Phonetic Description of Ulster Irish Gaelic, both to be published in 2013.


Contemporary Studies in Descriptive Linguistics. Vol. 28
Edited by Graeme Davis and Karl A. Bernhardt