L ANGUAGE AS T ECHNOLOGYModernists want to reject language and its associations
S AUSSURE , A LINGUIST,B REAKS DOWN THE S TRUCTURE OF L ANGUAGE Language is made of a system of morphemes and phonemes that create words Morphemes Phonemes Individual sounds Combinations of sounds Letters Cuh-aah (CA) Aah-tuh (AT) Em En Words Oh Combos of sounds with meaning Cat
S AUSSURE ALSO SAYS WE LEARNLANGUAGE THROUGH UNDERSTANDING COMPARISONS We know CAT MAT because it is HAT not… RAT BAT GNAT VAT
M EANING IS NOT INHERENT IN LANGUAGE BUT IT IS CREATED THROUGHCOMPARISON ; SOUNDS CHANGE MEANING CAT (the furry four-legged object “we” have arbitrarily assigned to the word CAT) If we add another sound, we can change the meaning CAT (S)=two or more cats CAT (E)=my friend’s name CAT (TY)=adjective to describe behavior of gossip
T HE S TUDY OF L ANGUAGE LEADSTO THE S TUDY OF M EANINGMeaning, too, is a constructed system
M EANING IS , IN PART, CREATED IN THERELATIONSHIP BETWEEN S IGNS AND THEIR S IGNIFIED O BJECTS Sign/Signifier Signified TREE The image or object we see either in The word TREE nature or in our mind’s is the sign made eye up of a collection of sounds
S IGNS , LIKE WORDS , ARE KNOWNTHROUGH COMPARISONS . T HE SYSTEM OFL ANGUAGE CREATES B INARY O PPOSITES . We know “Light” because we also know “Dark.” Without dark, light could not be known. Good/ Evil Up/ Down Adult/ Child
B INARY O PPOSITES HAVE ASSOCIATIONS THAT ARE CULTURALLY INFORMED .As individualswe may notadopt theseassociations. Light (divine) Dark (evil)But these man womanassociationsare Up (Heaven) Down (Hell)CULTURALLYadopted andunderstood byindividuals Tall Shortwithin the White Blackculture atlarge.
TAKE THIS E XAMPLE .Sign: HEARTBinary Opposite: MIND orBRAINAssociations: Love,Valentine’s Day, youngcrush, but also Emotion,Irrationality, Femininity
M ODERNISM AND L ANGUAGE Modernists want to free themselves of cultural associations (and they believe this is possible) Arbitrary colors, arbitrary compositions (making picture planes more “candid”), and loose brushwork will allow the artist to move from an objective point of view (think the Academy) to a subjective point of view As language is created, so will be an artist’s point of view or ‘truth” So the artist is the Creator of the world observed
By using abstraction, Monet makes hazy the structure of the cathedral. If we cannot see clearlythe cathedral, we cannot as easilyjump to our cultural associations—God, Divine, SalvationBy painting the cathedral manytimes in different kinds of light andweather, Monet explores thesubjectivity of his own role asCreator.This is Modernism, and it involveslanguage.