REEXAMINATION OF SOME OF THE FUNDAMENTAL PROPERTIES OF LANGUAGE
I do not propose to say anything new here so much as to reexamine
briefly some of the fundamental properties that have been recurrently
predicated of ‘natural languages’ and to follow up some of the implications
of what this reexamination reveals.
The three properties we are going to take up, namely, arbitrariness,
necessity, and the duality
of patterning (respectively in §§ 1, 2, 3), are logically
distinct from each other. It
is true that they have frequently been confused with each other in
the past, but that is all the more reason for making a special effort
to keep them apart in mind.1
While considering arbitrariness and necessity, we can
very well assume that Saussure’s analysis of the linguistic sing into
the significant and the signifié is an adequate one and not worry
too much about the various refinements, elaborations, reservations,
and revisions proposed by later thinkers.
With pattern duality, as we shall see, it is another matter.
Having considered the three properties and their interrelations
1. Arbitrariness. Cross-linguistically, the relation
between the significant and the signifié is arbitrary. There is no extra-linguistic reason2
why the given significant should not be correlated with other than
its usual signifié in a given language, and vice versa.
We are quite justified in laughing at the English soldier who
criticized the French for calling a cabbage a shoe (Fr. Chou
A symbolism is non-arbitrary when there is some sort
of an appropriateness about it-for example, the geometrical similarity
between a map and the original landscape, the similarity of responses
that make darkness a symbol of ignorance, the stimulus-response relationship
that makes bright red more suitable as a symbol of danger than, say,
1.1. Marginal exceptions. In such phenomena as onomatopoeia, sound symbolism,
or phonaesthesis, we have to concede that extra-linguistic reasons
can be given and so to that extent the arbitrariness of language symbolism
is mitigated. But even here
it is a common-place that these fancied connections between the sound
sequence and the sound or other thing referred to vary considerably
from language to language. Thus the element of arbitrariness enters into
the picture again.
A more convincing case of linguistic iconism is that
of the quotation or citation, when the significant is a specimen of
the signifié, namely, some form-token (Archimedes said, Eureka),
form-type (the form ‘took’), or set of form-types (the pronoun
“thou” is obsolete – referring to thee, thy, and thine
as well) in a language. Even here, minor stipulations have to be made
for each language – for example, Marathi employs the masculine singular
nominative in citing a variable adjective or adds the so-called ‘inherent’
vowel /ә:/ in naming a consonant.
Tactical features in the significant admit of a subtler
iconism. The overt order of
items within a sentence often strikes us ‘natural’. What is more ‘natural’ and appropriate than that we should speak
of *cash and carry or* children and wife, or what words
which go together in meaning tend to go together in the temporal speech
sequence, or that connectives should come between the items they connect? Indeed when we come to the largest grammatical
unit in size, the sentence, the grammarian gives up and refuses
to give any linguistic account of why the sentences in a text occur
in the order in which they do.3 Similar considerations
will be seen to apply to tactical features other than overt order.
Finally, we could take note of cases of indirect iconism.
In words like cuckoo the significant is iconic of the
cry, which in turn is metonymically associated with the signifié proper,
the bird. When we say, The
word “man” is spelled with three letters, the significant is iconic
of the spoken form which in turn calls forth the signifié proper,
namely, the written form. In
the obscure area of intonations, vocal qualifiers, and the like, the
limits of the principle of arbitrariness could perhaps be formulated
in some such terms: the significant is iconic (not acoustically so
much as in respect of articulation) of a gesture which is itself a
sign (not necessarily iconic) of the signifié proper, namely, the
attitude of the speaker to the addressee and to the matter-in-hand.
Cases of non-arbitrary linguistic symbols other than
the iconic ones are not easy to think of.
One can think of the choice of an overt order dictated by what
is appropriate according to good manners –ladies and gentlemen!
or you and I rather than *gentlemen and ladies! or*
I and you.
For all such exceptions
to arbitrariness, one can say that to the extent that the extra-linguistic
reasons in question are culture-bound in their cogency, they are a
less serious threat to the principle.
2. Necessity. Intra-linguistically, the relation between
the significant and the signifié is a necessary one-a relation of
solidarity or coimplication.4
There is never a linguistic reason why the given significant
should be correlated with other than its usual signifié in a given
language, and vice versa.5 This is the linguistic or notational
analogue to the logical axioms of identity and non-contradiction,
A is A and A is not non-A.
