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Re: [xmca] Measuring culture





On Wed, Apr 25, 2012 at 8:34 PM, Martin Packer <packer@duq.edu> wrote:

> On Apr 24, 2012, at 6:19 PM, Greg Thompson wrote:
> > (M-P has come on the LCHC radar lately... and I like language).
> Then you might like this, Greg. It's from M-P's 'Signs,' not the chapter
> on Levi-Strauss but the one titled Phenomenology of Language, in a section
> on "the quasi-corporeality of the signifying." I would say that it weaves
> together a number of threads here on xmca. I'll let it speak for itself (!)
> for the moment:
> "The speaking power the child assimilates in learning his language is not
> the sum of morphological, syntactical, and lexical meanings. These
> attainments are neither necessary nor sufficient to acquire a language, and
> once the act of speaking is acquired it presupposes no comparison between
> what I want to express and the conceptual arrangement of the means of
> expression I make use of. The words and turns of phrase needed to bring my
> significative intention to expression recommend themselves to me, when I am
> speaking, only by what Humboldt called *inner Sprachform* (and our
> contemporaries call *Wortbegriff*), that is, only by a certain style of
> speaking from which they arise and according to which they are organized
> without my having to represent them to myself. There is a "languagely"
> ["langagiere"] meaning of language which effects the mediation between my
> as yet unspeaking intention and words, and in such a way that my spoken
> words surprise me myself and teach me my thought. Organized signs have
> their immanent meaning, which does not arise from the 'I think' but from
> the 'I am able to.'
>        "This action at a distance by language, which brings significations
> together without touching them, and this eloquence which designates them in
> a peremptory fashion without ever changing them into words or breaking the
> silence of consciousness, are eminent cases of corporeal intentionality. I
> have rigorous awareness of the bearing of my gestures or of the spatiality
> of my body which allows me to maintain relationships with the world without
> thematically representing to myself the objects I am going to grasp or the
> relationships of size between my body and the avenues offered to me by the
> world. On the condition that I do not reflect expressly upon it, my
> consciousness of my body immediately signifies a certain landscape about
> me, that of my fingers a certain fibrous or grainy style of the object. It
> is in the same fashion that the spoken word (the one I utter or the one I
> hear) is pregnant with a meaning which can be read in the very texture of
> the linguistic gesture (to the point that a hesitation, an alteration of
> the voice, or the choice of a certain syntax suffices to modify it), and
> yet is never contained in that gesture, every expression always appearing
> to me as a trace, no idea being given to me except in transparency, and
> every attempt to close our hand on the thought which dwells in the spoken
> word leaving only a bit of verbal material in our fingers" (pp. 88-89)
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Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
Sanford I. Berman Post-Doctoral Scholar
Laboratory of Comparative Human Cognition
Department of Communication
University of California, San Diego
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