Part 2: Herman Paul’s Neogrammarian Conception

Part 2: Herman Paul’s Neogrammarian Conception

Part 1: Herman Paul’s Neogrammarian Conception

As Paul stresses, this psychological device is not in statics but continuously changes. “Psychological organism formed with these groups of ideas occurs in every individual in the state of incessant change. Thus, any element of a psychological organism is gradually losing its force not being supposed with new impressions or recurrence in consciousness. Besides, with each new act of speaking, hearing and thinking a certain content is added with something new. Eventually, due to weakening and strengthening of an old element as well as emerging new ones, the shift of relations among associations occurs in the organism”. Proceeding from this the analysis of an individual language (and consequently language in general) in statics is only abstraction, this language changes all the time though some changes may be even unnoticed. These changes are evolutionary and continuous; there can be no discrete sudden changes.

Historical development itself occurs only inside psychological organisms, the change of speech or language is only a metaphor. However language usage changes. Language changes in individual psychology occur not only according to internal but also to external causes, a certain innovation may occur owing to the fact that it occurs among other people. The change of the shared usage in a language collective occurs as a result of interaction of these two moments. At this point usage changes most significantly only then, when a child is learning a language. “As a result of accumulation of a number of similar shifts going in one direction, a shift is formed in usage in total. That what originally was only an individual deviation constitutes now a new usage, which under certain conditions forces out the old one.

Simultaneously in individual organisms a great number of similar shifts occur, which are not similarly reflected in usage due to the fact that they do not support one another”. Thus, considering individual psychology to be the only reality, Paul then passes over to collective processes, through the introduction of the notion usage not strictly defined. In fact, the subject-matter of the studies of a language historian turns out to be not an individual development of psychological organisms but changes in the usage. With this he could not overcome the contradiction between individual and collective in language. It became possible to remove this contradiction between language and speech by F. de Saussure.

According to Paul changes both in individual psychology and in usage usually occur unconsciously. He did not deny the possibility of a conscious intrusion into usage, noting the establishment of language norms by grammarians, the elaboration of terminology and even “caprice of monarch”. However, he pointed out, “The role of such an arbitrary establishment is infinitely small in comparison with gradual, involuntary and unconscious changes, which a language is incessantly influenced”.

Side by side with usual for a comparativist methods of investigation Paul especially singled out the role of introspection, playing a significant part from the very beginning of language studies in linguistic traditions. Text analysis and living speech give only indirect data of a psychological side of language, of introspection may reveal how “a psychological organism of a linguist himself is built up, who is simultaneously a native speaker and then on the analogy one may construct hypotheses on other “psychological organisms”.

Paul’s book is distinguished among neogrammarians’ works not only by its attention to general theoretical questions, but also its aspiration for covering various aspects of language developing. There is a detailed discussion of questions concerning historical changes in syntax, word-formation and especially in semantics, which arc much grounded even for our time. One cannot but mention Paul’s statement of such problems which arc even topical for Modern Linguistics as removal of “over-indulgences”, that arc redundant in language, the economy of language means, rare for the Linguistics of that time, interest in the questions of language normalization and the formation of literary languages. The influence of Paul’s book on the Linguistics of his time was significant.