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Roman Jakobson, linguistica e poetica

 | 
Edoardo Esposito
, 
Stefania Sini
, 
Marina Castagneto

Jakobson nel XX secolo

Working with Roman Jakobson: The Sound Shape of Language

Linda R. Waugh

Full text

This article is based on a talk I presented at the International Conference “Roman Jakobson: Linguistics and Poetics” at the Università degli Studi di Milano and the Università degli Studi del Piemonte Orientale in Vercelli, 18-20 November 2015. I want to express here my thanks to the organizers of the conference, and in particular to Prof. Edoardo Esposito for inviting me to the conference, and for their hospitality while I was in Italy.

  • 2 Roman Jakobson, Linda Waugh, The Sound Shape of Language, Bloomington, Indiana University Press an (...)
  • 3 Jakobson’s Selected Writings are referred to in the text and notes as SW; see note 6.
  • 4 Roman Jakobson, C. Gunnar M. Fant, Morris Halle, Preliminaries to Speech Analysis: The Distinctive (...)
  • 5 Roman Jakobson, Morris Halle, Fundamentals of Language, The Hague, Mouton, 1956.

1In 1979, Roman Jakobson and I published a co-authored book, The Sound shape of Language.2 At the time we wrote the book, Jakobson had already published many important works in phonology, the domain of the structure and function of sound in language, in the 1920’s while he was a member of the Prague Linguistic Circle and continuing through his career in the U.S. (most of which were reprinted in the first volume of his Selected Writings, in 1962, second edition 19713). He had co-authored two very important short monographs (Preliminaries,4 with C. Gunnar M. Fant and Morris Halle, and Fundamentals,5 with Morris Halle). He was the S.H. Cross Professor Emeritus of Slavic Languages and Literatures and General Linguistics at Harvard University and Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where both Harvard and MIT are located, which is in the Boston metropolitan area. I was Associate Professor of Linguistics at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York (in the center of New York state). I had published very little about phonology before doing the book with him.

2How is it, then, that we came to write that book together? And what was it like to write the book with him?

My relevant background

  • 6 See now Roman Jakobson, Selected Writings, Volume 1: Phonological Studies, The Hague, Mouton, 1962 (...)
  • 7 See Linda Waugh, A Semantic Analysis of Word Order, Leiden, Brill, 1977.

3Before launching into the narrative, I need first to give important contextualization, the relevant background about myself that is pertinent to this story. I was born in Boston; my father was a faculty member at MIT; I lived in two towns near Cambridge during my years in school; I did my Bachelor’s degree in French literature at Tufts University in another town near Cambridge and spent my Junior year (third year as a B.A. student) in Paris; and I did my Master’s degree in French literature at Stanford University, during which time I took my first course in linguistics. I then continued my education in linguistics, for one more year at Stanford University and then at Indiana University, where I finished the doctorate (Ph.D.) in Linguistics in 1970. My dissertation director was Cornelis (‘Kees’) van Schooneveld, a Slavist who had done his doctorate under Jakobson at Columbia University, was the editor for Mouton of a series of monographs in linguistics which he inaugurated by publishing Fundamentals, and had also facilitated the publication of Jakobson’s Selected Writings by Mouton.6 My dissertation was a semantic approach to issues of word order in French, based on Jakobson’s and van Schooneveld’s ideas.7 After finishing my Ph.D., I spent a post-doctoral year in 1970-1971, in Moscow, at Moscow State University (MGU) on the official US-USSR (Soviet Union) Exchange, accompanying my first husband, who had done his Ph.D. in Linguistics under van Schooneveld with a specialization in Russian.

4Upon my return from Moscow, in Fall 1971 I became Assistant Professor of Linguistics at Cornell University. In Fall 1972, I taught the department course on phonology and covered three approaches (neo-Bloomfieldian phonemics, Jakobsonian distinctive features, and generative phonology) highlighting the theoretical and methodological differences between them and giving the students practical training in working with each approach. While I had adequate teaching materials about the neo-Bloomfieldian and generative approaches, there was very little about Jakobson’s point of view, especially for those with limited background, and thus I struggled with how to present it adequately. The course was, however, a success, and I agreed to teach it again the following years.

The First Meetings between Jakobson and Myself

5In fall 1973, I went to the Boston area to visit my parents. I called Jakobson, told him I was one of van Schooneveld’s students, was teaching a phonology course at Cornell, and asked if we could have a meeting, since I had some questions about his work. He agreed to meet with me for one hour in his office at MIT starting at 9:00 in the morning. I went to that meeting with a long list of questions about phonology, mor(pho)phonology, morphology, grammar, and meaning.

  • 8 These same things are said by others in A Tribute to Roman Jakobson 1896-1982, Cambridge (MA), MIT (...)

6Jakobson was very gracious; he showed a real interest in talking with me, he put me at ease from the beginning, and we had a very enjoyable discussion.8 Indeed, we talked all day, including during lunch together; our conversation ranged over many areas and introduced me to his enormous erudition, his integration of phonology with other areas of language and his ideas on poetics (his main area of work at that time). At the end of that day, he asked me to contact him again when I was in the Boston area; and he accepted my invitation to give a talk at Cornell.

