Trans Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften 16. Nr. April 2006

14.1. Re-Shaping Eastern Communities’ Patterns through the European Union Context
Herausgeberin | Editor | Éditeur: Anca Irinel Teleoacă ( "Lower Danube" University, Galati, Romania)

Dokumentation | Documentation | Documentation

Linguistic Universalia - linguistic Eurobridge!?

Gabriel Istode (Faculty of Letters, History and Theology, "Lower Danube" University of Galaţi, Romania)


When making contact with a new language the responsibility of those that must teach the language to the ones who want or must assimilate it becomes huge. Therefore, after years of working under the guidance of a weak guide, one may come to the conclusion that all efforts have been in vain. The mediators of foreign languages must create the most appropriate frame in order to build a new mental system for the individuals who want to assimilate the foreign language, and this new system has to be able to function according to other rules. Only when this happens may we say that our goal as "teachers" has been attained.

The outcome is, beyond doubt, the important role of the "teacher", as the mediator of the foreign language, who must not consider a fixed concept of expectations as a starting point for his daily experiences, and who should have within reach permanently and use flexible changes within the content of his discourse, on the basis of a nucleus of fundamental suppositions/arguments. The pragmatic side of the discourse must be permanently adapted according to the purpose of mediating the formatting of the linguistic matrix of the new parallel or perhaps partially overlapping linguistic model, that is to be built in order to favour the moulding of a complex, functional structure, that of the new aspects of thinking.

The pragmatic component of the discourse must be adapted in accordance with each working group, with each individual. Therefore the mediator must always maintain his system under analytical-processional control in order to avoid the appearance of a system conflict within the individual’s mind. According to this point of view it only depends on the teacher that the teaching - learning process unfolds/unwinds without any obstacles, as the overlapping system of the teacher - the system of the foreign language - can assume or perform an accommodation a lot easier than that of the student. He masters the two linguistic matrices and his linguistic model or, to say it better, the linguistic complex, which has been moulded through the more or less overlapping development of the two linguistic models he has moulded, must ensure the shaping of a linguistic complex within the individual’s mind as fast as possible without any system conflicts.

This accommodation process within the content of the discourse must unfold along with the first steps a student takes when learning a foreign language, in a more limited frame, taking into consideration both the pragmatic and semantic external component, and then, as time goes by, this has to be gradually enlarged. Thus the student will have greater freedom of expression and action. His system will develop without constraints, in a free manner, the same way the system of a child develops during his first years of existence in the Rahmen, the frame built by or by means of the standards of the mother tongue, and yet a lot faster because the basis of his formative and formational system, the one belonging to the mother tongue, which is already been completed, allows the student to advance in an extremely rapid way, perhaps even during incredibly short periods of time.

Throughout the pragmatic side of the internal discourse students will have reached the ability to differentiate, guess and assimilate both different and common semantic, syntactic structures, certain features and hierarchies. It is very important that this type of linguistic knowledge be a part of the process of getting acquainted with that language. In this way associations are made and the internal system of the students develops more and more, becomes enriched and more refined at the same time. Thus an accurate access to the system of the overlapping language is made possible. By not having the access to that language the individuals will not be able to assimilate it in an accurate manner.

This fact can also account for the well-known case of the scholars/ students who have earned the chance to study abroad. As time went by, the lectures these students had in their home country became clearer and clearer. Vocabulary, syntax, all become gradually parts of a system being organised. By means of permanent contact with that foreign language the linguistic endo-centres and exo-centres take shape, are getting organised and order themselves in the psycho-system of the individuals. Most lecturers and linguists believe that the process of learning a language involves the existence of an automatism. Yet, according to our theory, the internal system belonging to each language is shaped in the procress and that is not an automatism. We already called it an internal linguistic system. An automatism is involved most frequently in the case of adults who have not studied the linguistic phenomena of that language in an organised fashion and who only assimilate mechanically, and most of the time too late, whatever they receive through the external discourse. This mechanical assimilation cannot ensure a real development so that they can gain the ability to think in that language. This can only happen after an intense and long-term usage of the language. And yet not even then can we say that the system completely crystallizes in order to create the conditions which are necessary for the development of a natural discourse- we call a natural discourse the discourse which matches to at least a native-speaker or, in the best of cases, to a Beherrscher. As we mentioned above, the mechanical assimilation can also lead to the shaping of the new system of the overlapping language in some cases and, generally, after a long time. But when it does not lead to the shaping of the system those individuals will never be able to assimilate the overlapping language at the level of the native-speaker. On the contrary, they will be extremely easy to identify as individuals belonging to another kind of basic formation, to another formative linguistic matrix, such as the Slavic, Anglophone, Francophone, etc... It is also well-known how difficult it is for a member of far-eastern cultures to adjust to Western languages.

