Jeppe Bundsgaards hjemmeside
Velkommen! Weblog Ph.d.-projekt Artikler Foredrag Live English area
It, dansk og didaktik
Didaktik og fagdidaktik
IT og digitale læremidler
Sprog & kommunikation


ICILS 2018





Digital dannelse

It-didaktik i teori og praksis - elevpositioner og digitale kompetencer i et dannelsesperspektiv


Klik for at komme til bogens hjemmeside

Kompetencer i dansk. Gyldendal 2009.


Klik for at komme til bogens hjemmeside

Danskfagets it-didaktik. Gyldendal 2007.


Klik for at komme til bogens hjemmeside

Bidrag til danskfagets it-didaktik. Ph.d.-afhandling. Forlaget Ark 2005.

The Dialectics of Ecological Morphology
— or the Morphology of Dialectics

0. Presentation

The three-dimensionality of the social praxis

1. Why Morphology?

Traditional definitions

2. Meaning in Ecolinguistics

A dialectical morpheme definition

3. Relationality in Ecolinguistics

The inter-textual function of the morpheme

The extra-textual function of the morpheme

The intra-textual function of the morpheme

4. Micro-morphology in Ecolinguistics

5. Implications of an Ecolinguistic Morphology

Aitchison’s comments

6. Conclusions & Invitations



0. Presentation

Within the dominant linguistic theory of the last century, the European – or Saussurean – structuralism, a fundamental notion is that of the Sign. In this key term all the central theoretic ideas of structuralism are embedded. Among these are the arbitrarity of the sign, the semiological system, the notion of valeur, the distinction between diachronic and synchronic linguistics and the distinction between langue and parole.

                      These terms all date back to the pater sine qua non of structuralism, Ferdinand de Saussure (cf. Cours de linguistique générale, 1916). The breakthrough of this new linguistic paradigm was due to a change in the sociology of science, which took place in the beginning of the 20th century, and which might be described as a bureaucratization of the scientific community – a parallel to the modern Western bureaucraties as described by Max Weber. In this development, scientists made attempts to define their fields in a mutually exclusive way. Within the field of linguistics, Saussure did so by claiming a special object of study, la langue, which, he claimed, was unattainable for other scientific approaches.

Although the Saussurean terms are forming a theoretical whole, it could be argued that especially one is a constituting basis of structuralism, namely the arbitrarity of the sign (cf. Steffensen 2000). The arbitrarity of the sign is indeed a crucial constituting factor in the structuralist view of language as a self-contained closed system of linguistic signs.

                      Within the linguistics of this 21st century there are several hyphenated linguistic disciplines, all descending from the Saussurean inheritance. But there is one remarkable exception, and that is ecolinguistics. Ecolinguistics is an ”umbrella term” which covers a rich diversity of theoretical approaches (cf. Fill 1996). In this context we find it more fruitful to draw the attention to the similarities of the diverse ecolinguistic approaches than to the differences. Following Haugen’s definition – according to which ecolinguistics is ”the study of interactions between any given language and its environment” (Haugen 1972:325) – the environmental constitution of language is an important research field of ecolinguistics. This means, in our point of view, that structural linguistics and ecological linguistics are incompatible, since the former denies the very theoretical (or axiomatic) starting point of the latter. Furthermore, we suggest that a recognition and discussion of the different approaches to the environmental constitution of language is crucial for maintaining and developing ecolinguistics as a forum of friendly and democratic dialogues. It is fundamentally undemocratic to exclude the study of language from public discussion by claiming that other persons than linguists do not even know what the “true” questions regarding language “really” are.

Within Danish Dialectical Linguistics, or The Odense School of Ecolinguistics (developed by Jørgen Chr. Bang & Jørgen Døør since the 1970s, and within The ELI Research Group: Ecology – Language – Ideology since 1990), we consider language to be a constitutive and constituted part of a social praxis: Language is a social product of human activities, but at the same time language changes or modifies the human activity and the social praxis. This means that there is a dialectical relation

[1] between language and social praxis. In our point of view, the social praxis is the dominating and language the dominated individuality[2] of this dialectical relation, since a social praxis without language is a logical possibility, but language without a social praxis is historically and logically impossible: The former is utopian, the latter is atopian (cf. Bang & Døør 1990:5).

                      The dialectical relationship between language and social praxis means that the scientific investigation of language at the same time is a scientific investigation of our social praxis. And it means that a theory of language is also a theory of social praxis. This goes for all (linguistic) theories, whether they acknowledge it or not. The democratic implication of such a view is that language studies are the matter of everyone interested, not reserved for a scientific élite.

The three-dimensionality of the social praxis

Danish Dialectical Linguistics is characterized by (i) explicating the axiological and political implications of our (and others) doing linguistics, and by (ii) formulating our linguistic theories in relation to an explicit dialectical theory of the social praxis – historically and transhistorically (cf. Døør 1998). Two important aspects of our dialectical theory are (i) the Core Contradictions and (ii) the three-dimensionality of the social praxis. In this presentation we focus on the latter which we present by quoting Bang & Døør’s Dialogue Model (Bang & Døør 1995:47):[3]

Dialogue Model


The three-dimensionality of the social praxis can readily be seen as Bang & Døør’s, or the Odense School’s, theoretical frame – or basis – of understanding and explaining the environmental constitution of language.

