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de Gruyter





(\)lIcLicd Works


F.dwarcl Saj^ir

The Collected Works of Edward Sapir

Editorial Board

Philip Sapir


William Bright Regna Darnell

Victor GoUa

Eric P. Hamp

Richard Handler

Judith T. Irvine

Pierre Swiggers


Collected Works


Edward Sapir


General Linguistics

Volume Editor Pierre Swiggers

With contributions by

Philip Sapir (t)

Zellig S. Harris (t)

John Lyons

Stanley Newman (t)

MoLiton dc CiruNlcr Berlin New York

Mouton dc (iru\ur (li)rmcrly Mduidii. Hic Hague)

is d DiviMon of Walter dc Ciruylcr CimhH cV: Co. K(i. Berlin.

@ Printed on acid-free paper which falls within the guidelines

of the ANSI to ensure permanence and durability.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in- Publication Data

Sapir. Edward. 1 884- 1939.

The collected works of Edward Sapir. 1, General linguistics / edited by Pierre Swiggers.

p. cm. -

(The collected works of Edward Sapir)

Includes bibliographical references and index.

ISBN 978-3-1 1-019519-4 (hardcover : alk. paper) 1. Linguistics. 2.

Language and languages. I. Swiggers, Pierre. II. Title.

P27.S325 2008


ISBN 978-3-11-019519-4


Bibliographic information published by the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek

The Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the Deutsche Nationalbibliografie; detailed bibliographic data are available in the Internet at hltp://

© Copyright 2(XJ8 by Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG, D-10785 Berlin

All rights reserved, including those of translation into foreign languages. No part of this

book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Printed in Germany.

Edward SAPIR, around 1938

(Courtesy of Sapir family)

Edward Sapir ( ISS4

I W.^'M has been rclcrrcd to as "one of ihc nu)sl bril-

liant scholars in linuuislics and anlhropolouy in our counlrv" (Franz Boas)

and as "one ot the greatest figures in American humanistic scholarship"

(Frankhn l^dgerton). Mis classic book. J.iini^uuf^c ( 1W21 ). is still m use. and


of his papers in general

linguistics, such as

'Sound Patterns in

Language" and "Hie Psychological Reality of Phonemes. ' stand also as clas-

sics. The development of the American descriptive school ol structural lin- guistics, including the adoption of phonemic principles in the study of non-

literary languages, was primarily due to him.

The large body (.)f work he carried out on Native Ameneaii languages lias

been called "ground-breaking" and "monumenlal" and includes descripli\e.

historical, and comparative studies. Iliey are of continuing importance and

relevance to today's scholars.

Not to be ignored are his studies in Indo-Luropean. Semitic, and ,-\trican languages, which have been characterized as "masterpieces of brilliant asso-

ciation" (Zellig Harris). Further, he is recognized as a forefather of ethno-

linguistic and sociolinguistic studies.

in anthropology Sapir contributed the classic statement on the llKH)ry and

methodology of the American school of Franz Boas in his monograph. "Time

Perspective in Aboriginal American Culture" (1916). His major contribu-

tion, however, was as a pioneer and proponent for studies on the interrelation

of culture and personality, of society and the individual, providinii the the-

oretical basis for what is known today as symbolic anthropology

He was, in addition, a poet, and contributed papers on aesthetics. Iiteia

ture, music, and social criticism.

Note to the Reader

'Ihroughout The Collected Works of Edward Sapir, those publications whose

ivpographic cDmplcxity would have made new typesetting and proofreading difticult have been photographically reproduced. All other material has been

newly typeset. When possible, the editors have worked from Sapir's personal

copies of his published work, incorporating his corrections and additions into

the reset text. Such emendations are acknowledged in the endnotes. Where the

editors themselves have corrected an obvious typographical error, this is noted by brackets around the corrected form.

