The Model of Language as Organon

Bühler, Karl 2011[1934]. Theory of Language: The representational function of language. Translated by Donald Fraser Goodwin in collaboration with Achim Eschbach. Amsterdam; Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

The objective view of language requires the organon model and does not permit even one iota to be removed from the insight: "What human language does is threefold: profession, triggering and representation" (Bühler 1981: 1). (Bühler 2011[1934]: 2)
"Triggering" would be a neat metaphor for the conative-imperative function. It would signify "triggering" an action in the addressee.
"Dreifach ist die Leistung der menschlichen Sprache, Kundgabe, Auslösung und Darstellung." An anticipation of the organon model of language (Section 2) referring to the three "relational foundations" of the model: the things (that are represented), the sender (whose inner states are professed) and the receiver (whole reaction is triggered). The term Leistung ("what language does"), which would frequently be translated with "performance", is used to set the organon model off from a genetic view in terms of how speech arises; Bühler defines language in terms of its performance as a Zweckgebilde, a goal-oriented structure (Bühler 1918: 15). The term Kundhabe is used by Wundt, as well as by Husserl in the Logical Investigations; Findlay translates it with "intimation" (Husserl 1912 II,1: 78; 1970: 312), whereas Cairns (1973: 78) suggests "giving cognizance of, (making known)". Neither of these would be good in this context; "giving cognizance" would be worst because the primarily cognitive function in Bühler's triad is representation, not expression; "intimation" does not make it clear enough that the inner states of the speaker are involved, whereas "profession" and "expression" at least permit this reading. (Bühler 2011[1934]: 2; footnote 1)
Wow. Bühler's model is much more down to earth than Jakobson's.
Physics and psychology meet in linguitics as they do in all other cultural sciences; there is no way out (there is no casting of lots for the whole robe), according to Paul, the rent in the cloth is there, and it is up to the language researcher to try to match the pieces in his own field - an effort that has been going on since Descartes. (Bühler 2011[1934]: 3)
This is exactly what Jakobson does in defining the phatic function of language: he brings together the physical channel and the psychological connection.
What Paul says seems true enough: "The science of culture is always a social science. Not till society is formed is culture possible; society gives the first impulse to make man a historical being" (Paul 1909: 7 = 1890: xxx). (Bühler 2011[1934]: 4)
Score for sociosemiotics.
And here comes a long list, in which it is noted, for example, that "linguistic phenomena always present two complementary facets, each depending on the other" (Saussure 1922:23 [1983:8; 1959:8; 1931:9]). Of course; but a specialist certainly does not need to be told that sound and function belong to the entirety of a concrete language phenomenon. (Bühler 2011[1934]: 8)
Sound and function? Sound and function? Why not sound and meaning as in Jakobson's "phonica-semantic knot"? Is meaning nothing more than a function? (Note: I'll be reading parts of The Meaning of Meaning next.)
The old Husserlian model of language only contains enough relational foundation for the logical explication of the speech of a monad, the soliloquy of a Diogenes in the Barrel who was capable of the highest abstractions. The new model of human language, which would have to be consistently laid out in keeping with the concessions made in the Cartesian Meditations (Husserl 1973a = 1973b), is quite as rich as that needed by the theory of language and practically applied by it since Plato; it is the organon model of language. We shall begin our presentation of the principles of the science of language with it. (Bühler 2011[1934]: 12-13)
It sounds like Husserl's model of language in the Logical Investigations was something like a model of speech-making and this new organon model of language is more like a model of communication.
Of course, only what is audible in the concrete speech event can be fixed on records, and this first only weighs heavily in the methodological discussion. Fo there is more to the full speech event - we could just as well call it the 'significant' or 'meaningful' speech event - than just what is audible. But how is the rest of what belongs to the speech event also registered and made accessible to exact observation? (Bühler 2011[1934]: 17)
Is he referring to the nonverbal components of the speech event?
In this example, it is not documents in stone and papyrus that are at issue, but rather certain phenomena, procedures in the social life of beings alien to us, of which it can be assumed that they function as do our human communicative signals. The alien beings can be ants, bees, termites, they can be birds or other social animals, they can even be human beings and the "signals" a human language. If I hear commands, the first hint of an understanding of their meaning, more precisely, of their signal value dawns on me from the behaviour of the receiver of the command. This manner of understanding is substantially different from deciphering texts. Yet a third time the point of departure is different when I turn to interpreting what is perceived as an expression [of inner states]. Human expressions are many and various: facial expressions, gestures; expression is also found in the voice and language. Thus, expression provides another key to understanding. (Bühler 2011[1934]: 18-19)
First we have an example of the conative-imperative function and then a valuable note that would suggest nonverbal behaviour as an intrinsic aspect of the emotive function.
