LINGUIST List 16.785

Tue Mar 15 2005

Books: Historical Ling/Philosophy of Lang: Heller-Roazen

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        1.    David Weininger, Echolalias: Heller-Roazen

Message 1: Echolalias: Heller-Roazen

Date: 14-Mar-2005
From: David Weininger <>
Subject: Echolalias: Heller-Roazen

Title: Echolalias
Subtitle: On the Forgetting of Language
Published: 2005
Publisher: MIT Press

Book URL:

Author: Daniel Heller-Roazen, Princeton University
Hardback: ISBN: 1890951498 Pages: 288 Price: U.S. $ 28 Comment: Distributed for Zone Books

Just as speech can be acquired, so can it be lost. Speakers can forget
words, phrases, even entire languages they once knew; over the course of
time peoples, too, let go of the tongues that were once theirs, as
languages disappear and give way to the others that follow them. In
Echolalias, Daniel Heller-Roazen reflects on the many forms of linguistic
forgetfulness, offering a far-reaching philosophical investigation into the
persistence and disappearance of speech. In twenty-one brief chapters, he
moves among classical, medieval, and modern culture, exploring the
interrelations of speech, writing, memory, and oblivion.

Drawing his examples from literature, philosophy, linguistics, theology,
and psychoanalysis, Heller-Roazen examines the points at which the
transience of speech has become a question in the arts, disciplines, and
sciences in which language plays a prominent role. Whether the subject is
Ovid, Dante, or modern fiction, classical Arabic literature or the birth of
the French language, structuralist linguistics or Freud's writings on
aphasia, Heller-Roazen considers with clarity, precision, and insight the
forms, the effects, and the ultimate consequences of the forgetting of
language. In speech, he argues, destruction and construction often prove
inseparable. Among peoples, the disappearance of one language can mark the
emergence of another; among individuals, the experience of the passing of
speech can lie at the origin of literary, philosophical, and artistic creation.

From the infant's prattle to the legacy of Babel, from the holy tongues of
Judaism and Islam to the concept of the dead language and the political
significance of exiled and endangered languages today, Echolalias traces an
elegant, erudite, and original philosophical itinerary, inviting us to
reflect in a new way on the nature of the speaking animal who forgets.

Linguistic Field(s): Anthropological Linguistics
                            Historical Linguistics
                            Ling & Literature
                            Philosophy of Language

Written In: English (ENG )

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