7In spring 1974, I went to Boston again and Jakobson agreed to have another meeting in his office. He immediately said: «Your questions awakened in me a desire to write another book on phonology», to which I answered that I thought he should. «And I want you to write it with me». I protested that I was a young scholar, new to phonology, aware of my ignorance and shortcomings in this area, especially compared to him. Not to be deterred, he said «I believe in you; I know you have a lot to bring to the book and you have the capacity to work with me. You have time to do reading and drafting of ideas before we start, because I have other things to finish before we can write the book». I agreed, but I also suggested that the book should be more substantial than Preliminaries and Fundamentals so that we could address some of my questions, since I was sure that others would have them as well. He agreed to that in principle, although we didn’t talk about specifics.

  • 9 Linda Waugh, Roman Jakobson’s Science of Language, Lisse, Peter de Ridder Press, 1976.
  • 10 See Roman Jakobson, Main Trends in the Science of Language, London, George Allen and Unwin-New Yor (...)
  • 11 See Roman Jakobson, Six leçons sur le son et le sens, with a preface by Claude Lévi-Strauss, Paris (...)

8As part of my preparation for the work with Jakobson, and because of an invitation from Peter de Ridder, who knew both Jakobson and van Schooneveld, I wrote a monograph on Roman Jakobson’s Science of Language.9 Jakobson suggested that I use the word ‘science’ in the title, since he was very eager to put forth his approach as scientific.10 He read the manuscript in draft form and gave me comments, suggestions and criticisms. Jakobson also loaned to me his hand-written manuscript of a course on sound and meaning he gave at L’École libre des hautes études in New York in 1942. I read it and had it put in typed form, so that it could be published.11 I also taped and had transcribed my lectures in the phonology course at Cornell and was generally readying myself for our work together.

9In 1975, Jakobson was approached by McGeorge Bundy, Director of the Ford Foundation, who was about to retire, about funding for a project of his own choosing. Jakobson asked for financial support for me, since I would have to take a leave without pay from Cornell in order to work with him. We wrote a short proposal for a technical monograph on the acoustic definitions of what we called ‘the ultimate constituents of language’ (the distinctive features). After the funding was approved, I took a leave from Cornell for January-May 1977 and moved temporarily to Cambridge. We began our writing sitting together at a small table on Ossabaw Island, Georgia, at a writers’ colony where Jakobson and his wife, Krystyna Pomorska (Professor at MIT), often went during vacation in the colder weather. We were there for part of January and then again in March.

Roman Jakobson in Cambridge Mass

Roman Jakobson in Cambridge Mass

Linda Waugh and Jakobson on Ossabaw Island, Georgia

Linda Waugh and Jakobson on Ossabaw Island, Georgia

Sound Shape of Language: Dialogic, Collaborative Writing

10Jakobson and I started by having discussions about a larger book than Preliminaries (55 pages) and Fundamentals (66 pages) and less technical than what we had proposed to the Ford Foundation. We agreed to write a monograph, ca. 100 pages, about the distinctive features and their structural interrelations. Before we started our writing, we read together a variety of note cards in his handwriting, in Russian, Czech, French, German and English (now in the Roman Jakobson Archives at MIT). They contained random notes about phonological topics, names of scholars, titles of works, quotes from those works, etc. Some of these made their way into Sound Shape; others were put aside as not relevant. We also talked about books and articles that had come out in the 1960’s-1970’s, especially in generative phonology. That phase of our work quickly gave way to the actual writing, since we both became impatient with just reading.

11Jakobson and I wrote the bulk of Sound Shape sitting together at his desk in his large and comfortable study/office in his house in Cambridge and (when we didn’t finish the book by June 1977, as originally planned) at a table in a cabin in Vermont during the summer, and back in his study/office (when we didn’t finish the book by August 1977). To my surprise, we only discussed very briefly what topics would be discussed and in what order, what the different chapters would cover, etc. And we also didn’t write anything separately. We therefore launched into writing the book with just a vague notion of how it would be structured and as a collaborative, face-to-face process.

12The eventual division of the book into chapters and their sections (and their titles), topics and their ordering, grew organically as we discussed ideas, wrote sections on various topics, inserted topics into already written sections, enlarged the scope of the book by expanding from three short chapters to four long chapters, etc. We changed the title from The Ultimate Constituents of Language to The Sound Shape of Language, since this suited better the vast scope of issues relevant to the understanding of the smallest units of sound. We took account of new, relevant research of the 1960’s and 1970’s in a variety of different areas (e.g., acoustic phonetics, speech perception, language and the brain, language variation, language universals, the sound systems of little known languages, child language acquisition). We also paid homage to our predecessors, from antiquity to the first half of the 20th century, whose insights we hailed as precursors to our work.

  • 12 Roman Jakobson, Krystyna Pomorska, Dialogues, Paris, Flammarion, 1980.
  • 13 Roman Jakobson, On Language, edited by Linda Waugh and Monique Monville-Burston, Cambridge (MA), H (...)
  • 14 Linda Waugh, Roman Jakobson’s work as a dialogue, «Acta linguistica hafniensia», 29, 1997, pp. 101 (...)

13In short, the book in its definitive form arose out of our dialogue, our discussions, and our collaboration. Later, I was to understand much better the importance of dialogue/collaboration for Jakobson when I read his book with Krystyna Pomorska, Dialogues,12 which they worked on right after Sound Shape was finished, and I co-authored the Introduction to the co-edited volume, Roman Jakobson, On Language,13 which had a section on «Jakobson’s Work as a Dialogue», which I also adapted for publication separately.14

 

  • 15 For a discussion of the four phases of Jakobson’s work in phonology (in which Sound Shape is chara (...)

