an auto-didact friend once pronounced “Pepys” (as in Samuel Pepys) as “Peppies” rather than “Peeps”. I gave him a hard time and he’ll never do it again in polite company. - truth wins
a man emmigrates from scotland by the name of “galloway”. he ends up in australia. when asked to spell his name he does so incorrectly - “Gallaway”. no one corrects him, they are not familiar with the name. generations later the mispelling continues, is now a name in itself. it is even possible that it could eventually outstrip the original spelling. - truth loses
The COMMUNITY carries with it shared experiences, common understandings. There are Acceptable Interpretations.
In the early hours of the morning a car drives past the cricket club, from the car shots are fired at people in the car park. Some people are hit. This is a “Serious Assault”. This is an interpreatation which is acceptable now, but which would have been deemed far too moderate just a few years ago.
Peirce is good on interpretations. To Saussure we say “Non.”
Peirce sees a triadic structure to signs. We have the representamen, which is the form that the sign takes; the object to which the sign refers; and the interpretant. This is often misunderstood. essentially it is the sense made of the sign. it comes from the first experience.
i took my son to a concert last week. he had been asking me for some time and i wanted to take him to something great. it’s that first experience. Unfortunately I couldn’t make Steve Reich at the Barbican and settled for John Adams. As good as Adams was, I know it was not the best first experience. Peirce argues that every subsequent observation is made through the lens of the first. Signs are built.
Now my daughter wants to go to a football match.
Whenever my son goes to a concert he measures it in terms of the first. What he, subsequently, understands as a concert changes over time, but is always viewed through, skewed by, this first experience
Peirce founded ’semiotics’ as the study of signs. Saussure founded ’semiology’ for the same purpose. Peirce was unconventional, didn’t fit in a box, and, although respected, his ideas were not given sufficient airing. Saussure’s work became well known and became the establishment. Peirce, if you like, was a betamax to Saussure’s VHS.
Subsequently those that followed Saussure developed his ideas and found that they arrived at Peirce. Now we have only semiotics.
Interpretations have to be sustainable. Like the ‘truth’.
We the jury. . .
Names are great signs. Mr Gallaway, the opportunity is here for you to rectify an untruth. Change thy name back to where it once belonged.
There is a fine black playwright in London, Kwame Kwei-Armah. I recommend “Emina’s Kitchen” and “Fix Up”. Kwame took the name as a result of looking into his family history. The name he was given at birth was anglo-saxon. He reverted to what he regarded as the truth.
This doesn’t always work out, however. A BBC documentary last year showed people following their DNA roots. One man’s genes were traced back to a particular tribe in Niger. He visited with a film-crew. Unfortunately he seemed to want to take more from them than he was prepared to give. He’d be saying how he couldn’t live in these conditions, the tribe would nod and say how terrible it was and look to him, even saying “you do nothing for us?”. The guy didn’t seem to hear it. But he joined in with the rituals and celebrations as they came along, and decided to take a tribal name. One of the village recited a list of names and what they meant. Our guy chose not a common name but one which meant ‘master’.
Subsequently he visits the king. he tells him of his journey, how his ancestors had been taken as slaves to the west indies and had then migrated to england. but that he had come back and taken a tribal name. he gives it. the king looks at him for a moment, then says that the name does not mean “master”, but “slave master”.