EMPTINESS IN LANGUAGE - HORROR VACUI?
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The authoress argues that the conception of emptiness, ambivalent on physical and philosophical grounds, can be projected onto natural language. On the one hand, we can face here 'absolute emptiness', which is a total lack of certain elements in the linguistic system, on the other - gaps that tend to be filled in by the language user. It seems that the natural human propensity to complete the encountered empty places, lacunae, areas of indeterminacy, or blind spots is also well-visible in language and although such gaps can be spotted at each linguistic level, their occurrence is especially interesting at the level of semantics, stylistics and discourse analysis. The question of how interlocutors, readers and translators cope with such areas of blindness has been discussed by philosophers, literary critics, linguists and semioticians (most notably R. Ingarden, W. Iser, U. Eco, L. Dolezel). Dolezel rightly pointed out that 'absences' and 'silences' in texts (mostly fictional) can be either total (i. e. the ontological indeterminacy of fictional worlds) or only apparent (implicit meanings hidden yet recoverable from the text). The authoress of the present article perceives in the ontological incompleteness of fiction an instance of absolute, irrecoverable emptiness, whereas the idea of the text as an inferential machine, which through hints and suggestions prompts the reader to fill in the gaps (the case of concretisation in Ingarden's terminology) squares with her idea of the emptiness that tends toward an ultimate, if only partial completion. One of tenets of this paper is also the gamesome, ludic character of the activity of gap-filling. The completion of empty spaces in texts / discourses is a prototypical pragmatic game of the reader, critic or translator - their quite automatic answer to the authorial move of saturating the text with gaps (the term saturation or density of gaps has been borrowed from Dolezel 1995).
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