14The most important result of our dialogues while writing Sound Shape was the fact that we attempted to give as broad coverage as possible to the continuity of his thought.15 But there are new themes as well, and new perspectives on old ones, that arose in our discussion. In general, we sought to address the widespread disregard for the importance of the functional, pragmatic, social and communicative basis of sound (and of language in general). And there is recognition that everything in the speech sound plays some linguistic role, including the redundant, configurative, expressive and physiognomic features, in addition to the distinctive ones. We thus concluded that the sound shape as a whole is a linguistic creation and serves a variety of linguistic functions. We show that this is corroborated by modern research on the hemispheric specialization of the brain. Each of the distinctive features is discussed in turn and redefined as rigorously as possible. In addition, we further develop properties of feature systems: for example, the nature and interconnection of the two basic axes, compact~diffuse and grave~acute; the interrelation of the tonality features (grave~acute, flat~plain, sharp~plain); consonantal correspondences to the prosodic (vocalic) features; and glides as prime examples of zero phonemes.

  • 16 «Assisted by Martha Taylor».

15Another facet of the dialogic, collaborative writing of the book is the way in which we produced the first draft. We worked with a typed manuscript; but, since Jakobson didn’t want a typewriter in his study/office at home, I wrote down the text with pen (or pencil) and paper as we created it. At many moments, especially after a long discussion about the correct wording of a specific point, I would read from my hand-written text to him so that we could both remember what we had written, and we would then move forward. Every few days, Martha Taylor, Jakobson’s assistant (who was acknowledged on the title page of the book16), typed my handwritten text into a manuscript. She worked in his office at MIT but came often to his house to deliver mail, photocopies of articles/chapters, books from the library, and any new, typed version of the manuscript; she also took away the new manuscript pages for typing. Jakobson and I read the typed version together and talked about changes to the text, at all levels, from words to paragraphs to section headings and chapters.

16Jakobson and I discussed and wrote together every word, every phrase, every sentence of the text. And this meant that we often discussed how to put into academic English what we wanted to say. In our search for the right wording, we would talk about words or phrases in English, and sometimes I used a large English Thesaurus to gather more words or we would consult a book or article we had read. He often suggested words in Russian, and also French, Czech, and German. I ultimately gathered Russian-English, Czech-English and German-English dictionaries to find a translation of a word and then used the English Thesaurus to find the best equivalent. It was often a long and frustrating process and Jakobson said more than once: «Russian is the most subtle and most perfect language for the expression of one’s thoughts, it always has the right word». Sometimes I became frustrated too and agreed to using a word in English while knowing that it wasn’t exactly the right one, so that we could continue with the writing (I later returned to the typed version and worked on changing the wording).

  • 17 See Jakobson - Halle, Fundamentals of Language, cit., pp. 67-96.

17Another striking feature of this search for the right word was that, while we both provided synonyms and near-synonyms, Jakobson would suggest metaphorically related terms and in so doing he made many metaphorical leaps into other domains, which I found surprising at times (e.g., «palling flatness of verbal messages», «impoverishing attempts at disambiguation», «infusion of banality», «perverse castration to separate»). I on the other hand suggested metonymically related terms, staying in the same domain. We eventually talked about his more similarity-based and my more contiguity-based thinking.17

  • 18 Chapter I is the longest (79 pages) of the four chapters, 31% of the text of Sound Shape (231 page (...)

18A glance at Sound Shape from that point of view shows that it is much more based on similarity than on contiguity, at many levels. For example, Chapter I, which is where we started our writing and was ultimately titled Speech Sounds and their Tasks,18 begins with the distinctive features and then ranges over many topics, divided into 24 sections, with no subsections or numbering. The reader must often infer the logical flow between one section and the next; for example, the first nine sections have to do with various topics related to the distinctive features: Spoonerisms, Sense Discrimination, Homonymy, Doublets, Early Search, Invariance and Relativity, Quest for Oppositions, Features and Phonemes, Speech Sounds and the Brain, with some sections incorporating discussion of an issue not given in the title of the section, e.g., Homonymy also treats elliptic elements. The next few sections, Redundancy, Configurative Features, Stylistic Variations, Physiognomic Indices focus on the functions of other facets of the speech sound and lead to The Distinctive Features in Relation to the Other Components of the Speech Sound, an overview of the preceding four sections, after which there are sections on, e.g., Sense Discrimination and Sense Determination, Autonomy and Integration, Universals, Speech Perception. And so forth.

19Another characteristic of Sound Shape is that it is a hybrid text, an amalgam of a more European/Russian version of academic English with American characteristics. It is subtly different from Jakobson’s writing previously and quite different from mine. The final text was the result of our dialogic and collaborative construction as well as various stylistic changes I made to our typed draft, the first done while Jakobson was in Europe in June 1977. I strove to make it more understandable, without destroying its integrity. I worked on words/phrases, sentence structure (e.g., Jakobson’s ‘Slavic syntax’), cohesive elements, paragraph breaks, section titles, etc. Martha Taylor was worried that Jakobson would not like what I had done, since he could remember exactly the wording of a manuscript, but he accepted my changes. And so I continued to work in this way during the time of our writing together.

