Geoffrey Sampson


Schools of Linguistics

by Geoffrey Sampson

A portrait of the contrasting beliefs, assumptions, and intellectual backgrounds of the various schools of linguistics which contributed to the subject throughout the 20th century, beginning with a glimpse of their 19th-century roots. Coming in 2024: an up-to-date sequel (see below).

In Britain, subtitled Competition and Evolution.

Some critical comment:

frank, funny, personal, clear, literate, and scholarly ... lays bare the strengths and fallacies of all
— Choice

lively and entertaining reading ... among the better non-technical examinations of 20th century linguistic science
— Language

This is an unusually good book to recommend to colleagues in other disciplines such as psychology or sociology who wish to know what linguists have done and what they are now doing by studying language scientifically.
— Alan Kaye, in Studies in Language

a book which has become indispensable reading for linguists, whether beginners or advanced researchers ...
— Semiosis

Sampson 从一个反主流的角色的观点出发,对于一些被许多人接受的观点和假设提出了质疑。这些相反地看法将会有助于人们分清是非。这是本书的一个优点 … 本书的另一个优点是对于各学派基本观点的哲学基础和社会、知识背景做了一些追溯,对于各派之間的差异、好坏也做了一些对比。
— Liao Qiuzhong, in 国外语言学 (Linguistics Overseas)

It consolidates Dr Sampson’s reputation as the foremost contemporary popularizer of controversies in linguistics
— Review of English Studies

one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read on linguistics in quite a while
— George Huttar, in Notes on Linguistics

A really great piece for anyone wanting to get an overview of the various schools of linguistics … insightful without being too technical. A great way to get oriented into the field.
— “redpooba”, on Amazon reader reviews

… explain[s] a series of schools and theories to us with a broad view and an oceanic depth
— translated from a review in Persian by Chadi Raheb on Goodreads

Absolutely an all-time top-ten. This is an incredibly readable book–lively and well-written, so much so that for a week I skipped my lunchtime novel and read this, instead … All in all, a great book
— Kevin Cohen, on Amazon reader reviews

… an extremely stimulating book to say the least. … no one will be bored and … we will all have learned something from the book about why we think the things we do (without even at times knowing that we think them).
— J.R. Martin (University of Sydney), in Australian Journal of Linguistics

283 pp.

In recent years I have often been asked whether I was going to produce a new edition of Schools to bring the story up to date. Rather than a new edition, I am currently working on a sequel (working title: Structural Linguistics in the 21st Century). It will be published in late 2024. The new book cannot be organized in the same way as Schools, because the advent of the World Wide Web and e-mail has made scholarship more diffuse than it was in the twentieth century. New developments in linguistics are not neatly corraled nowadays into geographically-separate “schools”, as they were in the days of the Prague School, the London School, and others. But I intend the new book to give as insightful and readable a portrait of the linguistics of recent decades as Schools gave of linguistics from Saussure (and before) to Chomsky and Pinker.

Schools of Linguistics was published by Hutchinson (London), and Stanford University Press (California), 1980.

ISBNs 0-8047-1084-8 (hardback), 0-8047-1125-9 (paper)

Translated into: Italian (1983); Malay/Indonesian (1987); Korean (1999). (I have seen references to an Arabic translation published by King Saud University, Riyadh, but have no definite details.)

New or used copies available via relevant British or American Amazon pages.

Geoffrey Sampson

last changed 13 Feb 2024