The impLications of (rn ode l s of) cuLture for Language

Michae L Silverstein

The University of Chicago

My paper comes in four pa r ts , which try to Layout the justification for having added parentheses to the organizers' assigned topic. I start with ironies accruing to the topic as as signed. One irony involves the fate of mode Ls of cuLture in recent anthropologicaL theorizing, for better or worse, while another involves the fate of culture in recent Lingui s ti c

the orizing. Then I move on to a sketch of what I think rnus t be accounted for in any encompas sing attempt even at synchronic, or nonhistorical

~=~....,.".-.,.-,-~~pp:r_Q_Cl.c_h~s~tQ __ w_hat___is_caJled_Language_. Here, __ a_fuuctiouaL_semiotics ox _

semiotic functionalism provides the best guide into the subject matter of the planes of meaningfulne ss in linguistic signs, and also into the positions of traditional folk, phi.l.o s ophi ca l, and methodologically winnowed views of some important matters of linguistic form and function. The third section rapidly discusses a c oupl e of the phenomena which show clearly the 'cultural' ---probably by anybody's definition---nature of Language organization and function, the problem of proper names (in Light

of universalist assumptions about them). and the probLem of iLLocutionary/ perLocutionary forces (in Light of un ive r s a.Ii at assumptions about them). These are central to supporting the theory of the previous part. FinaLLy, I compare the view thus deve Loped, Language ~ cuLture, to other views that try to answer the pair of questions, What is language that cu ltur e

is mindful of it? / What is culture that language is mindful of it?

I. Ironies

A. The "cu ltu r e I mode Is of recent years have been heaviLy l ingui st ic i z e d, that i s , modelled quite specifically on aspects of lin-guistic mode Is in modern Linguistic study.

L. Linguistic modeLs have depended on the great formal advance s in analysis and description based on a single analogy, that of structural phonemics/phonoLogy. The whole of the linguistic signalling system in traditionaL linguistics is seen in the image of phonemics/phonology by American descriptivists (including transformationalists) and by Praguean cornponentiaList interpretations of Saus sure.

2. Linguistic models have secondarily depended on the great advances in specifying the functional or meaningful aspect of language in

Logical notations for systems of propositional reference and predi-

cation, and their inferential and deductive powe r , as the conceptual content of the signaLs.


linguistics, parochial arguments aside. The implementation of

ju s t this mapping in both thought and communication is assumed. 4. More and more, strictly linguistic considerations of language have stressed the 'thought' aspect of language as a mapping system, and thereby the particuLar perspective of the abilities of a

- 2-

I 0

speaker (as opposed to hearer) of the language in the literal sense. Similar Ly, in cultural mode ls , the cognitive. ideational and actor perspectives have loomed large.

5. Hence, perhaps, the large- scale transfer of specific forms

of organization---e. g .• rules, categories, methods of Iparadigmatic' contrast, and other forms of structure---that make of culture not so much a metaphor of language (and thence, of phonology), as an imitation of it. We must ask to what extent these imitations are justified.

6. The inner irony, then, is that it was the structuralization of phonemics/phonology achieved by L.Bloomfield and E. Sapir in America, by N. Troubetskoj and R. Jakobson in Europe, rather

.,.--,~_~~_~ o."thaonothe_strcucturalization .. of_higher~.meaningfuLlev:els .. oflanguage 00 __

as outlined by Sauss ur e , that paved the way for the structural

anaLysis of referentiaL-and-predicational (meaningful) higher lev-

e Is of language, without a l l that much concern originally for the

mapping of linguistic structure onto formalized logic.

7. The outer irony is that this formal structuralization of reference-and-predication, the Saussurean realm of Isense r e lat i one ' and their expression in linguistic form, is undoubtedly unique to language among symbolic systems. Yet its properties have been analogically ascribed to some autonomous realm of structure said to lie behind aLL social action, a realm called "cu ltuz-e ! •

B. The models of language that purport to be anthropological or s oc i oLogical are, ironically, compatibLe with or based on rather archaic notions of culture and/or society, somewhat out of touch with modern social anthropological and sociological thought.

1. Fundamental orienting points of view can be seen as refLectionist vs. implementationist on the relationship between linguistic structure and sociocultural function. That is, the first views language as a reflection, however indirect, of sociocultural reality because language represents t "symbolizes II) it in thought and comm.unication, but does not form (effect) it. The second views language as an implementation of sociocultural r e a li ty by (re) creating it in communicative im.plementation, and thence thought, and so forms (effects) it.

2. The struggle of points of view is seen in philosophical treatments in the Frege- Ru s s e li-Quine et at. tradition vs. the Wittgenstein

(later) -Austin-Searle et al. tradition. Again, in the psychological tradition of behaviorism-mainstream cognitive psychology (including e s pe ci a l l y Piaget in developmental terms) v s , Russian functionalism (Vygotskij et aL.) -social cognitive psychology. In arrth r opology, "cultural" anthropology and standard structural-functional

..... theoriesvs;c er tain morerecent'linterpr-elatiVe'I·····lreridsirifruenc e by phenomenology.

3. Boasian anthropological linguistic traditions, including so- ca l le d cognitive anthropology of the 'ethnoscience' movement, are heavily reflectionist, especially as regards one of the traditional problem areas treated here. the relationship of lexicon to culture. For much of this literature, 'cu ltuz-e ' is an atomistic collection of en-


ti ti e s , which language, especial.l.y Lexicon, organizes cognitively

in some shared fashion in a population of speakers. For a sma l.Ie r part of this literature, 'culture' is additionally an actor-perspective set of operating rules to produce sequential behavior. on the direct analogy of a (production) grammar.

4. Ethnography of speaking traditions, analyzing events of language use, re lyon role- diacritic reflectionist as sumptions about how l.anguage functions in an event-by-event treatment. The social organization of a society is seen through a repartition by events of speak-

ing in different domains. The social. structure of a community is seen through a repartition of role-diacritics of the participants in such speech events. There is a limited use made of the Praguean

~c-c=~_~ __ ~---c-~m Qde_LQLcQ_rnmu._nic_atiye~ situations_..j n __ term s _of._ w hi c h_.c a n.ibe. fo.rrn-. _ __ . __ ~ __ . _

ulated production-oriented model.s of how to behave in accordance

with particular role expectations.

5. Statistical sociolinguistics emphasizes the probabilistic and variable reflection of social structure in speaker role-diacritics. In this approach, the results corne from correlation of frequencies of linguistic features with a-cultural variables of social measurement (in the most sophisticated versions, using multivariate analysis). This approach started out demonstrating the sociological reflection of the structure of social groups and categories in phonetic aspects of language. It has moved to higher leve l.s of structure, but unfortunately turned inward in attempting to treat them. emphasizing internal Linguistic co-variability of parts of referential-and-predicational structure as part of the pr oces se s of language change.

6. Cognitive sociology takes a microsociological perspective on an impiementationist view of language. It seeks to explain the I social construction of reality' pure ly in terms of an augmented referential-and-predicationaL view of language. The augmentation consists of the conversational 'impLicature s ", the sugge sted quasi- logical connectivity of discourse interpreted richly in propositional terms.

