Split word, split subject, split soceity

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    Pragmatics:I.21-54.

    International rasmatics ssociation

    SPLIT

    WORD,

    SPLIT SUBJECT,SPLIT SOCTETY1

    Ron Kuzar

    0. Introduction

    I

    would

    ike to outline a direction of lexicalanalysis

    hich

    articulates he dynamic

    relationbetween he stableand unstable

    parts

    of meaning.

    n the first

    part

    of the

    paper

    I

    will

    critique the formalistic approach ("meaning s invariant")

    and

    the

    sociologizing pproach ("meaning s contingent")and

    will

    then read

    Voloshinov's

    analysis f the

    word,

    in light of Althusser's onceptof the interpellatedsubjectand

    P6cheux'surther corroboration of the speakingsubject. will suggest hat the

    treatmentof language n a socialcontextmust always ake into account he split

    between

    variant

    and invariant meanings of the word, the split

    within

    the

    conscious/unconsciousubject,and the socialconflicts

    polarizing

    society.

    The secondpart is a casestudy of the use of terms of

    "death"

    and

    "injury"

    in the language f the extreme ight in Israelduring the

    1980s.

    he linguisticdata

    are not surprising, nd similar

    practices

    avebeen observed lsewhere. ehind the

    commonplaceobservation that

    "one

    person's

    tenoist is the other

    person's

    freedom-fightef'

    ies a rhetor ical battlefield over sign theory. In the

    past

    three

    decades

    e

    havewitnessed ynamic heoriesof the signprosper

    n

    post-structuralist,

    post-modernist,

    and

    (neo-)Marxist

    frameworks of several cultural domains

    (literature, heater, ilm, etc), but the theory and

    practice

    hey have been applying

    to their own objects of knowledge cannot be simply copied over to linguistics,

    inspiringas they may be. What

    we

    lack, hen, s both a dynamic heory of the sign

    and a link betweensuch a theory and our linquisticdata.

    1. Traditional views

    of the

    word

    The specific

    object of investigation n this

    paper

    is the lexical morpheme,often

    simply eferred o as the word. By

    making

    his

    choice am not suggestinghat the

    grammatical

    morpheme s devoid

    of ideological harge.The

    vast

    iterature on the

    ideological amifications

    of

    gender

    in language, and on

    passive

    and active

    formulations f political responsibility, learly

    demonstrateshat the

    grammatical

    '

    I

    would

    like to express my deep appreciation to

    the anonymous reader of hagmatics

    whose

    thorough review

    guided

    me

    to

    reconsider and refine my formulations in several places. An

    earlyversion of section 5. was presented in1992,

    at the 25th Annual Meeting of the Societas

    LinguisticaEuropaea in

    Galway, Ireland, in

    a

    lecture e;rtitled "Terms of Death and Injury in

    IsraeliPolitical Discourse'.

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    22 Ron

    Kuzar

    morpheme has a

    role in ideology,

    but thesewill not

    be the focus here.

    To

    a

    great

    extent,

    he horizons

    of the twentiethcentury

    reatment of lexis

    were

    set by Saussure.

    The Saussurean

    oncept of the word

    elaborated on the

    popular

    notion

    that the word

    consists f a simple

    epresentationalelation, namely

    that a word stands or an entity. Saussure onceived his representationalelation

    in two ways.

    He relegated

    t to the realm

    of individualand socialpsychology,

    nd

    he

    gave

    t its differential quality.

    On

    the

    plane

    of individualpsychology,

    he

    act of significationwas

    removed

    from the

    material

    world

    of words

    and objectsand was

    relocated n the

    mind

    as

    signifiant'signifier'

    and signifit'signified'.

    he mind is the site of representation,

    n

    which

    first of all the sigttifiant,

    he sound mage,

    epresents he signifit, the

    entity

    image,

    i.e. the concept.

    Only then can the representational

    elation

    be further

    translated

    nto entities.

