Case and Gender: Concept Formation Between Morphology and Syntax, Volume 20
The cybernetic dream which pervades Soviet bureaucracy after Stalin produced a relatively liberal and generous science policy. In linguistics, the new spirit gave rise to a variety of trends professing to practise structural, mathematical or applied linguistics, and promising practical applications in natural language processing. The trends originating in the sixties comprise the so-called Set-theoretical School. In 1957 the mathematician Kolmogorov confronted the participants of a seminar on mathematical linguistics with a few pilot questions, such as what exactly do we mean when we say that two words are in the same case? The rigorous answers which the Set-theoretical School worked out for Kolmogorov's questions turned out to have far-reaching implications for linguistic theory.Case and Gender examines both the contextual and the internal development of the Set-theoretical School. The rise and decline of the School can be ascribed to Soviet humanities policy, while the specifics of its linguistic development can be attributed to the non-linguistic backgrounds and applied goals of its first exponents. The two volumes contain a systematic account of the networks of definitions (models) proposed by the School, and provide a metamodel which facilitates providing a consistent formalization of the models and uncovering their implicit assumptions on the properties of language. The metamodel also enables an orderly comparison of the models with one another and with terminological systems developed elsewhere. Moreover, the models are evaluated, amended, and confronted with linguistic material from various languages. The later chapters are concluded with more far-reaching proposals. Kolmogorov's questions must be taken seriously. The turn toward a semantics-orientated approach which is evident in the last stage of the development of the Set-theoretical School must be pursued. New definitions of 'case' and 'gender' are proposed in accordance with the new approach.Case and Gender contains not only an analytical survey of the complete scientific output of the Set-theoretical School on morphology and syntax but also a confrontation with contemporary western theories. It shows the viability of a tradition which was abandoned as a result of political developments. The long chapter on the history of the relationship between linguistics and politics in the Soviet Union contains new material on the 1950 linguistic discussion inPravda, which was decided by Stalin's contribution and whose impact would last for decades to come.
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