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[Xmca-l] Re: semiotics / language



Thanks, Andy. I am a critical fan of both men. Your interpretation of
Barthes I recognize like an garrulous old friend who likes to give
outlandish layers of meaning to perfectly normal, commonsense insights:
semiotics is an overgeneralization of linguistics that is the exclusive
preserve of well-tenured linguists. Maybe if poor old Roland had simply had
a formal, set-theoretic way of understanding the relationship he would have
been paying more attention to iconicity on his way home from the cinema and
wouldn't have gotten hit by that laundry truck.

Saussure is a little different. I too have struggled with his crude,
associative psychology, his war on history, and above all his concept of
"l'arbitraire". But in my dotage I have made some peace with the latter.
First of all, it's one of those false friends they warn you about in French
class;it only means "arbitrary" in English; in French it really just means
"conventional"; that is, cultural. Secondly, it's just a way of saying that
a meaning can, in theory, have any sound at all in a given language, and
this is what makes all languages equal in their meaning potential--so in
meaning potential all cultures are intellectually equivalent, and Mike's
problem of whether college professors think like children is solved.
Thirdly, it it only applies at a single point--the line that separates
wording from sounding, not the line that separates wording from meaning.

David Kellogg
Macquarie University


On Fri, Jun 17, 2016 at 7:59 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:

> David, I am no fan of either Barthes nor Saussure, but I interpret this
> odd claim somewhat like this: Barthes asks you not to see the relationship
> in a formal, set-theoretic way, but rather in terms of activities and how
> we use and understand them. We come to reflect on Semiotics as beings
> already imbued with, indeed produced by language; we learn its principles
> through language and appropriate them as a special activity as linguistic
> beings. Semiotics is a specialised activity, which some linguists engage in.
>
> Andy
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> Andy Blunden
> http://home.mira.net/~andy
> http://www.brill.com/products/book/origins-collective-decision-making
> On 17/06/2016 8:34 PM, David Kellogg wrote:
>
>> ...
>> I can't agree with the Barthesian inversion of Saussure's location of
>> linguistics as part of semiotics. Semiotics and linguistics both deal with
>> meaning. But semiotics includes types of meaning which are not linguistic.
>> Can you think of any linguistic meaning which is not semiotic? I can't.
>>
>> David Kellogg
>> Macquarie University
>>
>>
>>
>