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Jackie Pocklington
pro lingua Band 9
Charles Carpenter Fries - the Humanist, the Linguist,
the Teacher. A Comparison with Leonard Bloomfield.
1990, XII + 287 S.
ISBN: 3-926972-15-6
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The notable accomplishments of the American structuralist Charles Carpenter Fries (1887-1967) during his lifelong employment of linguistics in the service of language teaching have not received due recognition because his non-ivory-tower approach to linguistics attained little popularity among structuralists and later generativists, and because American structuralism continues to be portrayed as a monolithic block of behaviorist-oriented linguists. However, this lack of due recognition can be overcome through understanding Fries´ views and work in their entirety and by evaluating his contributions to linguistics and language teaching in comparison with similar contributions by the most renowned American linguist of Fries´ generation, Leonard Bloomfield. This comparison of their approaches to linguistics, views on behaviorism and traditional grammar, language theories and descriptions, as well as primer courses for reading demonstrates that form our present understanding of linguistics Fries´ views and accomplishments in these areas of mutual interest generally fare better than Bloomfield´s.

To obtain a greater appreciation of Fries´ lasting contributions to linguistics and language teaching this book pursues three avenues of research: 1) to present a holistic view of Fries in the context of his time, in particular depicting his underlying humanistic views on education, the irreconcilability of these views with the major tenets of behaviorism, and his extensive criticisms of traditional grammar; 2) to compare his accomplishments with those of Bloomfield in the areas of language theory, language description, and teaching primer reading skills for English; and 3) to point out where these accomplishments are relevant to the current discussion. Beyond this, through Fries´ prominent example the book validates the normative approach to linguistic research as an effective means of meeting society´s needs in language teaching.

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