The page numbers of the original publication are retained in the pho-

tographically reproduced material; in reset material, the original publication's

pagination appears as bracketed numbers within the text at the point where the

original page break occurred. To avoid confusion and to conform to the existing

literature, the page numbers cited in introductions and editorial notes are those

of the original publications.

Footnotes which appeared in the original publications appear here as foot-

notes. Editorial notes appear as endnotes. Endnote numbers are placed in the

margins of photographically reproduced material; in reset material they are

inserted in the text as superscript numbers in brackets. The first, unnumbered

endnote for each work contains the citation of the original publication and,

where appropriate , an acknowledgment of permission to reprint the work here.

All citations of Sapir's works in the editorial matter throughout these vol-

umes conform to the master bibliography that appears in Volume XVI; since

not all works will be cited in any given volume, the letters following the dates are discontinuous within a single volume's references. In volumes where

unpublished materials by Sapir have been cited, a list of the items cited and the

archives holding them is appended to the References.


Frontispiece: I\l\var(.i S;ipir. nrouiul 1M3S

Note to the Reader

1 orewoid. In V\iilip Saplr



ChriMiologieal list of Sapii "s \Miliiigs eoiilaiiieJ in \t>UmiL I






INIKODI c 1 K)N: Sapii's Lite and Work: Iwo appraisals

Introductory Note, by Introduction to Zellig

Philip Sapir and /'icrre Swif^f^ers

Harris's text, by Pierre Swi^f^ers

<Sapir"s approach to hmguago, by Zcllii^ S. Harris

Introduction to Stanley Newman's text, by Pierre Swii^iiers

<Ed\vard Sapir's work and stylo, by Stanley Newfntin

Si (1 ION ()\i: I 111

PkoHI 1 \1 oi 1 III ()RI(.I\ OI LANC.lAdi- ( 1^)07)

Introduction to Sapir's "Herder's "Ursprung der Sprache"" (


by Pierre Svviggers

I lerder's "Ursprung der Sprache" ( I'-K)?)








Section Two: History, Variety and Setting of Language

(U)ll. U)12)

Introduction: History, Variety and Setting o\' Language, by Pierre Swifif^ers . 103

The History and Varieties of Human Speech ( UH I)

Language and Environment (1912)






Introduction: Theoretical, Descriptive and Historical

Linguistics, 1923-1929. by

Pierre S\\ii^i;er\


An Approach to Symbolism (review oi ( "K. Ogden and I A. Kichardv,


Meaning, of Meanini^) (1923)

ITie Grammarian and his Language ( 1924)

Review of A. Meillet and

M. Cohen (eds.). I.e\ lam^ue.s dit numdc



Sound Patterns in Language (1925) Philology (1926) Review of (). Jespersen. Vfankind, Nation and Individmil from

(I l.ini^iiisiic Point ol \'ie\\

{ 1^^2(i) ....

Language as a lorm oi Human Heh.iMor { T^J/)

Review of R.( i. Kent. Pani^uai^e and Philoloi^y ( 1928) The Status of Linguistics as a Science ( 1929)

A Studv in Phonetic Svnibolism (














General Linguistics I

Section Four: The Problem of an International Auxiliary Language


Introduction: The Problem of an International Auxiliary Language, hv Pierre Swif^gers


Memorandum on the Problem of an International Auxiliary

Language (1925)

ITie Function of an International Auxiliary Language (1931)

Wanted: a World Language (1931)

The Case for a Constructed International Language (1933)

Annex: The Statement of the International Auxiliary Language Association made at the second International Conference of Linguists (Geneva, 1931)






Section Five: Stlidies in Universal Conceptual Grammar


Introductory Note: Sapir's Studies in Universal Conceptual Grammar,

by Pierre Swiggers


Introduction to Sapir's texts 'Totality", "Grading", and

"The Expression of the Ending-Point Relation", by Sir John Lyons

TotaUty (1930) The Expression of the Ending-Point Relation in English, French, and

German (1932)

Grading, a Study in Semantics (1944)





Section Six: Patterns of Language in Relation to History and

Society (1931-1933-[1947])

Introduction: Sapir's General Linguistics in the 1930s, by Pierre Swiggers

. .



