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Richard Rorty “Sattumislikkus, iroonia ja solidaarsus”

October 16, 2013 Leave a comment

Rorty, Richard 1999. Sattumuslikkus, iroonia ja solidaarsus. Tallinn: Vagabund.

[…] pole võimalik astuda välja kõigist käibivatest sõnavaradest ja leida mingi metasõnavara, milles kuidagi kirjeldada kõiki võimalikke sõnavarasid, kõiki võimalikke otsustus- ja tundeviise. (18)

I.I Keele sattumuslikkus

[…] Kant ja Hegel hülgasid idee, et tõde on „väljaspool”, üksnes poolenisti. […] Kuid nad jäid selle juurde, et vaimul, hingel või inimteadvuse sügavustel on sisemine loomus, mida võib tunnetada mitteempiiriline üliteadus nimega filosoofia. See tähendas, et ainult pool tõde – alumine, teaduslik pool – on tehislik. Kõrgem tõde, tõde vaimu kohta, mis on filosoofia pärusmaa, jäi aga ikka veel avastamise, mitte loomise tandriks. (25)

Meil tuleb eraldada väide, et maailm on olemas meist väljaspool, väitest, et tõde on olemas meist väljaspool. (25)

Ei saa olemas olla väljaspoolset tõde, mis eksisteeriks inimvaimust sõltumatult, sest laused ei saa niimoodi eksisteerida, olla olemas väljaspool meid. Tõesed ja väärad saavad olla üksnes maailmakirjeldused. Maailm omaette – ilma inimese kirjeldustegevuseta – seda olla ei saa. (26)

Romantikute veendumus, et tähtsaim inimvõime pole mõistus, vaid kujutlus, tähendab, et kultuurimuutuse põhihoob on anne kõneleda teistmoodi, mitte anne hästi argumenteerida. (29)

Idealistlike tunnetusteooriaid ja romantilisi arusaamu kujutlusest saab paraku „teadvuse” žargoonist hõlpsasti „keele” žargooni üle kanda. (34)

[…] „poeet”, mis minu avara sõnavara järgi tähendab seda, „kes teeb asjad uueks” (37)

Öelda, et kahel kogukonnal on läbisaamisraskusi, sest sõnu, mida nad kasutavad, on raske vastastikku tõlkida, tähendab lihtsalt öelda, et ühe kogukonna liikmete keelelist nagu kogu muudki käitumist on teise kogukonna liikmetel raske ennustada. (40)

Meie keel ja kultuur on sattumused, tuhandete pisikeste oma niši leidnud (ja miljonite elunišši mitte leidnud) mutatsioonide tulemus täpselt samamoodi kui orhideed ja antropoidid. (42)

Tuua kuuldavale lause, mil pole kindlakskujunenud kohta keelemängus, tähendab, nagu positivistid õigesti märkisid, lausuda midagi, mis pole tõene ega väär – midagi, mis pole (Ian Hackingi väidet kasutades) „tõeväärtuse kandidaat”. Sest tegu on lausega, mida ei saa kinnitada ega ümber lükata, mille poolt ega vastu ei saa tuua argumente. Selle võib üksnes alla neelata või välja sülitada. (45)

[…] meil ei ole keele-eelset teadvust, mille üksikasjalikum sõnastamine oleks filosoofide kohus. See, mida pakutakse niisuguse teadvuse pähe, on lihtsalt meie kalduvus kasutada oma esiisade keelt, kummardada nende metafooride surnukehi. (50)

Juri Lotman “Kultuur kui subjekt ja iseenese objekt”

August 16, 2013 Leave a comment

Lotman, Juri 1999. Kultuur kui subjekt ja iseenese objekt. – Lotman, J. Semiosfäärist. Tallinn: Vagabund, 37-52.