20Many of the salient elements of Jakobson’s style remain in Sound Shape. For example, reference in the text to scholars is often done with usually laudatory modifiers, as in the first chapter of Sound Shape: «the astute English phonetician Henry Sweet», «the prematurely deceased Mikołay Kruszewski (1851-1887), Baudouin’s omniscient disciple and uncompromising collaborator», and «the sagacious linguist F. F. Fortunatov (1848-1914)». This is also often the case when a work is referred to: «Bernhard Karlgren’s classic study», «Lev Balonov’s and Vadim Deglin’s absorbing Russian monograph», and «Edward Sapir’s momentous contribution». And, most importantly, we consistently wrote long sentences with various modifiers, coordination and subordination, references to other work, etc., as in the following, in the first section of Chapter I: «Such reversals, labeled ‘Spoonerisms’, frequently occur as simple slips of the tongue (cf. MacKay 1970a), but are also widely used as intentional, ‘laboriously fabricated’ humorous constructions, customary in English (see Robbins 1966) and even more so in French, where this device is known under the name contrepèterie (see, e.g., Etienne 1957)». Sentences like these abound in Sound Shape.

Dialogue with the present and the past in The Sound Shape of Language

  • 19 See Waugh - Monville-Burston, op.cit.; Waugh, Roman Jakobson’s work as a dialogue, cit.

21Another of the characteristics of Sound shape (and many of Jakobson’s writings) is that there is a dialogue with both the past and the present throughout its pages.19 We reacted to the work of phoneticians and phonologists of the time (up to 1978), many of whom had responded to Jakobson’s early work. As is usual in academic writing, we cited many works by others and expressed agreement or disagreement with their ideas. But we just as often didn’t cite what we were implicitly in dialogue with. We often wrote a sentence or paragraph or section in response to a book or article we had in front of us, resulting in many unnamed others/sources, as in the following: «notwithstanding the hypotheses of critics […]»; «it has been questioned whether […]»; «so-called ‘free’[…] variations»; «the question of motor feedback […]»; «there emerges from time to time the view…»; etc.

  • 20 Noam Chomsky, Morris Halle, Sound Pattern of English, New York, Harper and Row, 1968.

22The major example of this implicit dialogue is generative phonology, as exemplified by, especially, The Sound Pattern of English (SPE) by Noam Chomsky and Morris Halle,20 which they dedicated to him (he was friends with both of them). In certain ways, Sound Shape provides a (usually) implicit commentary to SPE. There are many discussions in Sound Shape that are inspired by statements in SPE we were not in agreement with. The most salient is our objection to Chomsky and Halle’s abandonment of the fundamental division between two different functions of the distinctive features. The first, which we called sense-discrimination (called the distinctive function by Jakobson in earlier work, e.g. Preliminaries, Fundamentals), is their use to keep apart words that differ in meaning and serves as the basis for the set of distinctive features discussed in Sound Shape. This function is primary in all languages of the world and exhibits regular patterns across languages. The second function, built on the first and called sense-determination in Sound Shape, includes both the alternations of a word or a morpheme (called morphonology by Jakobson and Trubetzkoy in earlier work) and the information that features supply about derivational and inflectional structure and lexical and grammatical meaning. In this function, sound is linked with, and informs about, meaning; and the ways in which this is accomplished exhibits great diversity across languages. In SPE the sense-discriminative and sense-determinative (especially the morphonological) functions are combined and the term phonology is used. Hence, in Sound Shape, Jakobson and I don’t use the word phonology (and phonological), despite the fact that, in the 1930s, it was Jakobson and Trubetzkoy who had put it on the international agenda. In like fashion, we don’t use distinctive, for the function of the distinctive features, and use sense-discrimination instead, since distinctive is used in generative phonology, and other approaches, in a looser, different meaning.

23We also argued, against SPE and generative phonologists (as well as acoustic and articulatory phoneticians), that even though the distinctive features are primordial, the phoneme, as a combination of distinctive features, has its place in language structure. We evaluated and rejected various attempts to replace the original set of Jakobsonian distinctive features. We affirmed that (relational) invariance is crucial to any analysis of sound and to be applied rigorously at the level of the feature. We defined the features in acoustic terms, since articulatory means are to be seen only in light of their ends, namely their use to distinguish perceptually words that are different in meaning. We correlated the concept of markedness with the order of acquisition in children, language change, and language typology and universals, especially implicational laws. And we defined sound systems as dynamic, heterogeneous, multiform structures in which time (older and newer forms) and space (social and geographical variants) have a semiotic value. Moreover, we affirmed the interlacing of learning and innate structures in language acquisition, with emphasis on the former, and the centrality of dialogue for learning and usage, including inner speech (thinking).

  • 21 See Nikolaj S. Trubetzkoy, N.S. Trubetzkoy’s Letters and Notes, edited by Roman Jakobson et alii, (...)

24There was also an implicit dialogue in Sound Shape with Jakobson’s major interlocutor and collaborator during his years in the Prague School, Nikolai Trubetzkoy (1926-1939). For example, we didn’t use the term ‘neutralization’ (used by Trubetzkoy in his posthmously published book, Grundzüge der Phonologie, 1939, which was dedicated to Jakobson), nor his term archiphoneme, and coined, instead, incomplete phoneme, without citing Trubetzkoy, since Jakobson didn’t want to make that disagreement explicit. In like fashion, in the discussion of mark and markedness in Chapter 2, we used a quote translated into English from Trubetzkoy’s letters21 and gave him credit for first using the term markedness. However, the discussion of marked~unmarked is much more elaborated in Sound Shape than in Trubetkoy’s and Jakobson’s earlier work; it is also very different from its use in the last chapter of SPE.

