Papers from Jakobson's SW (8)

Jakobson, Roman 1985[1950]. Slavic Gods and Demons. In: Rudy, Stephen (ed.), Selected Writings VII: Contributions to Comparative Mythology. Studies in Linguistics and Philology, 1972-1982. Preface by Linda R. Waugh. Berlin; New York; Amsterdam: Mouton, 3-9.

Former Russian gods are occasionally interpolated into translated literary works (Malalas Chronicle; Alexandreis) or in accord with the Byzantine pattern, appear as rhetorical adornments in the original epos (Igor' Tale). (Jakobson 1985[1950]: 3)
Memo: read about Igor' Tale.
The relative linguistic unity and negligible dialectal differentiation of the Slavic world urtil the end of the first millenium A.D., and particularly the considerable lexical uniformity of Slavic pre-Christian belifes, corroborates the supposition of a substantial unity for the cult of the Primitive Slavs. In the vocabulary originally connected with worship, the Slavs and partly the Baltic peoples, their closest linguistic neighbours, present striking similarities with Indo-Iranian as well as with Thraco-Phrygian nomenclature. (Jakobson 1985[1950]: 4)
These are rhetorical adornments that I should apply on my own research on Estonian body-centered language. E.g. how there is "considerable lexical uniformity" in cloud-metaphors, for example.
Thus the Slavs participated in the Iranian evolution into a clear-cut dualism and, according to Helmold's accurate testimony, they were wont to worship divinities of good and those of evil, "being convinced that happiness comes from the god of good while misfortune is dispensed by the deity of evil". And the Slavic term for faith (věra) coincides with the Iranian term for religious choice between good and evil. (Jakobson 1985[1950]: 5)
I wonder if this is at all similar with the Estonian white and black gods...
The Common Slavic rai "paradise" has been acknowledged as a direct borrowing from Iranian rây- "heavenly radiance, beatitude". (Jakobson 1985[1950]: 5)
Something to consider when discussing the notion of sun-ray in christian figures of speech. Lots of potential for folk-etymology here.

Jakobson, Roman 2002[1959]. Why "Mama" and "Papa"? In: Rudy, Stephen (ed.), Selected Writings I: Phonological Studies. Third edition. Introduction by Linda R. Waugh & Monique Monville-Burston. Berlin; New York: Mouton, 538-545.

"The child," H. Werner (1940) stressed, "grows out of his child's world into an alien world of adults. His behavior is the result of an interaction between these two worlds." One could add that likewise the behavior of adults with regard to the child they nurse and educate is a result of an interaction between both worlds. In particular, the so-called "baby talk" used by the grownups when speaking with infants is a kind of pidgin, a typical mixed language, where the addressers try to adjust themselves to the verbal habits of their addressees and to establish a common code suitable for both interlocutors in a child-adult dialogue. (Jakobson 2002[1959]: 538)
This sounds vaguely familiar, as if Lotman had remarked on it somewhere.
In contradiction to the "wild sounds" of babbling exercises, the phonemes are to be recognizable, distinguishable, identifiable; and in accordance with these requirements, they must be deliberately repeatable. (Jakobson 2002[1959]: 542)
This same standard could work for the study of nonverbal communication, so as to differentiate "wild" behaviours from identifiable and repeatable communicative cues.

Jakobson, Roman 1985[1982]. On the Dialectics of Language. In: Rudy, Stephen (ed.), Selected Writings VII: Contributions to Comparative Mythology. Studies in Linguistics and Philology, 1972-1982. Preface by Linda R. Waugh. Berlin; New York; Amsterdam: Mouton, 377-378.

