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In: Signs and Media
Open Access
In: Signs and Media

Abstract

This article aims to describe the synchronic system of Chinese characters by investigating its cognitive trait of signs. Unlike alphabetic writing systems in which letters represent sounds, Chinese characters convey their meaning in part through images, which makes its synchronic system unique and requires a reconfiguration of the Saussurean framework of signifier and signified. I argue that the Chinese system is instead comprised of three components: pattern, meaning, and formation. Through a close investigation of the historical development of the Chinese character system and drawing on Peirce’s classification of the sign, I propose a threefold adaptation of Saussure’s semiology to Chinese that challenges the arbitrary relationship between signifier and signified, reconfigures the signifier from sound-image to visual character pattern, and proposes a morphological view that takes account of aesthetic principles in the generation and function of meaning.

Open Access
In: Signs and Media
In: Signs and Media
In: Signs and Media
Author: Sarah Colvin

Abstract

This article acknowledges racism and sexism as ethical problems in Grimmelshausen’s novel Courasche. Its charismatic protagonist is not only old and a woman (and therefore arguably a witch), but adds racialised exclusion to her portfolio when she narrates her autobiography in blackface. Here the author interrogates Grimmelshausen’s narratorial masks using Medina’s conception of the infelicitous subject, who has a paradoxical double function: infelicitous subjects simultaneously demonstrate how things should not be done and sow seeds of doubt about the practices and beliefs of the normative economy. Recognising the problem racism and sexism represent in Courasche raises the question whether Grimmelshausen’s engagement with knowledge is conventional or innovative; whether Courasche merely reproduces, or also destabilises, epistemic injustice. Courasche as a protagonist is an exemplar of transgression. But is her transgressive infelicity epistemically constitutive – does it contribute to the creation of new discursive contexts?

Open Access
In: Daphnis
Author: Bernard Mees

Abstract

The Batavian name Pero is best understood as a derivative of Germanic *perō ‘pear’. Names that also feature the root per- are recorded from other parts of the Roman Empire in connection with Germanic speakers and seem to reflect the influence of pear growing in the Roman provinces. This influence was so great that the name of the p-rune also appears to have been derived from *perō ‘pear’. The early Germanic names Pero, Uxperus and Gamuxperus seem to represent occupation names, and are consistent with archaeobotanical evidence for the development of pear cultivation in the Germanic-speaking provinces of the Empire.

In: Amsterdamer Beiträge zur älteren Germanistik
Author: William Sayers

Abstract

The reconstructed name of the early Germanic god *Wōdanaz is generally traced to a Proto-Indo-European root *u̯ā̆t- meaning ‘spiritually aroused, possessed’. The signification contrasts sharply with the attributes of the primal Germanic sky and war god *Tīwaz, whose name references the bright sky. In a cultural development not yet fully explained, the former displaces the latter as the chief god. In this article, a homophone of the above PIE root, designated *u̯ā̆t- (2), and meaning ‘to bow down, bend, stoop’, is posited as the root of a theonym meaning ‘the bent, stooped one’. He is identified as the Germanic psychopomp and lord of the dead with ties to an ancestor cult. From a largely quiescent role as the bowed or bent-knee god, he emerges from the underworld, when Germanic tribes resemanticized the reflex of the *u̯ā̆t- (2) root ‘bent, bowed’ – militarized it. The new chief god was understood as ‘the master of battle rage’, based on the prioritization of the signification inherent in the root *u̯ā̆t- (1).

In: Amsterdamer Beiträge zur älteren Germanistik