25A careful reader with knowledge of SPE, generative phonology, and Chomsky’s writings on generative grammar and generative theory (as well as Trubetzkoy’s work) can detect passages where the implicit dialogue on other points surfaces without citation: e.g., «linguists, even when interested chiefly in oral speech, often unwittingly give way to the hypnosis of written language. It is peculiar that […] they use the terms ‘left’ and ‘right’ instead of ‘before’ and ‘after’ and speak about the ‘left-hand’ and ‘right-hand’ environment of a speech sound»; “they quote sentences ambiguous merely in spelling and perfectly distinguishable in their explicit oral form»; «sometimes the idea of a rigorously monolithic code of language in general captures theoreticians and tempts them to believe in the puerile myth of a perfectly invariant speech community with equally competent speaker-hearers»; and «the belief of the recorders in variability without integration is no less illusory than the belief of a theoretician in integral competence without inner variation».

Presence of Jakobson’s Writings in Sound Shape

  • 22 Roman Jakobson, The Role of Phonic Elements in Speech Perception, «Zeitschrift für Phonetik, Sprac (...)

26Another facet of Sound Shape is how Jakobson’s prior work is handled. For example, an important article of his The Role of Phonic Elements in Speech Perception,22 was attached to the book as an appendix. Since it had been published in a little-known German journal and in the second edition of his Selected Writings, volume 1, he hoped that, by appending it to our book, more scholars would read it. It also contains in microcosm some of our arguments about the distinctive features and also uses terms such as sense-discrimination and sense-determination.

27We also inserted into Sound Shape without citation parts of Jakobson’s texts, because he wanted them to have a wider audience. For example, in Chapter I, a large part of the section Life and Language, on the parallelism between the genetic code and the linguistic code, contains much of his review of François Jacob’s book on genetics. And the section Speech Sounds and the Brain, about the role of the left vs. right hemispheres in speech perception, is an expansion of what he wrote in The Role of Phonic Elements; in 1980 he published a monograph on this topic.

28In addition, in making reference to his own prior publications, Jakobson was very sensitive about overshadowing my contribution and thus insisted on downplaying his own work. For example, at his suggestion, we adopted a formula: ‘RJ II:428ff’, where RJ refers to Jakobson, II refers to the second volume of the Selected Writings, and the page numbers refer to a specific reprinted article, which is not cited separately in the list of references and thus the reader would need to look it up in the Selected Writings to find the exact reference. This formula was often combined with, e.g., a passive construction, as in: «a systematic search for what later, in the early 1950s, was metaphorically described as the ‘elementary quanta of language’ (cf. e.g. RJ II:224)»; or with no reference to his work: «these properties were tentatively labeled […] ‘distinctive feature’». Another implicit device we used was, when his early work in Prague was pertinent: «the Prague linguists […]»; «the Praguians […]»; «with reference to the Praguian work […]».

How Chapter IV of Sound Shape Arose

  • 23 Chapter IV is 54 pages long (pp. 177-231), the second longest chapter in the book, after Chapter I (...)
  • 24 The main text of the book reached 231 pages, accompanied by a long list of references (50 pages).

29One of the questions I’m asked frequently, and is also mentioned in reviews of Sound Shape is – what led to Chapter IV, The Spell of Speech Sounds? Why is it included in this book, when nothing similar is found in, e.g., Preliminaries or Fundamentals? Chapter IV addresses issues that Jakobson and I discussed when we were taking a break from our writing or in a more leisurely mood, often while having lunch or afternoon tea or on a walk. We would often talk about the ways that sound in language could be used for poetic, playful, magical, religious, etc. purposes. But we only touched on these uses in Chapters I-III, since any long discussion would have distracted from those chapters and would not have been contextualized in the right way; however, we felt that they had relevance for studying all the important facets of speech sounds in language. The fact that they were typically not addressed in more technical linguistic work, including his own, and were brought up, if they were discussed at all, in scattered literature in e.g., poetics, semiotics, anthropology, psychology, made us think about an integrated discussion in our book. We decided to add Chapter IV23 and to call it The Spell of Speech Sounds, in contrast to the other three chapters on Speech Sounds and their Tasks, Quest for the Ultimate Constituents, and The Network of Distinctive Features. That chapter made Sound Shape even longer than it had become, and certainly longer than any book either of us had (co)authored before or since.24 It was the main reason why we didn’t finish writing until November 1978; but it added another crucial dimension to the book by underscoring that sound in language has many uses other than the strictly phonological ones.

  • 25 Roman Jakobson, Brain and Language: Cerebral Hemispheres and Linguistic Structure in Mutual Light, (...)
  • 26 Linda Waugh, On The Sound Shape of Language: Mediacy and Immediacy, in Language, Poetry and Poetic (...)

30The topics in Chapter IV are varied: e.g., «Sound Symbolism», «Synesthesia», «Word Affinities», «Speech Sounds in Mythopoeic Usage», «Verbal Taboo», «Glossolalia», «Children’s Verbal Art», «Inferences from a Cummings Poem». However, they all address ways in which speech sounds have an immediate, direct relation to meaning. This led us to include in the last section, Language and Poetry, formulation of the difference between mediacy (an indirect relation to meaning, e.g., the distinctive features) and immediacy (e.g., sound symbolism, synesthesia, etc.). The dualism of mediacy~immediacy was taken up in Jakobson’s book, Brain and Language25 and later in an article of mine.26

  • 27 Roman Jakobson, Linda Waugh, An Instance of Interconnection between the Distinctive Features, in F (...)

