Date: Wed, 13 Sep 1995 15:05:29 CST From: salikoko mufwene Subject: Re: Pronounciation of Oxymoron -Reply Don: For a moment I thought I read you wrong yesterday. I reread the statement which I questioned but think I read you right. You said: <> Now I read you saying: <> Has your position changed? Also, aren't you contradicting yourself in this second statement? If a dialect is a construct (presumably out of some reality--I assume speech), can it be real in the same way as the reality from which it has been projected? As we go back to perception, I perceive speech/utterances, not a language, though I identify utterances as instantiations of a category called language L. Are categories realities in the same way that their members are? (I am not quite happy with this analogy either, because languages are not clusters of utterances, but I hope you get my point). I think you are off track in your other considerations, except in referring me to the notion of phoneme. I do not think a phoneme is as real as a speech sound is. A phoneme is a construct, but a speech sound is not. I perceive the latter not the former. Now, since Wayne refers me to Saussure, I'd like to point out that although he helped linguistics in distinguishing between "langue" and "parole" (among several other good things), he still did not conceptualize everything right about language, especially its relation to individual speakers. For instance, he insisted so much on the institutional aspect of language, an institution to which native speakers are born, that he could not reconcile this view with the role of native speakers in innovating and bringing about changes. Claude Hagege does a better job than Saussure on this matter (in his book THE LANGUAGE BUILDER, 1993). Native speakers both use inherited principles and modify some of them as they speak, and thus a language is constantly being rebuilt, which I find very normal/natural because I know of no school where native speakers are sent to be certified native speakers... And I'd like to claim that some native speakers are more skilled than others in using their language, but then I would be opening a Pandora's box I am very reluctant to get into. Anyway, my question yesterday was intended to suggest that idiolect, dialect, and language are all constructs, perhaps with different degrees of remoteness from reality, nonetheless very useful constructs. Sali. *********************************************************************** Salikoko S. Mufwene University of Chicago Dept. of Linguistics 1010 East 59th Street Chicago, IL 60637 s-mufwene[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] 312-702-8531; fax: 312-702-9861