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Hjelmslev's Biography & Bibliography



Louis Hjelmslev

Louis Hjelmslev (Copenhagen, 1899-1965) is the author of a theory of language called glossematics, which inspired a great number of European semioticians. As a linguist, he was part of the Linguistic Circle of Copenhagen and was influential in the rapid development of scientific structuralism in the 1930s.

Semiotics has taken a great many concepts from him, some of which were theorized by Ferdinand de Saussure and then refined by Hjelmslev, including semiotics, expression, content, form, substance and usage. To these he added certain concepts specific to glossematics, such as neutral (term), complex (term), connotative (semiotic), metasemiotic, norm, and matter or text.

His work is not easy to understand, and this is due as much to the unstable editorial and philological context as it is to the highly abstract nature of the theory and the formalized presentation of his writings. That does not make it any less essential for anyone who wants to learn about the theoretical dimension of semiotics.

Selected Bibliography

HJELMSLEV, L., Principes de grammaire générale, Copenhagen: Bianco Lunos Bogtrykkeri, (1928) [1929].
HJELMSLEV, L., Language: An Introduction, trans. F. Whitfield, Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1970 [1963].
HJELMSLEV, L., Prolegomena to a Theory of Language, trans. F. Whitfield, Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1963 [1943].
HJELMSLEV, L., Essais linguistiques, Paris: Minuit, 1971.
HJELMSLEV, L., La catégorie des cas. Étude de grammaire générale, Munich: W. Fink, 1972 [1935-1937].
HJELMSLEV, L., Sprogsystem og sprogforandring. Travaux du Cercle linguistique de Copenhague, XV, Copenhagen: Nordisk Sprog- og Kulturforlag, 1972.
HJELMSLEV, L., Résumé of a Theory of Language, Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1975.
HJELMSLEV, L., Nouveaux essais, Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1985.

Hjelmslev's Theories

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