The Concept of Phonetic Law as Tested in Primitive Languages

by Leonard Bloomfield (1931)

Communication (1931)

Conceptual Categories in Primitive Languages (1931)

Dialect (1931)

Language (1933)

La realite psychologique des phonemes (1933)

Corrections to the French version published in 1933

The Psychological Reality of Phonemes (1933/1949)

Editorial notes on the English version published in 1949

The Relation of American Indian Linguistics to General Linguistics (1947) .












Indices Index of Personal Names

Index of Concepts

Index of Languages






In January 1982, David Mandelbaum wrote to David Sapir. suggesting that "a

new volume of your father's writings might be prepared for puhheation in I9S4,

the centenary of his birth." He suggested that "it might contain some of the papers that were not included in the Selected Writings of Edward Sapir: perhaps

some of his letters; and possibly some of the papers that have discussed his work." In April he further suggested, as possibilities, "a biographical memoir,

recollections by some who knew him, an essay on his influence and coniinuiiiu stimulus, selections from his poetry, selections from his letters to Lowie, Kroebcr

and others, and a bibliography of writings about him."

Later, in 1982, a complete list of Edward Sapir's major scholarly writings was

circulated to some four dozen anthropologists and linguists, with a request that

they rate each paper on a four-point scale. Some 25 replies were received, llierc was hardly a single paper that two or more had not rated as a "must" or "highl\ desirable." Also, a number of individuals expressed their preference for a

"Complete Works" rather than a "Selection."

At the 1982 meeting of the American Anthropological Association, an ad hoc

meeting of some 10 people was convened to discuss how to go about making a

proper selection of additional papers not included in the Selected Writings, and

where a publisher might be found. Among those present were Dell Hymes. Regna Darnell, Victor GoUa, Keith Basso, Harold Conklin, Lita Osmundsen o{

the Wenner-Gren Foundation, and myself. After a relatively brief discussion it

was unanimously recommended that, rather than a second "SWES," a "Complete

Works" should be published, if at all possible. Two university presses were men-

tioned as possible publishers, but neither proved to be interested in a "Complete

Works," and both required a significant financial contribution to support a much

more limited publication.

At the same time, a joint ad hoc committee of the American Anthropological

Association and the Linguistic Society of America had been established to de- velop plans for celebrating the centennial of Edward Sapir's birth. Its membership

included the following: Dell Hymes (Chairman), William Bright. William (\)wan,

Regna Darnell, Paul Friedrich, Margaret Langdon. Vicli^ria

Sherzer, and Judith Irvine.

I ronikin. Joel

In the meantime it had become known that plans were well advanced lor an

Edward Sapir Centennial Conference, to be held in Ottawa. Canada, where Edward Sapir had served as the first Chief of the Anthropological Division

within the Canadian Geological Survey, Department of Mines, from 1910 to 1925.

This conference, planned and organized by William Cowan. Michael K. Foster,

  • 12 General Linguistics I

and Konrad Koerner, was held on October 1-3, 1984, and was very well attended

by participants from Canada, the United States, and Japan. The Conference

Proceedings were published in 1986.'

Not wishing to attempt to duplicate this event, Dell Hymes, then President of ihc Linguistic Society of America and Past President of the American

Anthropological Association, and Chairman of the abovementioned ad hoc com-

mittee, agreed to have the committee assist in selecting a Board of Editors for

The Collected Works, as well as in finding a publisher. At the 1983 meeting of the

IJneuistic Society of America, the ad hoc committee duly met and appointed the

following to serve as a Board of Editors: William Bright, Regna Darnell, Judith Irvine, \'iikov Malkiel, and myself, as Editor-in-Chief. Dr. Malkiel later found it

necessary to resign, and was succeeded by Eric Hamp. Victor Golla, Richard

Handler and Pierre Swiggers were added later to the Board.