A symbolism is non-necessitarian when there is either
one-to-many or many-to-one or many-to-many correspondence between
signifiants and signifiés. Signs
may be either ambiguous or alternating.
2.1. Marginal exceptions. No natural language is fully necessitarian,
though its users have to proceed as if it is (and the same goes for
When the same signifiant is correlated with different
signifies, we have either homonymy (Marathi /palәk/ ‘guardian’,
‘spinach’) or polysemy (Marathi /toṇḍ/
‘mouth; face’) according as the aberration is more or less serious. These two are, however, never so numerous in
a language as to frustrate the modest optimism of GREENBERG’S observation
(1957, p. 35): “Just because you call a dog a ‘dog’, it does not mean
that you have to call a cat a ‘cat’.
It is unlikely, however, that you will call it a ‘dog’.”
A less serious threat to the efficiency of a language
is the association of more than one signifiants with the same signifié. Corresponding to polysemy, there is polyonymy illustrated by suppletion
and other cases of anomalous non-contrastive alternation where we
pretend that we do not have more than one signifiant. When we run out of reasons to justify this claim, we admit that
we have a set of synonyms on our hands.
In the case of synonymy, however, the principle of necessity
finally reasserts itself to the extent that the synonymy is imperfect,
which it almost always is. Indeed
if a language does come up with perfect synonyms, historical change
usually saves the situation by a process of semantic differentiation.6
3. The duality of patterning. This is the well-known “double articulation
linguistique” (MARTINET, 1949). At
this point we have to give up the simple antithesis of signifiant
and signifié and have three terms—the phonetic
form plays the signifiant to the grammatical form which in turn plays
a similar role to the ultimate signifié. The utterance is organized and interpretable
at two levels—as a phonologic sequence and as a grammatical sequence. The syntagmatic alignments or “cuts” and the
paradigmatic alignments of “sames” and “differents” will differ at
the two levels. The minimum
or simplex meaningful forms are independent of each other as to their
overt shape.7 If they are not so independent, ether the
so-called meaningful minimums are complex or the so-called meaningless
minimums (phonemes or components) are not in fact meaningless. The
very possibility of setting up two kinds of units will have to be
The principle of dual patterning can be indirectly illuminated
by giving an example of a symbolism that is not so patterned— the
written mathematical notation. Here
we have to learn the overt shape for each meaningful minimum—“one”,
“plus”, “equals”, etc.—independently.
There is no way of reinterpreting 1, +, =, etc., as patternings
of units of another ‘lower’ level.
3.1. Marginal exceptions. The principle of duality may be threatened
in either of two ways. First,
there may be an incipient conflation of the two levels into one. TOGEBY (1951, p. 30) defines ‘morphophonemes’
as solidary or inseparable combinations of a unit of expression and
a unit of content—“the phoneme of modulation is always accompanied
by a particular morpheme of modulation and is unable to express any
other, and the morpheme of modulation likewise cannot be expressed
in any other way” (translation mine) 8. Although it may
be seriously doubted whether things are so simple with French intonations,
which TOGEBY is describing at this point, it is easy to see how this
kind of situation can come about with junctures, contours, and the
like as opposed to vocoids, non-vocoids, coarticulations, tones, and
the like. Some such consideration
seems to have motivated JAKOBSON to accord a special status to such
features—they are either configurative or expressive features but
not the ordinary distinctive features characterizing vocoids and the
like (JAKOBSON and HALLE, 1956, § 2.3).
I do not see why the three have to be mutually exclusive classes
of features: I see no difficulty in envisaging the same given features
as entering into more than one function—the details varying from language
A more convincing case for a direct hook-up, so to say,
between the significant and the signifié
can be made out for tactical features as opposed to quotable (or at
least isolable) morpheme-shapes.
BLOOMFIELD (1933, pp. 166, 264) tried to establish a distinction
between the meaningless taxeme and the meaningful tagmeme to match
the phoneme and the morpheme respectively.
It is certainly no accident that this attempt has hitherto
remained a mere curiosity in the history of linguistics.
More to our purpose will be his definition of irregularity
(1933, p. 274): “any form which a speaker can utter only after he
has heard it from other speakers is irregular.”
To the extent that tactical patterns or analogies prevail over
irregularities or anomalies, the SEMIOSIS is DIRECT rather than MEDIATED.
To the extent that irregularities detract from the signaling
reliability of a tactical pattern, duality breaks in and the grammar
stands in need of being rounded off by a lexicon of such anomalies.
