[-empyre-] C. S. Peirce and Code


Language is shared --- so to get at a "new language" or new vocabulary, we need in part to use old language, to build a frame for potentially addressing these "new ideas" - to point at emergent relationships that might be new in some respect --- to construct a new contextual awareness. I guess I was trying to suggest that we might use new approaches to the language surrounding this body of practices we call digital writing [for me this is much broader than hypertext or blogs alone]. I was thinking we might develop vocabulary or seek to articulate (re-understand) relationships to other forms (define metaphors?) to better point at or unpack the media elements and processes that are at operation in some of the new forms of meaning production that include digital text. Peirce has many many forms of relations he has articulated and he is of course of great value. Alternately, there might be new modes of approach that can help illuminate this complex nexus forms.

Here are a few others that I have found:

Integrational Linguistics:
A First Reader
Edited by:  Roy Harris & George Wolf
New Orleans, Louisiana, USA


The same applies, furthermore, not only to language but to all modes of human communication. For, contrary to what is commonly assumed in orthodox linguistics, there is no sharp dividing line separating language from other modes of communication, or linguistic behaviour from non-linguistic behaviour. For human beings, a sign is a sign because it has an integrational function in the particular circumstances in which it occurs, and when voluntarily produced by human agency its production is always a creative act on the part of one of more individuals acting in a certain situation. Whatever we recognize as a linguistic sign (by whatever criteria seem appropriate to the occasion) is always a non-linguistic sign as well. The two are never mutually exclusive. Human beings do not inhabit a communicational space which is compartmentalized into language and non-language, but an integrated space where all signs are interconnected.
(P. 2)

Language and Communication (from Integrational Linguistics):

An 'integrational' approach, on the contrary, assumes that linguistic analysis must focus in the first instance on understanding the communication situation(s) which give(s)rise to any episode of linguistic behaviour. In short, for the integrationist language cannot be decontextualized.

If the study of language cannot be segregated from the study of communicational behaviour, it follows that the orthodox approach to linguistic analysis is flawed at a very fundamental level.. For it presupposes, in effect, that linguistic signs are determinate, being components of an abstract system which exists independently of any particular communicational interaction that particular persons might entertain or pursue in particular cases. But this determinacy, according to the integrationist, is the last thing a linguist is entitled to take for granted. Linguistic communication is far more 'open-ended' than the segregational approach assumes, but also far more dependent on particular circumstances,

Language as Social Interaction:
Integrationalism versus Segregationalism
(Roy Harris)

The alternative approach, the integrational1 approach, sees language as manifested in a complex of human abilities and activities that are all integrated in social interaction, often intricately so and in such a manner that it makes little sense to segregate the linguistic from the non-linguistic components. (P.6)

It is not surprising that the clearest expression of an integrational perspective on language should have come from one of the leading figures in social anthropology of the interwar period, Malinowski. But Malinowski's most famous dictum, that language is "a mode of action, rather than a countersign of thought', when watered down into such statements as 'the context of situation is indispensable for the understanding of the word's or 'the utterance has no meaning except in the context of situation' (Malinowski 1923: 307), appears to reduce readily to truisms with which nobody would disagree. As interpreted by J.R. Firth, Malinowski's claim emerges in the sadly emasculated guise of recognizing an 'outer' layer of contextualization statements that the descriptive linguist is obligated to undertake in order to 'complete' the description of a language. (P.9)

In America, the attempt to integrate linguistics in the general study of communicative behaviour was pursued most systematically by Kenneth Pike, while in England a similar emphasis emerged in the work of Firth, for whom 'the central concept of the whole of semantics? is the context of situation. In that context are the human participant or participants, what they say, and what is going on.' (Firth 1957: 27). In both Pike and Firth, however, one sees a further consequence of the compromise between the segregationalist and integrationalist positions. Although Firth uses the term integration, for him the analysis of what wider integration begins 'when phonetician, grammarian and lexicoprapher have finished.' In other words, Firth works from utterances "outwards', and not from the total context 'inwards'. Like Pike, he seems to have conceived of the non-verbal part of communicative behaviour essentially as language carried on by other means. This evident even terminologically in the case of Pike, who introduced such units as the 'behavioreme' ( a term clearly modeled on phoneme and morpheme). Thus in both cases, the approach eventually adopted envisaged an extension of the analysis of language systems to embrace a certain range of related social facts, rather than any rethinking of the basic assumptions underlying the postulation of language systems in the first place. (P. 9)

see also:

Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual Design.

We see our work as part of 'social semiotics' and it is therefore important to place it in context of what 'semiotics' is and has been in this century. Three schools of semiotics have applied ideas from the domain of linguistics to other, non-linguistic modes of communication. The first was the Prague School of the 1930s and early 1940s. It developed the work of the Russian Formalists by providing it with a linguistic basis. Notions such as 'foregrounding' were applied to language (e.g. the 'foregrounding' of phonological or syntactic forms through 'deviation' from standard forms, for artistic purposes) as well as to study the art (Mukarovsky), theatre (Honzl), cinema (Jakobson) and costume (Bogatyrev). Each of these semiotic systems could fulfil the same communicative functions (the 'referential' and the 'poetic' functions). The second was the Paris School of the 1960s and 1970s, which applied to the ideas of Saussure and other linguists (Schefer), photography (Barthes, Lindekens), fashion (Barthes), cinema (Metz), music (Nattiez), comic strips (Fresnault-Deruelle), etc. The ideas developed by this school are still taught in countless courses of media-studies, art and design, often under the heading 'semiology', despite the fact that they are at the same time regarded as being overtaken by post-structuralism. Everywhere students are learning about 'langue' and 'parole'; the 'signifier' and the 'signified'; 'arbitrary' and 'motivated' signs; 'icons', 'indexes' and 'symbols' (these terms come from Peirce, but are incorporated in the framework of 'semiology'); 'syntagmatics' and 'paradigmatics'; and so on - generally without being given access to alternative theories of semiotics (or of linguistics)... The third fledgling movement of this kind is 'social semiotics', which began in Australia, where the ideas of Michael Halliday inspired studies of literature (Treadgold, Thibault), visual semiotics (O'Toole, ourselves) and music (Van Leeuwen), as well as other semiotic modes (Hodge and Kress.) (Kress and Van Leeuwen, 1996, p.5)

KRESS, G. and VAN LEEUWEN, T. 1996. Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual Design. London/New York: Routledge Press.


I am completely in agreement about language always being in a state of evolution.

and yes --- the word Code becomes quite slippery in this context...

[ps sorry If I did a typo - I do know how to spell Peirce and pronounce his name... ]

Peter Morse Said:

Having given this some thought I am not persuaded of the idea that
hypertext is revolutionary or a genuinely new mode of language. It
seems a bit old-fashioned to invoke the idea of a "new" language (a
utopian dream of expressing the previously inexpressible; a
narcissist's fantasy of public incomprehension; Orwell's "newspeak"
and "doublethink"), as this is something that permeates avowedly
Modernist tracts and practices, and yet the fact remains that these
things were written in language. What is new here? What is actually
meant when you say a "new language"? The language itself or the
conformation of the language? All language is necessarily evolving,
changing and diversifying  - it is a precondition of language that it
does so (otherwise why would there be so many different languages -
English monolinguals tend to be very limited in their ideas about
this), and clearly it has done so for millenia...
Professor Bill Seaman, Ph.D.
Department  Head
Digital+ Media Department (Graduate Division)
Rhode Island School of Design
Two College St.
Providence, R.I. 02903-4956
401 277 4956
fax 401 277 4966


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