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Typology and semiotics - Типология и Семиотика


Источник статьи: Л.З. Сова. Аналитическая лингвистика и типология //Российская Академия Наук / Институт лингвистических исследований/
СПб., Изд-во Политехнического Университета, 2007.  Сс. 163-172.

Typology and semiotics - Типология и СемиотикаTypology and semiotics - Типология и Семиотика

Typology and semiotics - Типология и СемиотикаTypology and semiotics - Типология и Семиотика

Typology and semiotics - Типология и СемиотикаTypology and semiotics - Типология и Семиотика

Typology and semiotics - Типология и СемиотикаTypology and semiotics - Типология и Семиотика

Typology and semiotics - Типология и СемиотикаTypology and semiotics - Типология и Семиотика



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F. de Saussure, Hjelmslev, signified and the signifier, Tesniere's anaphoric connections, linguistic elements, syntactic structures of the Russian sentence, branch of semiotics, typology, syntagmatic relations, semiotic landscape, dualistic diagrams, meaning invariant, connection marker

Typology and semiotics

1. It has long been known that any particular word has both a form and a meaning. It was F. de Saussure who turned this commonly ob- served empirical fact into an illustration of a principle, universal in nature. He formulated this principle to be a postulate on the nature of the word as sign and the possibility of looking at it in two ways: as signified and signifier. F. de Saussure laid down one more principle: each word is an element of a system. It is language that makes up this system. Each element of a system (language element) possesses a certain value, a characteristic feature which defines the role (i. e. place and function) the word plays with regard to other elements in the system. Treatment of the word as a linguistic element and its inclusion in the set of other linguistic elements permits to generalise a method for the study and description of other elements of the system.

L. Hjelmslev made the next step. He pointed out that signs (formal — meaning entities) are composed of figures (unilateral units of the expression plane or the content plane). Every linguistic element can manifest itself either as a sign (formal --- meaning entity) or as a figure (unilateral unit), belonging either to the plane of expression or to that of content. This gave rise to the question of the practical application of the theory. If an object is to be viewed as a linguistic element, it must be either a sign or a figure, according to Saussure - Hjelmslev's postulates and their implications. So we are faced with the problem of what kind of objects may be treated as linguistic elements, i. e. what of the actually existing linguistic phenomena can be interpreted as signs and figures.

It is obvious that words, morphemes or sentences may be interpreted as signs. A lot has been said about the relationship between the signified and the signifier in these cases. But Saussure — Hjelmslev's postulates on the sign nature of linguistic objects for a long time have not been applied to the field of ‘pure relationships’ (connections, structures, functions). To apply these postulates on the sign nature of linguistic objects to syntactic connections and structures, we must uncover in syntax the formal and meaning connections and structures. The formal connection serves as the signifier of a certain meaning connection and the meaning connection does as the signified of a certain formal connection. These two components make up a formal meaning element (sign) which is the unity of both the signified and the signifier.

For example, the predicative connection between the subject and the predicate fixed in traditional syntax might be regarded as the sign where the agentive semantic connection is its signified and the formal connection of agreement is its signifier. Tesniere's anaphoric connections can be interpreted as the signified (the signifier of these connections is the registration of transformations by means of which they are explicated). If we take agreement, government, adjoining, and the taxeme of the word order as connections on the expression level (regardless of word meaning), they can manifest themselves as signifiers contrary to anaphoric semantic connections.

2. The extension of Saussure - Hjelms1ev's postulates to the whole body of linguistic elements brings forth the problem of the universality of these postulates: relative either to the universal essence of the objects in question or to the universal regularities of the research methodology. The former presupposes that all the linguistic elements (independently of the method of investigation) are of bilateral (sign) nature. Accordingly, any description where the nature of linguistic objects is represented in any other way must be viewed as inadequate.

In the second case it would presuppose to go from epistemological problems to those of methodological character and to describe lateralizy as something that a linguist contributes to the object under investigation and not as something given by the object. The second approach permits a natural experiment in the process of which one and the same linguistic element can manifest itself now as a monad, now as a diad, now as a triad, etc., - if that should be necessary in order to reveal its intrinsic characteristics. An experiment of this type may serve as a means of penetrating into the nature of the object, since epistemological problems cannot be solved ad hoc, but only on the basis of the linguistic material and technique applied in the process. Apparently this also holds true for the other branches of semiotics, indeed, for semiotics as a whole.

Similarly, Saussure's postulate of the signified and the signifier as components of linguistic units leads to the postulate of a method by means of which we form a representation of these units. The relativity of this idea, its dependence not on the properties of the object under study but on the characteristics of the subject, i. e. on the particularities of the researcher's technique, is evident.

Thus, there is no question of whether linguistic elements are signs but only of which characteristics of the language units will be revealed if these components are viewed as signs. The representation of linguistic units as signs becomes a useful tool for their cognition as well as for their description. Accordingly, we shall be able to speak of the sign (semiotic) method of the representation of language instead of its sign nature. And only with the results, provided by this approach, we shall be able to state that the objects obtained daring our procedures have a sign nature.

Comparing these objects with those given in particular languages, we can formulate questions about similarities and differences between the two kinds of objects and examine the nature of the phenomena under study through these tests. This investigation could result in a new conceptual apparatus based upon the description of the procedures and the operations, which serve to represent linguistic elements in the different approaches.