    The signifiant ranslatesnto

    a

    physical

    equence

    f sounds;

    the signifid nto matter,

    be it

    physical

    "tree",

    horse")or abstract "to

    judge").

    The

    psychologicalword "tree" s one, ts manifestationsn the real world are many: we

    can utter the word

    many times, and we

    can reference many

    trees. Since this

    communicative rocess

    s

    performed

    amongmembersof a

    linguistic ommunity,

    he

    psychological

    dimension

    s

    generalized

    o

    the social domain.

    Socially, here is a

    psychological

    eservoir

    of fixed representational

    evices,angue,which

    is abstract

    and uniform; individually,

    he physiological

    omain of

    its manifestations,

    arole,

    s

    concreteand uneven.

    The differential quality

    of the

    Saussurian ign ensues

    rom the systematic

    relation betweenwords,where

    eachword possesses

    function

    elative o that of the

    others,called valeur

    value'.

    Value

    is a

    psychological

    elationas

    well,

    for it concerns

    the psychological

    words,

    not their material

    manifestations.n

    Saussurean erms,

    meaning

    is a combination

    of the signifi and

    the

    valeur

    of

    a

    word.

    It is both

    representational

    nd differential.

    The only

    variability

    hat Saussure

    ecognized

    ithin "the

    same anguage"was

    diachronicvariability,

    he passage

    rom one tatde angue'state

    of language'

    o the

    next. In

    Saussure's

    iew,

    linguisticchange

    occurs

    when

    an

    erratic deviation n the

    realm of

    parole

    is

    generalized

    nd as such

    enters he angue.

    The obvious

    question

    a formalist

    would

    ask Saussure

    s: "Where

    s the

    point

    of change?" r

    "How

    do you

    determine when

    exactlya

    fact of.

    arole

    has become

    a fact of langue?"Saussure's

    ability to problematize the dichotomy has been forgotten, or even scorned as

    "conceptual

    confusion"

    by Harris

    (1987:

    105).

    What

    Saussure

    n fact said

    was

    as

    follows (1959

    [1915]:

    701-102.

    I have reinstated

    riginalFrench terms,

    such as

    langue,

    parole,

    and

    tat de langue):

    In practice an dtat de langue s not a

    point, but rathe r a certain

    span of time during wh ich

    the sum

    of the mo difications that have supervened

    s minimal.

    t..1.

    An absolute

    state is

    defined

    by the absence of changes,

    and since language changes

    somewhat

    in spite of

    everything, studying an itat de

    langue means

    in

    practice

    disregarding

    changes of little

    importance,

    ust

    as mathematicians isregard

    nfinitesimal quantities

    n certain calculations,

    such as logarithms.

    [...1.

    n short, a concept of

    an 6tat de langue can

    be only approximate.

    In static inguistics,as n most sciences, o courseof reasoning s possiblewithout the usual

    simplification

    of

    data.

    This may

    not be the most

    elegantarticulation

    of a dialectical iew,

    but within the

    context of an

    otherwise

    very

    dichotomous iew

    of linguistic

    acts, t does ndicate

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    Split

    word,

    split

    subject,

    split

    society 23

    that the

    narrator of

    the

    Cours

    had a clear senseof the

    flexible nature of scientific

    modeling.

    Every

    model is a reduction that

    centralizes certain aspects

    and

    marginalizes

    thers.

    Which

    aspect

    s centralized

    nd

    which

    marginalized ependson

    the point

    of view

    of

    the

    scholar,and does

    not ensue automatically.

    That

    this is

    Saussure'siew can be observed lsoelsewhere1959[1915]:87):

    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 counter-effect

    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.

    The

    basic difference

    between

    successive

    erms and coexisting

    terms, between

    partial

    facts and

    facts that

    affect

    the system, preclude

    making both classesof

    fact

    the

    subject matter of a

    single science.

    It is important to

    bear in mind the

    historical context of

    Saussure's

    work.

    In

    intr

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