Secondly, the duality principle may be called into question
because of incipient fissions of the two levels into more than two.
Let us look at the grammatical level first.
It has become amply clear by now that BLOOMFIELD’S definition
of the morpheme as the minimum meaningful unit proves to be unworkable
in practice. Empty morphs
(for instance, some stem-formatives) do not commute with anything,
even with their own absence; some morph resemblances (MARTIN, 1952,
Ch. 16) (like crash, crush, dash; snide, sneer, side; or see,
sight in English, or /lomb-,
lomkәḷ-, oḷkhәmb-, oḷәmba, hindkәḷ-/, etc., in Marathi9
do not quite add up to morphemes but have an undoubted nuisance value;
the meaningfulness of derivative suffixes is often questionable, yet
calling them morphemes seems to make sense; unique constituents (like
cran- in cran-berry) render their partners redundant—all
such ‘aberrant’ cases arouse precisely those ‘suspicions’ that BAZELL
takes care to allay (see fn. 7 above) in speaking of typical morphemes.
So if we try to find a way out of this difficulty by suitably
redefining ‘morpheme’ and renaming BLOOMFIELD’S meaningful minimum,
say as ‘idiom’ (cf. HOCKETT, 1956, 1958), we are face to face with
three levels—the phonologic, the morphemic or grammatical, and the
At the phonologic end of the semiotic chain,
we have JAKOBSON’S treatment (JAKOBSON and HALLE, 1956 and elsewhere)
of distinctive features. If we are justified in regarding components
(as he seems to) as distinctive primarily of phonemes and only secondarily
of utterances (I think the reverse is true), then we have a splitting
up of the phonologic level into two—the componential and the phonemic.11
The multiplication of levels entails a multiplication
of THRESHOLDS OF LAWFULNESS OR WELL-FORMEDNESS in language.
The phonologically lawful (‘pronounceable’), the grammatically
lawful (‘correct’, ‘grammatical’), and the semantically lawful (‘makes
sense’, ‘usable’) would then seem to be successively less inclusive
So long as we have more than one level (whether
two or three or more), we can say that the sign-system has mediated
4. Interrelations of the three principles.13
Arbitrariness and mediated semiosis are logically independent—that
is, one can be present or absent in the presence or absence of the
other. Arbitrary but one-level sign-systems are common
enough: traffic lights and written mathematical symbolism (see § 3
above) are good examples. Non-arbitrary
sign-systems with more than one level are also found. Stick figures are iconic likely ordinary line-drawings, but unlike
the latter they are simple combinations of a limited number of isolates.
This two-level patterning is what makes them easily reproducible.
Another example would be a medical system in which all disorders
are diagnosed in terms of combinations of a few basic symptoms, so
that symptoms reveal disorders, which in turn ‘indicate’ certain remedies. Here what renders the system non-arbitrary
is not iconism but ‘natural’ cause-and –effect relations.
Cross-linguistic arbitrariness and intra-linguistic
necessity are mutually independent and not incompatible (as BENVENISTE,
1939, seems to have wrongly thought).
Necessity and mediation are independent too. If the two levels—the ‘lower’ (phonologic,
expression, cinematic) and the ‘higher’ (grammatic, content, plerematic)—are
compared as to the operation of necessity (the avoidance of many-to-one
or one-to-many semiotic relationships), the lower one on the whole
seems to score better. It
is interesting to note, in this connection, that in much historical
reasoning, especially in internal reconstruction, there seems to be
a tacit assumption that earlier stages tend to have a ‘cleaner’ allophonics
and morphophonemics. Historical changes muddy the water, so to speak, and we are left
with highly dissimilar allophones, intersection of phonemes, suppletion,
homonymy, and similar other complications and aberrations on our hands. I think that this assumption needs to be looked
into; it is not probably as naive as it sounds.
The joint consequence of arbitrariness and
duality is that every morpheme shape is an irregularity (cf. BLOOMFIELD,
1933, p. 274)—the speaker cannot make it up for himself without introducing
a linguistic change, that is, without modifying the threshold of lawfulness. On the other hand, ideally there is no room
for irregularity at supra-morphemic size-levels, no place for supra-morphemic
units as entries in a lexicon. All
complex forms should be at the dispensation of the tactical code (the
principle of necessity) without falling back upon the lexical listing
(the principle of arbitrariness).