31But our writing was not yet complete. As we reread the manuscript, we put in a 5-page Afterword, about the major points of the book, and we also published separately a short article27 about an interconnection of the distinctive features that we couldn’t put into Sound Shape because it would have delayed further the final manuscript.

32The manuscript of Sound Shape was sent to Indiana University Press late in 1978. I then worked intensely with the copy editor at the press since Jakobson had no patience and no time for her questions. We accepted some of her suggestions for changes and didn’t accept others. We read the proofs together, and I took on doing the topic index for the book and enlisted students of mine at Cornell. There was no name index because Jakobson didn’t want casual readers to look at only those sections of the book where they/others were mentioned (I added a name index in the second edition of the book). Meanwhile, we read and corrected drafts of translations of the book into French and German, which were already under contract. Sound Shape was finally published in 1979.

Memories of knowing Jakobson from 1977-1982

33Jakobson and I worked 7 days a week and there was intense dedication to scholarship that became even more a part of my life. Neither before nor since have I experienced such intellectually exciting times. I learned that language touches every aspect of what it means to be human and that a widened basis of work is the only way to capture that essence. I broadened my horizons for my own work; e.g., writing Chapter IV led me to become a scholar in semiotics and poetics and to read Charles Sanders Peirce. Many of my publications, presentations, courses, and seminars since finishing Sound Shape show the direct impact of working with Jakobson. I’ve also felt a sense of common ground with the recent interest in functionalist, discourse-pragmatic, semiotic, corpus-based, interactional, applied, anthropological, sociological, socio-cognitive and laboratory-phonological approaches to language, since they have much in common with the ideas in Sound Shape.

34But my memories are not only of working with Jakobson but also of more informal times when we sat and talked over lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, on walks, etc., sometimes together with Krystyna or with scholars from around the world who came to see him. I was treated like a friend, a member of the larger ‘family’ around Roman and Krystyna. Both of them showed an interest in my life and my dreams for the future. There were frequent phone calls between Ithaca and Cambridge and trips to Cambridge to see them. My life and my work had taken on a dimension that hadn’t been there before. But then on July 18, 1982, I received a phone call from Krystyna, who told me: «Roman died».

Activities after Jakobson’s Death in 1982

  • 28 Linda Waugh, Homage to Roman Jakobson, in A Tribute to Roman Jakobson, 1896-1982, cit., pp. 63-69.
  • 29 Roman Jakobson, Russian and Slavic Grammar, Studies 1931-1981, edited by Linda Waugh and Morris Ha (...)
  • 30 Roman Jakobson, La théorie saussurienne en rétrospection, «Linguistics», 22, 1984b, pp. 161-196.
  • 31 See note 26.
  • 32 Roman Jakobson, Linda Waugh, La forma fonica della lingua, introduzione di Cesare Segre, transl. b (...)
  • 33 Roman Jakobson, Linda Waugh, Die Lautgestalt der Sprache, transl. by Thomas F. and Christine Shann (...)
  • 34 Roman Jakobson, Linda Waugh, [in Japanese], transl. by Katsumi Matsumoto Tokyo, Iwanami Shoten, 19 (...)
  • 35 Roman Jakobson, Linda Waugh, La forma sonora de la lengua, transl. by Mónica Mansour, Mexico, Fond (...)
  • 36 Roman Jakobson, Linda Waugh, The Sound Shape of Language, Second, augmented edition, Berlin, Mouto (...)
  • 37 Waugh - Monville-Burston, op. cit.
  • 38 The First International Roman Jakobson Conference was organized by Krystyna Pomorska in October 19 (...)
  • 39 Roman Jakobson, My Favorite Topics, in SW. VII, cit., pp. 371-376.
  • 40 New Vistas in Grammar: Invariance and Variation, Proceedings of the Second International Roman Jak (...)

35I participated in the memorial service/ceremony for Jakobson held in Kresge Auditorium at MIT on November 12, 1982, that was organized by Krystyna; my homage to him was a poetic and metaphorical text, based on a poem.28 I supported Krystyna as well as Stephen Rudy, who had edited many volumes of the Selected Writings and who worked tirelessly with Krystyna after Jakobson’s death, as they prepared his books, papers, etc. for transmittal to the Roman Jakobson Archives at MIT. I helped with republishing Jakobson’s work on Russian and Slavic grammar in one volume, a project he had already started,29 and prepared for publication a manuscript from his course on Saussure at L’Ecole Libre des Hautes Etudes in New York in 1942,30 which was among the papers he left. Among many other publications, I wrote the article about Sound Shape on mediacy and immediacy cited above;31 I facilitated the publication of translations of Sound Shape into Italian,32 German33, Japanese34 and Spanish;35 and I published a second and (eventually) a third edition of Sound Shape36 with minor, mostly typographical changes, and numbering of the sections; I also wrote a preface for each edition, prepared an index of names, and inserted my article on mediacy and immediacy as Appendix Two. At Krystyna’s urging I co-edited the book, On Language, mentioned earlier, which included a long co-authored Introduction to the book, about his intellectual biography, his work as a dialogue, and his influence on work in many different areas;37 and I co-coordinated, with Stephen Rudy, The Second International Roman Jakobson Conference38 at New York University in Fall 1985, with funding from the (U.S.) National Endowment for the Humanities. The conference was on New Vistas in Grammar: Invariance and Variation, one of his favorite topics;39 I was co-editor with Steve of the proceedings.40

  • 41 Elmar Holenstein, Roman Jakobson’s Approach to Language, Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 19 (...)

