What are Roman Jakobson's main points in "From Linguistics to Poetics"?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

It seems that one of the main points is that in order to study the "poetic function" (not to be confused with poetry itself), one should study linguistics. And the reverse is true: in order to study linguistics, one should also understand the poetic function. (Here we differentiate between the poetic function—rhyme, meter, imagery, alliteration, metaphor, etc., and poetry itself—the critical evaluation of poetry in literary criticism.)

So, how do linguistics and the poetic function overlap in this way? Jakobson's analysis of the campaign phrase "I Like Ike" illustrates this point. This is an ordinary use of language but employs a poetic function. He discusses the alliteration and assonance. But this phrase would hardly be analyzed as an example of great or even good poetry. Jakobson's point is twofold. First, as with this example, the poetic function can be found in everyday (or "non-literary") language. Second, everyday language and linguistics as a whole can be useful in studying the...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 844 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team