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De Peirce à la sociolinguistique

20 avril 2014

Entre le monde vécu, experience en anglais, et la représentation que nous nous en donnons, il y a trois sortes de relations. La relation la plus abstraite et cognitive est celle d'un symbole à l'objet qu'il symbolise. Le symbole fonctionne sur la base d'une relation plus concrète entre un indice et l'objet qu'il indique; il n'y a pas de symbole sans indice. Derechef, l'indice fonctionne sur la base d'une relation encore plus concrète entre une icône et l'objet dont elle manifeste la présence; il n'y a pas d'indice sans icône.

L'icône saisit l'objet dans sa présence première, qui en elle-même pourrait n'être que virtuelle ou fictive. L'indice désigne le fait second d'une existence réelle de cette présence. Le symbole est la clé d'une interprétation des indices. L'icône peut exister seule; signe d'une présence. L'indice entre en relation avec une icône; signe de l'existence factuelle d'une présence. Le symbole est une triangulation entre présence (possible), existence (factuelle) et interprétation (de la représentation).

peirce_prolegomena_theMonist_1906.pdf

Charles Sanders Peirce, Prolegomena to an Apology for Pragmaticism,
The Monist, Vol. 16, No. 4 (October, 1906), pp. 492-546.

First, an analysis of the essence of a sign, (stretching that word to its widest limits, as anything which, being determined by an object, determines an interpretation to determination, through it, by the same object,) leads to a proof that every sign is determined by its object, either first, by partaking in the characters of the object, when I call the sign an Icon; secondly, by being really and in its individual existence connected with the individual object, when I call the sign an Index; thirdly, by more or less approximate certainty that it will be interpreted as denoting the object, in consequence of a habit [which term I use as including a natural disposition], when I call the sign a Symbol.*

I next examine into the different efficiencies and inefficiencies of these three kinds of signs in aiding the ascertainment of truth. A Symbol incorporates a habit, and is indispensable to the application of any intellectual habit, at least. Moreover, Symbols afford the means of thinking about thoughts in ways in which we could not otherwise think of them. They enable us, for example, to create Abstractions, without which we should lack /496/ a great engine of discovery. These enable us to count, they teach us that collections are individuals [individual = individual object], and in many respects they are the very warp of reason. But since symbols rest exclusively on habits already definitely formed but not furnishing any observation even of themselves, and since knowledge is habit, they do not enable us to add to our knowledge even so much as a necessary consequent, unless by means of a definite preformed habit.

Indices, on the other hand, furnish positive assurance of the reality and the nearness of their Objects. But with the assurance there goes no insight into the nature of those Objects. The same Perceptible may, however, function doubly as a Sign. That footprint that Robinson Crusoe found in the sand, and which has been stamped in the granite of fame, was an Index to him that some creature was on his island, and at the same time, as a Symbol, called up the idea of a man.

Each Icon partakes of some more or less overt character of its object. They, one and all, partake of the most overt character of all lies and deceptions, — their Overtness. Yet they have more to do with the living character of truth than have either Symbols or Indices. The Icon does not stand unequivocally for this or that existing thing, as the Index does. Its Object may be a pure fiction, as to its existence. Much less is its Object necessarily a thing of a sort habitually met with. But there is one assurance that the Icon does afford in the highest degree. Namely, that which is displayed before the mind's gaze, — the Form of the Icon, which is also its object, — must be logically possible.

* In the original publication of this division, in 1867, the term representamen was employed in the sense of a sign in general, while sign was taken as a synonym of index, and an icon was termed a likeness.


Icon et iconization en sociolinguistique

Dans le contexte d'une interprétation des formes linguistiques par les membres de la communauté de parole et de la projection qu'ils opèrent d'une relation iconique ou emblématique entre les formes linguistiques et les locuteurs, les mots icône (icon) et iconization sont utilisés pour désigner cette projection sociale des relations entre signes et locuteurs. L'iconization peut être illustrée sur des exemples de variation sociolinguistique au cours de laquelle, comme dit Kathryn Woolard, specific linguistic variables emerge from the flow of speech and social life to become sociolinguistic icons or emblems and set off relatively rapid or intense changes.

woolard_why_dat_ now.pdf

Kathryn A.Woolard, "Why dat [vs. that] now?: Linguistic-anthropological contributions to the explanation of sociolinguistic icons and change," Journal of Sociolinguistics 12/4, 2008: 432–452.

