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By Richard Harland

Relocating on from his past ebook, Superstructuralism , Richard Harland argues that the focal point on unmarried phrases within the structuralist concept of language is its key weak point and that the subsequent improve past post-structuralism is determined by changing word-based with syntagm-based theories. In a lucid approach he develops a brand new syntagmatic thought which indicates that the impact of mixing phrases grammatically can rework the very nature of which means. The extensive breadth of insurance within the booklet covers either post-Chomskyan' linguistics and Derrida, and units up an competition to analytic and speech-act perspectives of language. by way of proposing a scientific critique and counter-proposal, Harland demanding situations the very starting place of modern literary and language established conception.

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Hence the difficulty of inventing sentences which are grammatically coherent yet absolutely meaningless. ’5 But it is only by multiplying exceptional combinations on top of one another that Chomsky succeeds. Taken individually, these combinations are by no means wholly beyond redemption. 6 And it is surely not difficult to come up with contexts where ‘sleeping furiously’ becomes a perfectly intelligible phrase. As for ‘colourless green’, I can think of a certain twilight effect when dark rippling water is haunted by pinpricks of prismatic red, blue and green—a sort of colour that the eye creates out of colourlessness.

Not that a recomposition of aspects can ever simply 18 A THEORY OF THE SYNTAGM recreate the fullness of the real full case. No amount of adjectival definition (for instance) could ever specify the qualitative uniqueness of a particular real dog. And even such specification as can be achieved does not necessarily bring us any closer to forming a picture of a dog. For the syntagm does not recreate the fullness but only the three-dimensionality of reality. Nonetheless, this three-dimensionality is quite sufficient for reinserting our sentences into the world.

But this potential proliferation is cut down by the intersecting adjective ‘big’. The phrase ‘big dog’ is narrower and more restrictive than either of its component parts considered separately. Paradoxically perhaps, it is the single word which has the most meaning; we put words together in order to specify less meaning. Similarly when ‘dog’ and ‘jumps’ combine. What comes out is more limited and determinate than what went in. Taken together, the noun and verb no longer allow for dogs engaged in any kind of activity, no longer allow for all the varieties of jumping which might be performed by any kind of animal or insect or whatever.

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