[…] sedamööda, kuidas uurimisprotsess use üha enam uurimisobjektiks sai, muutus käsitus uurija asendist keerukamaks ja aktualiseerus traditsioon, mis saab alguse Kantist. Analüüsiobjektiks on nüüd analüüsi mehhanism, teadmine teadmisest. Küsimuselt, kuidas vaim tekstis kehastub, nihkub huvi küsimusele, kuidas auditoorium teksti vastu võtab. […] Kultuuri ajalugu kangastub evolutsioonina kultuuri tõlgendamises – ühelt poolt tema kaasaegse auditooriumi, teisalt järgmiste põlvkondade, k.a teadusliku tõlgendustraditsiooni poolt. Esimesel juhul toimub interpretatsioon kõnealuse kultuuri sünkroonias ja on otsekui osa sellest, teisel juhul on ta kandunud diakrooniasse ja tal tuleb tegemist teha kõigi ühest keelest teise tõlkimise raskustega. (39-40)

Uuteks tekstideks nimetame tekste, mis tekivad pöördumatute protsesside (Ilya Prigogine’i mõistes) tagajärjel, s.o tekste, mis on teatul määral ennustamatud. (41)

Tähendust tekitava struktuuri töö teine iseärasus on ta võime siseneda omaenese sisendisse ja iseend transformeerida. Omaenda vaatepunktist paistab ta kui tekst teiste seas ja on seega endale normaalseks semiootiliseks „toiduks”. Siit tuleneb monaadi loomupärane võime enesekirjelduseks (eneserefleksiooniks) ja iseenese tõlkimiseks metatasandile. (42)

Mittetasakaaluliste olukordade iseärasuseks on see, et dünaamilisele trajektoorile ilmuvad Prigogine’i sõnutsi bifurkatsioonipunktid, s.o punktid, kust edasi võib liikumine võrdse tõenäosusega kulgeda kahes (või enamas) suunas, ning pole võimalik ennustada, millises ta tegelikult läheb. Neis tingimustes kasvab järsult juhuslikkuse, kõrvaltegurite osa, mis võivad protsessi edasist kulgu mõjutada. (48)

Kui valiku bifurkatsioonipunktis määrab juhus, siis on ilmne, et mida keerukam oma sisemise korralduse poolest on arenguseisundis viibiv objekt (ja järelikult, mida rohkem ta tekstina sisaldab „juhuslikku”), seda ennustamatum on tema käitumine. (48)

„Subjekti-objekti” kategooriad saavad siin tekkida vaid hetkel, mil enesekirjelduse tasandini tõusnud üksikmonaad modelleerib end kui isoleeritud ja ainsat intellekti. (50)

Niisiis iga kokkupuude ruumiga, mis asub väljaspool kõnealuse semiosfääri piire, nõuab selle ruumi eelnevat semiotiseerimist. (50)

Kuid ka tõeline välismaailm on semiootilises vahetuses aktiivne osaline. Semiosfääri piir on kõrgenenud semiootilise aktiivsuse ala, kus töötavad paljud „metafoorse tõlke” mehhanismid, „pumbates” kummaski suunas vastavalt transformeeritud tekste. Tegelikult käib siin seesama töö mis monaadi erisuguse korraldusega osade piiril ja igasugusel muul semiosfäärisisesel piiril. (51)

Jacques Derrida “Struktuur, märk ja mäng humanitaarteaduste diskursuses”

February 18, 2013 Leave a comment

Derrida, Jacques 1991. Struktuur, märk ja mäng humanitaarteaduste diskursuses. Akadeemia 7: 1411-1438.

Keskme funktsioon pole […] üksnes struktuuri orienteerida, tasakaalustada ja korrastada – õigupoolest ei saagi ju ette kujutada korrastamata struktuuri –, vaid eelkõige tagada, et struktuuri korrastav printsiip piiraks seda, mida me võiksime nimetada struktuuri vabamänguks [jeu]. (1412)

[…] on alati arvatud, et kese, mis on määratluse järgi unikaalne, moodustab selle ainsa asja struktuuris, mis kuigi valitseb struktuuri, on ise strukturaalsusest vaba. Seetõttu võiski klassikaline struktuurikäsitlus öelda, et kese on – paradoksaalselt – ühtlasi struktuuri sees ja väljaspool teda. Kese on terviku [totalité] keskmes, ja ometi – et kese ei kuulu tervikusse, siis on terviku kese kusagil mujal. Kese ei ole kese. (1413)