The hic et nunc of linguistic reality brings every human being face to face with a multitude of spatial fields and temporal moments, and any production or perception of language reaches its steady manifestation through the selection and combination of suitable entities from within this double multitude. Our selective and combinatory verbal activities are generally restrained and directed by a system of acting rules. It has frequently occurred to linguistic interpreters that the use of language was being conceived without respect to these rules. Speech production and perception in their temporal changes remained the only focus of scholarly observation. The opposite trend was the view that rules confine the production and perception of language at any gives stage, and these rules, promoted as the chief subject of linguistic study, were termed langue versus parole, or "code" versus "message", or "competence" versus "performance". (Jakobson 1985[1982: 377)
Code (as selection) and message (as combination) are restrained by a system of acting rules... that is code/language? There seems to be a loop here. But restriction and direction are valuable notions. These should be compared to metacommunication in the Ruesch-Batesonian model.
A singleness was attributed to the rules of competence, and this was resolutely superposed on the plurality of performances. I have objected to this strict mechanistic rupture between invariant and variants: no speaker appears to be limited to one single code. In essence he holds to the same language with the closest and most distant members of his environment, yet constantly modifies his manifold code and thus adapts his competence to diverse interlocutors, different topics, and his ceaselessly varying verbal styles. There is, as in any system, an incessant liinkage of variants and invariants, a permanent unity and diversity of phonological, morphological, syntactic, lexical, and variational means. The universal phenomenon of dynamic synchrony points to a constant interchange of the code. (Jakobson 1985[1982: 377-378)
Another iteration of permanent dynamic synchrony and the "subcode" view of language.
Both in various self-adaptions to the interlocutor (verbal conformism) and in different degrees of mutual repulsion (verbal nonconformism), we submit our code to a maximal variability, an inconstancy both in space and in time. Such has been my recognition of the inseparability between invariance and variability. This thesis appears to me as the conditio sine qua non of scientific analysis from the early steps of Hegel's dialectics to the present-day sciences, especially linguistics, and our indebtedness to the Master's inspirations is far from exhausted. In particular, time and space are two mutually inseparable, inner factors of language, and the latter and its interpretation remains inalienable from these factors. Every verbal activity implies incessant selections and decisions between locomotor opportunities which suggest themselves, regardless of whether it concerns an intimately merged idiom or a distant coincidence, as well as which stage of the mutation in progress - an imminent archaism or the final phase of innovation. (Jakobson 1985[1982: 378)
These inner factors are also inseparable in communication generally. I have to say, Jakobson made more and more sense as years went by.

Jakobson, Roman and Linda R. Waugh 1987[1979]. Excerpts from The Sound Shape of Language. In: Rudy, Stephen (ed.), Selected Writings VIII: Major Works 1976-1980. Completion Volume 1. Berlin; New York: Mouton, 1-315.

