Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Couple of Real Arbitrary Questions

When Eugenio Coşeriu wrote,

"L'arbitraire du signe. Zur Spätgeschichte eines aristotelischen Begriffes,"

and when Ferdinand de Saussure wrote,

"Le principe de l'arbitraire du signe n'est conteste par personne,"

were they being arbitrary?


Kristen said...

I have some French, but I don't recognize "l'arbitraire du signe." Nor does Google Translate.

However, my guess is that the answer is "yes." It certainly seems arbitrary to state unequivocably that no one contests this principle, whatever it may be!

J. K. Gayle said...

Kristen, Thanks for your good answer ("yes") and for keying in on the phrase, "l'arbitraire du signe." It's the Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure's conception of language consisting natural of arbitrary signs. de Saussure was stuck in binaries, as a linguist. But even his fiercest critics were so stuck. Noam Chomsky, for example, famously deconstructed Saussurian linguistics but reconstructed his own with a series of counterpart binaries. Instead of langue / parole, there was competence / performance - for instance. But it goes on and on, continuing down from Aristotle at least. You inspired me by your comment to post again today, to quote de Saussure on ARistotle, and then, a response from others includine Helene Cixous.