Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Langue or Parole? - Part 2

Yesterday's post gave a brief history of the linguistic terms langue and parole, as well as the history of this blog's title (Langue or Parole?). This post expands a bit more on both of those points.

First, the langue-parole pair merits a bit more explanation. Though yesterday's post quoted from Saussure himself, Katie Wales gives an even better explanation of langue and parole (as well as langage) in an excellent book, A Dictionary of Stylistics. She says that langue is "the system of communication produced by a speech community." This is the broader view of language, "distinguished from . . . language as the specific verbal behavior of individuals in speaking and writing (la parole)." Langage in Saussurean thinking is simply "the general faculty possessed by human beings" (232, entry "langue").

Thus to answer the question Langue or Parole? in regard to blogging, the writing phenomenon that is blogging (short, frequent posts often with media and interactivity incorporated, etc.) is an example of a langue, a "general system or code of communication" (cf. Wales, 287). But each blog post or comment (or even +1) is an example of a parole, "the verbal behavior or utterances of individuals in speech and writing, the individual instantiations of the langue."

As for the history of this blog's name, it should be mentioned that, in addition to yesterday's four points about the linguistic profundity of Langue or Parole?, other non-linguistic, purely pragmatic considerations also went into the choice of the name. Yesterday's observations were not afterthoughts, but they were not my first thoughts either. I initially wanted to name my blog Langue et Parole, Langue and Parole, or at least Langue-Parole. But those names already exist in the world of Blogspot. So I came up with Langue or Parole? (Langue or Parole without the question mark didn't make sense at the time) and then developed pseudo-creative reasons for the name. So I guess yesterday's observations were afterthoughts after all.*

*One more afterthought: If I stop blogging here, please remind me to delete my blog so other people can use the blog name if they so desire. It would appear that numerous good blog names are tied up by blogs with paltry entries or no recent entries.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, im an instantiation of langue.