WHAT LIMITS FOR SIGN MOTIVATION? Cover Image
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QUELLES LIMITES POUR LA MOTIVATION DU SIGNE?
WHAT LIMITS FOR SIGN MOTIVATION?

Author(s): Alvaro Rocchetti
Subject(s): Language and Literature Studies
Published by: Studia Universitatis Babes-Bolyai
Keywords: Sign; motivation; arbitrariness; "absolute arbitrariness;" "relative arbitrariness".

Summary/Abstract: What Limits for Sign Motivation? The article focuses on the relationship between the motivation and the arbitrariness of the sign, based on Ferdinand de Saussure’s observation that "the linguistic sign is [basically] arbitrary", although it can present absolute arbitrariness and relative arbitrariness. Based on research on the mirror neurons, recently discovered by the team of Giacomo Rizzolatti, and on his own research showing that the mechanisms generating meaning are connected not with sounds but with the articulatory gestures that produced them, the author criticizes both the notion of absolute arbitrariness and that of absolute motivation: human memory requires that signs be at least relatively motivated in order to retain them but, once the language definitively established, the speaker may go from meaning to sign without using the crutches of motivation. The study of the sign and the relative motivation networks that make up every language can, however, provide considerable assistance to researchers in the discovery of the mechanisms producing meaning.

  • Issue Year: 56/2011
  • Issue No: 3
  • Page Range: 39-48
  • Page Count: 10
  • Language: French