It is a theory of the interaction of individuaLs in encounters, not

a theory of comparative societal structure, nor even of the comparative structure of interactions. It is cLose to what is caLled 'linguistic pragmatics' in strictly Linguistic circles, but has the virtue of attempting to go beyond the mere translation of utterances into categories given by explicit periormative constructions.

7. Another orienting framework for the se views of language is provided by the phrases. Language and culture. Language in cuLtu re , Language of culture. Language ~ culture. "and": Language

is a system distinct from culture; "in ': language is a type of social action that is continuous with. and a subpart of sociaL action en-

·····cornpassedbyaculturalorder;··lofl:languageisonesymholic/··· expressive mode or code ordered by culture; 'a s ': language is a microcosm. albeit with its own emphase s , with at least all the properties of culture. Reflectionist views tend to faLL into the first two rubrics; implementationist views tend to fa l l into the last two.

C. In terms of these ironies. it is diffi cu lt to take seriously the sug-


gested idea of the title assigned that models of culture---in contemporary time s heavily influenced by re sults in the analysis of referentiaL-and-predicationaL structure of language itseLf---have important implications for language. It is equally difficult to see in currently proposed anthropologically- and sociologically- oriented notions of language- - -which are very un- "cu.ltu.r a l ' in a modern sense- -a real influence from s orne sophisticated cultural theory.

II. All Grammars Leak: The functional semiotics of language form

A. The original notion in Sapir's phrase \Language~ p.38) refers to formal leakage. It is a measure of the Lack of fit of naturaL language seen as a referential-and-predicationaL system to the basic

~c-=-_~ __ ~ i. rnpl e.i.Sau s s ur.e.an. -p r opcnti.ona.LzncdeLc.A..; B-._ :--- .. _. _._ : -N- :.__~ •. ~--:;--.!AI_:-'B-I_: ~

•.• : IN' : ••• l"form A is to form B is to ... is to form N is to

. .. as meaning of A is to me aning of B is to ... is to meaning of N is to ... «). This model pre dicts that in the best cases, there

is a rule of infinite applicability such that one [diffe re nce of) form - one tdifference of) function/meaning holds. within a grammaticaL system. Saussure u s e d this as a measure of the 'relative motivation' vs. r relative arbitrariness' of Lexical expressions, c las sifying those highly subject to analysis into proportion-obeying elements as falling under the first, those resistant to such analysis as falling under the second.

1. Note then that true lexical i.te rn s , the i nd ivi s i.bl e s of the surface structure of language. are not so much absolutely lIarbitraryll or Ilconventionall1 in any system-independent way---the inherited nineteenth-century problem with which Sa.us s ur e, Boas and others wrestled--- but only the most reLative ly arbitrary of all linguistic signs, since the y cannot be so de c orripo s e d, being indivisible.

2. There is 'compositional semantics' underlying this view of

Ie aka ge , in whi ch, for complex sign C. made up of simpler signs A .. B. the meaning of C is a computabLe function of the meaning of A and the meaning of B plus whatever meaning the grammatical construction contributes.

3. Lexical items. irreducible f or rna l units, obviously are not cornpositional on the formaL side. One of the major advances of recent "generative semantics" [taking its cue frorn formal logics) has

been to extend the hypothesis of compositionaLity from grammatical constructions of the overt type to lexical i.terns , which can then

be said to be covertly compLex signs obeying compositional re gularities. Thus lexical item L has aLL the semantic value tin a system of s e ns e- relations) of a composite of covert elements A. B •... K

in covert grammatical construction.

·····-·······4~bexicatitenrsare thusa--primeprbblet:ribfleakagef6rariY-rii6d::' ern linguistic theory derived from Saussurean premises . [One can

compare at the phonological level portmanteau morphs; confLation

of morphophonemes into a single surface segment; etc.) With

few e xc e pt ion s, Sauss urean notions of for rna I structure mapping

sens e re lations. even with the extensions of "generative s ernant.ic s ;!'


.................. __ J ..


- 5-

cannot motivate the existence of specific Lexical items used in reference- and-predication, as opposed to grammaticaL constructions. on a c r o s s= Hngu.i s ti c basis. Le xi c a.Li aat i on, as opposed

to grammaticalization. of some area of reference-and-predication seems to depend on principles not encompas sed within [po s t-} Saussurean understanding of the structure of referential-andpredicational lan gua ge . Here. the the ory of language form leaks.

B. Worse leakage is obvious once we oa r efu l l y consider actual disc ou r s e from the point of view of reference-and-predication. There is much functional leakage as we U, that is. meaning re lations that violate the compositional semantics upon which the Saussurean view of language rests.

~_~ __ ~~ _~l~. Y nc_!~~ __ ._tll~_E)ca_~~~~e an _~_f)~.~:tpEt~_()_J?~f:i_L_~~~~_~_n.:t ~_~ _ _t~~_ g~9:~!:D:a E _ _9j ~ __ ~ __

a language have 'sense-relations' one to another. that obey the

rule s of compositionality once we extend the analysis to encompass lexical items as covert linguistic structures. This is what some writers call the pLane of grammar l"languell) as the central core of language structure.

2. Reference-relations of an indexical sort. where entities can be specified only with respect to the context in which an instance of the sign in question t "shifter") occurs. can be said to have 'sense' in an extended theory only if the relevant factors of the actual context of use are represented as part of the notation for its meaning. This is what some writers call the plane of discourse lllparolell)

as being inherently part of what every natural human language codes.

3. The interaction of non-indexical and indexical functions of referring-and-predicating categories. the same overt forrn frequently having dual value. already makes language in the traditional view

a duplex structure. coding both context-independent [Sau s s urean)

r efe ren tial- and- pre dicationa I content and con text- dependent referential-and- preclicationaL content in the very same continuous surface sequences.

4. Any otherwise semantic category that is implemented in special ways in discourse context demonstrates the duplex value we are speaking of. e. g.. lease-marking' categories that regularly indicate the ordering relationships of referents with respect to some predication lllwho doe s-what-to whom "). are frequently skewed f r orn regular expectations to indicate identity of reference over a specifiable span of discourse in special discourse-reference-maintenance systems.

C. Further. there is vast functional leakage when we cons ider the plane of indexicals independent of the function of reference-and- predi-

_cation Thisistherealrnofpragmaticsin···themost·····useful····definition-

of the term t cf. Bar-Hillel).