[…] kese pole fikseeritud asukoht, vaid funktsioon, teatav mitteasukoht [nonlieu], kus tuleb mängu lõputu hulk märgiasendusi. See on moment, mil keel tungib universaalsesse problemaatikasse, moment, kui keskme või lähtekoha puudumisel muutub kõik diskursuseks – eeldusel, et me võime selle sõnaga soostuda –, tähendab, et kõik muutub süsteemiks, kus keskne tähistatav, algne või transtsendentaalne tähistatav pole mitte kunagi absoluutselt presentne väljaspool erinevuste süsteemi. Transtsendentaalse tähistatava puudumine avardab tähendussfääri ja –mängu lõpmatuseni. (1415)

[…] on mõttetu loobuda metafüüsika mõistetest selleks, et metafüüsikat kõigutada. Meil pole keelt – ei süntaksit ega sõnavara, mis seisaks väljaspool seda ajalugu; me ei saa välja öelda ainsatki destruktiivset väidet, mis poleks juba libisenud just nimelt selle nähtuse vormi, loogikasse ning implitsiitsetesse postulaatidesse, mida see väide püüab vaidlustada. (1416)

Vististi võib öelda, et kogu filosoofiline mõistemoodustus, mis kuulub ühte süsteemi looduse-kultuuri vastandusega, on määratud jätma mõteldamatu sfääri just nimelt selle, mis selle mõistete moodustamise üldse võimalikuks teeb – nimelt verepilastuskeelu lähtekoha. (1421)

See, mis osutub diskursusele uue staatuse kriitilisel otsingul tegelikult põnevaimaks, on avalik loobumine igasugusest viitamisest keskmele, subjektile, privilegeeritud referentsile, lähtekohale või absoluutsele arche’le (algusele). (1425)

Vastandina episteemilisele diskursusele peab strukturaalne diskursus müüdist – müto-loogiline diskursus – olema müto-morfne. Tal peab olema selle vorm, millest ta räägib. (1426)

Tervikustamist võib pidada võimatuks klassikalises stiilis: seal kutsutakse välja mingi subjekti [sujet] empiiriline pingutus või mingi sellise lõpetatud diskursuse oma, mis asjatult ohkleb piiritu rikkuse järele, mida ta ei suuda kunagi valitseda. Seda on liiga palju, rohkem kui sõnades saab väljendada. Kuid mitte-tervikustamist [non-totalisation] saab piiritleda ka teistmoodi: mitte enam lõplikkuse mõiste seisukohalt, mis tähendaks empiirilisuseni alandumist, vaid vabamängu mõistest lähtudes. Kui tervikustamisel niisiis pole enam mingit tähendust, pole asi selles, nagu ei saaks teatud lõpmatut ala ainsa lõpliku pilgu või lõpliku diskursusega haarata, vaid põhjus on selle ala loomuses: keel üleüldse ja teatud piiritletud keel välistavad tervikustamise. See on tegelikult vabamängu ala, lõputute asenduste ala just seetõttu, et ta on lõplik – selle asemel et olla ammendamatu nagu klassikalises hüpoteesis, selle asemel et olla liiga suur, miski hoopis puudub sealt: puudub teadmine keskmest, mis kütkestaks ja põhjendaks asenduste vabamängu. Võiks öelda, et vabamäng, mis toimub tänu keskme ja lähtekoha puudumisele [absence], on suplementaarsuse [supplémentarité] liikumine – kasutades rangelt sõna, mille kummalist tähendust on prantsuse keelest alati püütud kustutada. Ei saa piiritleda keset ja viia lõpule terviku moodustamist, sest märk, mis asendab keset, mis lisandub [supplée] talle, võttes endale keskme koha viimase puudumisel – see märk lisatakse, ta tuleb esile kui lisa, kui lisand [supplément]. Tähistamine lisab midagi, mis viib selleni, et alati on midagi rohkem, kuid see lisandus on ebakindel, sest ta hakkab täitma asendusfunktsiooni, korvama [suppléer] tähistatava-poolest puudujääki. (1430-1431)

Tähistaja ülekoormatus, ta suplementaarne iseloom, on seega teatud lõplikkuse tulemus, s.t mingisuguse puudumise tulemus, mis tuleb korvata. (1433)

