Michael Silverstein

Most Influential Person

American linguist

Why Is Michael Silverstein Influential?

According to Wikipedia, Michael Silverstein was an American linguist. He was the Charles F. Grey Distinguished Service Professor of anthropology, linguistics, and psychology at the University of Chicago. He was a theoretician of semiotics and linguistic anthropology. Over the course of his career he created an original synthesis of research on the semiotics of communication, the sociology of interaction, Russian formalist literary theory, linguistic pragmatics, sociolinguistics, early anthropological linguistics and structuralist grammatical theory, together with his own theoretical contributions, yielding a comprehensive account of the semiotics of human communication and its relation to culture. He presented the developing results of this project annually from 1970 until his death in a course entitled "Language in Culture." Among other achievements, he was instrumental in introducing the semiotic terminology of Charles Sanders Peirce, including especially the notion of indexicality, into the linguistic and anthropological literature; with coining the terms metapragmatics and metasemantics in drawing attention to the central importance of metasemiotic phenomena for any understanding of language or social life; and with introducing language ideology as a field of study. His works are noted for their terminological complexity and technical difficulty.

Michael Silverstein's Published Works

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