The book pursues a usage-oriented strategy of language description by
infusing it with the central concept of post-structural semiotics and literary
theory - that of intertextual memory. Its principal claim is that all new facts of
language are grounded in the speakers' memory of previous experiences of
using language. It is a "speech to speech" model: every new fact of speech
is seen as emerging out of recalled fragments that are reiterated and
manipulated at the same time. By the same token, the new meaning is
always superscribed on something familiar and recognizable as its (more or
less radical) alteration. The model offers a way to describe the meaning of
language as an open-ended process, the way the meaning of literary works is
described in modern literary criticism.
The basic unit of the intertextual model is the Communicative Fragment (CF).
A CF is a fraction of speech of any shape, meaning, and stylistic
provenance, which speakers recognize and, as a consequence, treat as a
whole. Its chief attributes are a prefabricated shape, an integral meaning (i.e.,
perceived as a whole whose scope always goes beyond the analyzable), and
a specific communicative "texture" alluding at a speech genre, a tangible
speech situation, and profiles of the speaker and the implied addressee.
Although a CF has a recognizable shape, it is not as definitively set as that
of stationary linguistic signs (words and morphemes). A CF can be tempered
with, truncated or expanded, adapted to and fused with other CFs.
The book describes in detail typical devices by which speakers manipulate
their resources of linguistic memory, whose ever-new constellations in
speech create infinite possibilities for new variations and shades of meaning.
The book is of interest to linguists in such diverse fields as cognitive
linguistics, discourse analysis, functional linguistics, language pedagogy,
translation studies, semiotics, and the philosophy of language.