Present at the annual meeting of the Linguistic Society of America that year

was Dr. Marie-Louise Liebe-Harkort, the then newly appointed Editor-in-Chief

of Mouton de Gruyter, a recently added division of the Berhn pubhshing house

of Walter de Gruyter & Co., and an Americanist in her own right. Upon learning

of the plans of the ad hoc committee, she met with me and indicated that she was

very interested in the possibility of Mouton de Gruyter serving as the publisher

of The Collected Works, and would be happy to propose this to the Board of

Directors of Walter de Gruyter & Co. This she did and the Board gave its ap-


The Editorial Board for The Collected Works held its first meeting at the Berkeley Campus of the University of California, courtesy of Dr Malkiel, in July

1984. a few months before the Ottawa Centennial Conference, where, later, the

Board was able to meet with Dr Liebe-Harkort, and get the project off to a suc-

cessful start. During the twenty years that have passed since, the members have

taken the responsibility of editing the several volumes, with the assistance of

other anthropologists and linguists on those volumes devoted to a single lan-

guage or group of related languages. At present, eight of the volumes have been published, with an additional five in various stages of preparation.

Funding has been received from the National Science Foundation for support

of the scholarly work on six of the nine volumes devoted to specific languages or

New Perspectives in Language, Culture, and Personality. Proceedings of the Edward Sapir Centenary

Conference (Ottawa, 1-3 October 1984). Edited by William Cowan, Michael K. Foster, and Konrad Koerner (SiHoLS 41 ), Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 1986, xiv-627 p. [Reviews of the volume were publish- ed m: Lingua e Stile 22 (1987). 623-624 (L. Rosiello); American Anthropologist 90 (1988), 219 (RK. Bock);

Historiographia Linguistica 15 (1988), 405^09 (M.B. Emeneau); Anthropos 84 (1989). 269 (J.W. Burton);

i'nTnLv 79


^^^^^^' ^^^383 (R.H. Robins); Tijdschrift voor Filosofie 51 (1989), 160-162 (R Swiggers); Semiotica

273-300 (review article by A.S. Kaye and H. Waltz).]



groups of languages; and from the Phillips lund ol ihc American i'hilosophieal

Society for the project expenses of the Editor-in-Chief. We are pleased to express our gratitude to these two institutions.

7Tie members of the Board have received assistance Ironi a luinihcr ol ct)llea-

gues in anthropology and linguistics, who have worked with the noIuihc editors and helped to edit a number of volumes, or sections within solumes. Of particu-

lar value has been the editing of previously unpublished linguistic and ethnolo- gic materials which Edward Sapir left unfinished at the time of his death. Ilie

Editorial Board wishes to thank all these scholars who have contributed to or are

contributing in this way to provide a "Complete Works."

I wish personally to thank Ms Jane McGary, Associate Editor, for her valuable

help in the editing of these volumes during the past decade, as well as the mem- bers of the Board of Editors themselves, who have given much of their time and

effort to seeing this project through to a successful conclusion. I also wish to

thank Dr Liebe-Harkort, and her successor Dr Anke Beck, for the interest and support over the years.

Philip Sai'ik

Editor-in-Chief, The Collected Works of Edward Sapir

Chronological list of Sapir's writings contained in Volume 1

  • 1907 "Herder's "Ursprung der Sprache"". Modern /'hiloloi^v >. 10^^ 142.

  • 1911 "The History and Varieties of Human Speech". I'opnhu Science Monthly

79. 45-67.

  • 1912 "Language and Environment". American Aniliropoloi^isi 14. 226-242.

  • 1923 "An Approach to Symbolism". The Freeman 7. 572-573.

  • 1924 "The Grammarian and his Language". American Mercury 1. 149-155.

  • 1925 "Memorandum on the Problem of an International Auxiliary Language".

The Romanic Review 16. 244-256.