36When Krystyna died in 1986, barely four years after Roman’s death, her will established the Roman Jakobson Trust to further Jakobson’s intellectual legacy. I was one of the Trustees, along with Stephen Rudy (Executive Director) and Elmar Holenstein, who had written several works about Jakobson.41Our task was to further Jakobson’s intellectual legacy. We received some financing from Krystyna’s estate, the copyrights to most of Jakobson’s writings, a few books and papers not given to the Jakobson Archives, and some other materials (e.g., Russian icons, two large busts of Jakobson, paintings and drawings, rugs from his house, items bought during his travels), all of which went to Steve as the Executive Director. As Trustees, Steve, Elmar and I provided permission, and sometimes financial help, for reprinting and translation of Jakobson’s published writings and also for subventing conferences in his honor, provided help for scholars to work at and publish from the Jakobson Archives, and worked with Mouton de Gruyter to facilitate further publication of the Selected Writings, edited by Steve, specifically Volumes 6, 7 and 8 (Volume 8 was also called Completion Volume One, since our goal was to collect in the Selected Writings everything that Jakobson had published).

  • 42 Roman Jakobson, SW. IX, cit.
  • 43 It will contain 150+ entries, written in, or translated for original publication into, Bulgarian, (...)

37After Steve’s death at a young age in 2003, I inherited everything he had in his possession that belonged to the Trust, including all of the copyrights as well as the Jakobson materials he had. I eventually sent most of the books and papers to the Jakobson Archives. And I have continued the activities of the Trust as the sole Trustee and Executive Director, since Elmar is happily retired. I have facilitated many reprintings, translations, permissions to publish from the Jakobson Archives, etc., too numerous to mention here. However, I will specify the help I gave to the editor, Jindrich Toman, for the publication of Selected Writings, Volume 9: Uncollected Works, 1916-1943 = Completion Volume Two.42 I have also agreed to edit (or co-edit, if I can find a co-editor) for publication, Selected Writings, Volume 10: Uncollected Works, 1944-1987 = Completion Volume Three.43 That book will be my last major tribute to the memory of Roman Jakobson and in honor of The Sound Shape of Language.

Notes

2 Roman Jakobson, Linda Waugh, The Sound Shape of Language, Bloomington, Indiana University Press and London, Harvester Press, 1979 (assisted by Martha Taylor). Referred to in the text and notes as Sound Shape.

3 Jakobson’s Selected Writings are referred to in the text and notes as SW; see note 6.

4 Roman Jakobson, C. Gunnar M. Fant, Morris Halle, Preliminaries to Speech Analysis: The Distinctive Features and their Correlates, Cambridge, Mass, MIT Press, 1952. Referred to in the text and notes as Preliminaries.

5 Roman Jakobson, Morris Halle, Fundamentals of Language, The Hague, Mouton, 1956.

6 See now Roman Jakobson, Selected Writings, Volume 1: Phonological Studies, The Hague, Mouton, 1962. Second, expanded edition, The Hague, Mouton 1971. Third, expanded edition, with a new Introduction by Linda R. Waugh and Monique Monville-Burston, Berlin-New York, Mouton de Gruyter, 2002, pp. v-xcviii; Roman Jakobson, Selected Writings, Volume 4: Slavic Epic Studies, The Hague, Mouton, 1966; Roman Jakobson, Selected Writings, Volume 2: Word and Language, The Hague-Berlin, Mouton, 1971; Roman Jakobson, Linda Waugh, op. cit.; Roman Jakobson, Selected Writings, Volume 3: Poetry of Grammar and Grammar of Poetry, edited, with a preface, by Stephen Rudy, The Hague-Berlin, Mouton, 1981; Roman Jakobson, Selected Writings, Volume 6: Early Slavic Paths and Crossroads, edited, with a preface, by Stephen Rudy, The Hague-Berlin, Mouton, 1985a; Roman Jakobson, Selected Writings, Volume 7: Contributions to Comparative Mythology. Studies in Linguistics and Philology, 1972-1982, edited by Stephen Rudy, with a preface by Linda R. Waugh, The Hague-Berlin, Mouton, 1985b; Roman Jakobson, Selected Writings, Volume 8: Major Works, 1976-1980 = Completion Volume One, edited, with a preface, by Stephen Rudy, Berlin-New York-Amsterdam, Mouton de Gruyter, 1988; Roman Jakobson, Selected Writings, Volume 9: Uncollected Works, 1916-1943 = Completion Volume Two. Part One: 1916-1933, Part Two: 1934-1943, edited, with an introduction, by Jindrich Toman, Berlin-Boston, Mouton de Gruyter, 2013; Roman Jakobson, Selected Writings, Volume 10: Uncollected Works, 1944-1987 = Completion Volume Three, edited, with an introduction, by Linda R. Waugh, Berlin-Boston: Mouton de Gruyter, in progress.

7 See Linda Waugh, A Semantic Analysis of Word Order, Leiden, Brill, 1977.

8 These same things are said by others in A Tribute to Roman Jakobson 1896-1982, Cambridge (MA), MIT, November 12, 1982, edited by Paul E. Gray and Morris Halle, Berlin, Mouton, 1983.