The successful pioneers of language research include occasional references to how tehy handled these keys to understanding in their reports; how the same keys areused in the course of the advanced analysis of a language has never been systematically and adequately described. (Bühler 2011[1934]: 19)
In this sense I feel compelled to discuss "phatics" not as a newfangled field of investigation but rather as one such "key" that can be used to unlock aspects of human behaviour.
What I have in mind departs from previous procedures in that this reduction is not only actually performed [and the results presented], but also that an account is given of the procedure, whereas previously the working notes were thrown into the waste-paper basket. (Bühler 2011[1934]: 27)
I think we are approaching an age when the working notes will be public by default. #metablog
We begin with the maxim of the three semantic functions of language structures. The most interesting attempt in which a similar project is consistently carried out is Gardiner's book The Theory of Speech and Language (Gardiner 1932). Gardiner's analysis tends toward a situational theory of language. (Bühler 2011[1934]: 28)
Is that the full name of "language functions"? The parallel with Gardiner sounds eerily like the one between Jakobson and Ruesch.
Whoever is just as unbiased in trying to fathom the fact that there is speech independent of the situation as he is in treating the situation sensitivity of utterances, will, if he comes from the lecture hall of a committed situation theorist, first find that the fact that there is also situatio insensitivity is a just cause of philosophical wonder at what great variety is in fact possible. Then, if he does not obstinately insist on the dogma that the causal analysis that he learned in the lecture hall is enough, but rather proceeds to consider sentences removed from the situation such as 'Rome is on seven hills', or 'two times two is four', he will be thrust unerringly onto the tracks of the venerable descriptive grammar. (Bühler 2011[1934]: 28)
Continuing my forced parallel, when a Jakobsonian semiotician takes up Ruesch s/he discovers that communication is more than language, that the "fatigue" that Jakobson mentions once is an everyday occurrence and that there is a great variety of semiotic processes in communication systems.
I think it was a good idea of Plato's when he claims in Cratylus that language is an organum for the one to inform the other of something about the things. There is no question that such information takes place, and the advantage of taking it as the starting point lies in the fact that all or most other cases can be derived from this one typical case by reduction; for as far as fundamental relationships are concerned, informing by means of language is the richest of the manifestations of the concrete speech event. The list the one - to the other - about the things names no fewer than three relational foundations. (Bühler 2011[1934]: 30-31)
In other words, language is a means of communication (or means for the exchange of information).
Let us sketch a diagram on a piece of paper, three points in triangular formation, a fourth point in the middle, and begin to reflect on what this diagram can symbolize. The fourth point in the middle symbolizes the phenomenon susceptible of sense perception, normally an acoustic phenomenon, which clearly must stand in some relation or other to the three foundations at the corners, whether it be a direct or a mediated relation. (Bühler 2011[1934]: 31)
This diagram is eerily similar to Peirce's triadic sign model. I did not know that there was a fourth point because the diagram on Wikipedia doesn't mention this. This means that "message" (in the form of "the phenomenon susceptible of sense perception") was already a part of the organon model and Jakobson did not add it. Did he add code, though?
The first thing that will occur nowadays to any impartial interpreter of this figure consists of points and lines is a direct causal view. The "one" produces the sound phenomenon, and it affects the "other" as a stimulus; the sound is thus both effectus and efficiens. There are various ways of making sense of the third line. The simplest possibility is to interpret it as a complex causal relationship between events going on around the speech event, complex by reason of being a relationship that is mediated by intermediate foundations. Assume the production of the acoustinc phenomenon is prompted in the speaker by a temporally prior sensory stimulus coming froma a thing in the perceptual field, and hearing the acoustic language phenomenon stimulates the hearer to turn his eyes to the same thing. Thus for example: two people in a room - the one notices a drumming, looks to the window and says, "it's raining" - the other, too, looks to the window, whether directly on hearing the expression or because his gaze is directed to it by looking at the speaker. That can happen, and then the process elegantly makes a full circle. If one wishes, the process can be repeated in this closed circle as on an endless screw. If the thing or event is rich enough to furnish continually new stimulations that are taken up by the one or the other partner in turn, if the incident has ample 'appeal' to them (as a very apt expression has it), then they will indulge in observant probing and discussion of the affair in dialogue form.
(Bühler 2011[1934]: 31-32)
Wow. This approach conflates the context and the channel, as both work through appeal. Thus in Jakobson's example of the phatic function, the boy is trying to appeal to the girl's attention (or vice versa) by continuing the stream of irrelevant replies.
