Kazan School



1. Geographical position

Kazan (Russian: Каза́нь; Tatar: Казан, Qazan) is the capital city of the Republic of Tatarstan, Russia, and one of Russia's largest cities. It is a major industrial, commercial and cultural center, and remains the most important center of Tatar culture. Kazan lies at the confluence of the Volga and Kazanka Rivers in central European Russia.

Founded in 1804, Kazan State University is the second oldest university in Russian Federation. An internationally acknowledged centre of academic excellence, it is usually listed among 5 to 10 top institutions of higher education in the country. The history of KSU is associated with many world-known names like those of the father of non-Euclidian geometry Lobachevsky, the writer Tolstoy, the founder of non-organic chemistry Butlerov, the precursor of modern linguistics Baudouin de Courtenay, the discoverer of Electron Spin Resonance Zavoisky and the first Soviet leader Ulianov-Lenin. Today many graduates of the University are known as prominent politicians, famous professionals, successful businessmen and distinguished scholars.

2. Main representatives 2.1 Jan Niecisław Ignacy Baudouin de Courtenay (1845 -1929) was a Polish linguist and slavist, best known for his theory of the phoneme and phonetic alternations. For most of his life he worked at Imperial Russian universities: Kazan (1874-1883), Yuryev (1883-1893), Kraków (1893-1899) and St. Petersburg (1900-1918)), where he was known as Иван Александрович Бодуэн де Куртенэ (Ivan Aleksandrovich Boduen de Kurtene).

His work had a major impact on 20th century linguistic theory, and it served as a foundation for several schools of phonology. He was an early champion of synchronic linguistics, the study of contemporary spoken languages, which he developed contemporaneously with the structuralist linguistic theory of Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure. Among the most notable of his achievements is the distinction between statics and dynamics of languages and between a language, that is, an abstract group of elements, and speech (its implementation by individuals). Together with his student Mikołaj Kruszewski he also shaped the modern usage of the term phoneme, which had been coined in 1873 by the French linguist A. Dufriche-Desgenettes.
Three major schools of 20th century phonology arose directly from his distinction between physiophonetic (phonological) and psychophonetic (morphophonological) alternations: the Leningrad School of Phonology, the Moscow School of Phonology, and the Prague School of Phonology. All three schools developed different positions on the nature of Baudouin's alternational dichotomy. The Prague School was the best known outside of the field of Slavic linguistics. Throughout his life he published hundreds of scientific works in Polish, Russian, Czech, Slovenian, Italian, French and German.

2.2 Mikołaj Habdank Kruszewski, (Russianized, Nikolay Vyacheslavovich Krushevsky, Николай Вячеславович Крушевский) (1851–1887) was a Polish linguist, most significant as the co-inventor of the concept of phonemes. From 1883, he was a professor at Kazan University. His notable works include On Sound Alternation (1881) and Outline of Linguistic Science (1883).

A student of Jan Baudouin de Courtenay (1845–1929), Kruszewski worked with de Courtenay to develop the linguistics associated with the Kazan school. These inspired other linguists. Since it is difficult to distinguish who created which concept, the systematic treatment of alternation may be attributed to both.

Kruszewski's major work was in the theory of alternations. He was the first to create a systematic approach to the phonological structure of language. He spent much of his time analyzing the sounds of language, mainly the concept of the phoneme, which was understood as an abstract element of language consisting of various distinctive features. Above all, however, Kruszewski was preoccupied with classifying the alternations and describing their status.

Kruszewski proposed three types of alternations and stressed the fact that each alternation is influenced by two important factors. The first factor involves the changes sounds undergo within themselves, while the second involves the conditions that stimulate a given change. Such an approach results in the classification of alternations into three major groups.
The first category of alternations is restricted to the sounds that are very similar. Alternations that belong to this category are governed by four rules:
l The cause of the alternation is determinate
2 The alternation is general
3 The alternation has no exceptions
Alternations occur among sounds that do not differ markedly in phonetic properties.
An example of the first type are those variations between particular sounds in Russian as a function of the palatalization of the preceding consonant.
The alternations that represent the second and third categories are quite similar and there are three important conditions under which the alternations take place:
The cause of the alternation may be absent
The alternation may have exceptions
Alternations occur among sounds that differ markedly in phonetic properties.
The sounds involved in alternations of the sounds of the second and the third category are known as correlatives. The only difference between the second and the third category is the degree to which a given category is morphologized. Kruszewski's example for the second category is u-umlaut in Icelandic. He does not strictly separate the second and the third category.
This classification is an important framework that presents one of many ways of perceiving a language.

2.3 Kazan school among others

Boudoin-de-Courtenay who was the head of the Kazan Linguistic School defined the phoneme as a physical image of a sound. He also regarded phonemes as fictitious units and considered them to be only perceptions. This approach is called mentalistic/ physical.

Ferdinand de Saussure viewed phonemes as the sum of acoustic impressions and articulatory movements. He also viewed phonemes as disembodied units of the language formed by the differences separating the acoustic image of one sound from the rest of the units. Language in his opinion contains nothing but differences. This approach is called abstractional/ abstract.

Trubetskoy (the head of the Prague Linguistic School) defined the phoneme as a unity of phonologically relevant features. Relevant feature is the feature without which we can’t distinguish one phoneme from another. This approach is called functional.

Phonemes can be neutralized. In this case we receive an archi-phoneme. That is a unity of relevant features common to both phonemes (e.g. wetting – wedding in AmE). In case of archiphoneme we cannot distinguish one phoneme from another. Thus the distinctive function of the phoneme is lost.]
Another kind of approach to the nature of the phoneme was expressed by a British scholar, the head of the London School of Phonology, Daniel Jones. He defined the phoneme as a family of sounds.

Last updated 06/19/08