1887

A Life for Language

A biographical memoir of Leonard Bloomfield

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Abstract

Leonard Bloomfield (1887-1949) was one of the greatest linguists of the twentieth century. He devoted his entire life to a thorough-going study of language, its structure and its use, summed up in masterly fashion in his book <i>Language</i> (1933). After his premature death at the age of 62, his work was at first acclaimed as an exemplary application of the scientific method to linguistics, but then fell into unjustified neglect. Now that the centenary of his birth has passed, the time has come for the story of Bloomfield's life and work to be recounted in a biography. Accordingly, basing his discussion on all available materials (including some information not accessible until recently), Professor Hall has presented Bloomfield's life history in its intellectual and cultural setting. This book is not only a biography, but also a personal memoir, in which Hall draws on his contacts with Bloomfield, who was his teacher at Chicago and a senior colleague at Yale. There emerges from this study a fuller picture than we have had heretofore, presenting both Bloomfield's recognized achievement in establishing the study of language as a scientific discipline, and the less-known aspects of his character and of his personal life, which in certain respects was very tragic and sad.

Subjects: History of linguistics

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