1. Any non-referential index of deference relationship between speaker and hearer. or non-referential index of speaker classaffiliation. e tc . , comes under this rubric. Language s abound in such indexical forms. frequently having surface elements that com-





bine such indexical meanings with indexicaL-referenti"al ones

(e . g.. lithe pronouns of power and s o l.i da r i.ty " of Brown & Gilman). 2. Linguistic forms generally are not indexical at the surface of language in one-to-one fashion, i.e., there is not a unique indexical function generaUy coded by a single, uniquely- segmentable surface form tan unwarranted assumption made by a number of scholars). Indexical re lationships of iinguistic elements at the surface are multifunctional, with multiple, superimposed segmentations and structurations of linguistic form entailed by their furictionaL values, depending on which particular indexical function is being analyzed. Thus, a single pronoun functions indexicaLty to pick out addressee-as - referent, 1. e., to specify the individual in

____ ---~~~~.~asldl"~§_§~~~~--!-Q-l-tL ~!L_th~~~Qml!!_unj_<;_~t_iye_£()Ilt_~~j:_?o§ _ _t_4_~:__~_!l_t;J:ty~in_$C?lTIE:: _

propositional position; in this function it contrasts with other sim-

ilar eLements in a grammatical system of forms for what is us u-

any ca l l e d 'person'. At the s arrie time, however, in many lan-

guages such a pronoun functions as a discontinuous po r tIon of a

forrn.al index of speaker-addressee deference, for example, along

with certain gramrn.aticaL construction types and other, perhaps

lexical, machinery implemented in an utterance. Further, it func-

tions along with other portions of an utterance, such as parallel-

i srn of construction type, e tc , , as part of an index of cohesion

by rnaintenance of co-reference in topic-comment structures that

constitute coherent text. (Javanese isa good example of a lan-

guage with all the s e systems functionally Linked in the sarne formal

surface element.) This is leakage of functional (indexical) types.

3. In any given use of language, there is an hierarchical organiza-

tion of indexical (functional) dominance in terms of which can be

organized the dominance of one such formal segmentation over

another. This hie rarchy of indexical focus upon one or more

aspects of the c ornrnun ica.ti.ve context is dependent upon the pur-

posiveness (goal-directedness) of interaction, regimented by cul-

turally- conventional rneans of conceptualization of such, plus in-

evitable formal linkage of different indexi cal subsystems through

fo rrna l overlaps (d. 2). The maximaUy dominant purposive func-

tions are instantiated by the rnaxirna l ly creative or performative

indexical fo r m s ; the minimally dorni.nant purposi~ functions are

instantiated by the maximally pre supposing indexical forms. Per-

formative indexicaLs are such that given an occurrence of the lin-

guistic form. there is entailed the "existence II of s orne particular

a s pe ctj s ) of the context. Pre supposing indexicals are such that

valid lllappropriate II) use of an instance depends upon the independently-established "existence" of some particular a s pe ctt s ) of

.... - ..... --- .... ----- ·--thecontext;·Perforrnativityandpresnppositionare···dirnensions-o£ the actual instance Vtokenl) of implementation of indexical "type s ", Any indexical type has a range of characteristic implementations along this dirrie n s i.on, that depend in the instance on the configuration of other co-present indexicaLs and the dominance hierarchy

of purposive functions. Thus, in moving from type to token,



there is leakage of functionaL (indexical) tokens .. as these are instantiations of particular indexicaL subsystems (type s ) in actuaL configurations of such.

4. Language itseLf provides the conventionaL means of cultural conceptualization and communication of goaL-directedness through the meta-pragmatic referentiaL-and-predicational devices. These allow speakers reference-to and predication-about the pragmatic (indexical) functions of language- in- context. The clearest example s are the verbs of communication \ verba dicendi)' which are used to describe actors as engaged in pragmatic activity with language. These include as a subset in some languages the 80- ca l le d lIexplicit pe r-fo r rnat ive s j " certain constructions containing which are

_~ ~ on~_~ __ m_~_t~~]:,_9gm<:!_ti£_Jth~_~ __ cl~.c_r.ij:J~_!h-~ __ ;;_p_~,~ ~_h_ eVl:lfltj:tl_~_l1,i~_h ~ _

they are used) and pragmatic (they creatively index the transforma-

tion of contextual parameters in which they are used). This is

yet another Level of functional leakage with duplex surface fo rrn s ,

doubly functioning as "language" and "metalanguage." We can

dub this function-metafunction leakage.

5. Many languages provide a grammatical device for functional rank- shifting through the productive formation of verbs of communication from quoted instance s of purposive pragmatic utterance

used as stems of infLectable pr e di.cator s , e. g. ~ English He 'Good morning! led me. Such deLocutionary constructions (E. Benveniste) provide an open-ended and infiniteLy-generative rnetapragmatic capability in and of themseLves.

D. The use of metalanguage. Language describing i ts e lf, is, in fact.

the central diffe rentiating property of language as a natural semiotic system among aLL the s ern i o ti c systems encompassed within 'cuLture'. The Leakage between meta-pragmatic and pragmatic. and between metasemantic ("definitional; an a.l yt i c!"] and referential-and-predicational--l "s ernant ic "}, is thus uLtimate Ly the critical feature of language.

L. The importance of the continuity of forms across these functional plane s cannot be ove remphasized. Language provides a regimentation of form across functional planes, with metasemantics (the capability for true definition) ultimately at the center of organizing pr inc ip l e s , that graduaLLy emerges developmentaLLy in mature lingui stic usage. [Cf , w. V. Quine's account in The Roots of Reference, or L. S. Vygotskij's account in Thinking and Speaking. )

2. Metasemantic usage is an only asymptotically approachable form of equation sentence (this foLLows from the leakage in A.4. of this section). in which two expressions that can be used in descriptions are equated. re Lative to some grammatical system for reference-

+and=pr-edi-ca.t'iorr; thus; EngHsh(An)·ophthalm:ologist-=(is J········tan:)······eye·;;. doctor. To the extent that lexical items and complex constructions have pragmatic value (something now increasingly playing a role ---at last!---in philosophical discussions) as well as strictly Sau s - surean semantic value, all such definitions will be imperfect equations "salva ve ritate. II


3. Theoretically, the capability of induc in g metas emantic equations is e qui.va l e nt to the property of a system having a Saus-

s ur earr-f.ype gramlllar. (A grammar is Saussurean iff metasemantic equation sentences can be i.nduce d with its c opu la r c on st.r uction.) We have already seen that all natural languages violate

strict Saus su r ea.n principles insofar as they have a pragmatic meaning component. and hence are only partially regirnentable by metasemantic equation. Only those aspects of referential-and-predicational st ructu r e that can be subject to strict Saus surean analy-

sis are possible terms of meta semantic equation; indexical-referential devices, for example, are not.

4. Since they employ the copuLar construction t with some form

__ ~ __ ~_~~ec:_q_ll_ival~Ilt___!9_Q_urJ:'!l_g!i_sh_'Y~r_Q_.Qe.L __ cJ~f_ip.itiS'g!3_g~ .. gl~.~.~.!3 .. ~I.!:t~l!tJf_ ._. . __

equations in actual natural languages are a set of sentences con-

tii nu.oua in form with regular referring-and-predicating sentences, I that is, sentences the utte rance of which identifies entities or. referents as elements of some set, or as the same as some speci-

fiable object, etc .. in short occasional equation utterances. U.

