Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Wrong Kind of Chocolate Factory.

The tragedy of general linguistics is that the object of your study – the language – is right there, readily available for research, in your own head. You can feel the working of the Langue, sense the relations between sounds and meanings, you can observe the Parole, the process of using these relations for retrieving and sharing information, you can see how texts are perceived and composed. Inside your head, without any laboratories, equipment, personnel, you can do anything. The only thing you can’t do is take it out. As soon as you put it down, it turns into text, and, in a way, it’s dead. The relations that make the Langue are broken, the processes that make the Parole no longer run, the only thing that is left is the set of symbols, which might or might not be interpreted or misinterpreted by another person. But in the process of interpretation it’s going to be the reader’s Langue and Parole, not yours, the reader doesn’t have a chance to connect to your mind, and thus cannot repeat the experiment, cannot really verify the results, and, you know, if results can’t be verified, it’s not a science. It’s like working at a chocolate factory, where you can eat all chocolate you want, but you can’t take it home to the kids. 

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