The founding fathers

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The founding fathers. Ferdinand Saussure. Charles S. Peirce. The dyadic sign is purely psychological !. Saussure: The linguistic sign is a two-sided entity (a dyad). Signifier and signified are inseparable Mental concepts cannot exist if they are not bound to a sound-image.
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The founding fathers Ferdinand Saussure Charles S. Peirce The dyadic sign is purely psychological ! Saussure: The linguistic sign is a two-sided entity (a dyad)
  • Signifier and signified are inseparable
  • Mental concepts cannot exist if they are not bound to a sound-image
  • LANGUE – THE COMMUNAL CUPBOARD LANGUE: a self-contained system of differences between signs; a structure PAROLE: individual acts of speech Langue is social and abstract Parole is individual and concrete The sign signifies, not by itself, but by virtue of its difference from other signs LANGUE – THE SOCIAL COLLECTIVE Linguistics has to take la langue as its object of study The vocal nature of linguistic signs is a matter of secondary importance: what is natural to the human species is not spoken language, but the ability to construct abstract systems of signs and use them Saussure is interested in the cultural implementation (la langue) of our natural linguistic abilities (le langage) Each person has an individual internal representation of a social, supra-individual reality (langue). How does meaning take place? Restrictions on combination and substitution of linguistic elements (the syntagmatic and paradigmaticrelations)
  • In a Saussurean structure, a sign has syntagmatic as well as paradigmatic (associative) relations with other signs.
  • Combination: ‘cat’ has syntagmatic relations with those elements which can precede and succeed it in a sequence.
  • Substitution: ‘cat’ has paradigmatic relations with ‘feline’, ‘quadruped’, ‘moggy’, (but even ‘dog’).
  • However, in the syntagm ‘the cat sat on the mat’, ‘cat’ has no paradigmatic relations with inanimate nouns (‘chair’, ‘table’…)
  • What is part of ‘langue’ (and what isn’t) ?
  • Lexical words
  • Proper names
  • Function words
  • Idiomatic expressions
  • What about sentences ?
  • Combination of words (‘established on regular models’) have their basis in the language system (‘langue’)
  • The recollection of such typical patterns allows the individual speaker to freely combine new signs in actual speech (‘parole’)
  • The creative aspect of analogy / analogical thinking
  • Saussure’s two principles of linguistics The Arbitrariness of the linguistic sign (Langue) The Linearity of the linguistic sign (PAROLE)
  • Linguistic signs are unmotivated – the cognitive system (‘langue’) provides everything speakers need to use their language meaningfully. There is no need to ask ‘Why is x called x?’
  • The principle of arbitrariness assumes a viewpoint of language as cognition: ‘la langue’ pairs acoustic images (signifiers) with concepts (signifieds) in a way which owes nothing to any independent connections between sounds and things in the external world.
  • A critique of ‘nomenclaturism’
  • The signifiers forming a speech chain are (invisibly) organized ‘in a line’ (one-dimensional) – just as the visible organization of written words.
  • The principle of linearity assumes a viewpoint of language as an activity: all human activities in the external world take place in time
  • Peirce: a triadic theory of signs The sign triad
  • The representamen (sign) is something which stands to somebody for something in some respect or capacity
  • The object is that which the sign stands for
  • The interpretant is the result of an encounter with a sign (a further sign - the mental sign produced by a particular person in a particular context)
  • ‘Semiosis by association’ (mental trigger effect) Unlimited semiosisis a potential…
  • Meaning (the interpretant) is able to assume the mantle of a further sign; the sign produced relates to a further object which, in turn, entails an interpretant, which is transformed into a sign which is in relationship to a further object, effecting another interpretant, and so on endlessly.
  • However, normal practice dictates that we need to go to work, execute chores, go to sleep, etc.
  • modes of relationship between sign and object
  • ICONIC SIGNS: relationship between sign and referent is based on perceivedresemblance or imitation; also an analogy between the relations of the parts of sign and object
  • INDEXICAL SIGNS: anything that focuses our attention, anything which startles us; relationship between sign and referent is directly connected in some way (physically, temporally, causally); ‘genuine’ relation between sign and the object
  • SYMBOLIC SIGNS: relationship between sign and its referent is agreed upon, learned, a matter of habit
  • Combining Saussure and Peirce The iconic and indexical constituents of verbal symbols Roman Jakobson (1896-1982)
  • Peirce: “it would be difficult, if not impossible, to instance an absolutely pure index, or to find any sign absolutely devoid of the indexical quality”
  • Peirce: “the most perfect of signs are those in which the iconic, indexical, and symbolic characters are blended as equally as possible”
  • Saussure: “The entirely arbitrary signs are the most appropriate to fulfill the optimum semiotic process”
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