Jakobson, Roman (Osipovich)

Jakobson, Roman (Osipovich)

biographical name

(born Oct. 11, 1896, Moscow, Russia—died July 18, 1982, Boston, Mass., U.S.) Russian-born U.S. linguist. Born and educated in Moscow, Jakobson moved to Prague in 1920; the European political situation forced him to flee to Scandinavia in 1938 and to the U.S. in 1941. He taught at Harvard University (1949–67). His interests ranged from folk epics and the cultural history of the Slavs to general phonology, the morphology of the Slavic languages, and speech acquisition. His preoccupation with contrast and opposition is reflected in his analysis of the Russian case system (1938), a brilliant analysis of the Russian verbal system (1948), and preeminently in his work on distinctive features in phonology.

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