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Émile Benveniste - Subjectivity in Language

Émile Benveniste - Subjectivity in Language

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No.
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10.MIAMI
LINGUISTICS
SERIES
Germanic Studies in Honor
of
Edward Henry
Sehrt
Edited byFrithjof
A.
Raven,t
Wolfram
K.
Legnerand
James
C.
King
A Linguistic
Study
of
the English Verb
By
F.
R.
Palmer
Multilingual Lexicon
of
Linguistics
and
Philology: English, Russian,German, French
By Rose
Nash
Studies in Spanish Phonology
By
Tomas
Navarro
Studies in English Adverbial Usage
By
Sidney Greenbaum
General Characteristics
of
the Germanic Languages
By Antoine Meillet
Language: Its Structure and Evolution
By Marcel
Cohen
Problems in General Linguistics
By Emile Benveniste
Linguistic Variability
and
Intellectual Development
By
Wilhelm von Humboldt
Elicitation Experiments in English Linguistic
Stud
i
es
In
Use and
Attitude
By
Sidney Greenbaum and Randolph Quirk
Miami Linguistics Series No. 8
Emile Benveniste
Problems
tn
General Linguistics
translated by Mary Elizabeth Meek
OJ
University of Miami Press
Coral Gables, Florida
 
The
original French version, under the title
Problemes
de
linguistique generale,
was published in Paris.
©
Editions Gallimard,
1966
Copyright
©
1971
by
University of Miami PressLibrary of Congress Catalog Card No.
77-102692
SBN
87024-132-X
All rights reserved, including rights
of
reproduction
and
use in
any
form
or
by anymeans
,
including the making
of
copies
by
anyphoto
process,
or by
electronic
or
mechanical
device,
printed or
written
or
oral,
or
recording for
sound or
visual
reproduc-
tion
or
for use in
any
knowl
e
dge
or
retrieval system
or
device,
unless permission
in
writing
is
obtained from the copyright proprietors.
Designed
by
Mary LipsonManufactured in the UnitedStates of AmericaForeword
Vll
Translator's Note
IX
Publisher's Note
X
Changes in Linguistics
Contents
Recent
Trends
in General Linguistics 3
2
A Look at the Development of Linguistics
17
0
3 Saussure after
Half
a Century
29
Communication4
The
Nature of the Linguistic Sign
43
5 Animal Communication and
Human
Language 496 Categories
of Thought
and Language
55
7 Remarks on the Function of Language in Freudian
Theory
65
Structures and Analyses8
"Structure"
in Linguistics 799
The
Classification of Languages
85
10
The
Levels of Linguistic Analysis
101
I I
The
Sublogical System
of
Prepositions in Latin
113
12
Toward
an Analysis of Case Functions:
The
Latin Genitive
121
Syntactic Functions
13
The
Nominal Sentence
131
14 Active and Middle Voice in the Verb
145
IS
The
Passive Construction
of
the Transitive Perfect
153
16
The
Linguistic Functions
of
"To
Be" and
"To
Have"
16317
The
Relative Clause, a Problem of General Syntax
lSI
Man
and Language18 Relationships of Person in the Verb
195
19
The
Correlations of
Tense
in
the
French Verb
205
 
222
PROBLEMS
IN
GENERAL
LINGUISTICS
pe:son"
is
property
?f
(1)
combining with any object reference,
(2)
neverbeing reflective
of
the Instance
of
discourse (3)
adm'tt'
f .h ' I Ing
0
a sometimes
I
rat er large
number
of pronominal or demonstrative variants and, being compatible with the paradigm of referential terms like
h
'
(4) not
E
b .
fl'
ere,
now,
etca
ne
ana
YSIS
of the forms
that
are imprecisely classed .nominal leads thus to the recognition among them
of of
entiferent natures and, consequently, to the distinction between
on
1-
hand langu f .
,one
, age
as
a repertory
0
signs and a system for combining them andon the other, language
as
an activity manifested in instances f
d'
'
who
h h . d
0
ISCOurse
IC
are c aractenze
as
such by particular signs.
From
!'or Roman Jakobson,
Morris
Ha1le,
Horace G.
Lunt Hu
hCornelJs
H.
van Schooneveld cds.
(The Hagu
e
195
6)
,g
McLean, and
, "
pp.
34-37
TWENTY-ONE
Subjectivity
In
Language
IF
LANGUAGE
IS,
as
they say, the instrument
of
communication, to what doesit owe this property?
The
question may cause surprise,
as
does everything
that
seems to challenge an obvious fact,
but
it is sometimes useful to requireproof
of
the obvious.
Two
answers come to mind.
The
one would be
that
language
is
in fact
employed
as
the instrument of communication, probablybecause men have not found a better
or
more effective way
in
which to com-municate.
This
amounts to stating what one wishes to understand. Onemight also think
of
replying
that
language has such qualities
as
make it suitedto serve as an instrument; it lends itself to transmitting what I entrust to
it-
an order, a question, an
announcement-and
it elicits from the interlocutora behavior which is adequate each time. Developing a more technical aspect
of
this idea, one might add
that
the behavior
of
language admits of a be-haviorist description, in terms
of
stimulus and response, from which onemight draw conclusions
as
to the intermediary and instrumental nature oflanguage. But is it really language of which we are speaking here? Are we notconfusing it with discourse?
If
we posit
that
discourse is language
put
intoaction, and necessarily between partners, we show amidst the confusion,
that
we are begging the question, since the nature of this
"instrument"
isexplained by its situation as an
"instrument."
As for the role
of
transmission
that
language plays, one should not fail to observe, on the one hand, that thisrole can devolve
upon
nonlinguistic means-gestures and mimicry-and, onthe other hand, that, in speaking here of an
"instrument,"
we are lettingourselves be deceived by certain processes of transmission which in
human
societies without exception come after language and imitate its functioning.All systems of signals, rudimentary or complex, are in this situation.
In
fact, the comparison of language to an
instrument-and
it should neces-sarily be a material instrument for the comparison to even be comprehensible
-must
fill
us with mistrust,
as
should every simplistic notion about language.
To
speak of an instrument is to
put
man and nature in opposition.
The
pick,the arrow, and the wheel are not in nature.
They
are fabrications. Language

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