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2. The theories of semiotics: langue and parole, the signifier and the signified


b) For a dialectic of the meaning

Langue defines a historical and cultural reference strategy; parole, an independent reference. The former unwinds on a diachronic axis; the latter is synchronic. The former defines the relationship between the character and the scenic objectivity, or the dramatic situation, whereas in the latter the protagonist magically evokes the subject in its actuality. An example of ‘synchronic system’ of parole where the dramatization is completely exhausted is those burlesque lists of mostly invented terms in Gargantua with which Rabelais builds real comical curtains inside the story. In this case, the almost tactile manner of the parole reveals its origin in lallation: which, in babies, is a magically evocative instrument. In such cases, the ring of assonance is built on the thematic repetitions and the redundancy effect the verbal particles construct by gradual extension of the meaning. The variations of meaning thus derive from a gradual removal of the meaning, since the verbal particles intervene on the ‘aspect’ of langue: on the relationship between duration of the action in the past and its consequences on the present.

The verbal particles can be:

  1. Ingressive. Indicating the start of an action, i.e., by extension, a decision taken, or all those conditions whose change creates a variation in the given situation.
  2. Reiterative. Indicating the raising to a synchronic time system, i.e., the way the repetition of a condition becomes the norm, tradition and, lastly, the logical rule.
  3. Decontextual. This name indicates the particles underlining the original, unrepeatable, archetypal character of a given condition. In German, Ur-Form is used to indicate everything that by its very nature cannot be reduced to previous conditions.
  4. Emphatic. Their use belongs to an affirmative context that betrays the mimic-gestural origin of the langue, valid in particular for the Finno-Ugric languages.

The particles are ‘markers’ of the dramatic situation; therefore their translation pertains both to the area of sense and that of meaning. The time-space relationship that their relational definition establishes, arranges the subjects of the drama inside the text in the same way a conductor arranges a choir on the opera stage. In fact, the presence of a linguistic code absorbed by imitation during childhood can be compared to what the musical language induces, as a counter-text, within a sung drama. The music is the word of what the libretto, as langue, expresses. And this is what Verlain intended when he wrote "de la musique avant toute chose".