Weinreich observed that there is no natur a l language which has

a special sentence-form un ique Iy identifying definitional, or meta-

semantic, us age as opposed to mere occas ional e qua.ti on of ref- f

erents of expressions. (One suspects that true definitional usages I.

attempted in a Language like Hopi. with a "nomic" or time less I

verb inflectional pas sibiLity. are at least a bit more apparent at II.

the surface.} Metasemantic usage, an asymptoticall.y successful

purposive function of linguistic communication, thus overlaps in I

form with occasional e quati on and other type s of referential- and-

predicational pu r po s i v e functions. Thus, there is function-meta-

function leakage here as we 11.

5. Observe that the function-metafunction Leakage in the realm of semantics-metasemantics is diffe rent from that in the realm of pragmatics-metapragmatics {discussed in C.4-5.}. In the latter, we have explicit performative constructions, like English I promise (yOll) that .. S, where S stands for some proposition-coding syntactic clause. These include a verb of saying lor communication) in ba s ic a l ly umnarked inflectional form with first person agentive subject and second person recipient object, or their e qui va le nt,

a discontinuous referring-and-predicating syntactic schema that is a description of some contextuaLized use of language. So metapragmatic function is part of referring-and-predicating function. circumscribed by the domain of reference- and- predication, namely the instances of contextualized use of language. In the particular case of the explicit perforrnative, when it is used the instance is

·········thevery·oneinprogress;,asindicated·bythe·indexical-'referen~ _._- .

tiaL agent and recipient pronouns for the speaker and addressee.

But the explicit pe rformative utterance has a pragmatic dimen-

sion of function as we l l ; it indexes (pr e suppoee s ) that certain

particular features of the situation of use are so independent of

its use, and indexes t entails} certain particular feature s of the


situation of us e are so because of its use. Which feature s of

the context are so indexed is coded principally in the verb

stem used land its as sociated syntactic machinery). Observe that such forms can be used in regular metapragma tic description of past, future, habitual, etc. events of speaking as we Ll,

e. g., English I promised him that S. Here. the fact of metapragmatic transparency, where the description of the pragmatically- effective speech event includes {partly duplicates) the very signal used to accompLish it- --in our example, promise ... that--is very much akin to the delocutionary forrn of description of speech events, predication of an ins tance of which as an event (with aLL its pragrna tic dimensions) is accompLishedby using

~~ t.h t;Ly_e r _Y- __ §..i._gn_a.J. ... _______Lh§_Ungy,_i$_t.iJ;_f 0 I'ill ... $.pecificgH y __ . q:r__cha:ra cte.r ~ . istical1y used in such an event, e. g .• English to 'Good morning !I

someone. Metapragmatic transparency obviously comes in degrees,

and it is just a particular language- specific happenstance that

there are sets of lexical items in such languages as English

that are totally transparent, such that the metapragmatic descriptor and the pragmatic signal coincide (the happenstance nature

is exaggerated; there are good reasons why). By contrast, the semantic-metasemantic leakage is a systematic identity of form which alternates, but does not combine, functions, except if we make the as s urn pt i on of e xtens i ona.Hty, which, as Pu tna m and other s have recently re- emphasized. is not in gene r a l justifiable in terms of "intension II determining "e xte ns i on;!'

E. The formation of a native metalinguistic ideoLogy. or ethnometalinguistics, is clos ely re lated to, and s e ern s to depend in int e r e sting ways on, the ruLe- governed re gimentation of Language functions of

the indexical sort through purposive functions, expressed by particular language forms, with referential-and-predicational structure at the c ente r of the s ystemt s) .

1. Such an ethnometalinguistics provides the modes of discourse for native rationalizing about, and conscious planning of, the effectiveness.of language {the particular instance and the general capacities). in re lation to other cu ltu r a l reaLitie s.

2. ActuaL communication is a dialectic of fuuc t ion a l structure and functional ide ology in the microcosm. of realtime tactor or participant experiential) events; this is ca l Ie d synchrony. Pragmatic rules of ~ are formuLated at the 'type' leve L~ giving conditions

of "appropriate II indexical re lationship of some linguistic fo rrn] s) to a presupposed contextual configuration. But the actual pragmatic entailments of any particuLar indexical Hngu.i.s ti c 'token' cannot be so encompassed. except as these then become ava i l-

-·····ab L e····forpresupposition-bysubsequentitidexica 1siii .. the-ongOing···· communication.

3. Native participant coordinated communication is thus partly recapitulative, inasmuch as an interpretative understanding of the interaction essentially involves the ethnometapragmatic grasp of signals, and partly projective, inasmuch as a generative strategy


for participation in the interaction essential1y involves the ethnometa linguistic grasp of purposive functions with signals. But

both are inaccurate to the extent that ideology and actuality diverge. Given the limitations on ideoLogical formations l which even for reference-and-predication, Whorf was among the clearest to emphasize), this seems almost inevitabLe.

4. Linguistic history is a diaLectic of functional structure and functional ideology in the macrocosm of systemic realtime; this is called diachrony. At this Level, it is the forces of institutionalization of particular structure- ide oLogy re lations hips that

de te r rn ine the directionality of change (as emphasized at least by the facts inve stigated by Labov and associates L but the tenden-

_____ ~-~~c~i~e'-s-'--9- r e _~~~c:tc t L y. __ tl1~_s._9._1!l_e Cl._s __ tl:l_Q_§_~ gp e~1,"<l. tiy~ __ i_l} __ mlGI'Q~Qs_:r.t}_. ... .

5. We might call this dialectic in microcosm the leakage of irn-

pl ern e rrta.t i on , and in macrocosm the Leakage of history. --

F. It is particularly in the areas of leakage that language makes

contact with the rest of social reality. The semantic system of sense-relations in the narrowest Saus s ur e ant- ... -Chomskian) view

is autonomous; there is, however, a question as to its existence.

The rest of language t viewed here from the functional. not formal

perspective} shows the intimate relationship of form to communication-in-context, and thus has aLL the properties of ~ interlocking

set of action systems which encompasses its ~ ideation, up to and including its emergent properties while "in pta y ,"

1. There is a theoretical ideal metasemantic system which underLies and is equivalent to the property of having form {grammar) in the strictly Saussurean sense. The actual attempts at rn e tasemantic usage asymptotically approach this ideal system. We deal here with linguistic functional systems that are manifested

by actual discourse, not idealized discourse; thus the first level is the semantic system of sense-re lations instantiated in referring- and- pre dica ting.

2. The semantic system is the realm of defining form in the traditional way. Yet here, the leakage of fundamental irregularities. (Bt oomtte ld}, the lexical items in their peculiar surface-structure non-compositional s ernanti c ity, threaten the regularities of form. Lexicalization can only be grounded in the leve L of pragmatics,

in that eve ry Ie xi ca l item {as opposed to liS emanticaLLy e qu i va le nt " grammaticaL construction} has both semantic content and presupposing indexical {pragmatic) content which differentiates it from any complex expre s s i on , Thus. the key to the existence of lexi.ca l.i aa ti on for any domain of denotation is the investigation of the sociocultural presuppositions on use encoded by the lexicalization •

.... 3.···The·pragmatic·····systemisthe······basicreatmoftihrlexicalY··fiiiic::"

Han in the traditional way. Yet here the leakage of rnu lttfuncrionaLity at the type level (which threatens to make the notion of linde xi c a l ' vacuous) can only be grounded in the level of purposive function. which defines the hierarchy of pragmatic focus for particular configurations of form-in-context. At the center of the system of purposive functions is the coding of such in metaprag-


rria.ti c forms of language itself, in terms of which regimentation into referring-and-pr edicating form natives seem ba s i c a l ly to conceptualize the use of language.

