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Lecture 5

Linguistics Lecture 5.docx

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Ivan Kalmar

Linguistics Lecture 5 The Social Construction of the Self  Lacan  Would not have a sense of separateness if it were not for language  Concept of self is not entirely given by nature  Constructed in society by signs and language  Like colours and races, there is a continuum that language and signs construct as separate entities  The self is a constructed reality  Jacques Lacan o French psychoanalyst, interpreted Freud o Self is linguistically constructed o I.e. Baby does not come into society with a sense of individual self. She lives in “the real” stage(people are not separate beings). With language, she learns the boundaries of things (symbolic stage  world experienced as consisting of bounded units). Baby learns “I.”  We are both “I” and “you” to ourselves  The inner conversation, one party coaches the other  This “coach” is more influenced by society  It “represents” society  The “coach” is related to Freud‟s „superego‟  Self IS a conversation and it includes a representation of society Linguistic Constraints on Thought  Language and other signifying systems constrain what we can imagine and communicate  The “Whorf hypothesis:” language, culture, and thought are very closely interrelated  However: “culture” often turns out to be a symptom of social conditions”  Benjamin Whorf o Language influences/controls thought o Fire inspector o Inspected a fire caused by smokers throwing cigarettes into empty oil drums. Signs saying “empty oil drums.” o He suggested that “empty” might indicated that there aren‟t even fumes to ignite. Language affected what they thought, if the word “empty” hadn‟t been there they may not have thought it was safe to do that. o Strong Whorf thought: Language DETERMINES thought o Weak W. Thought: Language INFLUENCES though o Hopi language: cyclical rather than linear time because it didn‟t have „tense‟ morphemes. Only marks complete vs. incomplete action (aspect) (i.e. an action is finished or ongoing and then again).  Do not exaggerate the influence of language on thought  Can‟t necessarily make conclusions about the way people think because of their language (i.e. I like chicken and I love you are both signified by “aime” in French, doesn‟t mean they can distinguish between liking food and loving people)  Languages have words that cannot be
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