Download Language, Saussure and Wittgenstein: How to Play Games with by Roy Harris PDF

By Roy Harris

Saussure as a linguist and Wittgenstein as a thinker of language are arguably the 2 most vital figures within the improvement of twentieth-century linguistic idea. via mentioning what their principles have in universal, despite emanating from very varied highbrow resources, this examine breaks new flooring.

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Extra info for Language, Saussure and Wittgenstein: How to Play Games with Words (History of Linguistic Thought)

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It becomes commonplace to formulate synchronic and diachronic generalisations in terms which fail to distinguish between them (CLG:13O-I). Worse still, quite spurious 'explanations' are given: 'For instance, the present meaning of the French word pere is explained by appeal to the fact that its Latin etymon pater meant "father" • (CLG: 136). Saussure held that had linguists realised the importance of distinguishing from the outset, as in the case of games, between facts pertaining to the structure of the game itself, facts pertaining to individual episodes ofplay, and facts pertaining to the historical evolution of the game, all these confusions could have been avoided, and the correct relationships would have been established between the various types of phenomena with which linguistics is concerned.

53). This arbitrary relationship emanates from the linguistic system, and is not in any way determined or affected by the choices made by speakers, either individually or collectively. Saussure insists that the signs of la langue are not under the control of the linguistic community, even though they are maintained or not maintained in existence by nothing else but the volitional activity of parole; and this strikes him as one of the most paradoxical aspects of language. The signal, in relation to the idea it represents, may seem to be freely chosen.

CLG:155) Nor, on the other hand, does sound offer 'a ready-made mould, with shapes that thought must inevitably conform to' (CLG:155). How, then, should we envisage the connection between the phonic and the ideational aspects oflanguage? In one ofthe most arresting metaphorical images of the Cours, Saussure compares the way thought combines with sound to the contact between air and water (CLG: 156). What the observer sees as surface ripples are shapes caused by local variations in pressure between the mass of air and the mass of water.

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