  • 1925 Review of Antoine Meillet - Marcel Cohen (eds.), Les langues du niomle. Modern Language Notes 40. 373-375.

  • 1925 "Sound Patterns in Language". Language 1. 37-51.

  • 1926 "Philology". Encyclopaedia Britannica, Supplementary volumes ( 1 3lh cd. vol.3, 112-115.

  • 1926 Review of Otto Jespersen, Mankind, Nation, and Individual from a Linguistic Point of View. American Journal of Sociology 32. 498^99.

  • 1927 "Language as a Form of Human Behavior". The English Journal U\


  • 1928 Review of Roland G. Kent, Language and Philology. The Classical Weekly 21.85-86.

  • 1929 "The Status of Linguistics as a Science". Language 5. 207-214.

  • 1929 "A Study in Phonetic Symbolism". Journal of Experimental Psychology 1 2.


  • 1930 Totality. (Linguistic Society of America, Language Monographs 6).

  • 1931 "Communication". Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences 4. 78-81. New

York: Macmillan.

  • 1931 "The Concept of Phonetic Law as Tested in Primitive Languages by

Leonard Bloomfield". Methods in Social Science: A Case Book (ed. Stuart

A. RICE), 297-306. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

  • 1931 "Conceptual Categories in Primitive Languages". Science 74. 578.

  • 1931 "Dialect". Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences 5. 123-126. New York:


  • 1931 "The Function of an International Auxiliary Language". Psyche 11.4-15.

  • 1931 "Wanted: a World Language". The American Mercury 22. 202-209.

  • 1932 (with Morris SWADESH) The Expression of the Ending- Point Relation in

English, French, and German. (Linguistic Society of America. Language

Monographs 10).

  • 1933 "The Case for a Constructed International Language". Actes du deuxieme

Congres international de Linguistes, Geneve, aout h)M.

S6-S8. Paris:

Librairie d'Amerique et d'Orient Adrien Maisonneu\e.

  • 1933 "Language". Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences 9. 155-169. New ^ork:


  • 15 Cicncral Linguistics I

    • 1933 "La realiie psychologiquc dcs phonemes". Journal de Psychologie norma- If et palhologique 30. 247-265.

Sec also \^)4').

  • 1944 -(irading, a Study in Semantics". Philosophy of Science 11. 93-116.

  • 1947 •• I"he Relation of American Indian Linguistics to General Linguistics". Southwestern Journal of Anthropology 3. 1^.

1 949

"Ilie Psychological Reality of Phonemes". Edward Sapir: Selected Writings in Language, Culture and Personality (ed. D.G. MANDELBAUM), 46-60.

Berkeley/Los Angeles: University of California Press.

(F.nglish original of 1933. "La realite psychologique des phonemes"]


Volumes I and II of The Collected Works of Edward Sapir conlaiii Sapirs writ-

ings in the field of general linguisties, general-deseriptive linguislies and histori-

cal linguistics. Volume I includes Sapir's papers in general linguistics (the papers deal with themes in the history of linguisties and the philosophy of language, with general issues in the study of language, and with the relationship between linguis-

tics, anthropology, psychology and sociology, or they bear on the foundations of

general and theoretical linguistics).'

Sapir's introduction to linguistics. Language: An Introduction to the Study of

Speech (1921), is included in volume II, together with Sapir's historical-compara-

tive papers (in the field of Indo-European and Semitic), his publications on African languages, and his progress reports on the project of a new, semantical-

ly-based grammar of English. The wide historical and comparative scope of

Sapir's Language, with its chapters on genetic and areal relationships, on the

historical forces behind the evolution of languages, and on the supposed links

between language, culture and race, justifies its inclusion in volume II, although

Language also, naturally, deals with basic concepts of general linguistics; as a mat-

ter of fact, several of Sapir's writings included in volume I either foreshadow or

elaborate upon issues discussed by Sapir in his 1921 classic.