4. The metapragmatic system is the basic realm of purposive function, in terms of which generation and interpretation of action by natives can be rationalized. Yet here, the leakage of implementation at the token level is such that there is an emergent quality of comm.unication, produced by a dialectic re lationship between ideation and action. The 11life of larigua.g e " as also the "growth of langua g e " (Whitney) lie in this dialectic process.

III. The "cu l.tur-a l ' foundations of some cherished autonomies of language.

If the maj or it y of the c u l t l!!~ 1 __ c on~~~! __ _t:If l_a.:.~g_l1~g_~ ._iEl _ _!~_.!h~ .. _~ l<:!.:l._~9-_g~f:t:_om ._ .. _.

-~----v~a-r~' ious points of-vi~~h~n it ~ interesting to examine some specific

examples of where this cultural Leakage is to be found, particularly in what have traditionally been cherished as autonomies of the Linguistic

s ys tern ,

A. Take the case of proper names. In every society, there seem

to be certain linguistic items which pick out entities in a s e erni ngl y one-to- one fashion. The philosophical notion of a true proper name as a definite singular referring expression ad hoc, 1. e •• unsystematic in relation to its tunique individual) referent. is an a s ymptot e of

what is found in natural s ituat ion s , In the difference between what

15 ideal and what is actuaLLy found ties the cu ltur a ll y-x e la.ti ve basis

of what proper narn e s are reaLLy about.

1. The so- called "causal theory of refere nce II now associated with Kr ipke , Putnam, et aL. is es sentiaLLy a cuLtural theory that reference grows out of reference (i. e.. occasions of reference) in an "hi s to r ica l " sequence, and not out of I sense i ; r e lations applied in particular acts of reference. On the face of it. this theory

is a stronger claim than even the original sense-reference theory that proper names. being applied in an initial "ba.pti ern " of an entity. and then in a chain of further uses, show the un iv e r s a l precultural nature of the apprehension of individuals and of "natu ra.I type s ;!' and thence. their labelling.

2. Examining the claims a bit more carefully in terms of actual personal narn i ng data. however, we find the facts for such a system as that of the Worora [Nor the r n Kirnbe r Ie y, Western Australia) to be as foLLows. The set of proper names consists of duplex referring forms. that are at once pragmatic- - -their us e depends on indexical relations between instance of use of the name and the kinship specifications of speaker - hearer- referent in the context

in which they are us e d-o-c-a nd rnetapragmatic---their reference

_harkensbackto,and encapsuLates-,the·fi-rst •.. J1haptismalllfixing

of reference to a certain individual with that expression of reference. T'hu s , to ac count for their pragmatic dimension, we rnu s t describe the Inde xi ca.l relationships between usage of the name

and the context of use; to account for their metapragmatic dimension. we must de scribe the first. performative nomination as an


historical event and the (perhaps regular) chain of other events. at least in logical reconstruction. of referring with the proper name s ubs e que.nt ly, leading to an instance we claim refers as a qua s i-v'de l ocutl.cna r y" (d. ILC.5.) usage.

3. ALL this is "cu.l tur a.l " description of the most central sort. involving notions of the contextual parameters of action-events. the nature of the individuation of events in some space-time reckoning schema. and the nature of the individuation of persons. on the basis of which both the pragmatic and metapragmatic dimensions of naming must be specified. For the Wor o r a, the pragmatic dimensions of referential use of names shows its basis in the system of kinship reckoning; the contexts for narn-

~ __ ~~~ __ ____.:i:.:n=.Jg:>--::::a=r--=e:.___;s=-ps=.e c ifj.a_hl~ __ "YJ.tlL£!' :r_~_ciu_c~ .d. __ GJ_a._~_s_ific atfon .. _pL_Wpe.s _QLi ndi-, . .. __ ...

viduals from the perspective of speaker-centric kin relationships

generated by an "Orriaha tt-Like marriage rule. The metaprag-

matic dimensions of initial baptisrn draw on this kinship system

as we LL as on the system of geographical individuation of pLace

that pLots events in myth-time onto the cultural space in which

this society functioned. as the basis of the individuation of events

creating and transforming the individual referent of the proper

name. (I have described the system in detail eLsewhere.)

4. More generally. all naming systems seem to show these characteristics. Naming systerns differ in the extent to which there

is high vs. low me tapr agm ati.c coding of historical events of baptism. and high vs , low pragrnatic coding of events of referring

with the name. That is. there might be explicit "baptism. II or bestowal of a name in public events at one extreme. to automatic recruit:ment of a referent to a name in terms of some other kind

of historical event like what the weather was Like at birth of a (human) referent. Also. ther e might be explicit rules of who can and cannot be narned under specifiable social c i r cum stance s invoLving specifiable speakers. at one extreme. to informal tendencies merely to presuppose that speaker and hearer can be made

to share (not necessarily that they do share) some particular discour se- relevant defiuite description of the individual. at the

other extreme (the way American English appears to work. t.hu s giving the wrong impres sion to the ethnographically naive). For pers anal proper name s , there are als a variations as to the recruitment of objec tsvt o- be-named. starting with the core of fully socialized individual actors in the society (at s orn e stage of the life cycle). and moving out to immature or not fully socialized. and post-socialized {dead) individuals, then to other species {e. g .• pets). and to other social forms {e.g .• spirits and gods). inc lud-


5. As if this refer ential variability in c u ltural terms were not bad enough, there is pragmatic-metapragmatic variability in yet other functional realms. In some societie s , e. g., those of the Northwest Coast of North America. including the Chinookans with whom I worked. 'names' are like our antiques or lineage heirlooms,


I -l



each referring-to- someone- by-rneans- of-which constitute s an occasion of display of the antique. In Northwest Coast societies. in general3 every name is ranked with respect to every other, and the use of the narn e for reference presupposes that

the utterer (m or e correctly, the narrie of the utterer) has validated the right of the referent to bear that name (note the pun!) by attendance at a "pot.latch " in which utterer tor a previous bear-

er of his Own nam.e) has received cerem.oniatly-valuated wealth

tor wittnessed destruction of such wealth) for such validation.

A scratch on the antique, i , e. ~ a lowering of its value through

the bad conduct of a particular individual beare r~ obligates the kinship I.ine to withdraw it from circul.ation, rather than ever

_~ __ ~ __ --,-____.b..._e=s to ....... illg_jt_!J.f'On~9~m~__QJ1~~_f_u_:t:_the r~doYi!_n __ the _ .Iine __ when. its_ear Lier __ .. _

bearer dies or takes another narne , Such culture-specific func-

tions in addition to referring-and- predicating dire ct ly speak to

the reLationship between individual and social structure in real-

tim e.

