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By Robert A. Hall Jr.

Leonard Bloomfield (1887-1949) was once one of many maximum linguists of the 20th century. He dedicated his complete lifestyles to a thorough-going examine of language, its constitution and its use, summed up in masterly model in his booklet Language (1933). After his untimely loss of life on the age of sixty two, his paintings was once at the start acclaimed as an exemplary software of the clinical approach to linguistics, yet then fell into unjustified forget. Now that the centenary of his start has handed, the time has come for the tale of Bloomfield's lifestyles and paintings to be stated in a biography. as a result, basing his dialogue on all on hand fabrics (including a few details no longer obtainable till recently), Professor corridor has provided Bloomfield's existence heritage in its highbrow and cultural environment. This booklet isn't just a biography, but in addition a private memoir, within which corridor attracts on his contacts with Bloomfield, who used to be his instructor at Chicago and a senior colleague at Yale. There emerges from this examine a fuller photo than we have now had heretofore, featuring either Bloomfield's well-known fulfillment in setting up the research of language as a systematic self-discipline, and the less-known points of his personality and of his own lifestyles, which in yes respects was once very tragic and unhappy.

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Additional resources for A life for language : a biographical memoir of Leonard Bloomfield

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Many of his students, perhaps the majority, were specialists in literature, taking courses in philology only to meet a requirement. They often resented Bloomfield's unwillingness to accept approx­ imations in lieu of accurate statements and formulations, for instance when they were called upon to trace the etymology of a word or the development of a sound-change. For example, he refused to accept any discussion of a phonol­ ogical development as a "tendency", insisting that such terminology obscured the essential nature of sound-change, which he viewed as uncompromisingly regular.

On February 7, in a fit of depression, she committed suicide by taking cyanide. Her brother Leonard was notified of her suicide by Dean Virginia Gildersleeve of Barnard, and replied that he would go to New York for the interment, which he did. Marie was not the only member of the Bloomfield and Sayers families to manifest mental instability, though she was the only one to carry it as far as suicide. Her elder brother, Grover Bloomfield, had (according to Léon Després) an outstanding career as a chemist, until he suffered a psychological break-down and was on disability insurance for the rest of his life.

When my wife Frances and I had dinner at the Bloomfields' at Chicago in 1937, they had a pair of dachshunds to which they were clearly greatly attached. Bloomfield was very fond of practical jokes, of a quiet kind. Mrs. Sayers tells how, on the first night she and her husband Alfred stayed at the Bloomfields at Columbus in 1935, they turned down the bed-covers and saw, walking in a stately row, five bed-bugs, which of course turned out to be made of tin. She had time to motion to her husband to be quiet and open the door, "and there was Leonard outside, waiting to hear the screams".

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