chapter  2
On Redefining Linguistics
ByRoy Harris
Pages 35

This chapter suggests a useful maxim for those who set up in the business of redefining linguistics. The Geneva school structuralists conceived linguistics as a science of speech communication based on two theoretical principles. These two principles were called the 'principle of arbitrariness' and the 'principle of linearity'. Each linguistic sign was assumed to have a determinate form, a determinate meaning, and a determinate capacity for linear combination with other linguistic signs. Modern linguistics proceeded to demonstrate its indebtedness to Saussure by remaining profoundly segregationalist both in its methodology and in its attitude to neighbouring disciplines. In short, the fixed-code theory lands linguistics in a dilemma. It follows the integrationalism which has no theoretical place for the concept of a language in the narrow sense recognized by orthodox linguistics, where languages are construed, precisely, as sets of decontextualized rules, not only grammatical, but phonological and semantic rules as well.