I would claim that the rather too primitive idea of Saussure's "speech-circuit" (Saussure 1922:27 [1983:11; 1959:11; 1931:13]) as once propagated by psychophysics also meets with difficulties of the same kind; these are the same ones that become quite generally manifest in central areas of psychology. Today we have some idea of where the miscalculation is: the systems α and β function in the chain as largely autonomous stations. Even in the simplest case the reception of the stimulus is indeed similar to a genuine 'message' and one's own sending is always an 'action'. (Bühler 2011[1934]: 33)
In Ruesch we similarly find that the sender intends to communicate a message, but the receiver interprets the signals he receives - not only those intended as messages by the sender but also unintended actions that the receiver himself may not be aware of. Or more succinctly: any action can become a message.
What I say here must stand alone for the moment without detailed evidence; the theory of language must contain a special chapter on the signal function of language, where details can be treated. It must be shown there that within biology itself Jakob von Uexküll's approach arose as a sort of Hegelian antithesis to mechanistic behaviourism, and that this approach is sematologically oriented from the beginning, with "perceptual signs" (Merkzeichen) and "effector" or "operative signs" (Wirkzeichen) as basic concepts. The reform I am talking about is carried out in exemplary fashion in Edward C. Tolman's excellent work Purposive Behavior (1932).
(Bühler 2011[1934]: 34)
If I remember correctly then Morris was a follower (or, conversely, an opponent) of Tolman's purposive behaviorism.
With due respect for these facts we sketch the organon model of language a second time in Figure 3. The circle in the middle symbolizes the concrete acoustinc phenomenon. Three variable factors in it go to give it the rank of a sign in three different manners. The sides of the inscribed triangle symbolize these three factors. (Bühler 2011[1934]: 34)
Thus according to the functional models the same message acts in three or six different sign-functions.
The parallel lines symbolize the semantic functions of the (complex) language sign. It is a symbol by virtue of its coordination to objects and states of affairs, a symptom (Anzeichen, indicium: index) by virtue of its dependence on the sender, whose inner states it expresses, and a signal by virtue of its appeal to the hearer, whose inner or outer behaviour it directs as do other communicative signs. (Bühler 2011[1934]: 35)
Of the six types of signs outlined in Sebeok's Signs: An Introduction to Semiotics, the first two are Bühler's symptom and signal; the next three are Peirce's icon, index and symbol; and the last one is name. Sebeok also noticed that Bühler's signals "act like regulators, eliciting or inhibiting some action or reaction" (Sebeok 2001: 10).
In this model it is possible to add Jakobson's three additional components and function to the inner triangnle. The upper left corner connecting sender with objects and states of affairs constitutes the code. The upper right corner connecting the receiver with objects and states of affairs would be the message. And the corner connecting the sender and the receiver would be the channel. This is ingenious because another level appears: the parallel lines coming from the side of the outer triangle and the distant corner of the inner triangle form a visual arrow from all sides. In this way the side of the outer triangle becomes connected with the distant (away-pointing) corner of the inner triangle. Context points to channel; sender points to message and receiver points to code. In other words, there is no common context without there also being a channel; there is no sender without the message; and there is no receiver without the code. It is the sender that forms the message and may do it for his or her own sake irrespective of what it signifies and whether anyone receives it (poetic function). The receiver's arrow points to the code because that is it's causal end-point: while the sender has the code and formulates the message, the receiver has the message and must decipher the code (also, the metalinguistic function is necessary for the sake of the receiver). And channel and context are connected in the sense that for there must be common memory or experience for there to be a common frame of reference. It all falls into place beautifully. This is my crude sketch of it:
This organun model, with its three largely independently variable semantic relations, was first expounded completely in my paper on the sentence (Bühler 1918), which begins with the words: "What human language does is threefold: profession, triggering and representation." Today I prefer the terms expression (Ausdruck), appeal (Appell) and representation, because among language theorists 'expression' is increasingly taking on the precise meaning demanded here, and because the Latin word 'appelare (English: appeal, German: more or less 'ansprechen') is apt for the second; as everyone knows today there is sex appeal, and in addition to that speech appeal seems to me to be just as palpable a fact. (Bühler 2011[1934]: 35)
And the first-person singular present indicative of appellare is appello from ad- ('to, towards") + pello ("push; impress"). Asa a verb it means "I address as, call by name".
At any rate, whoever has realized that language has a significative nature must take care that his concepts are homogeneous; all three basic concepts must be semantic concepts. (Bühler 2011[1934]: 35)
I'm not that sure if Jakobson's six concepts are all semantic. The metalingual, poetic and phatic functions do have something to do with semantics, but in wildly different ways.
