By Lia Formigari
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Additional info for A History of Language Philosophies (Studies in the History of the Language Sciences)
Not by singing, therefore, where rhythm is essential, but words are not; not by prayer, which can be uttered by the faithful in the sanctuary of his soul, or by the priest “not so that God may hear, but in order that men may hear” (De Mag. I, 2). Here a central theme of Augustine’s thought is introduced: the notion of inner speech. When we think words without uttering sounds, we are always speaking internally in our souls. In inner speech, too, words have only a memorizing function. They are associated with the memory of the things of which they are the signs (I, 1–2).
Tell me what 35 36 A History of Language Philosophies the individual words signify, is Augustine’s challenge. The analysis goes no further than the third word, and Adeodatus ﬁnds himself mired in a series of semantic enigmas. What is the ‘thing’ signiﬁed by the word si (if)? It is at most a state of mind, a doubt. Nihil (nothing) suggests perhaps an aﬀection of the soul when it discovers the absence of a thing; ex (of) is a synonym of de and indicates the separation from something. But in this way we have explained “words by words, that is, signs by signs, and what is familiar by what is equally familiar” (De Mag.
They distinguish (II, 11–12): […] the thing signiﬁed [semainomenon], the thing signifying [semainon] and the thing existing [tynkhanon]; and of these the thing signifying is the sound (‘Dion’, for instance); and the thing signiﬁed is the actual thing indicated thereby and which we apprehend as existing […] whereas the Barbarians although hearing the sound do not understand it; and the thing existing is the external real object, such as Dion himself. And of these, two are bodies — that is, the sound and the existing thing — and one is incorporeal, namely the thing signiﬁed and expressible, and this is true or false.
A History of Language Philosophies (Studies in the History of the Language Sciences) by Lia Formigari