The linguist’s uneasiness is greater in accepting tactical
homonymy and tactical perfect synonymy than in accepting homonymous
morphemes and morpheme alternants—and his instinct is well-founded.14
A word of clarification about the relation
between the ‘lower-level’ units, say, phonemes, and the ‘higher-level’
units, morphemes, is perhaps in order at this point.
Nothing in what we have said so far implies that the morpheme—or
more accurately, the morph, its correlate at the ‘lower’ level—has
to be ‘longer’ than the phoneme (or at least as long).
Typically, however, morphs are longer than unit phonemes in
natural languages and this has led some to the mistaken idea that
morphemes (sic!) are in some sense ‘composed of’ phonemes.
By itself a morpheme is a Euclidean point—it has a (linear)
position but no magnitude. The distinction between the morpheme and
the morph is fundamental. Again,
nothing in what we have said so far implies that the ‘lower-level’
minimal units are few in number, while the ‘higher-level’ minimal
units are rather numerous. It so happens, however, that this is the case
with natural languages and plays an important part in their economy.15
5. A fourth property? The reader who
has patiently followed us so far must no doubt have been impressed
more by the marginal exceptions and deviations than by the principles
themselves. It is a part of the linguistic field-worker’s
training to learn to reconcile oneself with the discrepancy between
what ‘ought’ or ‘ought not’ to occur and what does actually occur
and not impatiently conclude that the information is either stupid
or obstinate. The disappointment
of logicians and logical semanticians with natural languages is well-known,
though some of them are more graceful about it and speak of the open
texture of natural languages.
That indeed seems to be the wiser part. Rather than blame these inconvenient exceptions
and discrepancies entirely on the imperfections of our formulations
or the incompleteness of the corpus, we may perhaps do well to dignify
them as consequences of a single principle, namely, that all grammars
leak, that language is not merely changeful, shifty, subject to dialect
variation, but also fundamentally crude, makeshift, messy.16
(Thus crudity, let me repeat, is more than either linguistic change
or dialect variation. These two do not render the postulation of
an ideally well-behaved language impossible but merely pose a challenge
to our ingenuity.17)
By so recognizing crudity as a fundamental
property, we are to that extent rescuing linguistic analysis from
the hazards of the linguist’s temperament.
He may have his passion for or horror of tidiness—but he has
to accept crudity: his business is to find out just how crude a language
is, 18 and how best he can cope with it.
6. Methodological implications. There is an unfortunate tendency to divorce
the discussion of the fundamental properties of language (SAUSSURE’S
language) and the discussion of the traits of specific languages
(SAUSSURE’S langue). As a consequence both suffer. The former gains a reputation (often justifiably
so) of being armchair philosophy, debates in vacuo, or just a textual
criticism of SAUSSURE. The
latter, aiming to concern itself with the practical business of describing
a language (practical, indeed!), degenerates into myopic shoptalk.
What is exactly the status of these predications
about language? Are they descriptions of general properties? Assumptions
underlying our methods of investigation (discovery), presentation,
and validation (evaluation)? Elements
in the definition of language? Assertions
of language universals, inseparable accidents? We cannot even begin
to answer these questions here. We
shall have to wait, presumably, till we get around to a comprehensive
typology of sign-systems.19
The first three principles (and possibly
a few others) are the unspoken assumptions underlying many of the
analyst’s intuitions about some of the familiar cruxes of descriptive
analysis. At the minimum, the principles will help us
realize why suppletion, homonymy, zero, intersection of phonemes,
idioms, intonations, and the like make us uneasy or cautious in the
first place, why they are cruxes at all.
The most interesting methodological problems,
however, are those raised by the crudity principle—especially as they
concern the presenting of the results of our investigation for the
inspection of others. Broadly,
we may say, if language is messy, fuzzy-edged, crude, let our description
of it be answeringly messy, precisely vague, and not inaccurately
precise. CHOMSKY’S suggestion
(1957, Ch. 2, fn. 2; Ch. 5, fn. 2) that we recognize degrees of grammaticalness
(read: lawfulness at the grammatical level) is thus a step in the
right direction (cf. Also HARWOOD, 1955). The counsel of despair which makes a fetish
of attestation is certainly not the wiser way of facing crudity—a
form may be lawful and yet remain unattested and vice versa. (In the latter event, the form may be explained as a slip of the
tongue, imperfect mastery of the code, playful flouting of the code,
a citation in a metalinguistic discourse, and the like).
