The Opposition of External to Internal Linguistics

The Opposition of External to Internal Linguistics

Trying to remove from language everything that is alien to its nature and its system Saussure contrasted external with internal Linguistics. Saussure notes the connection of language history and notion history. These histories are interwoven and influence each other: the customs of a nation are reflected in its language and language to a significant degree formulates nation. To external Linguistics Saussure refers factors of geographical language spreading, conquests, migration, language politics which influence the correlation of dialects within a language, the formation of a literary language, etc. However, external factors, in Saussure’s mind, don’t touch upon an internal language system, arc not determining as they do not deal with the very device of language, its internal structure. The primary attention is paid by Saussure to internal Linguistics, stressing that internal is everything that somehow modifies system.

Delimitation by Saussure of external and internal Linguistics has an internal contradiction. Language is social in its nature; it is connected with society, being a means of intercourse in this society. And at the same time to recognize as true only internal Linguistics means to underappreciate social character of language.

Contradictory tenets of his broad general language theory in ten years served a theoretical basis of different trends of linguistic structuralism. Approaching the elaboration and further development of this or that Saussurean general theoretical tenet, the representatives of different schools of structuralism, however, advanced their own methods and procedures of language analysis.