6. The cultural irnportance of this kind of cros s-linguistic functional variability in proper name systems is this: our very notion of having 'individuals r as rn erribe r s of society re sts heaviLy

on our own culture r s view of the ability to "extend" lin the philosophical sens e) the set of individuals through a nanling procedure or its equivalent [cf , the rrgenealogical rn e th od " in traditional social anthropological practice). But to use our own notions of what proper names are, without a comparative culturaL analysis of proper-name reference in its full pragmatic and metapragmatic complexity in other s oci e tte s, ascribes to rrindividuals!' in other societies' propertie s not neces sariLy encapsulated or coded in

that society's proper names. and thus may we l l violate precisely what "personhood" is all about there. The fact is, the social properties that locally define the IlindividuaLII in every SOciety are differently mobilized in what is perhaps the most directly connected expression of what it m ea.n s to "e xte nd " actors in a society through Language, the indexe s of personhood we can now define as proper names.

7. The linguistic importance of this kind of cu Itu r a l variability

in naming systems is this: it shows that naturally occurring proper names. all too often drawn into theoretical di s cus s ions of reference and sense. do not support any positivist or logical atom-

ist assumptions about the asymptotic character of Illogically

proper name s II as a lrn os t pre-linguisticaLLy getting to the "r e al it y" of individuaLs out there. Proper names in the naturaLly occurring cases incorporate a functional leakage in language, whereby this

·······seelTIingLy···unitaryformat·classo£signscan···befuricli6riallydefi:iied . only by m aking precise the cultural bases of at Least four kinds

of meaningfulnes s , (l) the cultural c la s se s from which namable objects are recruited in events of baptism of various sorts. as

the essential condition for their metapragmatic meaningfulness


under the "causal" theory; t2) the semantic systematicity, if any, of describable c lasses of objects and occurrences, membership in which is coded in the name of the referent leo g., gender in American English given names, with few exceptions); p) the cultural classes from which appropriate speaker, hearer, referent relationships are constituted for use of the names in speech acts of reference using the name; l4) the ethnometapragmatic regimentation of the various semiotic functions in addition to reference which are understood to be performative ly involved in the use of proper names le 0 g. J deference. kinship status-marking, etc.).

B. A second exarnpl.e concerns the variability in cultural understand-

~~_~...,.,,- __ i~ng <:!.3o~ langu~ge is_l!._~~c!_._.~! thEl_~xpl~~it __ \T~J_r.?p~_l?it_!__~\T.e ls of

repre s e nta ti on , Given that the explicit ethnmn.etapragmatics is vital

to under standing the dialectic of usage. this variability among languages concerns ul ti ma.te ly the planning and execution of speech by native speakers as a social action un de r s to od in certain specific ways.

1. Consider the problem of reporting speech, i , e., of giving an

a.c count of some speech event involving a speaker, a hearer J a referent, a message, some language lin the semantic-gramm.aticaL sense).. e tc , , at som.e time, in some given LOCllS and spatial arrangem.ent. A Language Like English r e gu la r Iy regim.ents s uc h a report into a propositional sentence-form. something like IISpeaker

said/asked/warned/ explained/. 0 Or l to) hearer, I" Ther e is

a whole taxonomy of terms which can be substituted for any of these exemplary verbs that predicate some interaction between speaker and hearer. and it is the meanings of the se rnetapragmatic predications lcL II.C.4.,II.D.5.) that now COncern us.

2. If we consider such metapragmatic predications as mappings

of the variables of the speech situation tthe very same ones, note, that are invo Lved in indexical relationships described by the pragmatics of speech) into particular Linguistic forms, we find that there is no one-to- one relationship at either of two leve Is 0 There is no uniformity of pa r.ti cu la.r pr e suppo s e d contextual configurations being mapped onto pa r ti.cu la r metapragmatic predicate. And there is no constant mapping of all the relevant attributes of the speaker onto the linguistic form (agentive subject of the sentence) that refers-to the speake r ; no constant mapping of feature s of

the hearer onto the linguistic form lrecipient object of the sentence) that refers-to the hearer; nor any constant m.apping of any other feature s of the speech situation identifiabLe or locaLizab Le

in some particular component onto a single denotational lexical expre s s i on , Thus, there is no neat partition of type s of "speech

............. acts .. I .. l·····tseenas······typesofpresuppos-ingandcreativeindexical····re·lationships between contextual va r iabl ej s ) and speech form{s)) by forms of metapragmatic de s cr ipt o r s , in particular the metapragmatic verbs, e. go, promise, declare, order, christen, etc. in EngLish ta problem that various ordinary Language philosophers have yet to corne to grips with in some adequate way).

3. An attempt at taxonomizing metapragmatic verbs with the


usual "e thnos c i.e nc e II approaches, then. just will not be of any interest to the study of the cultural understanding of how language functions. Alternative strategies are neces sary. I have developed a method for examining metapragmatic narrative text for this purpose, which scores the discourse- cohe sive propertie s of metapragmatic framing device 5, that is, of text elements of the general f or m "A said-t%rdered/asked/ ... B, ' ... '," so as to yield data on the episodic and event continuity/discontinuity patterns repre sented by the reported ads of using language. In this way, data are generated on what are the pre suppositions of the context of speaking, and the entailments of having spoken a particular type of me s sa ge, that are framed by particular metapragma tic verb forms. These data can be examined for patterns

~~"----'~~~~~~o{ significant presuppositi6-ns lei1:taTlments~Tnthe·-narratedtre-port~-~----

contexts narrative characters are described as being in. We

can interpret these patterns to yield insight into the kinds of

culturaLLy- interpreted transformations of context characteristically

described by certain metapragmatic descriptors.

4. I have applied thi s method to narratives of Lower Chinook (Columbia River. North America), and the data seem to show

a bipartition of verbs of metapragmatic framing into two classes of significant pragmatic events. One set of verbs reports speak..=!.'~ se L£- expres sion through verbaL display, and the other set of verbs reports the more specific case of speaker-hearer social relationships presupposed and changed by language use, in short. speake r- hearer iLlocutionary relationships realized through language. The set of metapragmatic frames that involve "rn e r-e utterance" are characteristicaLLy used at episode boundaries. to report initiation or de n'ia l (hence, conclusion) of inte raction.

The indexical function is broadly {se Lf-) expressive. focusing on speaker. The set of rnetapragmatic frames that involve "illo-

cu ti ona.r y!' and "pe r locut ionar y " effect are characteristicaLLy used episode-internally, to report ongoing speech interactions that presuppose the prior negotiation of social relations. (Note that Chinookan society was exquisite Ly rank- conscious, in which virtually every social dyad could be evaluated for re lative rank.) The indexical function is broadly interpers ona l, focusing on speaker- hearer social re Iat i on s hi p, either pre supposed by the speech event as normaLLy accruing to s uch-and- such status n-ads of per sons, or pr e suppos e d from the narrative- specific role-

re lations.

