Retour vers liste

Détail de la contribution

Auteur: Elitzur BAR-ASHER SIEGAL

Applying Saussure's dichotomy between langue and parole to a theory of argument realization

Abstract/Résumé: This paper suggests to consider a possible application of Saussure’s distinction between langue and parole for a unique theory of argument realization. In general, langue is the linguistic system that precedes and makes speech possible, while parole is the concrete use of the language. There are strong reasons to believe that, for Saussure, parole is also seen as part of competence and the relevant characteristics of each are as follows: I. The langue consists mostly of specific individual lexical items, as opposed to the parole in which the different elements never stand separately. The lexical items at the langue level exist only as parts of a larger system and therefore receive their meaning, from their relations with the other elements in the system. II. In the langue, the lexical items do not have a specific referential meaning, it only receives a specific meaning in the parole. Thus only at the level of the parole sentential semantics in terms of truth values and truth conditions is relevant, as only with a combination of different elements may one speak of truth conditions. Subsequently, the lexicon only contains information about potential meanings of the individual elements. Thus, it may contain information that contributes to potential event structures, but, according to Saussure, it cannot contain the information of the event structures, since, for this, separate elements are clearly irrelevant. Using these observations for a theory of argument realization, while lexical elements contain important information, this information, however, does not determine the realization exclusively but only imposes restrictions on the parole. Such information is not semantic by its nature, since sentential semantics are only relevant in the parole, in the arrangement of the linguistic elements into a sentence. It does, however, have some relevance for the semantics, but this is only in as much as is relevant for the potential meanings of the lexical items. Consequently, if grammatical relations are not determined according to semantic roles in event structures, an alternative “causal chain” must be formulated to systematically explain the relation between the lexical information and the argument realization. As is common in other theories, the syntax would remain a projection of the lexicon, but fixed event structures would only be relevant at the parole level where there is a proposition that may represent an event.