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The Prague Linguistic Circle or "Prague school" (Czech: Pražský lingvistický kroužek, Russian: Пражский лингвистический кружок Pražskij lingvističeskij kružek, French: Cercle linguistique de Prague) was an influential group of literary critics and linguists in Prague. Its proponents developed methods of structuralist literary analysis during the years 1928–1939. It has had significant continuing influence on linguistics and semiotics. After World War II, the circle was disbanded but the Prague School continued as a major force in linguistic functionalism (distinct from the Copenhagen school or English Firthian — later Hallidean — linguistics). American scholar Dell Hymes cites his 1962 paper, "The Ethnography of Speaking," as the formal introduction of Prague functionalism to American linguistic anthropology (see Hymes, "Prague Functionalism," American Anthropologist, 82, 2, p. 398).

The Prague linguistic circle included Russian émigrés such as Roman Jakobson, Nikolai Trubetzkoy, and Sergei Karcevskiy, as well as the famous Czech literary scholars René Wellek and Jan Mukařovský. The instigator of the circle and its first president was the eminent Czech linguist Vilém Mathesius (President of PLC until his death in 1945).

The group's work before World War II was published in the Travaux Linguistiques and its theses outlined in a collective contribution to the World's Congress of Slavists. The Travaux were briefly resurrected in the 1960s with a special issue on the concept of center and periphery and are now being published again by John Benjamins. The group's Czech work is published in Slovo a slovesnost. English translations of the Circle's seminal works were published by the Czech linguist Josef Vachek in several collections.



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