arpitaSinghMenu_layout

La New Ethnography, les mots et les choses

Séminaire du 15 novembre 2012

L'anthropologie cognitive, à sa naissance dans les années 1960 dans l'œuvre de Goodenough et des praticiens de la New Ethnography comme Frake ou Conklin, s'inscrit dans le cadre de «l'anthropologie culturelle» américaine et implique une définition opérationaliste de la culture — what you have to know in order to operate as a member of the society — et l'émergence d'un nouveau vocabulaire technique: to operate, conceptual models, artifacts, iconic signs, etc.

Ward Goodenough inverse l'empirisme spontané du voyageur découvrant une culture inconnue. Il distingue deux sortes de signes, les manifestations matérielles d'une catégorie conceptuelle qui sont des signes iconiques, et les mots du lexique qui sont des signes non-iconiques.

goodenough_cultural_anthropology_ and_linguistics.pdf

Ward H. Goodenough, Cultural anthropology and linguistics, in Paul L. Garvin, Ed., Report of the Seventh Annual Round Table Meeting on Linguistics and Language Study (Monograph Series on Languages and Linguistics, No. 9), Washington DC, Georgetown University Press, 1957, pp. 167–173.

As I see it, a society's culture consists of whatever it is one has to know or believe in order to operate in a manner acceptable to its members, and do so in any role that they accept for anyone of themselves.

La culture est une compétence acquise pour l'action dans le cadre d'une expérience vécue spécifique de cette société. Etre cultivé, c'est avoir acquis la connaissance des formes des choses de la vie locale.

Culture is not a material phenomenon; it does not consist of things, people, behavior, or emotions. It is rather an organization of these things. It is the forms of things that people have in mind, their models for perceiving, relating, and otherwise interpreting them.

Les choses, les personnes, les comportements, les événements, les humeurs qui composent l'expérience vécue dans une société donnée représentent des modèles conceptuels en fonction desquels tous ces composants de l'expérience vécue sont perçus et interprétés.

Given such a definition, it is obviously impossible to describe a culture properly simply by describing behavior or social, economic, and ceremonial events and arrangements as observed material phenomena. What is required is to construct a theory of the conceptual models which they represent and of which they are artifacts.

L'ethnographie est donc la construction d'une théorie des modèles conceptuels sur la base desquels les gens que nous ethnographions, nos informateurs, interprètent et prédisent — modèles de diagnostics et pronostics — les comportements, les événements et le fonctionnement des choses de la vie locale.

We test the adequacy of such a theory by our ability to interpret and predict what goes on in a community as measured by how its members, our informants, do so. A further test is our ability ourselves to behave in ways which lead to the kind of responses from the community's members which our theory would lead us to expect. Thus tested, the theory is a valid statement of what you have to know in order to operate as a member of the society and is, as such, a valid description of its culture.

Dialectique entre le mot comme forme linguistique et une énonciation particulière de ce mot (événement de parole) représentant ladite forme linguistique. Cette distinction fort importante pour l'ethnographe correspond à la distinction entre l'usage et la mention (token) qui elle est importante pour le philosophe.

For purposes of this discussion, we may distinguish between two different kinds of signs. The first type consists of any sign which is itself a member and, as such, representative of the class of phenomena signified. […] As material manifestations of the conceptual classes, the forms, which they signify, such signs have been aptly termed iconic (Morris, 1946). The second type of sign is non-iconic, consisting of all signs which themselves lack the properties delimiting the classes of phenomena they signify. Now, any material object, event, or act to which people respond is necessarily an icon signifying a conceptual form of some kind (or people wouldn't respond to it). For a sign to be non-iconic, then, it must be other than material. While non-iconic signs signify conceptual forms, they are themselves conceptual forms, which are in turn signified by iconic signs. Language illustrates the two types very well. As a linguistic form, the word stone does not itself have the properties by which we recognize things to be stones. It is, therefore, a non-iconic sign. Each specific utterance of the word, however, is an iconic sign signifying the linguistic form which it materializes.

Contrairement au philosophe qui lui ne travaille pas sur des événements de parole, l'ethnographe — dans la New Ethnography — attache une extrême importance à l'iconicité des mots de la langue indigène lorsqu'ils sont énoncés.

Every speech utterance is an iconic sign of a corresponding linguistic form or combination of forms. In this respect, linguistic forms are no different from all other cultural forms which have material represehtation or can be given such representation in iconic signs. A house is an icon of the cultural form or complex combination of forms of which it is a material expression. A tree, in addition to being a natural object of interest to a botanist, is an icon signifying a cultural form, the very same form which we also signify by the word tree. If, as I have already suggested, every object, event, or act has stimulus value for the members of a society only insofar as it is an iconic sign signifying some corresponding form in their culture, it follows that any method which enables us inductively to isolate and describe such cultural forms precisely and rigorously by virtue of operations performed on their icons will be of tremendous value to ethnographers.

La démarche part des mots pour aller aux choses, puisque, partant [1] d'un mot donné, on recherche auprès des informateurs [2] les icônes — des choses — correspondant à ce mot, puis par l'analyse on détermine [3] les formes conceptuelles que ces icônes représentent.

The thing to note here is the fact that what non-iconic signs signify can be systematically gotten at only through analysis of icons and determination of the forms they signify.

L'étude et l'emploi de la langue locale sont incontournables et indispensables à toute ethnographie.

It is in the course of learning his language and how to use it that every human being acquires the bulk of his culture. An ethnographer, himself a human being, can hope to acquire another society's culture only by learning and using its language. Thus, as a set of forms, language is not only a part of culture; as a set of easily manipulated non-iconic signs, it is a major intrument for learning it. What I am saying, of course, is that we learn much of a culture when we learn the system of meanings for which its linguistic forms stand.

Mettre sous les mots des choses. Dire que l'ethnographe, dans son enquête, part d'un mot de la langue indigène, c'est dire qu'il part d'un événement de parole: il énonce lui-même ce mot, et ce mot dans la matérialité de son énonciation (accent, intonation, etc.) est la première des icônes suscitant en réponse, de la part des informateurs, des rapprochements et des contrastes avec d'autres choses (signes iconiques) que des mots. Mettre sous les mots-choses d'autres choses que des mots.