The papers contained in volume I have been arranged into six sections, rough-

ly corresponding to six chronological stages or sequences. In section I Sapir's

master thesis on Herder's views on the origin of language is reprinted. Section II

contains two early papers (1911, 1912) by Sapir on the historical, cultural and social setting of languages; readers familiar with Sapir's Language (1921) will

note the continuity between these papers and the later book. Section III, corres-

ponding to a crucial phase in Sapir's intellectual development, includes papers

and reviews of general linguistic interest. This section contains Sapir's short, but

incisive review of Ogden and Richards's The Meaning of Meaning, Sapir's classic

1 For general surveys of Sapir's career and his contribution to general, theoretical, descriptive and historical lin-

guistics and to anthropological linguistics, see: Edwin Ardener, "Edward Sapir 1884^1939", Journal of the Anthropologiccil Society of Oxford 1 S/1 (1 987), 1-12; Ann E. BertholT, "Sapir and the Two Tasks of Language".

Seniiolica 71 (1988), 1^7; Regna Darnell, Edward Sapir: Lint^iiist. Anthropolo)iisi, Humanist (Berkeley. 1990)

[see Michael Silverstein, "Problems of Sapir's Historiography". Hislorioiiraphia t.iniiuistica 18 ( 1991 ). 181-204];

Regna Darnell - Judith T. Irvine, "Edward Sapir, January 26, 1884 - February 4,


.\ational Academy of

Sciences. Biographical Memoirs (1997), 281-3()(); Maria Xose Fernande/. C'asas, Edward Sapir en la linnuisiica

actual, l.ineas de continuidud en la hisloria de la lingiiistica (Verba. Anexo >A) (Santiago de Conipostela. 2004);

Mikio Hirabayashi. "Studies on the Concepts of Language. Culture, and Personality Expressed in Sapir's Papers", Bulletin of Daito Bunka University: The Humanities 21 (1983). 4.V52; David J. Sapir. "IntrixJucing

Edward Sapir", Language in Society 14 (198.5), 289-297; Michael Silverstein. "llie Diachrony of Sapir's

Synchronic Linguistic Description", in New Perspectives in Language. Culture, and Personality. Proceedings of

the Edward Sapir Centenary Conference (Ottawa. 1-3 October IW4I. edited by William Cowan. Michael K.

Foster, and Konrad Koerner (Amsterdam/Philadelphia, 198(i),67-l 10; Pierre .Swiggers, "Note sur la linguistiquc

generale en 1921-22. Avec I'edition de deux Icttres de Joseph Vendryes a Edward Sapir". Heitrdge zur Geschichte der Sprachwissenschaft 1 (1991), I8.'S-192, and "Svnchri>n\' and -Diachronv' m Sapir's Language ( 192 1 )", Neuphilologische Miiteilungen 94 ( 1 993), 31 3-322.


General Linguistics I

on "Sound Patterns in Language," as well as a more traditionally slanted

encyclopedia article on "Philologv."The papers in this section reflect major chan-


ges' and developmenls in Sapir's personal and social life and his mtellectual career, owinu in part to the interest he took in psychology and psychiatry, the

study of symbolism and social structures; these developments are reflected in the

number o{ publications by Sapir in these domains (see volumes III and


IV of

The Colleaed Works of Edward Sapir). Section IV and section V reflect

Sapir's interest, in the second half of the 1920s and first half of the 1930s, in the problem ol an international auxiliary language, and in the theoretical grounding ot a Uumuaiic fi>r international communication; Sapir's theoretical involvement

in the International Auxiliary Language Association (lALA) is amply testified to

b> three major papers in the field of "conceptual grammar," which constitute a

solid contribution to general semantics. Section VI, covering the last decade of Sapir's life, contains another of Sapir's classic papers, viz. his article on the psy-

chological reality of phonemes, three substantial entries ("Communication,"

"Dialect" and "Language") from the Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences, and a

tew papers of methodological and theoretical interest, in which very often use is made of American Indian materials (see also the various volumes of The