Through a significant coincidence, the Prague Linguistic circle and the geneticist Jacob have defined the object of their studies as "a system of systems". The principle of gradual integration governs the structure of the two codes. Both of them equally display a hierarchy of discontinuous units. As the biologist points out, each of these units, labeled "integron", is built by assembling integrons of the level below it and takes part in the construction of an integron of the level above. (Jakobson & Waugh 1987[1979]: 69)
And ultimately, Jakobson imputes hierarchical nature to organisms.
Among all the information-carrying systems, the genetic code is the only one which shares with the verbal code a sequential arrangement of discrete subunits - phonemes in language and nucleotides (or 'nucleic letter') in the genetic code - which by themselves are devoid of inherent meaning but serve to build minimal units endowed with their own, intrinsic meaning. (Jakobson & Waugh 1987[1979]: 69)
It is necessary to re-read Birdwhistell's Kinesics and Context to determine whether the case is similar in nonverbal communication.
If the formation of a mammal or especially of a human being is written down in the genetic message and baffles the scientist's imagination as "a marvel of exactitude and precision", just the same may be said about human language as an extraordinary, faultless, and subtle device of both outer and inner communication. (Jakobson & Waugh 1987[1979]: 71)
E.g. interpersonal communication (outer) and intrapersonal autocommunication (inner).
The doubt sometimes intimated about the universal indispensability of learning and tutorship is based merely on a somewhat superficial, bureaucratic attitude toward the meaning of the words tutor and learn. Learning and imitation or more exactly, replication (cf. L. G. Jones 1967: 5), are widely creative phenomena, and tutorship frequently appears in a covert and latent form (cf. Whorf 1956: 70ff., 88ff., 105ff.). (Jakobson & Waugh 1987[1979]: 73)
I agree wholeheartedly. My own favourite manner of learning consists of "motor-imitation" - re-writing texts or passages that I like.
Between these two varieties of language users there are a number of characterological differences which have even led some investigators such as Goody & Watt (1963) to distinguish sociology, the science of man as a writing species, from social anthropology, the science of man as a merely talking animal. (Jakobson & Waugh 1987[1979]: 74)
Actually a worthwhile note on the names of disciplines. And the distinction is palpable - social anthropology deals more with nonverbal aspects than sociology by itself.
In general, the signatum of any given letter is a certain phoneme of the language in question. In diverse spelling systems there may be constraints such as homophonous letters or other limitative rules imposed upon the simple relation between letter and sound, but the essence of the relation between graph as signans and phone as signatum remains valid. In logographic script, a graphic entity is in turn endowed with a singleness of its signatum, but here the signatum consists of a lexical unit instead of a phonic one. (Jakobson & Waugh 1987[1979]: 75)
The lengthiest note on the semiotic aspect of graphemes that I've come across.
The growing substitution of printed and typed messages for handwritten ones reduces the emotive and physiognomic roles of script; in this connection one could cite the traditional and still extant custom of writing intimate and ceremonial messages by hand. (Jakobson & Waugh 1987[1979]: 75-76)
And now I've found the emotive function in actual letters (written messages). I suspect that by "physiognomic" he means graphological aspects.
Reading allows one to linger on single passages or even to turn back to preceding lines or pages. Reading and writing involve space while speech is an essentially temporal experience. The virtually lasting character of written communications is, both individually and socially, a most influential factor, which on the one hand secures the relative permanence, the testamental, memorial aspect of the written text, and which on the other hand diminishes the task of memorizing, as can be eloquently illustrated by the astounding memory of the illiterate reciters of thousands of epic verses. (Jakobson & Waugh 1987[1979]: 76)
Approaching grammatology. It is worthwhile to remember the speech/writing and time/space distinctions or pairs.
It is perhaps under the influence of the higher uniformity proper to the code of written language that sometimes the idea of a rigorously monolithic code of language in general captures theoreticians and tempts them to believe in the puerile myth of a perfectly invariable speect community with equally competent speaker-hearers and to apply the delusive idea to concrete operations. However, "real individuals command a variety of related linguistic systems", a variety of styles of speech used in a range of social situations (as was succinctly noted by Chomsky & Walker 1976): "Individuals within a speech community may differ in these respects and speech communities sometimes may vary quite widely in the systems represented within what is popularly called a single language" (p. 21). (Jakobson & Waugh 1987[1979]: 77)
More on permanent dynamic synchrony. Score for Lotman's heterogeneity and code-switching.
Witol Doroszewski (1899-1976), who was hostile to the idea of relational invariance in the sound structure of language, paid particular attention to the abundant diversity of variants in the everyday speech of Polish peasants which he recorded in his field work. These minute observations are particularly valuable because, contrary to the observer's anti-unitarian tenet, they bring to light the orderliness within the obvious variety. The several exponents of the Polish nasal ę used by all members of a rural Polish speech community near Plock were recorded and described in his French paper of 1935 (p. 28ff.) and, with more detail, in a prevous Polisd report of 1934 (p. 249 ff.). The basic variants stand out against the more marginal ones and the preponderant cases display competition and compromises between opposite tendencies: nearer vs. more distant in space or time, and either disappearing or developing; rural traits compete with urban influence; articulatory memory clashes with lexical borrowings preserving their sound shape. (Jakobson & Waugh 1987[1979]: 78)