On niisiis kaks tõlgendust tõlgenduse, struktuuri, märgi ja vabamängu jaoks. Üks ihaldab dešifreerida tõde või lähtekohta, mis jääb vabamängust ja märgitasandist välja ning elab tõlgenduse paratamatust üle kui pagulust. Teine, mis enam lähtekoha poole ei pöördu, jaatab vabamängu ning püüab minna teisele poole inimest ja humanismi: inimese nime kannab see, kes on kogu metafüüsika või onto-teoloogia ajaloo jooksul – teiste sõnadega, kogu omaenese ajaloo jooksul – unistanud täispresentsist, usaldatavast põhialusest, mängu lähtekohast ja lõpust. (1436)

Roman Jakobson “Two Aspects of Language and Two Types of Aphasic Disturbances”

January 23, 2013 Leave a comment

Jakobson, Roman 1990. Two Aspects of Language and Two Types of Aphasic Disturbances. – Jakobson, R. On Language. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 115-133

[…] the concurrence of simultaneous entities and the concatenation of successive entities are the two ways in which we speakers combine linguistic elements. (118)

Any linguistic sign involces two modes of arrangement:

(1)   Combination. Any sign is made up of constituent signs and/or occurs only in combination with other signs. This means that any linguistic unit at one and the same time serves as a context for simpler units and/or finds its own context in a more complex linguistic unit. Hence any actual grouping of linguistic units binds them into a superior unit: combination and contexture are two faces of the same operation.

(2)   Selection. A selection between alternatives implies the possibility of substituting one for the other, equivalent in one respect and different in another. Actually, selection and substitution are two faces of the same operation. (119)

[…] selection (and, correspondingly, substitution) deals with entities conjoined in the code but not in the given message, whereas, in the case of combination, the entities are conjoined in both or only in the actual message. (119)

The constituents of a context are in a state of contiguity, while in a substitution set signs are linked by various degrees of similarity which fluctuate between the equivalence of synonyms and the common core of antonyms. (120)

The constituents of any message are necessarily linked with the code by an internal relation and with the message by an external relation. (120)

Émile Benveniste “Sémiologie de la langue (1)”

January 22, 2013 Leave a comment

Benveniste, Émile 1969. Semiologie de la langue (1). Semiotica 1(1): 1-12

Pour lui [Peirce] la langue est partout et nulle part. Il ne s’est jamais intéressé au fonctionnement de la langue, si même il y a prêté attention. La langue se réduit pour lui aux mots, et ceux-ci sont bien des signes, mais ils ne relèvent pas d’une catégorie distincte ou même d’une espèce constante. (2)

Il faut donc que tout signe soit pris et compris dans un SYSTÈME de signes. Là est la condition de la SIGNIFIANCE. Il s’ensuivra, à l’encontre de Peirce, que tous les signes ne peuvent fonctionner identiquement ni relever d’un système unique. On devra constituer plusieurs systèmes de signes, et entre ces systèmes, expliciter un rapport de différence et d’analogie. (2-3)

La réduction du langage à la langue satisfait cette double condition : elle permet de poser la langue comme principe d’unité et du même coup de trouver la place de la langue parmi les faits humains. Principe de l’unité, principe de classement, voilà introduits les deux concepts qui vont à leur tour introduire la sémiologie. (4)

La langue se présente sous tous ses aspects comme une dualité : institution sociale, elle est mise en œuvre par l’individu ; discours continu, elle se compose d’unités fixes. […] Où la langue trouve-t-elle son unité et le principe de son fonctionnement ? Dans son caractère sémiotique. Par là se définit sa nature, par là aussi elle s’intègre à un ensemble de systèmes de même caractère. Pour Saussure, à la différence de Peirce, le signe est d’abord une notion linguistique, qui plus largement s’étend à certains ordres de faits humains et sociaux. (5)

D’une manière générale, l’objet principal de la sémiologie sera « l’ensemble des systèmes fondés sur l’arbitraire du signe ». (6)

Ces signes, pour naitre et s’établir comme système, supposent la langue, qui les produit et les interprète. Ils sont donc d’un ordre distinct, dans une hiérarchie à définir. On entrevoit déjà que, non moins que les systèmes de signes, les RELATIONS entre ces systèmes constitueront l’objet de la sémiologie. (7)

Un système sémiotique se caractérise : […]

Le MODE OPÉRATOIRE est la manière dont le système agit, notamment le sens (vue, ouïe, etc.) auquel il s’adresse.

Le DOMAINE DE VALIDITÉ est celui où le système s’impose et doit être reconnu ou obéi.