5. What is interesting in aLL this from the point of view of a 'cultural' approach is that there is no 1I1ocutionaryll partition of

... framing_devices~ ak.in.i.to ourEnglish.setHe .. .at.ate.d.cthat. •.. IHe .

as serted that. .. /He declared that ... / ... , that focus on the propositional content [r efe r r i.ng- and- pre dicating in the truth-functional understanding) of the utterance as the functional purpose or goaL of the event of speaking. To be s ur e , there is a referentialand- pre dicational leve 1 of me aning in Chinookan, which we can

I· I



and mus t po s tu.Iate for analytic pur po s e s , and the existence of which is demonstrated by the existence of mechanisms of so- called "indi r e ct di s c our s e " (cf , English, He said, 'The book is right here! I vs. He said that the book was right there!). But there is no explicit lexicalization which permits framing such propositional content ~ the perforrnative or i l l oc ut.i ona r y intent of a speech event; there is no class of metapragmatic devices [cf , rnodalizers in European languages) that single out this level as critical to

the conduct of social life reported in traditional narratives; and there is no evidence so far Located in narrative discourse through mechanisms coding the coherence of action that this Level plays a role in the cultural presentation o:f1anguage as sociaL action.

~=-o-c-~~~,-- __ _,,6Lo.~T...__._.he___c...ultu.r_a_l__imp_ill'tanc.e __ _oL.this_kind--DLiunctionaLvar.iahiiity-in. metapragrnatic framing devices t of which explicit performatives- -cf , II. C. 4. ---are a subclass) is this: our very notion of the range of uses of speech for certain social ends t what I have caLLed the pur po s ive function or goaL-directed furict i on of language) is heavily dependent on winnowed folk theory. or ethnometaprag-

mati c s, that is couched in terms of what metapragmatic framing device s ar e systematically used to report speech events in some regimented fashion. Western Ellropean views (what Whorf felicitously called "Standard Average European") are heavily reliant

on the native theory of truth-valuated referential-and-predicational language. sharply separating language as social action from other media of such. In philosophical as well as rhetorical circles,

this has required considerable ingenuity to derive other social

uses of speech on an analogy from this. or as an extension of

this (cf. the literature on "speech a.ct s '! and Ilnon-natural meaning II and the Like). It is important to see that other 5 ocietie scan construct perfectly adequate views of the (linguistic) social wor ld along internaLLy-coherent interpretative lines that essentially ignore this leve 1 of linguistic function; here it is necessary to see that conduct and interpretation of language use from the natives' point of view would be in very different te r m s from. our own (cf, Ge e r tz on Javanese notions of "linguistic e ti que tte "},

7. This is most emphaticaLLy not to deny that referential-andpredicational evaluation and analysis of language provides the most powerfuL cross-linguistic organizing principLes for approaching language structure in both universal and particuLar terms. given our knowledge of the phenomenon so far. To the contrary. just

as for Whorf the whole interest of language~ was in IIcalibrating" tinguis tic systems for reference-and-predication one against another to show that languages systematic,=Uy differ .. in .. what Ipure

semantic! aiid'rrirxedseman£fc~pragmatl.ci·· ana. ····ipurepragmatic'-- .

categories uLtimately achieve isofunctional reference-and-predication (hav ing the exact equivaLence in "e xten s i cna l!' power). and then in comparing native awareness of , and task-directed reasoning using. such different linguistic structures. so the interest here is in "calibrating" the variations in explicit v s , implicit


purposive functions of language more broadly, to see how there is differential native understanding of ultimately isofunctional pragmatic machinery that interacts differently with the se different metapragmatic structures in the diaLectic conduct of social life through language. In short, the aim is to investigate the cultural variability in the outcomes of speaking even with pragmatic systems of ultimately equivalent overall. power {even with the as s umption of universal human pragmatic competence),

8. The lingui stic importance of this kind of culturaL variability

in metapragmatic systems is this: it shows that the usual assumptions about the {purposive} functional uniformity of languages

