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4. Morphological analysis of linguistic logic: centripetal languages and centrifugal languages. Root, thematic assonance, morpheme, phoneme, semanteme: organization of meaning in literary languages


a) Origins of meaning

Given that every language is a vision of the world, it follows that every vision of the world has given rise to a language. It is the usual circular paradox of Genesis which, when applied to the cultures of man, seems to founder in a hopeless nominalism. Linguists are obliged to fathom religious traditions, the cultural imagination and symbolic (sacred) and metaphoric (lay) repertory of individual ethnic-historic groups if they wish to decipher the characters that make each language a different description by compatible signs – on a system level – of the same two worlds: the factual-phenomenal and the mnenomic-oneiric. The problem is complicated by the difference between Kultur and Zivilisation: the latter being the whole of those cultural results whose grafting becomes an integral part of a language as the ethnic expression of a philosophical system (as the sum of ethics, logic and metaphysics), requiring philological decoding in order to be separated from it. Languages with declensions have the advantage of bearing inscribed inside an imaginary genetic code the stratifications through which their syntax, understood as diachronic self-referentiality, has gained substance. The fourth Latin declension connotes the military techné, whereas the first, deriving from its Italic roots, has a rural-cultural marking, and the variegated galaxy of the third is tied to trade, travel and the exploration of ‘other’ dimensions whose irregularity is shown in the ductile ability of parisyllabic and imparisyllabic nouns to receive, in the Ablative, modal situations where time and space blur their features. The fifth declension is a residual tied to the invariability of early Latin legal-cultural rules: with that coincidence between the nominative area and the accusative, it denotes a magical identity between agent and action of a pantheistic nature. In a language like Latin, it is therefore necessary to differentiate ontogen esis and phylogenesis: the former is the primary organzation of the meaning in syntactical and morphological systems (the galaxy of meaning, outside time); the latter, the course of adaptation with which this galaxy gives off heat and fecundating matter (the ‘classics’) while losing its linguistic self-sufficiency. In Biology, a difference of this kind is defined as dichotomy between the ‘genome line’ and the ‘rhizome line’: between the organic individuality and the vital action that an organism exerts on the surrounding environment.

In the same way, there are monumental languages, conceivable as a ‘genome’ opposed to the Zivilisation and diachronic development, and ‘cultural’ languages, whose rhizomatic connotation is expressed in their taking expressive movement from the various technical and historical needs. The two extremes can be represented by Czech and American English: the entire troubled history of the Bohemian ethnic group could be interpreted as the story of a linguistic incompatibility, hindered by the absolutely centripetal nature of Czech; a language in which the hierarchy of root and desinence typical of Indo-European languages is simply reversed. On the other hand, American English is structured so deeply around the imperatives of ‘objective’ communication as to be defined a ‘mime’ language, where the metaphoric process is skipped; such is the expressive strength of the representations. The refined concept of imagination theorized by Coleridge could not find a more prosaic metamorphosis. A comparison between the nature of the words composed in American English and in German would very useful for a translator. In German, the agglutination occurs by metathesis of the roots (semanteme) and is therefore of a logic-analytical nature: another way of defining metaphysics in Linguistics; in American English it is of a demonstrative-indicative (morpheme) nature by juxtaposition of linguistic ‘objects’ understood as symbols. If a noun stands for the thing, the time-space order is grammatical; if the noun interprets the thing, the point of view, or the descriptive code, redefining the mental space, it changes the perspective in which the thing is included, and therefore also its form. German is an attempt to coincide morpheme and semanteme. Its world is mental. In French, on the other hand, it is the order of the discourse that defines its descriptive functionality. The significant linguistic unit is the thematic root, able to free itsel f from the logic-deductive chain and ‘mark’ the definition of the eaning with its metamorphoses. In French, the diachronic hub within which the facts occur is a map of the events, but also a vision of the world.