Un premier exemple ethnographique de ce processus d'iconization est la prononciation des consonnes ou des voyelles et a signification locale d'un modèle stéréotypé de prononciation (the local meanings of patterns of linguistic forms).

Exemple canonique of highly local patterns of social significance recueilli par Guy Bailey, Directions of change in Texas English, Journal of American Culture 14 (1991): 125–134: (Woolard) “Texans' use of the monophthongal ah [a] variant of the sociolinguistic variable (ay) (as in Ah lahk Texas for I like Texas). Bailey's long-term observation of Texans enabled him to discover that the social 'variable' that best accounts for the rate of monophthongization is interviewees' reported satisfaction with Texas as a place to live.”

L'idéologie des locuteurs intervient (as the mediating link) entre les formes linguistiques établies dans la langue et les usages sociaux. Des sonorités particulières vont s'imposer à certains moments comme marqueurs d'une différence ou d'une distinction sociale (distinctiveness and differentiation). Ces sonorités sont autant de variables linguistiques et le fait est, écrit Woolard, que specific linguistic variables come to emerge in particular sociohistorical moments as sociolinguistic icons that drive sound change. Ces formes linguistiques particulières deviennent des icônes sociolinguistiques (sociolinguistic icons), c'est-à-dire la fidèle image de l'essence du locuteur.

Iconization involves a transformation of the sign relationship between linguistic features (or varieties) and the social images with which they are linked. Linguistic features that index social groups or activities appear to be iconic representations of them, as if a linguistic feature somehow depicted or displayed a social group's inherent nature or essence. This process entails the attribution of cause and immediate necessity to a connection (between linguistic features and social groups) that may be only historical, contingent, or conventional.

Judith T. Irvine and Susan Gal, Language ideology and linguistic differentiation. In Paul V. Kroskrity (ed.) Regimes of Language. Santa Fe, New Mexico: School of American Research, 2000, pp. 35–84; p. 37.

Les locuteurs sont pris pour ce que suggèrent leurs façons de parler. Irvine et Gal donnent l'exemple des Macédoniens dans l'ex-Yougoslavie, dont la langue était traitée comme un dialecte du Serbo-Croate. Les Macédoniens passaient pour des rustres, des gens sans grammaire:

It was the Serbs who, on hearing the relatively simpler nominal morphology of Macedonian, took this as an icon of simple thought and so assumed Macedonians to be uncultivated country bumpkins. Through such iconization, the perception that Macedonian "had no grammar" apparently contributed to legitimating far-reaching political tactics [il était légitime de traiter ces gens sans grammaire comme des colonisés]. (p. 69)

Il se peut que le locuteur indigène ait pleinement conscience (native speakers' awareness) des effets illocutoires de certaines formes linguistiques et par conséquent de leurs potentialités expressives, et qu'il s'en serve pour construire son propre style. Le locuteur repère des saillances (saliences) dans tel ou tel registre de la langue, des pragmatic saliences, comme dit Woolard après Errington; ces pragmatically salient classes of morphemes are those that are recognized by speakers as more crucial linguistic mediators of social relations. L'un des exemples canoniques décrit par William Labov (Sociolinguistic Patterns, 1972; trad. fr. Sociolinguistique, Paris, Minuit, 1976, index s.v. "dh") est l'alternative, pour la prononciation en anglais américain, entre (th) et (dh), the alternation between voiced interdental fricative and voiced stop, as in these, them, those versus dese, dem, dose. Le choix systématique en faveur de (dh) est devenu un stéréotype social et stylistique, en vertu de l'image sociale de dureté (toughness) que cette sonorité véhicule et de l'association d'idées avec l'accent des immigrés italiens, polonais ou espagnols. Cette variante phonologique est pragmatically salient and especially ripe for social semiotic and stylistic work. Elle devient donc une icône sociolinguistique et stylistique.