What is the role of ‘language play’ in literature

What is the function of “language play” in literature?


It will be helpful to first analyze what is understood by the term “language play” . Used by experimentation, linguistic communication is inextricably connected to play. It is per se symbolic, adventuresome, enlightening, and dynamic. As Marian Whitehead writes,

“Language and drama portion several features:

both use symbols to stand for a scope of thoughts,

feelings and experiences ;

both are contemplations of human thought

and besides Godheads of new ideas ;

both are portion of our familial make-up.” [ 1 ]

Terry Campbell identifies two major categorizations of linguistic communication drama: playing with significance and playing with sound. When learning kids, for illustration, literature that “plays with sounds” might good be really suited. Not merely do kids please in their perceptual experience that silly, babbling, nonsensical sounds provide a sudden, surprising licence to be infantile and experimental, they besides experience happy amazement at their first brush of a valid signifier of literature which is however non seeking to be overtly didactic. Premises about the intent of literature must be present in children’s heads from a really early age so, and books designed for the really immature bear the duty of altering their heads about reading and composing from the beginning. Naturally there is a didacticism about all literature for kids, but possibly nursery rimes and nonsensical verse forms, Limericks, etc, supply a alone chance to larn things in an gratifying manner: a manner easy facilitated by the immature child’s head already so acute to mime and reiterate and contrive extraordinary sounds at every chance.

Outside of children’s literature, linguistic communication drama is rife- for illustration in the media, wherever a author aims to do some point memorable or sententious. We find illustrations of linguistic communication drama in the initial rhyme of a headline, in the rimes and jangles of advertizements and wireless shows, in dad vocals, mottos, magazine headings and Television presenters’ catch phrases. In short, whenever person is seeking to sell us something ( even if it’s merely an thought ) we can number on them making something surprising with linguistic communication.

Possibly less cynically, there is a captivation with linguistic communication drama stemming the post-modern motion in literature. Indeed, any writer who has of all time attempted a self-referentiality has employed a fraudulence of intending which can be characterised as drama ; in Campbell’s term, “play with meaning.”

Post-modernism rapidly adopted a vocabulary of anti-enlightenment rhetoric, which it used to reason that reason was neither so certain nor so clear as positivists supposed, and that cognition was inherently linked to clip, topographic point, societal place and other factors from which an person constructs their position of cognition. In order to get away from constructed ( assumed ) cognition, one must step outside it and review it, finally deconstructing the asserted cognition. Jacques Derrida argued that in order to support against the inevitable self-deconstruction of cognition, systems of power called hegemony would necessitate to asseverate the possibility of an originary vocalization, something Derrida dubbed theSons. The “ privileging ” of original utterance- first word- is called “ logocentrism ” . [ 2 ] So, from Derrida on, cognition ceased to be rooted in peculiar vocalizations, or “ texts ” , and the footing of all information was something more rootless, that couldn’t be traced to beginning but could be identified in and as the free drama of discourse itself, an thought rooted in Wittgenstein ‘s thought of a linguistic communication game. Through its alone accent on the permission of free drama within the context of conversation and discourse leads postmodernism to follow the stance of sarcasm, paradox, textual use, mention and figure of speechs. [ 3 ] Postmodernism defines language’s mapasits “play” ; an of import differentiation that we should observe being made between map and purpose- or agencies and terminals. Language, from Dadaism onwards, has become something nonmissingintent, simply hedging the usual standard of utility. Since it became self-conscious, linguistic communication demand answer to no 1 but itself. In Derrida’s words,

“The survey of the operation of linguistic communication, of its drama, presupposes that the substance of significance and, among other possible substances, that of sound, be placed in parenthesis. The integrity of sound and of sense is so here, as I proposed supra, the reassuring shutting of plan.” [ 4 ]

Similarly, harmonizing to Hjelmslev, economic sciences and grammar are fallaciously and often compared, while semiologies on the Saussaurian theoretical account is overlooked, but presents a better account of linguistic communication,

“An economic value is by definition a value with two faces: non merely does it play the function of a changeless vis-a-vis the concrete units of money, but it besides itself plays the function of a variable vis-a-vis a fixed measure of ware which serves it as a criterion. In linguistics on the other manus there is nil that corresponds to a criterion. That is why the game of cheat and non economic fact remains for Saussure the most faithful image of a grammar. The strategy of linguistic communication is in the last analysis a game and nil more.” [ 5 ]

Derrida’s construct of drama within linguistic communication has nevertheless been vulnerable to considerable unfavorable judgment. Derrida draws another false decision from this theory of Saussure. He believes that the arbitrary quality of sounds, letters, and significances makes all pregnant indeterminate or uncertain. Harmonizing to the back screen of a aggregation of essays by Derrida rubrics Limited Inc, Derrida ‘s “ most controversial thought ” is “ lingual significance is basically undetermined. ” Derrida ‘s decision here is paradoxical and hence false because, if lingual significance is basically undetermined, so so is the lingual significance of that statement. To state that significance is undeterminable is like stating, “ I can non express a word of English. ” It is cockamamie rational bunk that should be rejected by all thoughtful people.


In Against Deconstruction, John M. Ellis explains,

“ Saussure had argued that significance is non a affair of sounds being linked to concepts bing outside a given linguistic communication but alternatively arises from specific contrasts between footings that are differentiated in specific ways. ” Harmonizing to Ellis, Derrida takes Saussure ‘s thought of contrasts and barters in the word “ drama. ” “ Play is no longer a affair of specific contrasts, ” Ellis notes, “ it is ‘limitless, ‘ ‘infinite, ‘ and ‘indefinite ‘ ; and therefore significance has become illimitable, infinite, and indefinite. ” [ 6 ]

If Ellis’s statement is true, so Derrida is so guilty of an unlogical switch of classs, since he has substituted these words for Saussure ‘s thought of contrasts. Arguably, exchanging like this is an informal logical false belief which serves to do Derrida ‘s statement logically invalid. “ The significance of one word does so depend on the significance of many others, ” Ellis argues ; “ but to take one word from a system is to use all of the systematic contrasts with other words at that really minute — the procedure of contrasting does non stretch out into the hereafter ” as Derrida ‘s construct of drama efforts to make. Thus the immediate context of a word in a sentence or paragraph, or the immediate context of a scene in a movie or drama, is by and large used to find its significance. This is a regulation of reading that is ignored by the occasional bewilderments of Derrida and the post-modern literarists, who privilege the improbable, unexpected and unexplained above and beyond the direct and sensical. By disregarding this regulation, they clearly show the built-in false beliefs of their whole theory. Hence “language play” in literature, taken to extremes, can frequently endure from its ain rambunctious enthusiasm ; although the resistless quality of linguistic communication drama is indispensable in the instruction of kids, it can be fatally habit-forming to grownups, who turn to it in despair, drawn by the promise of flight from the oppressive logic of grammar.

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