The system conflict appears when two opposite systems overlap to the highest extent.

Because of its performative elements the internal spacio-temporal linguistic system changes continuously by means of almost permanent contact with the discourse and by assimilating, analysing, distributing and redistributing information.

This also accounts for the fact that one "permanently thinks about something" and is not necessarily aware of what is being processed in his mind. We can also explain certain other situations by what we have stated above, as in the case when we surprise ourselves by saying things we should not say or did not intend to say.

The "Explanatory Dictionary of the Romanian Language" also specifies that the system << establishes order in a field of theoretical ideation >>. I would state that the system not only establishes this order, but it also establishes standards in accordance with which further reasoning will be shaped and it can even create "microfilms" that have little or nothing in common with the external system or with reality. All these notions are built on the basis of linguistic pragmatism. They belong to the internal discourse along with its structural and systematic components.

Therefore we deal with a permanent and continuous movement of these evolutional performative elements and their structural and systematic components, which come to us by means of the external discourse.

In our opinion the structural and systematic components are the phonematic, the morphematic, the semantic and the syntactic(1).

The interdependence, the reciprocal determination (Verhältnis - we find this term defining and explanatory for whatever we intend to present here) of these four components is given by the fifth value, a fundamental and formative component: the pragmatical.

A positive Verhältnis ensures a normal, harmonious development of the psycho-system.

The pragmatic component, viewed as the integrating part of the discourse, concerns the usage of discourse signs (linguistic or other types of discourse) or their link to the users. The pragmatic concerns aspects of sense which are dependent to the context. The pragmatic aspects of sense includes in our vision the interaction between the context through which an idea is being expressed and the interpretation of the elements which the idea contains.

The "pragmatic", the "ensemble" of speech elements which we perceive as a product, reflection or projection of an internal linguistic - temporal system in an external one or the projection of an external space in an internal one, has a double dynamism: from a "coming" perspective and a "going" one. The first one, the "coming", the "venient" is a part of the internal linguistic spacio-temporal system or reference system, and has a direct, formative, formatting and transformatting influence on the system as an emitter system and an indirect influence on the external linguistic spacio-temporal system. The second one, the "going", the "partient" by leaving the internal linguistic spacio-temporal system, has an indirect formative, formatting and transformatting influence on this system and a direct influence on the receiver system.

In our vision the pragmatic is, what Gustave Guillaume refers to as signifié d‘effet, which derives from the syntagm "signifié de puissance - signifié d‘effet" which Guillaume establishes in his theory (Gustave Guillaume, Langage et science du langage, Paris, 1964). The same thing is to be found in the syntagm "competence - performance", in Chomsky’s theory and, to be more specific, in the term performance, that is if we keep using the English terms. This behaves as a necessity, as a linguistically sine qua non condition because every language ascertains and reflects a linguistic model (which is of course dependent on the geo-physiological matrix of the subject) and therefore a specific way to establish connections, a specific way of thinking, understanding, interpreting. In other words each language leads to the shaping of a certain linguistic system, a characteristic internal linguistic system (to be more specific, uniform under identical internal medium conditions and macro-identical external fixing conditions). We must understand and accept the fact that man can only think within the limits imposed by his linguistic system because language leads to the activation of some language centres (which are related to the individual geo-physiological matrix) and also to the types of connections they establish).

As stated above, the mother-tongue creates complex of internal representations, which lead to the reception act, the computation act and also the act of emission of a message that would be received by a member of the same linguistic community, by a speaker of the same language.

The linguistic community to which we belong shapes us according to its standards until we become what we are. This community is also the one which guides the interpretation of the experiences to which our life submits us and the values of this extrinsic discourse are the ones which predispose us to certain interpretation options.

By taking into consideration the options which are characteristic to English (let’s refer to it as to the English channel of the subject’s psycho-system assuming that the subject, the Beherrscher of the Romanian language, possesses within his linguistic model not only the linguistic matrix of the Romanian language but also the linguistic matrix of the English language) a translation of the English terms we presented earlier, competence and performance, would be far poorer both semantically and syntactically speaking - from a fundamental psycho-systematical point of view - consequently their value would do too.