La NATURE et le NOMBRE DES SIGNES sont fonction des conditions susdites.

Le TYPE DE FONCTIONNEMENT est la relation qui unit les signes et leur confère fonction distinctive. (8)

Les caractères qui sont réunis dans cette définition forment deux groupes : les deux premiers, relatifs au mode d’opération et au domaine de validité, fournissent les conditions externes, empiriques, du système ; les deux derniers, relatifs aux signes et à leur type de fonctionnement, en indiquent les conditions internes, sémiotiques. Les deux premières admettent certaines variations ou accommodations, les deux autres, non. (9)

Le premier principe peut être énoncé comme le PRINCIPE DE NON-REDONDANCE entre systèmes. Il n’y a pas de ‘synonymie’ entre systèmes sémiotiques ; on ne peut pas ‘dire la même chose’ par la parole et par la musique, qui sont des systèmes à base différente. (9)

[…] il s’agit de déterminer si un système sémiotique donné peut s’interpréter par lui-même ou s’il doit recevoir d’un autre système son interprétation. Le rapport sémiotique entre systèmes s’énoncera alors comme un rapport entre SYSTÈME INTERPRÉTANT et SYSTÈME INTERPRÉTÉ. C’est celui que nous poserons, à grande échelle, entre les signes de la langue et ceux de la société : les signes de la société peuvent être intégralement interprétés par ceux de la langue, non l’inverse. La langue sera donc l’interprétant de la société. A petite échelle on pourra considérer l’alphabet graphique comme l’interprétant du Morse ou du Braille, à cause de la plus grande extension de son domaine de validité, et en dépit du fait qu’ils sont tous mutuellement convertibles. (10)

Tout système sémiotique reposant sur des signes doit nécessairement comporter (1) un répertoire fini de SIGNES, (2) de règles d’arrangement qui en gouvernent les FIGURES (3) indépendamment de la nature et du nombre des DISCOURS que le système permet de produire. (12)

Juri Lotman “Semiotics of Personality and Society”

January 17, 2013 Leave a comment

Lotman, Juri 2008. Semiotics of Personality and Society. – Lepik, P. Universals in the Context of Juri Lotman’s Semiotics. Tartu: Tartu University Press, 225-244

Semiotics deals with issues of signification and communication. But what is it, when we talk about man, that justifies us thinking about communication at all? To what extent is the concept of me connected to signification and communication? (225)

A single being cannot be made to coincide with an „atom“ in a given system. The understanding that a single being in human society corresponds with a being that possess clear boundaries is far from universal. (226)

Approximately, there are two categories of communication: a) within an organism; b) between organisms; within [organisms] takes place signless [communication]; between [organisms] takes place sign [communication]. (Communcating with oneself via signs cannot be considered communication within an organism). (226)

Moving within one culture we consider much to be „innate“, „natural“, etc. Much of what we consider natural proves to be a characteristic of speaking with oneself. The problem of personality is a problem of language as the connection system between me and you. (227)

Existing is a vital element of self. But it is apparent that the concept of „existing“ is itself signified and does not correspond to the concept of biological existence. (227)

The situation forces upon [its own] language. But the thing is that any social behaviour whatsoever is speaking in many languages. (231)

It seems natural that man strives to be successful. But the concept of „success“ depends on the language. (233)

An action is that vital behavioural act that is used to violate a certain prohibition. […] The action is the violation of some kind of social prohibition. (234-235)

A person himself has no meaning, what is meaningful is his place in the system. (236 – of syntagmatic relations)

Social function must be differentiated from social texts! If we say that science has replaced religion, this generally means the replacement of texts, because the religious function has been preserved in society. (238)

Religious attituteds are disastrous for both art and science! (241)

[…] literary scholar: which language is used by the author?; sociologist: into which language is it translated by the reader? (242)

The listener always demands the habitual; he is always annoyed by the speaker’s „philosophizing“. This is why every new system usually starts with a scandal, it is received as something indecent, until it becomes habitual, and therefore, banal. This is why art always disturbs us. If it does not disturb us then it is not working. If Beethoven is „pleasant“, „non-disturbing“, then we are not actually accepting him any more. Therefore, the state of the listener is a state of dissatisfaction with the speaker. (243)

Ferdinand de Saussure “Course in General Linguistics”