Again, vaguely familiar through Lotman. These factors - nearer vs more distant in time and space, etc. may perhaps be considered in the nonverbal domain as well. The general term here is multiformity (as opposed to conformity).
The verbal code and in particular the sound pattern of any language constantly undergo changes. In contradistinction to daylight savings time or to spelling reforms, which can be decreed and enter into common practice on a definite date, the start and finish of a sound change in spoken language go through a period of coexistence; they belong to two styles, two subcodes of the same language, and are actively used either by different speakers or by one speaker who oscillates between the "archaism" and the "modernism". Speakers and hearers may be aware of the time axis to which both items belong, and time itself thereby enters into the verbal system as a semiotic value. (Jakobson & Waugh 1987[1979]: 79)
Again, very familiar. This "permanent dynamic synchrony" as Jakobson calls it is probably evident in most semiotic systems (that is, in most fields of culture). This is especially prevalent in film, as evidenced by the fact that some directors still make black-and-white movies in the 2010s. Especially important is the note that time itself enters into the sign system as a semiotic value. I wrote "sign system" instead of "verbal system" intentionally. An immediate example comes to mind in nonverbal terms in the case of old-timey conventional gestures, such as a wink and a tip-of-the-hat. Some actors watch silent films for the sole purpose of learning archaic hand and facial gestures.
The belief earlier voiced among linguists that the process of linguistic change is never directly observed does not take into account the vital phenomenon of spakers' preoccupation with speech itself and their habitual metalinguistic talk about talking. There are frequent cases of a generational difference between interlocutors, the youngest of whom make use of the nascent innovations which the older ones understand but have not included in their speaker repertory. Similarly, the younger speakers comprehend the older ones although the younger no longer actively use the elements they deem "outdated". Besides such cases of manifest division between speakers and listeners, there obviously also occur frequent instances of mutual adaption in intercommunication between people of different generations. Members of a speech community are competent to use both the start and the finish of the change, and the overall code of the given language must correspondingly be conceived of as convertible. Thus the two stages of a change in progress should be interpreted in terms of a dynamic synchrony. Concurrence and successivity are, therefore, interrelated both in single utterances and in the "overall code" of language (cf. Hockett 1958). (Jakobson & Waugh 1987[1979]: 79)
More on the metalingual function and it's social aspects. It is remarkable that indeed without using the term "idiolect", Jakobson is using Hockett's work.
The repeated assumption of an essential difference between the 'source' (Saussurian foyer) of a linguistic innovation and the area of its "contagion" and propagation clashes with the fact that any change is a phenomenon of propagation, from a slip of the tongue to its repetition and acceptance first by a narrow and then by a wide collective body; a change and its diffusion appear to be but two facets of one and the same ongoing "contagion". (Jakobson & Waugh 1987[1979]: 80)
It would be nice to see one lecturer's "slip of the keyboard", isemus instead of sisemus, becoming an actual term, first very narrowly in my own work, and - who knows - maybe later by a wide collective body.
On the other hand there arises a less-than-two person system - dialogues with an older intelocutor are complemented by the child's gradual mastery of a narrowed intrapersonal network of communication. Thus, the child's interlocutor becomes the child himself "as he will be a second after", according te Peirce's view of inner "dialogue between different phases of the ego" (4.6). Here arises a distinction between two kinds of communication, namely "the transmission of meaning by signs from mind to mind and from one state of mind to another" (Peirce: I.445). There emerges the so-called 'egocentric speect' of the younster in the presence of others: the child's former intelocutor becomes a mere auditor while the child himself assumes the roles of both the addresser and the addressee. (Jakobson & Waugh 1987[1979]: 81)
"Intrapersonal network of communication" is a definite hint to Ruesch and Bateson (1951). In Peirce's version it is notable that different phases of the ego communicate by exchanging signs.
Inner speech is radically elliptic; the sound shape of words receives a merely fragmentary evocation inour minds, and frequently they totally lose their phonic makeup ("zero signans"). However, neither there losses nor the tendency to replace verbal signs by other semiotic units permit us to return to an assumption of wordless, or even signless, asemiotic thinking. (Jakobson & Waugh 1987[1979]: 82)
Here we have the conjunction of cue reduction (fragmentary evocations of words) and autocommunication. This connection was made by Lotman in 1967 - one rare occasion when Lotman is ahead of Jakobson.
In an authoritarian state, a scientist, asked by a police searcher what the Greek book on his desk was, answered, "Plato's Dialogues". - "Dialogues? But with whom?" - "With himself" was the alleged and intrinsically right answer. (Jakobson & Waugh 1987[1979]: 82)
If I ever do write dystopian fiction, I simply must incorporate a scene such as this.
The structure of language underlies all of its manifestations, both patent and latent, and there can be no rupture between the structure and its purposes: an afunctional structure and a nonstructured function are both pointless and empty fictions. (Jakobson & Waugh 1987[1979]: 82)
Kind of valuable for understanding Jakobson's brand of functionalism.