A mixture of concepts that in part belong to the (physical) causal view and in part to the significative view would result in such a thorough confusion of the symbolic interpretation of our three-foundation diagram that no one could find his way and pseudo-problems would arise. (Bühler 2011[1934]: 36)
This does sound like what has happened to Jakobson's scheme of language functions.
Though we do not dispute the dominance of the representational function of language, what now follows is suited and intended to delimit it. The concept "things" or the more adequate conceptual pair "objects and states of affairs" does not capture everything for which the sound is a mediating phenomenon, a mediator between the speaker and the hearer. Rather, each of the two participants has his own position in the make-up of the speech situation, namely the sender as the agent of the act of speaking, as the subject of the speech action on the one hand, and the receiver as the one spoken to, as the addressee of the speech action on the other hand. They are not simply a part of what the message is about, rather they are the partners in an exchange, and ultimately this is the reason why it is possible that the sound as a medial product has a specific significative relationship to each, to the one and to the other severally. (Bühler 2011[1934]: 37)
Jakobson does dispute the dominance of the cognitive or representational function. In Mukarovsky this is the "practical" function which the aesthetic/poetic function undermines or deforms. The message mediates the reference (objects and states of affairs) but it also mediates between the speaker and the hearer in a sense that would suggest that the sign is the channel or, as the more popular saying goes, the medium is the message. I would much more prefer to talk of the subject instead of the "addresser". And I'd add that the message is about the subject and addressee severally but also about their relationship.
What are we to make of the third relationship, appeal? It is only our list that makes it the third, whereas in natura rerum, in human and animal communication with signs it is the appeal that first and more exactly becomes evident to the analyst, namely in the behaviour of the receiver. If, instead of human beings, one looks at bees, ants, termites, and studies their means of communication, the researcher's attention will be directed first and foremost to the reactions of the receiver. As an animal psychologist I speak of signals and grasp their communicative valence from the behaviour of those who receive them and process them psychophysically. As theorists of human language we will also not neglect this side of the matter. (Bühler 2011[1934]: 38)
And yet this is exactly the aspect that Jakobson ignores almost completely. It is only with the help of Ruesch that this aspect can be rehabilitated.
The chalk marks drawn by mathematicians and logicians on the blackboard still contain an expressive residue. Hence, there is no need to go to the lyric poet to discover the expressive function as such; it is just that the lyric poet will offer a richer yield. And if he is a high-handed poet, he will sometimes write over his portal that the logician shall remain outside. That is just one of those exaggerations that need not be taken all too seriously. (Bühler 2011[1934]: 39)
Compare this to Jakobson's various emotive tinges and colorings.
Let me stress the point once again: these are only phenomena of dominance, in which one of the three fundamental relationships of the language sounds is in the foreground. (Bühler 2011[1934]: 39)
E.g. the command and the insult are examples of purely conative and emotive functions.
The decisive scientific verification of our constitutional formula, the organon model of language, has been given if it turns out that each of the three relationships, each of the three semantic functions of language signs discloses and identifies a specific realm of linguistic phenomena and facts. (Bühler 2011[1934]: 39)
Note that the correct formula is "emantic functions of language signs" - this suggest that something like "semantic functions of body signs" are possible. Also, it may be possible to disclose and identify a "phatic sphere" (of semiotic phenomena and facts), "expressive sphere", etc.
Finally, the word 'Tische' has a place value in context, and it is sometimes phonematically enriched by an s at the end [which would make a genitive singular of it]: we generally call this the field values that can accrue to a word in the synsemantic surrounding field. (Bühler 2011[1934]: 40)
Welp, you don't often see the term synsemantic dropped so casually. Bühler mentioned Anton Marty in the introduction of this book.
It is thus correct to say that according to the teaching of the organon model of language, phenomena must be regarded as many-sided, and according to this new reflection as many-levelled significative structures. (Bühler 2011[1934]: 40)
I guess many-sided and many-levelled is Bühler's way of talking about polysemanticity. I like it, because Ruesch likewise talks about the levels and functions of communication - it may be possible to import these terms.
Is it expedient to unite symbols, symptoms and signals under the one proximate genus 'sign'? There is no doubt that there is truth to this multiplicity; but the question still arises as to whether the word 'sign' as a superordinate concept becomes an empty husk of a word (as do seemingly so many words from everyday language, which has not been subjected to scientific clarification) if it is retained for everything that is called by this name; some claim that under the must exact logical analysis symbol is the uniform superordinate concept that applies to all. (Bühler 2011[1934]: 42-43)
define: expedient - "convenient and practical, although possibly improper or immoral". Sounds about right. This is where I stop for now, because I have Malinowski to get to.


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