Literature/1923/Malinowski

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A B C D E F G H I J K L M N
O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z &

Malinowski, Bronislaw (1923). "The Problem of Meaning in Primitive Languages." Supplement to: Ogden & Richards (1923), pp. 296-336.

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Contents
  1. The need of a Science of Symbolism and Meaning, such as is presented in this volume by Ogden and Richards. This need exemplified by the Ethnographer's difficulties in dealing with primitive languages.
  2. Analysis of a savage utterance, showing the complex problems of Meaning which lead from mere linguistics into the study of culture and social psychology. Such a combined linguistic and ethnological study needs guidance from a theory of symbols, developed on the lines of the present work.
  3. The conception of 'Context of Situation.' Difference in the linguistic perspectives which open up before the Philologist who studies dead, inscribed languages, and before the Ethnographer who has to deal with a primitive living tongue, existing only in actual utterance. The study of an object alive more enlightening than that of its dead remains. The 'Sign-Situation' of the Authors corresponds to the 'Context of Situation' here introduced.
  4. Language, in its primitive function, to be regarded as a mode of action, rather than as a countersign of thought. Analysis of a complex speech-situation among savages. The essential primitive uses of speech: speech-in-action, ritual handling of words, the narrative, 'phatic communion' (speech in social intercourse).
  5. The problem of Meaning in primitive language. Intellectual formation of Meaning by apperception not primitive. Biological view meaning in early non-articulate sound-reactions, which are expressive, significant and correlated to situation. Meaning in early phases articulate speech. Meaning of words rooted in their pragmatic efficiency. The origins of the magical attitude towards words. Ethnographic and genetic substantiation of Ogden and Richards' views of Meaning and Definition.
  6. The problem of grammatical structure. Where to look for the prototype of grammatical categories. 'Logical' and 'purely grammatical' explanations rejected. Existence of Real Categories in the primitive man's pragmatic outlook which correspond to the structural categories of language. Exemplified on the nature the noun and of other Parts of Speech.

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Gradient-optical-illusion.svg
The shade of the bar looks invariant in isolation but variant in context, in (favor of) sharp contrast with the color gradient background, hence an innate illusion we have to reasonably interpret and overcome as well as the mirage. Such variance appearing seasonably from context to context may not only be the case with our vision but worldview in general in practice indeed, whether a priori or a posteriori. Perhaps no worldview from nowhere, without any point of view or prejudice at all!

Ogden & Richards (1923) said, "All experience ... is either enjoyed or interpreted ... or both, and very little of it escapes some degree of interpretation."

H. G. Wells (1938) said, "The human individual is born now to live in a society for which his fundamental instincts are altogether inadequate."