Structural linguistics is an approach to linguistics originating from the work of Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure. De Saussure's Course in General Linguistics, published posthumously in 1916, stressed examining language as a static system of interconnected units. He is thus known as a father of modern linguistics for bringing about the shift from diachronic to synchronic analysis, as well as for introducing several basic dimensions of semiotic analysis that are still important today, such as syntagmatic and paradigmatic analysis (or 'associations' as Saussure was still calling them).
Structural linguistics thus involves collecting a corpus of utterances and then attempting to classify all of the elements of the corpus at their different linguistic levels: the phonemes, morphemes, lexical categories, noun phrases, verb phrases, and sentence types. One of Saussure's key methods was syntagmatic and paradigmatic analysis that respectively define units syntactically and lexically, according to their contrast with the other units in the system.
Structural linguistics is now overwhelmingly regarded by professional linguists as outdated and as superseded by developments such as cognitive linguistics and generative grammar: Jan Koster states, "Saussure, considered the most important linguist of the century in Europe until the 1950s, hardly plays a role in current theoretical thinking about language," while cognitive linguist Mark Turner reports that many of Saussure's concepts were "wrong on a grand scale" and Norman N. Holland notes that "Saussure's views are not held, so far as I know, by modern linguists, only by literary critics, Lacanians, and the occasional philosopher;" others have made similar observations.
Famous quotes containing the word structural:
“The reader uses his eyes as well as or instead of his ears and is in every way encouraged to take a more abstract view of the language he sees. The written or printed sentence lends itself to structural analysis as the spoken does not because the readers eye can play back and forth over the words, giving him time to divide the sentence into visually appreciated parts and to reflect on the grammatical function.”
—J. David Bolter (b. 1951)