Another counsel of despair is that co-existent
sub-systems (read: rival or competing thresholds of lawfulness) be
recognized at the drop of a hat.20 This device, if not
handled too carefully, is apt to run counter to the principle of intra-linguistic
necessity. For, to the extent that one sub-system sanctions
a form rejected by a rival sub-system, we are beginning to have linguistic
reasons why the given signifié should be correlated with a different
significant and vice versa.
7. Conclusion. To conclude, the necessity and mediation principles tell us why
we should not despair of describing languages; the crudity principle
(or the crudity caveat, if you like) tells why we should not be too
confident (as American linguists generally are, when not at their
best) or too ambitious (as the glossematicians, who end up by not
writing any grammars at all); the mediation and crudity principles
tell us why we human beings do not despair of being able to talk about
this multifarious, bewildering, contingent world of ours.
BAZELL, Charles E.,
1949. On the problem of the
morpheme. Archivum linguisticum
1939. Nature du signe linguistique.
Acta ling. 1: 1. 23-9.
BLOCH, Bernard, 1948. A set of Postulates for phonemic analysis.
Lang. 24. 3-46.
1933. Language. New
L., 1948. On defining the morpheme.
Word 4. 18-23.
------, 1950. Rime, assonance and morpheme analysis. Word 6. 117-36.
CHOMSKY, Noam, 1957. Syntactic structures. The Hague: Mouton.
FIRTH, J. R., 1935. The technique of semantics. Trans. Of Philol.
Soc. 1935, 36-72.
(Reprinted in Firth, 1957 a.)
------, 1957 a. Papers
in linguistics 1934-1951. London: Oxford University Press.
------, 1957 b. Synopsis
of linguistic theory. Contributed
to: Studies in linguistic analysis.
FRIES, C. C., and
PIKE, K. L.. 1949. Coexistent phonemic systems.
Lang. 25. 29-50.
GARVIN, Paul L.,
1957. On the relative tractability of morphological data. Word 13. 12-
GREENBERG, J. H.,
1957. Essays in linguistics. Chicago: University of Chicago
HARWOOD, F. W., 1955.
Axiomatic syntax: the construction and evaluation of a
Lang. 31. 409-13.
HOCKETT, C. F., 1956. Idiom formation. In: For Roman Jakobson.
HOCKETT, C. F., 1958. A course in modern linguistics. New
1936. Beitrag zur allgemeinen Kausslehre: Gesamtbedeutung
russischen Kasus. TCLP
------, 1953. Participant in: Lévi-Strauss, C., et al. (edd.),
Results of the Conference of
and linguists, Ind. Univ. Publ. in Anthr.
And Ling., Memoir 8, see Index.
------, and Halle,
Morris, 1956. Fundamentals
of language. The Hague: Mouton.
JOOS, Martin, (ed.),
1957. Readings in linguistics……Washington:
MARTIN, Samuel E.,
1952. Morphophonemics of standard
colloquial Japanese. Lang.
1949. La double articulation linguistique.
structurales (= TCLC 5), 30-8.
Patañjali. Mahābhāṣya (‘The Great Commentary’
on Pānini, ed. by KIELHORN).
is based on the English tr. in P.S. Subrahmanya SASTRI, Lectures,
vol. 1, 1960 and the Marathi tr. by MM. Vasudevshastri ABHYANKAR,
Vol. 1, 1938.]
SAPIR, Edward, 1921. Language. New York: Harcourt, Brace.
de, 1916. Cours de linguistique
gnrale, 1st ed. Paris: Payot.
1948. Work and history: An Essay on the structure
Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Knud, 1951. Structure immanente
de la langue franiçase (= TCLC 6).
Copenhagen: Nordisk Sprog- go Kulturforlag.
Rulon S., 3d, 1947. De SAUSSURE’S
system of linguistics. Word
3. 1-31. (Reprinted in
Joos (ed.), 1957, pp. 1-31.)
This was published in Indian Linguistics
25: 83-92, 1964 (published 1965).
3. The ancient
Indian grammarians of Sanskrit thought fit to announce this refusal
much earlier – when the word
(pada) was reached. Patañjali
bluntly tell us (Mahābhāṣya 1. 1.3 apud Pānini 1.1.1,
vārtt. 7, Kielhorn’s ed.,
vol. 1, p.39 ii. 16-19): “The restrictions of usage (proyoganiyama)
are not taken up here. What
then? Words are formed and formed endlessly here.
They are put together in any way thought proper-as in, āhara
pātram [fetch (imper.) vessel accus. Sg.)] or pātram āhara.”