that have gone into ethnography of speaking, or into philosophical

~~~~~~~~~a~c~~ounts of ~_~n'C_~_!~tion, are far wide of the mark. ~~~~~apragmatic descriptors in the naturaLLy occurring ca s e show functiona 1 leakage in Language whereby the emergent dialectic ambiguity of language use t what our philosophers attempt to encompass with

the iLlocution/per Locution distinction) in any actual instance of use under consideration, can be functionally defined only by making precise the cultural bases of tL) an analysis of direct vs. indirect indexing of the parameters of the context by language forms, in-

c luding sensitivity to the presupposing vs. creative value of indexicals; {2} an analysis of the cuLturaL classes of purposive functions of language use as evidenced for example in the text-pragmatics {discourse-cohesive properties, etc.) of the explicit vs. implicit metapragmatic devices of Language; t3) an analysis of

the interaction of the s e that, by its natur e, underdetermine s the outcome of any specific act. In such functional Itleakage of irn-

p lern en ta ti on!' Lies the essential creativity of the medium.

C. I couLd give many more exampLes of these sorts, which establish Leakage of Language form and function acros s the planes of analysis set up in II. Neither is language a closed formal system, were 'w e to try to hoLd constant purposive function, indexical function, reference-and-predication, and their implementation in a specific act; nor is language a closed functional system in imptementation, were we to try to hol d constant form, purposive function, indexicaL function, reference-and-predication. The fulL anaLysis of language requires all the assumptions, methods, and admissions of only as ymptotically-achievable theoretical comprehension in the best of all possible cases, as does the fu l l analysis of social action with some schema of understanding called lculture 1.



IV. Language AS cuLture: a new nexus needed

A. What I have been engaged in here is implicitly an argument with

... ... ..------ ·······var io usl1traciitional1Lapproachestothe·pr oblemof ... ther elationship······ of 'Lang uage ' to "cu ltu r e ' that emerge from assumptions about the formal and functional boundaries of language, These approaches, summed

up in 1. B. 3. -7.. may be considered mor e carefully now as views of

11 Language AND culture, t1 "l angua ge IN cul tur e,lI "Iangua ge OF cuLture ,II

1. Language and culture points of view. evidenced in traditional



I t·





Boasian anthropoLogicaL linguistics, and in modern derivatives such as [Iethnoscience 11 (including the specific hypothese s of "componential analysis of kinship terminology") and misguided (pro

or can) pseudo- Whorfianism, see languag e as basically a referential-and-predicational mechanism, the formal elements of

which, especiaLLy lexical items and grammatical constructions

of the s e J denote sets of obje ct s , events, etc. in the non-lingui stic "real" worLd. Thus, Language is the reflection, or representation, however inadequate or skewed with re spect to the "real" (modern scientifically-known) war Id, of the objects, events, etc. that it refers-to and predicates-states-of-affairs-about. The

crux of these studies is to find the classifications underlying

the mode of representation, such that each time language is

~"""--~""""'--~=~~~'----~~""--~--"----~-~'------~""-T---- ---.~--- .. --~-------~-~--~-- .. -.-- I

-·used.the {reJ.erring-and-predicating use presupposes the' irn-. /.

plicit conventional agreement of the speakers on kinds of clas-

sifications of the "real II world, and on kinds of formal signals i

that express this classification. Language is here. cuLture is

there, and there is a complicated mapping relationship between


This view easily accomodates the cherished ideology of naive empirical realism, in which can be formulated doctrines of "correct" referential-and-predicational, extensionally-verifiable language achievable in scientific discourse. The problems entailed in this particular subvariety are so weLL known that it is unnecessary to review them here; the recent history of philosophy is testimony enough to them. Moreover, this view of language and culture als 0 easily accomodates a nominalism of the postSaussrean type, in which language structure, especiaLLy in lexical expression, is autonomous and generative of the "real"

world to which it refers. Quine's famous doctrine of "onto logical r-e la.t'iv i ty " may be read as a curse of plague on both the se houses. which are both built on the shaky foundation of this view of language-and-culture.

But even without the ass umption of the regimentabiLity of natural Language s into scientific extensional forms, we have a host of problems with this view of language and culture. These can be cast in particularly sharp relief from the point of view of try-

ing to answer developmental questions, such as: Where do the categories of representation in language come from? How is the contextual specificity of reference-and- predication learned in terms of. or generalized to, systems of 'senser-relations at the intensional Leve 1 of language? How do context- creative uses of language (where the 11reall' world is established as a context for

..... 1<::l,l1guagethroughutterance} come .... about? .. No ... .r.e a.L answers hav e.. yet been forthcoming in this view of Language and culture, nor.

I would argue, will they be.

2. Language in culture points of view, evidenced in curious form by post-Austinian speech act theory. by ethnography- of- speaking anthropology of language, and even by most sociolinguistics. see language as a system of "a.ppr opr iate " usage that represents, in




essentially indexical fashion, aspects of the context in which

it is implemented. Thus. given a communicative context. including. in philosophical accounts. various internal intentional states of speaker. hearer, etc .• certain conventional forms of language are appropriate expressions of the dimensions of that context. Clearly, this view of lang uage incorporates many of the significant relationships I have discussed in II above. but there are many problems that arise from limiting our view of language to them. There is no attempt, for example. to explicate the systematicity of recruitment of certain referring-andpredicating forms to certain kinds of contexts, i , e.. pr oviding

an account of the systematicity of the relationship between struc-

~=__., ~..,.--~~~t~u~r~~~_!l~l_Y__2;_~_rt und e r vi~_~~~J;~_~<!_nd _sj:_!"l!_C t!!:r~ §__1l,Lj_§_!3.L+ i:l~lJ,__1_.~c_. ~ . __ ~ ..

in· the proces s of using language. t The very multifunctionality

of most Linguistic forms in both these mode s should be argu-

ment enough for the necessity of doing so; and the cross-Lin-

guistic regularity of such multifunctionaL reLationships is strong

evidence that such functional leakage is inherent in all natural

languages.) There is no systematic analytic perspective in this

view on the nature of what counts as specific kinds of speech

acts, in re Iati on to specific kinds of indexical relationships, i , e , ,

no segmentation of occurring discourse into sequential or hier-

archical domains of relevant form such that language as social

action can be seen to have a coherence as structured speech

act, structured role-diacritic, etc. over stretches of recog-

nizable complexity. And most critically, there is really no

account in this view of the functional leakage of implementation,

in truly "creative 11 indexical us ag e , where language indexe s

parameters of the context which its very use brings into being

for the participants, generally unawares. That is. there is no

real understanding of the re lations hip between cultural1y- informed

norms for the conduct of speech and the possibility of analyzing

specific instances of speech use, no dynarn i c s of types and

tokens that I find absolutely essential to appreciating how lan-

guage works. tSuch distinctions as illocution vs. per Locution.

which can be phrased in terms of intensional conventionality

of language-as- social-action vs. extensional actuality of languageas- behavior, or plain VB. metaphorical appropriatene ss of rolediacritics in relation to indexed context, mere ly restate the problem as a dichotomous gap. rather than pre sent a mechanism of implementation.}

3. Language of culture points of view, evidenced in many structu r a l i z e d and l ingui s ti c iz e d models of culture, as well as in

........... certain extreme ..formsof·linguisticfunctiOnaHSITl ··{e;g;.·········Malin;;;; .

ow sk i L see language as basicaLLy a happenstance secondary code, the primary to which is the "cu ltur a l co de ;'! Here, language itself seems to lose all internal self-sufficiency, and just happens to be an institutionalized channel of certain principles of social form (the structure of society) externalized, e.g., clas-

salizing the "cultural" symbolic structures, at the same time as

="..- ~-~."..d~.p,yin_g-Q:r~-~~eing-Cl.s-trI-~l§Yanj:-th~-~ftY'-s_tematicity __ o_f_r_eferential=- .. _~_. __

and- pre dicational structure in language. and the institutionalized contextuaLization of linguistic indexical functions. Language as

such disappears, and so we no Longer have a language- culture

probLematic. But in another sense, we still have all the prob-

lems mentioned under Land 2. Left to explain. insofar as they show any balance of systematic variability and uniformity across societies.

B. We can have no argument with approaches that understand the limitations on their assumptions about language form and function. and do not seek to find the essence of language by faLse extension from this core in an attempt to cover the rest. The argument here is that Linguistic communication uni te s aLL of the aspects of what we traditionaLLy seek to explain in culturaL accounts of sociaL behavior. and hence has aLL the compLexities there of.

Language is not mereLy referentiaL-and-predicational representation, useful for rationaL thought. Language is not mere ly an indexical system in which to communicate certain conventional regularities of r o lev r e lationships. La.n guag e is not merely a system of signals for conventionally expressing intentions about valuated manipulation of

s e If and of others. Language is not mere ly a vehicle for symbolic structures to find expression in external form. during interaction. Language is all of the above. and we are beginning to see regularities cross-culturaLLy in how it is aLL of the above. So ingeniously and. I would a r gue , nece s sariLy are all these woven together into

a seemingly continuous formal fabric, that we must search for seams tsemes?) in specific languages and subject our conclusions about

the interre lationships of functional threads at points of leakage to comparative test, before we can "calibrate II language s to find the

re guLaritie s.

These regularities will. I propose, be indistinguishabLe from those . ······wecaHI·culturel;--.-----


/ !


sifications established when myths Ilthink themseLves II through people, categories of personhood established when peopLe interact, etc .• for which sometimes---though not particularly systematically .... --language is the method of instantiation. l Typically this view is the view of anthr opologists in contradistinction to linguists. for whom Linguis tic evidence is convenientLy appropriated in an analysis of social forms in certain realms, but is never approached in and of itself.}

This view is ne utral with regard to r ef l e c ti.oni.s t or implementationist attributions about language. for language itself is of no inherent functional value. This view lends itself to univer-