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The Influence of Bloomfield's Linguistics on Skinner

By Maria de Lourdes R. da F. Passos and Maria Amelia Matos


Bloomfield's “Linguistics as a Science” (1930/1970), Language (1933/1961), and “Language or Ideas?” (1936a/1970), and Skinner's Verbal Behavior (1957) and Science and Human Behavior (1953) were analyzed in regard to their respective perspectives on science and scientific method, the verbal episode, meaning, and subject matter. Similarities between the two authors were found. In particular both asserted that (a) the study of language must be carried out through the methods of science; (b) the main function of language is to produce practical effects on the world through the mediation of a listener; and (c) a physicalist conception of meaning. Their differences concern the subject matter of their disciplines and their use of different models for the analysis of behavior. Bloomfield's linguistics and Skinner's functional analysis of verbal behavior are complementary approaches to language

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Publisher: The Association for Behavior Analysis, Inc.
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