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Hjelmslev’s notion of “participation”: an episode of structural linguistics

Hjelmslev’s notion of “participation”: an episode of structural linguistics
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  Hjelmslev’s notion of “Participation”:  an episode of structural linguistics  Lorenzo Cigana University of Calabria; Université de Liège For this contribution we intentionally decided to quote Michel Viel and his thesis on “ la notion de « marque »   chez Trubetzkoy et  Jakobson: un épisode de l’histoire de la pensée structural  ”: as he did in his remarkable thesis, we would like to highlights some of the theoretical points and problems of the notion of “participation”.  On one side, Viel seems to exclude any reference to participation in describing the markedness model as an “ episode ”  of structural linguistics, while Henning Andersen, on the other side, seems to identify hastily markedness and “  participation ” . It’s well known that in some of its methodological concepts Glossematics  –   and in particular “hjelmslevian” Glossematics –   can be backdated up to Saussure, Wiwel and Rask, although the very root of the descriptive algorithm is based on a completely new proposal: the participation law (also called “principle” ), which Hjelmslev developed since 1930 in parallel with his researches on the category of cases and in open criticism with jakobsonian binarism. The philosophical roots of this principle should be recognised in the crisis of the logical approach in linguistics and in the works of Lévy-Bruhl, Steinthal, Wundt, Sapir, but we would like to stress the fact that in Hjelmslev unspoken references easily overtake the expressed ones: in order to gain a more comprehensive view of Hjelmslev’s point of view about “participation” we should probably rely also on the theories of Jespersen, Delacroix, Herbart, Sigwart and even Weber. We should then keep in mind that in reconstructing the very notion of “participation” it’s not su fficient to link “participation” with the pre - logical mentality: Hjelmslev’s methodological choice  –   the often not-so-  pertinently criticized “glottocentrism” –   compels us to describe “participation” first in   its own specific domain: grammar. In this perspective, we should analyse participation much like “commutation”: both  as a principle of self-organization of semiotic systems and   as a qualitative distributional criterion of taxemes (  Prolegomena of a Theory of Language ).
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