January 10, 2013 Leave a comment

Saussure, Ferdinand de 2011. Course in General Linguistics. New York: Columbia University Press. saussure-signIntroduction

But what is language [langue]? It is not to be confused with human speech [langage], of which it is only a definite part, though certainly an essential one. It is both a social product of the faculty of speech and a collection of necessary conventions that have been adopted by a social body to permit individuals to exercise that faculty. Taken as a whole, speech is many-sided and heterogeneous; straddling several areas simultaneously – physical, physiological, and psychological – it belongs both to the individual and to society; we cannot put it into any category of human facts, for we cannot discover its unity. Language, on the contrary, is a self-contained whole and a principle of classification. (9)

[…] language is a convention, and the the nature of the sign that is agreed upon does not matter. […] we can say that what is natural to mankind is not oral speech but the faculty of constructing a language, i.e. a system of distinct signs corresponding to distinct ideas. (10)

Execution is always individual, and the individual is always its master: I shall call the executive side speaking [parole]. […] If we could embrace the sum of word-images stored in the minds of all individuals, we could identify the social bond that constitutes language. (13)

Characteristics of language:

1)      Language is a well-defined object in the heterogeneous mass of speech facts. It can be localized in the limited segment of the speaking-circuit where an auditory image becomes associated with a concept. It is the social side of speech, outside the individual who can never create nor modify it by himself; it exists only by virtue of a sort of contract signed by the members of a community. […] (14)

2)      Language, unlike speaking, is something that we can study separately. […] We can dispense with the other elements of speech; indeed, the science of language is possible only if the other elements are excluded. (15)

3)      Whereas speech is heterogeneous, language, as defined, is homogeneous. It is a system of signs in which the only essential thing is the union of meanings and sound-images, and in which both parts of the sign are psychological. (15)

4)      Language is concrete, no less than speaking; and this is a help in our study of it. Linguistic signs, though basically psychological, are not abstractions; associations which bear the stamp of collective approval – and which added together constitute language – are realities that have their seat in the brain. (15)

Finally, speaking is what causes language to evolve: impressions gathered from listening to others modify our linguistic habits. Language and speaking are then interdependent; the former is both the instrument and the product of the latter. But their interdependence does not prevent their being two absolutely distinct things. (19)

One must always distinguish between what is internal and what is external. In each instance one can determine the nature of the phenomenon by applying this rule: everything that changes the system in any way is internal. (23)

But the tyranny of writing goes even further. By imposing itself upon the masses, spelling influences and modifies language. This happens onyl in highly literate languages where written texts play an important role. Then visual images lead to wrong pronunciations; such mistakes are really pathological. (31)

 

Part One: General Principles

The linguistic sign unites, not a thing and a name, but a concept and a sound-image. The latter is not the material sound, a purely physical thing, but the psychological imprint of the sound, the impression that it makes on our senses. (66)

The linguistic sign is then a two-sided psychological entity […] The two elements [concept and sound-image] are intimately united, and each recalls the other. […] I call the combination of a concept and a sound-image a sign […] (66-67)

I propose to retain the word sign [signe] to designate the whole and to replace concept and sound-image respectively by signified [signifié] and signifier [signifiant]; the last two terms have the advantage of indicating the opposition that separates them from each other and from the whole of which they are parts. (67)

The bond between the signifier and the signified is arbitrary. Since I mean by sign the whole that results from the associating of the signifier with the signified, I can simply say: the linguistic sign is arbitrary. (67)

In fact, every means of expression used in society is based, in principle, on collective behavior or – what amounts to the same thing – on convention. […] Signs that are wholly arbitrary realize better thant the others the ideal of the semiological process; that is why language, the most complex and universal of all systems of expression, is also the most characteristic; in this sense linguistics can become the master-pattern for all branches of semiology although language is only one particular semiological system. (68)

The word arbitrary also calls for comment. The term should not imply that the choice of the signifier is left entirely to the speaker (we shall see below that the individual does not have the power to change a sign in any way once it has become established in the linguistic community); I mean that it is unmotivated, i.e. arbitrary in that it actually has no natural connection with the signified. (68-69)

The signifier, being auditory, is unfolded solely in time from which it gets the following characteristics: (a) it represents a span, and (b) the span is measurable in a single dimension; it is a line. […] In contrast to visual isgnifiers (nautical signals, etc) which can offer simultaneous groupings in several dimensions, auditory signifiers have at their command only the dimension of time. (70)