Therefore both competence and performance have a double value: a quantitave and a qualitative one. In an English dictionary we can see that competence is a synonym for ability and also to compete means to strive against others, while perform is a synonym for to bring to completion and from this verb derives performance.Perform also means to act in a play. As mentioned we are dealing with both quantitative and qualitative values. The first one is being described by ability for competence and by to act for performance. The second one is being described by tostrive against others for competence and also by to bring to completion for performance.

The internal linguistic spacio-temporal system, through the capacity of a linguistic model which is based on the geo-physiological matrix of the subject and the two linguistic matrixes of English and Romanian, a model which became a linguistic complex of English, and which only a Beherrscherof this language can possess as a whole, is exactly the one which allows us to perceive competence and performance in a different way from the two relative equivalents in Romanian. This system is also the one, which allows the Beherrscher to pass a limit, imposed by the Romanian term, and to associate with the image other elements as well, without having consulted a dictionary beforehand.

The internal linguistic system also allows those speakers who control the system (the Beherrschers) to build new elements, composite elements, which neither the individual nor perhaps any other person could imagine until that moment, according to the standards of the system these individuals possess. The impossibility of imagining these compositional elements beyond a certain level comes from the fact that this possibility - the potentiality of combination - is available to every speaker who masters the linguistic model through which he expresses himself, and not only that but the potentiality can manifest itself also even if only within a linguistic model and not necessarily in any other way. Thus the potentiality - we may say - would be expressed by the value of the pragmatic of this discourse; there is no other way one could imagine such an association.

We have mentioned above the term called "Beherrscher". This term must be perceived in the approximate sense of "perfect discourse-receiver and discourse-emitter" of a language, in the sense of an understanding (I would see that as the Latin "intelligere" meaning "to distinguish between"), infering and creating capacity by using that language but not necessarily in the sense of knowing the entire vocabulary of a language or of being able to speak the language fast or in a correct manner.

A Beherrscher , according to our definition, is not only able to use schemes which are already known in order to make new structures, but most of all, on a higher level, able to infere scheme types and relations between the units of that language (we refer here to both complex and elementary ones and the entire range and both systematical and structural ones) and also their practical applications.

We will demonstrate, in what follows, that "being a speaker" of a language does not ensure the Beherrscher title (degree) of the language and also the fact that assigning this title (degree) to a person does not necessarily lead to the assignment of the speaker title (degree) of that language, because this is actually the secret of a foreign language and automatically that of the complexity or / and the level of difficulty of that language.

A Beherrscher of a language does not consider that language difficult and incomprehensible because he who is a Beherrscher can "feel" and "infer" the language.

There are many speakers of a language (among native-speakers as well) who could not be called Beherrschers (in our sense) of that language because of various reasons. They are not able to understand, to infer and create by using that language even though they know the entire vocabulary of the language (let’s not forget the special case of German and where there is not a limited number of words - in this case interferes the magnificence of the vocabulary of German, that is the possibility to create not only within the Rahmen (germ.) of the discourse, but also within the vocabulary, and also the chance to be a Beherrscher within the vocabulary of the language) or even though they can speak that language fluently or correctly. If we analyse things conversely, if one learns a language good enough to become a Beherrscher of that language - and this can only happen if the internal linguistic system of this person allows it by means of its functioning degree referring to mobility relations and also geopositional relations of fixed performative elements of the linguistic psycho-system - this does not necessarily mean that the person would also know the entire vocabulary of the language or at least most of it but the person would be able to create, infer and generate by using that language.

It may seem strange to be called (germ.) a Beherrscher of a language (we translate this term approximately and not satisfactory by means of the English term master, the Romanian term stăpân, cunoscător) and not to be able to speak that language correctly and easily or fluently; we dwell on the term user of a language; this term can refer to the speaker in its widest sense (who may possibly be not a very good speaker) but it also allows the reference to Beherrscher, (rom.) stăpân, cunoscător perfect, or if you wish: the person who can perceive and use certain elements which belong to the performative unit of a language and who can have access to so called forms or geometries of thinking.

In order for this to happen the user must possess and also have access to the fundamental structures of the language which are linguistically generated and shaped afterwards, if we think of the (germ.) Anschauung, internal representation, which will allow the subject to create certain standards which would lead to possible reactions and which can allow that a certain type of (possible) connections and routes are to be followed, in a certain manner, and this would eventually ensure the emission process and its specific activities: intension, conceiving,launching.

