Podcast episode 19: Meaning and British linguistics – Firth, Malinowski and the context of situation

In this episode, we look at the central role the analysis of meaning played in British linguistics in the first half of the twentieth century. We focus on the work of John Rupert Firth (1890–1960) and Bronisław Malinowski (1884–1942) and their varying versions of the ‘context of situation’.

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References for Episode 19

Primary Sources

Firth, John Rupert (1957), Papers in Linguistics, 1934–1951, London: Oxford University Press. archive.org

Firth, John Rupert (1957), ‘A synopsis of linguistics theory, 1930–1955’, in Studies in Linguistic Analysis, ed. John Rupert Firth, 1–32, Oxford: Blackwell.

Firth, John Rupert (1964 [1930 & 1937]), The Tongues of Men (1937) and Speech (1930), Oxford: Oxford University Press. archive.org

Malinowski, Bronisław (1923), ‘The problem of meaning in primitive languages’, in Ogden & Richards (1923), 296–336.

Malinowski, Bronisław (1935), Coral Gardens and their Magic, 2 vols., London: Allen & Unwin.

Ogden, Charles Kay and Ivor Armstrong Richards (1923), The Meaning of Meaning, London: Kegan Paul. (Reprinting of tenth edition with finger: archive.org)

Orwell, George (1949), Nineteen Eighty-Four, London: Secker & Warburg.

Palmer, Frank R., ed. (1968), Selected Papers of J. R. Firth, 1952–59, Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Secondary Sources

Honeybone, Patrick (2005), ‘J.R. Firth’, in Key Thinkers in Linguistics and the Philosophy of Language, ed. by S. Chapman and P. Routledge, 80–86, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Author’s copy

Joseph, John E., Nigel Love & Talbot J. Taylor (2001), Landmarks in Linguistic Thought II: The Western tradition in the twentieth century, London: Routledge. See chap. 5, ‘Firth on language and context’.

McElvenny, James (2018), Language and Meaning in the Age of Modernism: C. K. Ogden and his contemporaries, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Rebori, Victoria (2002), ‘The legacy of J.R. Firth: A report on recent research’, Historiographia Linguistica 29:1/2, 165–190. (See also the follow-up discussion between Rebori and Leendert Plug in Historiographia Linguistica 31:2/3, 469–477 [2004].)

Senft, Gunter, Jan-Ola Östman & Jef Verschueren (2009), Culture and Language Use, Amsterdam: Benjamins. See the chapters ‘Firthian linguistics’ (pp. 140–145) by Jan-Ola Östman & Anne-Marie Simon-Vandenbergen and ‘Bronislaw Kasper Malinowski’ (pp. 210–225) by Gunter Senft.

Young, Michael W. (2004), Malinowski: Odyssey of an anthropologist, 1884–1920, New Haven: Yale University Press.

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