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Re: "meaning" Re: [xmca] Vygotsky and Saussure Again
from time to time, Derrida writes 'vouloire-dire'. In French, vouloir dire is the equivalent of 'wanting to say' or 'what do you mean', but this question is simply asking for another way of saying something. But this cannot be 'meaning', as scholars tend to write about 'the meaning' of a word. Because there are potentially infinite number of ways of expressing what one wants to say, there would be an infinite number of meanings, which is contrary to the use of the word 'meaning'.
Derrida is an interesting case, because he writes in French but for Anglo-Saxons. He writes French in view of a translation, and sometimes he writes -- in the text or the footnote --- 'I wonder how the translator will deal with this untranslatable expression'.
In a book I have just open as I am working, Derrida does the reverse. He writes something about 'sens' and, because it pertains to Austin, he puts in parenthesis the word Austin uses, i.e., 'meaning'.
Perhaps we ought to place in parentheses the original words whenever we refer to a scholar who has written in a different language, so that we know what someone refers to. In this way, most CHAT research would have to write activity (aktivnost', Aktivität) rather than activity (deyatel'nost', Tätigkeit), according to the Leont'ev / Holzkamp use of the word/s.
On 2009-11-23, at 7:35 AM, Tony Whitson wrote:
On Mon, 23 Nov 2009, Wolff-Michael Roth wrote:
> Hi David, Saussure never has written about 'meaning', and the problem with many translations into English is precisely the shift that occurs when Saussurean (Derrida, any one else writing not in English) is translated into the word 'meaning', when in fact there is no such word in other languages, and when the semantic relations that subtend the words such as Bedeutung or Sinn, or sens and signification are rendered as 'meaning'.
> Bakhtin read Saussure, but not in English.
> Moreover, what people do not seem to understand about the Saussurean approach to the sign is that it is a relation, between a signifié and signifiant. The signifiant is not 'meaning', because sens and signification are also translated as meaning.
> I don't know about Russian, and whether it cuts up the world in ways that there is a useful equivalent.
Strangely, what I think is the most used as an authoritative translation of Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations, with facing pages in German and English--in a book where such matters should be handled meticulously--"meaning" is used indifferently for Sinn, Bedeutung, and even Meinung.
As for Derrida, one of his locutions that gets translated as "meaning" is "vouloir-dire." "Meaning" might work for "vouloir-dire" in some contexts (in a novel, maybe); but they are not equivalents when the "meaning" of "meaning" is at issue.
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