7. Compare the first half of the GREENBERG quotation
is § 2.1 above. Cf. also BAZELL
(1949, p. 9), who points out that morphemes are typically “not suspect
either of being divisible into signs or being only parts of signs.” BOLINGER (1948, 1950) is full of precisely
8. This use of the term morphophonéme has
of course nothing to do with the
usual American use of
9. Meaning respectively ‘hang (intr.) as a part
of’, ‘hang (intr,) by attachment’, ‘(of person or limb) swing and
exert pull by weight’, ‘plumb-level’, ‘(of liquid in a container)
be disturbed by the irregular movements of the container’.
10. Translating this revision into HJELMSLEV’S
terms will yield the following scheme:
Presumably, content-form1 (grammar) will be Janus-faced
and phonology and semology will be substances to grammar but forms
to phonetics and semantics.
I think, however, that components constitute an alphabet for
writing phonologic forms and not merely phonemes.
In that case two allophones may differ componentially on occasion
and so intersection of phonemes may be tolerated.
The difference between the component and the phoneme will be
merely one of size-level like that between the morpheme and the word. Size-levels are in some sense less fundamental
than levels of semiotic mediation.
The recent devaluation of the morphology-syntax division is
justified. Unfortunately the
term level has become a vogue word and been subjected to careless
So that colourless green ideas sleep furiously as also
sincerity admires John (CHOMSKY, 1957, § 2.3 and fn. 7
to § 5.4) will cross the grammatical threshold but fail at the semantic
threshold. This tallies well with the often-heard informant
response : “Sure, you could say that, there is nothing against
it, but we just don’t, it doesn’t mean anything.”
The term canonical could now
be defined as morphophonemically lawful or well-formed-provided we
keep in mind the essentially secondary status of morphophonemics as
compared to the three primary levels.
The term well-formed is borrowed
from modern logic. For the
term lawfulness I am
indebted to Paul SCHRECKER’S Work and history (1948, see Index). Linguistic lawfulness has closer affinities
to lawfulness in the everyday sense than to conformity to ‘natural
law’—something we have lost sight of in decrying prescriptive grammar. Morris SWADESH’S glottochronologic hypothesis,
if substantiated, would be a true example of a natural law and be
applicable to parole and not langue.
The ancient dispute between anamolists and analogists rests
on an incomplete analysis. The
three principles present three antitheses:
arbitrary : motivated (whether iconically or otherwise)
necessary : asymmetrical
mediated semiosis : immediate semiosis
It is true that there is some degree
of polarization here between ‘arbitrary’, ‘asymmetrical’, and ‘mediated’
on the one hand (all defeat analogy) and ‘motivated’, ‘necessary’,
and ‘immediate’ on the other (all promote analogy). But this cannot be simplified into a single antithesis. We have to find our way to a more adequate
formulation. For instance,
the relation between the third antithesis and analogy is probably
to be formulated as follows: mediated semiosis arises in order to
mitigate anomaly, while perfect analogy actually renders any further
But the uneasiness should not be tantamount to refusal. JAKOBSON’S attempts (1936) to force all the
disparate uses of a case into a single formula (the Gesamtbedeutung)
seem to stem from a mistaken belief that we should keep grammar at
least (tactics and marker morphemes) clean of asymmetrical hook-ups
between the significant and the signifié.
That is the privilege of the speakers of the language and not
of the linguistic analyst.
15. Two-level sign-systems that depart from this picture are not, however,
difficult to find. In Morse
code, for instance, both kinds of units are limited in number.
Cf. SAPIR, 1921, Ch. 2, p. 39, Firth, 1935, pp. 70-1,
17. Consider in this connection
BLOCH’S definition of the ‘idiolect’: ‘The totality of the possible
uttearances of one speaker at one time in using a language to interact
with one other speaker is an idiolect” (1948, § 1.7). SAUSSURE’S uneasiness in reconciling diachrony and synchrony is
also understandable (cf. WELLS’ 1947, §§ 32-4). The fact is that there is a sort of built in ethnocentrism in language
that regards what is spoken here and now as alone right.
18. Whether languages differ in the degree of crudity is a moot question,
Cf. GARVIN, 1957.
1958, § 64.3
20. Cf. FIRTH (1957a, passim; 1957b) on ‘polysystematic’ analysis; FRIES
and PIKE, 1949; JACKOBSON on ‘code-switching’ as a routine fact of
language (1953, pp. 16-7, 36 ff.).