Ferdinand de Saussure has an appendix with a section in “Linguistic paleontology” and Pictet in his General Course on Linguistics.
“Linguistic paleontology” Maurice Olender, The Languages of Paradise: Aryans and Semites, a Match Made in Heaven trans. Arthur Goldhammer. Harvard UP, 1992. Adolphe Pictet
“The year 1859, which saw the publiation of Darwin’s Origin of Species, was also the year in which a monumental “essay on linguisitc paleontology” appeared under the title Les origins indoeuropeenes ou les Aryas primitifs (Indo-European Origins, or the Primitve Arays). Its author, Adolphe Pitctet (1799-1855), belonged to one of the leading families of Calvinist Genvea. . . . His method was that of a linguistic ethnographer in search of words capable of bringing the primitieve Aryas back to life. What did the Aryas pass on to their descendants—among whom Pictet counted himself—other than their language? Language is the only way to rescue Aryas from the obscurity of centuries. Pictet therefore embarks on a journey of “linguistic paleontology,” tracking the destiny of words. His mission: to revive Indo-European meomories in a Chrisitan Europe that is in search of an even brighter future. . . . Taking as his model new techniques in analyzing fossils, he hoped to give voice t the vestiges of the Arian vocabulary as other scientists reconstituted the life of an animal—its feeing habits and other behavior—forma few bones: “For words last as long as bones, and just as a tooth implicitly contains parts of an animal’s history, a single word can lead to the whole series of ideas associated with its formation, Thus the name linguistic paleontology is ideally suited to the science we have in mind,” (p.14).” (93; 95; 96)
A history of philology is missing. Nota need to be filled—another retracing, unfolding narrative. Read the lack of the history , even as valuable as a conventionalone would be, as symptomatic of a blindness to publication history, to files, to the archive, retrieval, storage, and so on, due to fantasy of reanimation—bringing back to life.
Language as repository of primitiv eimagrey, p 97.
Revised and augmented 2009. “Fossils”
Christine Kenneally, The First Word: The Search for the Origins of Language. This book grows out of Kenneally's conviction that investigating the evolution of language is a good and worthwhile pursuit—a stance that most in the field of linguistics disparaged until about 20 years ago. The result is a book that is as much about evolutionary biology as it is about linguistics. We read about work with chimpanzees, bonobos, parrots and even robots that are being programmed to develop language evolutionarily. Kenneally, who has written about language, science and culture for the New Yorker and Discover among others, has a breezily journalistic style that is occasionally witty but more often pragmatic, as she tries to distill academic and scientific discourses into terms the casual reader will understand. She introduces the major players in the field of linguistics and behavioral studies—Noam Chomsky, Steven Pinker, Sue Savage-Rumbaugh and Philip Lieberman—as well as countless other anthropologists, biologists and linguists. Kenneally's insistence upon seeing human capacity for speech on an evolutionary continuum of communication that includes all other animal species provides a respite from ideological declamations about human supremacy, but the book will appeal mainly to those who are drawn to the nuts and bolts of scientific inquiry into language.
The Unfolding of Language: An Evolutionary Tour of Mankind's Greatest Invention [Paperback]
Guy Deutscher The linguistic chain that connects the boasts of an ancient Sumerian monarch to the jests of Groucho Marx is long and convoluted, but Deutscher retraces it, fascinating link by fascinating link, identifying the dynamic processes that have continuously transformed and renewed the world's diverse languages. Even when delving deeply into ancient manuscripts and temple engravings, Deutscher interprets every linguistic mutation as the consequence of evolutionary forces still observable in today's living languages. Readers see in linguistic fossils from Mesopotamia traces of the same conversion of living metaphor into conceptual lattice still taking place in modern English, German, and Indonesian. What Deutscher demonstrates most clearly is how linguistic structures that look like the product of deliberate artifice can emerge from entirely natural processes. Predictably, when he probes the linguistic developments before the advent of writing, the author must frequently substitute his own speculations for solid evidence. Entailing just enough technical detail to tempt readers into professional sources (listed at the book's conclusion), this introduction to fundamental linguistic principles opens to nonspecialists a rich theoretical vista.
