Vilém Mathesius biography
V.M. was one of the most remarkable and most influential personalities of the Prague school.
Mathesius was one of the pioneers of the synchronic approach to facts of language, and this can be already found in his 1911 treatise,, On the potentiality of the phenomena of Language“.
The first important aspect of his work was that concerning the synchronic, non-historical approach.
Secondly , ever more important about his work was the term potentiality, which was conceiverd by Mathesius as synchronous oscillation of speech in the particular language community. The oscillation is a precondition for the development of the language itself. In his view there are some tendecies in the language itself, which, though not being so constant as physical laws, are obvious and can be statistically represented.The emphasis on statistical evaluation was another contribution of Mathesius at the outset of the century.
Another important point in his work was that he was convinced about the procedure from statics to dynamics to be to most reliable in linguistics.
There was only one thing which had to be modified by Mathesius himself in later decades- the exaggeration of the role of an individual in language use.
Also he worked out the method of analytical comparison now termed as contrastive analysis of language, which he applied in, numerous writing, to English and Czech.Out of his more than 300 writings the best knon were: „Čeština a obecný jazykozpy“t/1947/and the“ Functional Analysis of Present Day English on a General Linguistic Basic“ /1975/. He distinguishes two levels of the description of language, based on the encoding stage of the process of communication:
- functional onomatology is the study of the naming units
- functional syntax is the study of the means by which naming units are brought into mutual relation.
He was one of the most prominent and world- recognized representative of Czechoslovak post war linguistic scholarship.
His pre-war interest were chiefly focused on phonology.Significant in his contribution to the inguiry into the concept of the phoneme. He defines the phoneme as a member of the complex phonologial opposition, a part which may be dissociated into simultaneous, but not into successive phonological units. The term phonological unit in fact covers what is nowadays called distinctive feature.
Vachek also greatly contributed to historical phonology.
His detailed analysis of peripheral phonemes threw new light on a number of vexed problems of the historical developmnet of English.
After the war, it was the syntacits problems that attracted him. For example, he showed that in regard to positiveness and negativeness the English verb is neutral, becoming positive or negative only after its incorporation in a context.
In addition to this, he paid attention to the issues of complex condensation in English in regard to the greatly reduced dynamism of the English finite verb form.
According to Vachel, language is a complex system containing a number of subsystems or levels, each of which has its own particular structure.
Finaly, he emphasize that the written form of language is in no way only a mere appendage of spoken language, because it has its specific functions and means of expression.