Dr. Azeddine Bouchikhi, executive
director of the ACRPS Historical Dictionary of the Arabic Language project in
Doha, delivered the weekly ACRPS seminar on February 28, 2018. The linguist
centered his lecture on the topic, “Mapping the Field of Linguistic Knowledge
Bouchikhi began his lecture by
asserting the importance of this topic. A widespread understanding of
linguistics in academic spaces still ranges from narrow, pure specialization to
a very broad understanding that encompasses almost the entire discipline. This
understanding does not serve the full potential of the field, nor allow the
researcher to fully invest in its multitude of scientific, methodological and
experimental prospects. Bouchikhi shed light on two fundamental issues. He
first stressed the importance of mapping knowledge in the field of linguistics,
and secondly the presented a project that draws up cognitive maps of humanities
and the social sciences that benefit their students and researchers at two
levels. The first level shows how to effectively transfer academic knowledge to
students, and the second shows how to develop this knowledge by focusing on
their interactions and crossing disciplines within these maps.
He then proceeded to provide
possible linguistic maps from different perspectives. He explained that a map
of linguistic knowledge could be drawn from the angle of the research topic,
whereby language is an experimental, realistic phenomenon. As in the work of F.
De Saussure, Z. Harris, L. Bloomfield, R Jakobson (representing the Prague
circle) M. Halliday (representing the Copenhagen circle), and Martin A.
Martinet, the French functional school. Linguistic Competence is also a subject
of research with language a performative phenomenon. One of the pioneers of
this current is Noam Chomsky in the theory of Generative grammar theory, along
with Bresnen and Kaplan in Lexical-Functional Grammar, Simon C. Dick in
Functional Grammar Theory, and Hengeveld
and MacKenzie in Functional Discourse grammar.
The second map of linguistic
knowledge presented by Dr. Bouchiki stemmed from a “Levels of Adequacy”
perspective. This hierarchy is made up of three levels: Observational Adequacy;
Descriptive Adequacy; and Explanatory Adequacy. Linguistic knowledge, from this
perspective is thus split into different descriptive groups: Structural
Linguistics; Distributive Linguistics; Functional Linguistics; Generative
Linguistics; and Cognitive Linguistics.
Coming to the third map,
Bouchikhi indicated the possibility of presenting linguistic knowledge according
to its different approaches. The psychological approach to linguistic phenomena
represents all the linguistic theories that connect the language and the mind.
The mathematical approach does not see a fundamental distinction between
natural and artificial languages or between language and linguistic knowledge.
From the nature of the approach
adopted, it is possible to distinguish between the modular approach and the
non-modular approach. The first considers language one of the modules of the
human mind, structure and principles of which are independent and interact with
other modules. This is reflected in the construction of grammatical models,
such as Generative Grammar. The non-modal approach includes other grammatical
models, such as Cognitive Grammar.
The fourth map introduces
linguistic knowledge from the methodological perspective. It is possible to
distinguish between the non-functional approach, which stems from the function
of language as the expression of thought, and supposes that the linguistic
structure is independent of use and function. The functional approach posits that
the basic function of language is communication. Hence, the structure of the
language is a reflection of this function and governed by it, as in functional grammar
Bouchikhi’s fifth map presents
linguistic knowledge from the perspective of prevalence of representation in
different grammar sets. These include syntactic grammar, cognitive grammar, functional
grammar, generative grammar, morphology, functional syntax and so forth. The
linguist concluded a linguistic knowledge map from theoretical and practical
perspectives. He called for the establishment of maps of knowledge in the
humanities and social sciences, providing Arab researchers with a database of
each discipline, of the theories and concepts within them, and a definition of
the relationships between these fields. The lecture was followed by extensive
discussion with audience participation.
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