Using language himself in a lively and engaging way, Deutscher, an expert in Semitic languages at the University of Leiden in Holland, identifies two principles—the desire to create order out of chaotic reality, and the urge to vary the sounds of words and their meanings—providing the direction by which language developed and continues to develop. Rather than search for the prehistoric moment when speech originated, Deutscher says we can most profitably understand the phenomenon by taking the present as the key to the past. Using a wide array of examples, he delves into the back-formation of words (making a noun into a verb), the evolution of relative clauses from simple pointing words (that, this) and the turning of objects into nouns. On the question of whether language is innate, Deutscher takes a middle path, asserting that our brains are wired for basic language, but that linguistic complexity is brought about by cultural evolution. Deutscher's entertaining writing and his knack for telling a good tale about how words develop offer a delightful and charming story of language.
Jacques in a Box
Language itself is language. The understanding that is schooled in logic, thinking of everything in terms of calculation and hence usually overbearing, calls this proposition an empty tautology. Merely to say the identical thing twice--language is language--how is that supposed to get us anywhere? But we do not want to get anywhere. We would like only, for once, to get to just where we are already.
Martin Heidegger, "Language," 188
Maybe it really is better to write without an addressee.
-- Jacques Ranicere, The Flesh of Words: the Politics of Writing, 145
Heidegger said in a moving way: one of the most silent and timid of men suffered the torment of being obliged to cry out and, enigma following enigma, what was a cry risked becoming idle chatter. Nietzsche's admonition, "the written cry of the thought"--a cry that took form in the disagreeable book that is Zarathrustra--in fact came to be lost two ways: it was not heard, it was heard overly well; nihilism became the commonplace of thought and of literature.
--Maurice Blanchot, The Infinite Conversation, 143
Differences of speed do seem to be determining. The rhythm differential counts a lot for me; it governs practically everything. It’s not very original when it comes down to it, you only have to be a driver to know this: knowing how to accelerate, slow down, stop, and start up again. The driving lesson applies just as well to private life and accidents are always possible. The scene of the car accident is imprinted or overprinted in quite few of my texts, like a sort of premonitory signature, a bit sinister. That said, I don’t believe that speeding up on the political highway has been, as you suggest, the result of media pressure.
--Jacques Derrida, “Others are Secret Because They Are Other” Paper Machine, 153
Lacoue-Labarthe, Philippe. "Le dernier philosophe." L'Imitation des modernes. Paris: Galilee, 1986. 203-225.
Translating Stories of Life Forms Etched in Stone
James G. Gehling
PUZZLE Many of the creatures found in the fossil record from the time immediately preceding the Cambrian are so unlike modern forms that deciphering what they are and how they lived continues to challenge paleontologists. More Photos »
JD's Tour des Babels in Acts of Religion and ran across
this passage last night (I underlined it the last time I read it) and
thought you might want to use it in your MOPI essay:
Strange debt, which does not bound anyone to anyone. If the structure
of the work is "sur-vival," the debt does not engage in relation to a
hypothetical subject-author of the original text--dead or mortal, the
dead man, or "dummy" of the text, --but to something else that
represents the formal law in the immanence of the original text. Then
the debt does not involve restitution of a copy or a good image, a
faithful representation of the original: the latter , the survivor, is
itself in the process of transformation. The original gives itself in
modifying itself; this gift is not an object given; it lives and lives
on in mutation. . . .(117)
“postmaturation (NachriefeO of a living organism ..
From its height babel at every instant supervises and purprises my reading: I translate, I translate the translation by Maurice de Gandiallac of a text by Neaminwho, prefacing a translation, takes it as a pretext to say what and in what every translator is committed—and notes in passing, an essential part of his demonstration, that there could be no translation of translation. This wil have to be rememerbed.
Organic growth idea of hioly language in WB in JD’s terms becomes a a mutation.
Connect to Paul deMan on Derrida on task of the translator
Strauss could have added another salient feature: the circulation of more or less clandestine class or seminar notes by initiated disciples or, even more symptomatic, the rumored (and often confirmed) existence of unpublished manuscripts made available only to the enterprising or privileged researcher and which will decisively seal one interpretation at the expense of all rival modes—at least until one of the rivals, will, in his turn, discover the real or imaginary counter-manuscript on which to base his counter-claim.
Paul de Man, “Dialogue and Dialogism,” The Resistance to Theory, 108
And can we connect the question about Homo Sacer (the vicitm) to the conclusion, the fossil and the arche-trace, from the sacred man to the last (sacred) man? I think we need to return to Agamben in the conclusion since we will have started with him.