Date: Wed, 13 Sep 1995 12:23:08 -0400


Subject: Re: Pronounciation of Oxymoron -Reply

Yes, Sali, clearly constructs such as 'dialect' are real, as are

observable patterns of behavior of all sorts. Individuals have neurons

that do something physical when they speak, as well as when they understand

language. That's the "reality" I was referring to. One's concept

of a neuron may be a construct, but a neuron is a concrete physical

entity. Likewise the size and contour of the vocal tract is "real" and

surely plays a part in the production of speech -- as well as the musculature

in the chest and larynx that is activated as syllables are produced.

The "reality of the phoneme" is another instance of something that is

real, though probably with no single, specifiable physical locus. Here I'm

thinking of the 1920s or 30s article (by Sapir?). DMLance

You may be thinking of something else, but you can get close with

de Saussure, Ferdinand. "The Object of Linguistics." Ch. III of _Course

in General Linguistics_. Ed. Charles Bally and Albert Sechehaye. 1915.

Trans. Wade Baskin. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1959. See p. 15: "4) Language

[langue?] is concrete, no less so than speaking [parole?] . . . .

Linguistic signs, though basically psychological, are not abstractions;

associations which bear the stamp of collective approval--and which added

together constitute language--are realities that have their seat in the

brain . . . .Besides, linguistic signs are tangible; it is possible to

reduce them to conventional written symbols . . . ." [Untangle that


Sapir, Edward. "The Sounds of Language." Ch. III of _Language_. 1921.

Rpt. New York: Harcourt, 1949. See p. 55: "The inner sound-system,

overlaid though it may be by the mechanical or the irrelevant, is a real

and immensely important principle in the life of a language."

Wayne Glowka

Professor of English

Director of Research and Graduate Student Services

Georgia College

Milledgeville, GA 31061