The night of the missing flowcharts

February 1, 2010

“Crash course” and “semiotics” are not exactly two things you want to hear in the same sentence first thing on a Monday morning. I did scribble down the charts described in these notes, and when I have time and access to a scanner I will add those images to this post.  These notes begin Week 5. Yes, I am a little behind.

****transl theory week 5 monday 2/1/10
“A Crash Course in Literary Semiotics.” Dear god save us all. preparing us for the moar theoretical~ where the hell is Maxwell, we require his presence!

Why Semiotics
>Translation and Semiotic Transfer
Semiology and Semiotics
>Semiology and Medicine
~>started dev late 18th cent; gained knowledge of human anatomy/definition of diseases. Diseases assigned to one system of the body, so teaching of medicine was based on individual systems.
~~>some diseases would not be easily classified to one; made it harder for specialists. They didn’t have a common language to communicate. Semiology would be in charge of these ‘traveling symptoms’ intersystematic.
~~>Semiology died in WWI: too deadly. 😦 Shellshock. Semiologists all said: there’s nothing wrong with these dudes, it’s a perfectly rational response to the situation. It is perfectly logical for the body to just shut down. Generals were grumpycakes. Electroshock therapy introduced to snap them out of it. Based on mind/body split. Inflict so much pain that you’ll snap back in. ewwwwwwww ewww ew I don’t like this. Fired all their semiologists.
>Ferdinand de Saussure: Course in General Linguistics (1916)
~>linguist; french family. Someone sometimes slapped the professor; possibly his son?
~>at that time main orientation of linguistics was historical grammar. woot woot. reconstruction of indoeuropean; ancestor language of most eu languages. how were they doing that? looking at features of all descendant languages, arguing for substance. Couldn’t do that with all sounds: broTHER/fraTer/fre_r wtf. Linguists established rules that focused on significant diffs in vowel length, stress, etc. to create procedure of creating “original” sound. “Arguing from difference.” Whatever they found was called a ‘law.’
~>Ablauten = exceptions to rules; so numerous they filled volumes. Greek especially.
~~>Sauss: in evolution of languages from i-eu, could there be some sounds that were lost in ALL langs? how could we reconstruct them?
~~~>must have left some traces. long vowels in some greek verbs: two short vowels with disappearing consonant? (unlikely yo.) >>>reasoning from difference SQUARED.
~~~>very smart but you have no proof so here’s your doctorate but please go away back to Switzerland. Thus: why are they wrong? They don’t know what language is. Language is primarily a system of differences. Thus title of book collected by his students after his death.
~~~>structural semiology wooo! Russians liked it and no one else. Later after he died they found Hittite with those semiconsonants that he predicted and everyone went “huh but he still had no proof” how modern sciences form woo woo woo
>Roland Barthes: Mythologies (1956)
~>analyzed by signs that they mobilized/articulated
~>appendix: a formal piece of writing on semiotics wooooo
>Umberto Eco; Charles Sanders Peirce

(WG claims that historical linguistics died with Saussure. I, um, have some colleagues that would object to that statement.)

Basic Notions
>Sign, Structure, Sign Effect
>Historical Linguistics and the Reconstruction of Indo-Europhean
>>substance and difference
>>structure and sign effect
>>signifier (significant) Sa
>>signified (signifie’) se’ (not a concept, not specific)
~>in translation you’re looking at noncorrelated signifiers for the same theoretical signified. …because the french buy bread four times a day. good to know! because it needs to never be more than 6 hours old vs the bavarian bread that lasts 3months. The signified is what varies between whatsits. referents thus are different!~

The Jakobsonian Scheme

Roman Jakobson
>OPOIAZ (St Petersburg 1908; philosophers/philologers/linguists/poets orgy yay; exposed them to Saussure and they liked it yay)
>Prague Linguistic Circle
>New York: Claude Levi-Strauss
~>taught a course, WG sat in on it for 2yrs; picked 12 poems in diff langs. Consider the poem the sole surviving document of a lost language; reconstruct the language on that basis, provide an interpretation of the role of that poem within the language. OMGOMG. “And the knowledge of English is useful too.” Omg OMG omg whyyyyyy was I born so late, I want it so bad. Analysis of poetry that was totally evidence-based WOOOOO I want. it. I WANT it. I’m going to CRY.
>Thomas Sebeok
>”I like Ike.”


Jakobson formulated this lovelycakes at a 1949? conference. Forced to determine what function/level of analysis is the pertinent one. Is it the same in the original and translation? reading Darwin in a lit class.

>Preferred terminology: sender; receiver
>”I like Ike”
~>vocalic harmony, similar stops, facilitating in the liquid as solvent
>>Heuristic (exploratory) analysis:
~~>focused on elements smaller than words, yet bearers of significance (not necessarily meaning)
>>>semic analysis
~~~>uncovering patterns: repetition, difference, whatev.
>>>isotopy: iterative semes subsumed in signifying unit
~~~>redundancy necessary for understanding; variation with repetition yay
>>>>isotopy provides a reading pattern that makes a work coherent
~~~>repetition of a seme/idea/mood/etc. How does one identify these? most difficult to render in translation; modality in isotope identification is different from language to language. eeeeeeek
>>the two axes
>>>paradigmatic axis or axis of selection (vertical)
~~~>where you can have substitutions, replacements. Man I like when he speaks French, it’s very fricative with him. Sets in the semantic model; things that are/can be black. Nouns that are compatible. Yo.
>>>syntagmatic axis or axis of concatenation (horizontal)
~~~>axis on which sentence/paragraph is composed. rules of grammar woot woot.

poetry likes to take the vertical and reduplicate it onto the horizontal to reinforce itself.

Descriptive Systems
>Michael Riffaterre on Descriptive Systems
>Stochastic Processes
>>expectation, anticipation, prediction in reading
>>>the Andre Breton example: diplo- ((diplodochus, dinosaur)
>the organization of lexical fields
>>interplay of semantic and lexical fields

THE FOLLOWING is a textual interpretation of a flowchart. KING is a circle in the middle, the rest branch out from it:


lexical sets of associated words, which may or may not be interlinguistically transferrable. Omgomgomg. “Okay. You are done today.” Are we, Professor? ARE WE? O it is time for lunch.


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