The singifier, though to all appearances freely chosen with respect to the idea that it represents, is fixed, not free, with respect to the linguistic community that uses it. […] No individual, even if he willed it, could modify in any way at all the choice that has been made; and what is more, the community itself cannot control so much as a single word; it is bound to the existing language. (71)

No society, in fact, knows or has even known language other than as a product inherited from preceding generations, and one to be accepted as such. That is why the question of speech is not important as it is generally assumed to be. The question is not even worth asking; the only real object of linguistics is the normal, regular life of an existing idiom. A particular language-state is always the product of historical forces, and these forces explain why the sign is unchangeable, i.e. why it resists any arbitrary subsitution. (71-72)

Again, it might be added that reflection does not enter into the active use of an idiom – speakers are largely unconscious of the laws of language; and if they are unaware of them, how could they modify them? (72)

[…] language is a system of arbitrary signs and lacks the necessary basis, the solid ground for discussion. (73)

A language consitutes a system. In this one respect […] language is not completely arbitrary but is ruled to some extent by logic […] (73)

[…] in language […] everyone participates at all times, and that is why it is constantly being influenced by all. This capital fact suffices to show the impossibility of revolution. (74)

Time, which ensures the continuity of language, wields another influence apparently contradictory to the first: the more or less rapid change of linguistic signs. […] the sign is exposed to alteration because it perpetuates itself. […] That is why the principle of change is based on the principle of continuity. (74)

Regardless of what the forces of change are, whether in isolation or in combination, they always result in a shift in the relationship between the singified and the signifier. (75)

Unlike language, other human institutions – customs, laws, etc – are all based in varying degrees on the natural relations of things; all have of necessity adapted the means employed to the ends pursued. (75)

The causes od contuinity are a priori within the scope of the observer, but the causes of change in time are not. (77)

Language is speech less than speaking. It is the wholes set of linguistic habits which allow an individual to understand and to be understood. But this definition still leaves the language outside its social context; it makes language something artificial since it includes only the individual part of reality; for the realization of language, a community of speakers [masse parlante] is necessary. (77)

Doubtless it is not on a purely logical basis that group psychology operates; one must consider everything that deflects reason in actual contacts between individuals. (78)

If we considered language in time, without the community of speakers – imagine an isolated individual living for several centuries – we probably would notice no change; time would not influence language. Conversely, if we considered the community of speakers without considering time, we would not see the effect of the social forces that influence language. (78)

Everything that relates to the static side of our science is synchronic; everything that has to do with evolution is diachronic. Similarly, synchrony and diachrony designate respectively a language-state and an evolutionary phase. (81)

The first thing that strikes us when we study the facts of language is that their succession in time does not exist insofar as the speaker is concerned. He is confronted with a state. That is why the linguist who wishes to understand a state must discard all knowledge of everything that produced it and ignore diachrony. He can enter the mind of speakers only by completely suppressing the past. (81)

Since changes never affect the system as a whole but rather one or another of its elements, they can be studied only outside the system. Each alteration doubtless has its countereffect on the system, but the initial fact affected only one point; there is no inner bond between the initial fact and the effect that it may subsequently produce on the whole system. (87)

One consequence of the radical antinomy between the evolutionary and the static fact is that all notions associated with one or the other are to the same extent mutually irreducible. Any notion will point up to this truth. The synchronic and diachronic „phenomenon“, for example, have nothing in common. One is a relation between simultaneous elements, the other the substitution of one element for another in time, an event. (91)

The synchronic law is general but not imperative. Doubtless it is imposed on individuals by the weight of collective usage, but here I do not have in mind an obligation on the part of speakers. I mean that in language no force guarantees the maintenance of a regularity when established at some point. (92)

Diachrony, on the contrary, suppoeses a dynamic force through which an effect is produced, a thing executed. But this imperativeness is not sufficient to warrant applying the concept of law to evolutionary facts; we can speak of law only when a set of facts obeys the same rule, and in spite of certain appearances to the contrary, diachronic events are always accidental and particular. (93)

It takes on the appearance of a „law“ only because it is realized within a system. The rigid arrangement of the system creates the illusion that the diachronic fact obeys the same rules as the synchronic fact. (93)

