语言学习者必须知道的几个准则

2010-08-25 05:22

Leonard Bloomfield是美国现代语言学之父,其《Language》(1933)一书影响甚广。他曾经在芝加哥大学教授德语13年,又在耶鲁大学做了9年的语言学教授。他既是一位语言学家,又是一位社会学家,属于那种破旧立新、制定规则的泰斗。他对于语言的观念并不是基于某些流行的理论书籍,比如Strunk的《Element of Style》,而是来自他自身亲力亲为对某种语言的了解,比如印第安克里语方言。《But what's a Dictionary For》有相关的介绍。

语言学当年的这门“新”科学的发现大略来说就是:

  1. All languages are systems of human conventions , not systems of natural laws. The first -- and essential – step in the study of any language is observing and setting down precisely what happens when native speakers speak it. 语言是人类创造和遵循传统,而非大自然的造化。学习任何语言的第一步就是观察与记录:当母语人士说什么的时候,会产生什么样的结果。
  1. Each language is unique in its pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary. It cannot be described in terms of logic or of some theoretical, ideal language. It cannot be described in terms of any other language, or even in terms of its own past. 每种语言在发音、语法、词汇上是独一无二的。它不能够由某种逻辑正确、理论完整的“完美语言”,或者是任何其他现实存在的语言来描述,甚至是同一种语言本身过去的形式也不行。

  2. All languages are dynamic rather than static, and hence a "rule" in any language can only be a statement of contemporary practice. Change is constant -- and normal. 所有的语言都是动态发展的,因此,任何语言的某个“标准”只能够说是对那一时刻状态的描述。语言持续变化是常态。

  3. "Correctness" can rest only upon usage, for the simple reason that there is nothing else for it to rest on. And all usage is relative. 所谓的“正确性”只能取决于用法,原因很简单,除此之外别无他法。而“用法”也是一个相对的说法,在某种上下文成立,某种上下文不成立。

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