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Jakobson's Biography & Bibliography



Roman Jakobson

Roman Jakobson (1896-1982) was one of the greatest linguists of the 20th century. He was born in Russia and was a member of the Russian Formalist school as early as 1915. Jakobson taught in Czechoslovakia between the two world wars, where, along with N. Trubetzkoy, he was one of the leaders of the influential Prague Linguistic Circle. When Czechoslovakia was invaded by the Nazis, he was forced to flee to Scandinavia, and went from there to the United States in 1941. From 1942 to 1946 Jakobson taught at the École Libre des Hautes Études in New York City, where he collaborated with Claude Lévi-Strauss.

In 1943 he became one of the founding members of the Linguistic Circle of New York and acted as its vice president until 1949. He taught at numerous institutions from 1943 on, including Harvard University and MIT. Through his teaching in the United States, Jakobson helped to bridge the gap between European and American linguistics. He had a profound influence on general linguistics (especially on Noam Chomsky's and Morris Halle's work) and on Slavic studies, but also on semiotics, anthropology, psychoanalysis, ethnology, mythology, communication theory and literary studies. His famous model of the functions of language is part of the intellectual heritage of semiotics.

Selected Bibliography

JAKOBSON, R., On Language, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995.
JAKOBSON, R., Child Language. Aphasia and Phonological Universals, The Hague: Mouton, 1968.
JAKOBSON, R., "Linguistics and Poetics", in T. Sebeok, ed., Style in Language, Cambridge, MA: M.I.T. Press, 1960, pp. 350-377.
JAKOBSON, R., Six Lectures on Sound and Meaning, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1978.

Jakobson's Theories

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