Such a situation can be also supervised in the following manner: it is known that there are proffesors who perform the study of a language during decades, even an entire life but who do not manage to understand or "feel" that language; as in common language one says that they do not have "the sense of language". In this case we can deal first of all with the fixed performative feature which is represented by the fixed performative elements (that is the language centres - the elements of the linguistic system which can keep by "activation" and also the connecting units - the elements of the linguistic system which ensure the connections among the language centres, which can deliver the information amount in both "coming" and "going" senses) which is missing in that subject’s case.

The subject will therefore:

Secondly we can deal with the evolutional performative feature of the system which cannot lead to the complete development of the systematical structural units. This leads to the appearance of the third consequence we mentioned above. The internal Anschauung - the third linguistic component, the superior one - actually ensures the superior psychic processes. This internal representation appeared as a result of the appearance and development of the evolutional performative elements and it cannot thus reach a sufficient development level in order to conceive, produce and emit a creational discourse which can have a constructive value but it can emit a general, common discourse with a repetitional value specific to the language. He will never be mistaken with a native-speaker or ever reach the level of Beherrscher of that language, of a maître de langue. That is why one is recommended to begin the study of a foreign language up to a certain age and, I would even say, by an age between age limits, and not sooner or later, that is when the fixed performative elements had not yet begun to become lost or died out.

The existence of language centres and the activation of some of them added to a normal functioning of the connection units and also to the presence of a sufficiently well elaborated discourse ensures the appearance and the development of the types of thinking of a new language, which is different from the mother - tongue, and also of an internal Anschauung, of a new, over-lapped system, that is the forms which would allow us to "see" all that we would subsequently perceive from a larger and more complex point of view.

Try to imagine now a rectangular parallelipiped with small spheres in its corners. Then place a few smaller, bigger or same sized spheres on the sides of the parallelipiped and then some more inside of it. We are supposed to try now to connect all these spheres by means of lines (second degree imaginary lines), unpermanent ones, most of which are activated alternatively or a few simultaneously.

The complex process which begins thanks to several activations (let’s call them lightings or illuminations) of the spheres and to the connections among them is approximately what happens whenever we want to create a word or a sentence. Let’s step now onto a third degree imaginary level and try to imagine a plane making ultrarapid switches in its form and positioning, if we are relating the plane to an imaginary and relative center of that parallelipiped and if we consider the plane successively receiving various values as far as its area and its sides are concerned. This process shows us what happens when the superior psychic processes unfold, things that happen day by day and almost all the time. This complex-image-metaphor could have the meaning (in a simplistic and completely unsatisfactory manner) of what we understand by the model we previously intended to present.

This is the when the linguists interferes in the elaboration of that type of discourse, taking into consideration its complexity. This should lead as fast as possible to the development of the internal structures of the new language which is being studied and also to the development of the new linguistic complex or model that would overcome the formative model (or the original one) within the internal linguistic spacio-temporal system of the individuals who want to assimilate a new foreign language.

The assimilation of a language through automatisms cannot ensure the shaping of a system that would contain evolutional performative elements, and it cannot be sufficiently developed; and therefore it cannot ensure the normal development of an internal Anschauung so that the owner could infer, create or generate through that language. The intrinsic psychomechanical phenomena are much more than repetition and imitation can ensure.

That is why we must take into consideration a new manner of understanding research into and / or assimilation of a language - may it be a formative language or a new - or trans-forming language; the approach to the assimilation of a second or a third language, that is a language different from the one which generated the original psycho-system, requires the appearance, the shaping and the fastening of an overlapping system, and this is actually one of the key-elements which lead to the establishment of the structure and functioning of the linguistic psycho-system.

Ascertaining this psycho-system cannot be done in an inductive way and, in our opinion, this must be the main concern of the linguists because here, within this psycho-systematic universe, one can find the answers to more questions than we can ever imagine.

© Gabriel Istode ("Lower Danube" University of Galaţi, Romania)


(1) We will not elaborate on this statement because of the complexity of the problem and also of its intrinsic psycho-systematically marked content, because the target of this presentation is the creation of a general frame for the development of a psycho-systematic basis so that the phenomenon of assimilating a foreign language can be understood.


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14.1. Re-Shaping Eastern Communities’ Patterns through the European Union Context

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For quotation purposes:
Gabriel Istode ("Lower Danube" University of Galaţi, Romania): Linguistic Universalia - linguistic Eurobridge!? In: TRANS. Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften. No. 16/2005. WWW: ../../../index.htmtrans/16Nr/14_1/istode16.htm

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