Our concepts are apprehended and delineated by the very fact of being named; this verbalizaing activity endows them with permanence in time and continuity in space, and in this way secures and enhances our consevative ties with the past and creative connections with out future by securing and enforcing our intercourse with the environment. Our thought turns into an object of our naming and propositional activities, and our words and sentences in their interaction are converted into independent objects of our thought. (Jakobson & Waugh 1987[1979]: 82)
This can be used to elaborate Peirce's lake of consciousness metaphor and how autocommunication enforces the ties between past, present and future self.
On the other hand, linguists began to turn tehir attention toward the immediate and autonomous significance of the constituents of the verbal sound shape in the life of language. This significance was supposed to be prompted directly by their nature, phýsei, according to Plato's dialogue Kratylos dramatizing the contest between the two permanent linguistic forces - convention and nature. [...] Let us mention here that the widespread use in linguistics, poetics, and psychology of the term 'symbolism' for the figurative relation - phýsey - is at variance with the semiotic terminology introduced by Peirce, who called those signs built phýsei, 'icons', in contradistinction to those based on thései, which he labeled 'symbols'. (Jakobson & Waugh 1987[1979]: 181-182)
This may help explain why Lotman focuses on images and words, or icons and symbols, without paying much attention to indices or indexes. That is, the influence of Plato's Kratylos on Lotman's semiotics should be investigated.
The peculiar "onomatopoeic apophony" (1901: 292), reduplication with a vocalic change in the repeated constituents, attracted Grammont's unflagging attention. There seems to emerge a universal or at least a round-the-world attested law in their construction. Triple groups generally are based on the relation [i] - [a] (sometimes [å] or [æ]) - [u] - e.g. pif-paf-puf - and double formations on [i] - [a] (or more rarely, [u] - [a]), - e.g. pif-paf (or, for instance in German, puf-paf: cf. Spitzer 1927: 215). The persistent emergence of [i] as the first member of such groups contrasted with the following [a] led Grammont and some later examiners to speculate about the specific value of this vowel. (Jakobson & Waugh 1987[1979]: 184)
Connected with the onomatopoeia aspect of the poetic function. Also, compare this to the Estonian spell: "Uri-kuri-muri, vorsti-lortsi-portsi, äka-läka, nika-naka, kaker-laka, juuda-kaka, pergel-paska, sum-sum-mum! Ja nüüd soovin Teile õnne ja rahulist und!" (Kreutzwald 1922: 110).
In a Danish essay of 1918 Jespersen acclaimed the coaction of the factors phýsei and thései in human languages, and in a discussion of the Danish men 'but' broached the question of "sound gestures" nesting in vocabulary, a topic already touched upon in Schuchardt's remarks on the Lautgebärde (1897) and inherent both in Grammont's comparison of articulatory movements, grimaces, and gestures (1901: 316f.) and in his concept of "articulatory gesture". (Jakobson & Waugh 1987[1979]: 186)
Since I don't know danish, french or german, I must be satisfied with a similar hint by Tadeusz Stefan Zielinski when commenting on Dostoyevsky's sentence "Kak tilisnu [a coined word] (ee) po gorlu nozhom" ["So I slit her throat with a knife!"] - "Is there a correspondence between the articulatory movements in pronouncing the word tilisnut' and the movement of a knife slipping over the human body and penetrating it? No, there is not: the articulation of this word best corresponds to the contortion of the facial muscles which is instinctively brought about by the nervous pain one would feel in imagining a knife slipping over one's skin (and not penetrating the body): the lips are pulled up in a grimace; the throat is pinched; the teeth grit; at such a moment the only sounds that can be produced are consonants t, l, and s, and the vowel i." (in Unspenski 1983: 40).
The ready associability of [i] with small things is explained by the high pitch of the vowel. Jespersen adds that the perception of the small lip-aperture "may have also its share in the rise of the idea" (pp. 284f.), but shied away from the later, often whimsical endeavours to find the explanation for sound symbolism in the speaker's articulatory configurations. (Jakobson & Waugh 1987[1979]: 187-188)
The same stuff as in Zielinski's example.
In some cases to a wider, and in many others to a lesser extent, most languages of the world show a marginal set of vocables which are semantically fluid, more expressive than cognitive, and which open broader possibilities for sound symbolism. (Jakobson & Waugh 1987[1979]: 198)
That is, more emotive than referential.
As the noted specialist in Indo-European etymologies Joseph Vendryes (1875-1960) pinpointed, religiously motivated interdictions against certain nouns were
far from purging the vocabulary of the words judged to be evil. They could be preserved on the condition of being modified in their form, for instance reserved in their sound sequence, in order to become inoffensive [cf. Fónagy 1956: 239]. Herewith is explained a number of accidents in the structure of certain words, notably names of animals (especially wild animals undergoing a hunter's taboo), names of body parts or of physical blemishes, and finally religious terms designating ritual notions or acts. [1924: 383]
(Jakobson & Waugh 1987[1979]: 211)
I can very well imagine my own non-existent dystopia having a population register, for example, with everyone's physical blemishes intricately detailed, but always in reverse.
Among the numerous Americas English exclamations collected by E. C. Hills (1024), there is a distinct tendency for stops replaced by stops to maintain their original laxness or tenseness and for sonorants to replace sonorants. Thus God becomes dod, dog, dig; Christ appears as crimp, cripes; damn changes into darn, garn, ding, durn, dang, deen, been. (Jakobson & Waugh 1987[1979]: 212)
A similar case could be made in so-called "black language" with nigger, nigga and nukka.
Multiform wordplays by themselves are striking manifestations of the poetic function even outside of poetry. (Jakobson & Waugh 1987[1979]: 220)
Good to know.


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