Diachronic facts are the nparticular; a shift in a system is brought about by events which not only are outside the system, but are isolated and form no system among themseleves. To summarize: synchronic facts, no matter what they are, evidence a certain regularity but are in no way imperative; diachronic facts, on the contrary, force themselves upon language but are in no way general. (95)

[…] everything diachronic in language is diachronic only by virtue of speaking. It is in speaking that the germ of all change is found. […] An evolutionary fact is always preceded by a fact, or rather by a multitude of similar facts, in the sphere of speaking. (98)

Synchronic linguistics will be concerned with the logical and psychological relations that bind together coexisting terms and form a system in the collective mind of speakers. Diachronic linguistics, on the contrary, will study relations that bind together successive terms not perceived by the collective mind but substituted for each other without forming a system. (99-100)

 

Part Two: Synchronic Linguistics

We see that in semiological systems like language, where elements hold each other in equilibrium in accordance with fixed rules, the notion of identity blends with that of value and vice versa. (110)

There are no pre-existing ideas, and nothing is distinct before the appearance of language. (112)

The characteristic role of language with respect to thought is not to create a material phonic means for expressing ideas but to serve as a link between thought and sound, under conditions that of necessity bring about the reciprocal delimitations of units. (112)

Linguistics then works in the borderland where the elements of sound and thought combine; their combinations produces a form, not a substance. (113)

[…] even outside language all values are apparently governed by the same paradoxical principle. They are always composed:

1)      of a dissimilar thing that can be exchanged for the thing of which the value is to be determined; and

2)      of similar things that can be compared with the thing of which the value is to be determined. (115)

The conceptual side of value is made up solely of relations and differences with respect to the other terms of language, and the same can be said of its material side. The important thing in the word is not the sound alone but the phonic differences that make it possible to distinguish this word from all the others, for differences carry signification. (118)

The means by which the sign is produced is completely unimportant, for it does not affect the system […] Whether I make the letters in white or black, raised or engraved, with pen or chisel – all this is of no importance with respect to their signification. (120)

But the statement that everything in language is negative is true only if the signified and the signifier are considered separately; when we consider the sign in its totality, we have something positive in its own class. (120)

When we compare signs – positive terms – with each other, we can no longer speak of difference […] Between them there is only opposition. The entire mechanism of language, with which we shall be concerned later, is based on oppositions of this kind and on the phonic and conceptual differences that they imply. (121)

Applied to units, the principle of differentiation can be stated in this way: the characteristics of the unit blend with the unit itself. In language, as in any semiological system, whatever distinguishes one sign from the others constitutes it. Difference makes character just as it makes value and the unit. (121)

We see that the co-ordinations formed outside discourse differ strikingly from those formed inside discourse. Those formed outside discourse are not supported by linearity. Their seat is in the brain; they are part of the inner storehouse that makes up the language of each speaker. They are associative relations. The syntagmatic relations is in praesentia. It is based on two or more terms that occur in an effective series. Against this, the associative relation unites terms in absentia in a potential mnemonic series. (123)

But we must realize that in the syntagm there is no clear-cut boundary between the language fact, which is a sign of collective usage, and the fact that belongs to speaking and depends on individual freedom. (125)

What is most striking in the organization of language are syntagmatic solidarities; almost all units of language depend on what surrounds them in the spoken chain or on their successive parts. (127)

Everything that relates to language as a system must, I am convinced, be approached from this viewpoint, which has scarcely received the attention of linguists: the limiting of arbitrariness. This is the best possible basis for approaching the study of language as a system. In fact, the whole system of language is based on the irrational principle of the arbitrariness of the sign, which would lead to the worst sort of complication if applied without restriction. But the mind contrives to introduce a principle of order and regularity into certain parts of the mass of signs, and this is the role of relative motivation. If the mechanis of language were entirely rational, it could be studied independently. Since the mechanism of language is but a partial correction of a system that is by nature chaotic, however, we adopt the viewpoint imposed by the very nature of language and study it as it limits arbitrariness. (133)

Word order is unquestionably an abstract entity, but it owes its existence solely to the concrete units that contain it and that flow in a single dimension. To think that there is an incorporeal syntax outside material units distributed in space would be a mistake. (139)