9 Linda Waugh, Roman Jakobson’s Science of Language, Lisse, Peter de Ridder Press, 1976.

10 See Roman Jakobson, Main Trends in the Science of Language, London, George Allen and Unwin-New York, Harper and Row (with a revised index), 1973-1974.

11 See Roman Jakobson, Six leçons sur le son et le sens, with a preface by Claude Lévi-Strauss, Paris, Editions de Minuit, 1976.

12 Roman Jakobson, Krystyna Pomorska, Dialogues, Paris, Flammarion, 1980.

13 Roman Jakobson, On Language, edited by Linda Waugh and Monique Monville-Burston, Cambridge (MA), Harvard University Press, 1990.

14 Linda Waugh, Roman Jakobson’s work as a dialogue, «Acta linguistica hafniensia», 29, 1997, pp. 101-120.

15 For a discussion of the four phases of Jakobson’s work in phonology (in which Sound Shape is characterized as the fourth phase), see Linda Waugh, Monique Monville-Burston, Roman Jakobson: His Life, Work and Influence, in Jakobson, On Language, cit., pp. 1-45.

16 «Assisted by Martha Taylor».

17 See Jakobson - Halle, Fundamentals of Language, cit., pp. 67-96.

18 Chapter I is the longest (79 pages) of the four chapters, 31% of the text of Sound Shape (231 pages).

19 See Waugh - Monville-Burston, op.cit.; Waugh, Roman Jakobson’s work as a dialogue, cit.

20 Noam Chomsky, Morris Halle, Sound Pattern of English, New York, Harper and Row, 1968.

21 See Nikolaj S. Trubetzkoy, N.S. Trubetzkoy’s Letters and Notes, edited by Roman Jakobson et alii, The Hague-Paris, Mouton, 1975.

22 Roman Jakobson, The Role of Phonic Elements in Speech Perception, «Zeitschrift für Phonetik, Sprachwissenschaft und Kommunikationsforschun», 21, pp. 9-20.

23 Chapter IV is 54 pages long (pp. 177-231), the second longest chapter in the book, after Chapter I. The first part of chapter 4 is reprinted in Jakobson, On Language, cit., pp. 422-447.

24 The main text of the book reached 231 pages, accompanied by a long list of references (50 pages).

25 Roman Jakobson, Brain and Language: Cerebral Hemispheres and Linguistic Structure in Mutual Light, Columbus, Ohio, Slavica, 1980.

26 Linda Waugh, On The Sound Shape of Language: Mediacy and Immediacy, in Language, Poetry and Poetics; The Generation of the 1890’s: Jakobson, Trubetzkoy, Majakovskij, edited by Krystyna Pomorska et alii, Berlin, Mouton de Gruyter, 1987, pp. 157-171.

27 Roman Jakobson, Linda Waugh, An Instance of Interconnection between the Distinctive Features, in Frontiers of Speech Communication, edited by Björn Lindblom, Sven E. G. Öhman and C. Gunnar M. Fant, London, Academic Press, 1979, pp. 353-353.

28 Linda Waugh, Homage to Roman Jakobson, in A Tribute to Roman Jakobson, 1896-1982, cit., pp. 63-69.

29 Roman Jakobson, Russian and Slavic Grammar, Studies 1931-1981, edited by Linda Waugh and Morris Halle, with an Introduction by Linda R. Waugh, ix-xvi, Berlin, Mouton, 1984a.

30 Roman Jakobson, La théorie saussurienne en rétrospection, «Linguistics», 22, 1984b, pp. 161-196.

31 See note 26.

32 Roman Jakobson, Linda Waugh, La forma fonica della lingua, introduzione di Cesare Segre, transl. by Flavia Ravazzoli et alii, Milano, Il Saggiatore.

33 Roman Jakobson, Linda Waugh, Die Lautgestalt der Sprache, transl. by Thomas F. and Christine Shannon, Berlin, de Gruyter, 1986a.

34 Roman Jakobson, Linda Waugh, [in Japanese], transl. by Katsumi Matsumoto Tokyo, Iwanami Shoten, 1986b.

35 Roman Jakobson, Linda Waugh, La forma sonora de la lengua, transl. by Mónica Mansour, Mexico, Fondo de cultura economica, 1987.

36 Roman Jakobson, Linda Waugh, The Sound Shape of Language, Second, augmented edition, Berlin, Mouton de Gruyter, 1987; Third edition, Berlin, Mouton de Gruyter, 2002.

37 Waugh - Monville-Burston, op. cit.

38 The First International Roman Jakobson Conference was organized by Krystyna Pomorska in October 1984, which resulted in the publication, Language, Poetry and Poetics, op. cit.

39 Roman Jakobson, My Favorite Topics, in SW. VII, cit., pp. 371-376.

40 New Vistas in Grammar: Invariance and Variation, Proceedings of the Second International Roman Jakobson Conference at New York University, Fall 1985, edited by Linda Waugh and Stephen Rudy, Amsterdam, John Benjamins, 1991.

41 Elmar Holenstein, Roman Jakobson’s Approach to Language, Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 1976; Elmar Holenstein, Linguistik, Semiotik, Hermeneutik: Plädoyers für eine Strukturale Phänomenologie, Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1976.

42 Roman Jakobson, SW. IX, cit.

43 It will contain 150+ entries, written in, or translated for original publication into, Bulgarian, Czech, English, Estonian, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Russian, Serbian and Spanish.

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University of Arizona, Executive Director of Roman Jakobson Trust: lwaugh[at]email.arizona.edu

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