The three dimensions are dialectically determined and determing. The three logical dimensions are interrelated historical and dynamic systems of recurrent invariances, patterns and tendencies (cf. Døør 1998:65). The ideo-logical dimension is about our individual and collective mental, cognitive, ideological and psychic systems. The socio-logical dimension is about the ways we organize our interrelations in order to maintain a collectivity of individuals, whether these individuals love each other (eg. in a family and between friends), know each other (eg. between neighbours or in a tribe) or are strangers to each other (eg. in political systems, like a region, a state or the EEC). The bio-logical dimension is about our biological collectivity and our coexistance with other species (animals, plants, soil, oceans, microorganisms, macroorganisms etc.) – within Gaia or outside of Gaia.

No phenomenon is mono-logical or mono-dimensional, according to our dialectical theory. Our way of breathing is not just determining our bio-logical being and well-being, but also our mental and social well being (cf. the breathing exercises within all kinds of meditation). Capitalism is not just a specific socio-logical order of production, distribution and consumption within and between social classes. It is also a specific ideo-logical configuration of capitalist ideologemes like ”more is better”, ”growth through production”, ”competitiveness”, ”profit” and the like. Also it is a specific bio-logical configuration of exploitation, pollution and ecological unsustainability.

This three-dimensionality of the social praxis means that also language is a three-dimensional entity in a social praxis. Therefore linguistics needs to describe language in these three dimensions. Structuralism described language only as an individual and collective ideo-logical phenomenon. One of the greatest predecessors of our dialectical tradition, the Marxist linguist V.N. Vološinov (cf. Marxism and the Philosophy of Language, 1930/1973) described language as a purely socio-logical phenomenon.

[4] On this point we disagree with as well the structuralist tradition as with Vološinov.

In our opinion, ecolinguistics is the study of the interrelations of bio-, socio- and ideo-logical dimensions of language. The ecological well-being of Gaia and the mental and social well-being of mankind go hand in hand. Therefore our efforts in favour of ecological sustainability – and ecolinguistics – are inseparable from our critique of the capitalist and bureaucratic societies and ideologies.

1. Why Morphology?

Science and society are inseparable. This means that normal science (cf. Kuhn 1962, Sjørup Simonsen 2000) inevitably must be compatible with the dominant ideology of society in order to obtain economical support from Gemeinschafte and Gesellschafte. We have chosen to work with the concept of morphology for two reasons. First, because the discipline of morphology possesses a central position in traditional linguistics, which means that traditional morphology is inscribed in – or compatible with – an ideology which is a part of the ecological crisis. Second, because morphology touches upon central linguistic questions like the individual and collective creation and creativity of language.

                      We ask the question whether it is possible to create and develop an Ecological Morphology – or Ecomorphology – that makes us become more aware of our environmental problems. This we do in the same way as Bang & Døør on the ecolinguistic section of AILA 1993 in Amsterdam suggested a radical approach to the ethical dimension of the ecological crisis:

One part of the research community tries to handle the serious ethical problematic of our ecological crisis by applying traditional and well-established ethical theories and concepts to ecological problems.

Another part of the research community has realized that traditional ethics is part of the problematic and are co-producers of ecological contradictions and dilemmas. Therefore, what is needed is a fresh approach to ethics and the ethical dimension of the ecological crisis. (Bang & Døør 1995b:36)

The axiological and methodological implication of this point of view is that we must make a radical re-interpretation of what morphology is.

Traditional definitions

Before we reach our attempt to formulate an ecological morphology, we will quote five traditional linguistic definitions of morphology.

1. Within the Danish Dialectical Linguistics, we often refer to the encyclopedic writings of David Crystal because they have a canonical status of presenting social sense definitions of linguistic terms. This is Crystals definition of morphology and of a morpheme:

morphology (gram) The study of word structure, esp. in terms of morphemes. […] morpheme (gram) The smallest contrastive unit of grammar. (Crystal 1998:432)

We might add that Crystal defines contrast as ”Any formal difference that serves to distinguish meaning in a language.” (Crystal 1998:424).

2. One of the best over-all treatments of morphology is probably P.H. Matthews’ ”Morphology” (1974, 2nd ed. 1991). This book is part of the ”Cambridge textbooks in linguistics”-series, which gives it a canonical status within linguistics. Matthews defines morphology in this way:

’Morphology’, therefore, is simply a term for that branch of linguistics which is concerned with the ’forms of words’ in different uses and constructions. (Matthews 1991:3)

[…] we can say that morphology is, briefly, the branch of grammar that deals with the internal structure of words. (Matthews 1991:9)

3. In (one of) the newest handbook(s) of morphology, ”The Handbook of Morphology” (1998), the editors, Andrew Spencer & Arnold M. Zwicky, open their ”Introduction” with this proclamation:

Morphology is at the conceptual centre of linguistics. This is not because it is the dominant subdiscipline, but because morphology is the study of word structure, and words are at the interface between phonology, syntax and semantics. (Spencer & Zwicky 1998:1; our italics, jb&ss)

4. Also Saussure himself offers us some thoughts on morphology. Naturally, what he has to say about morphology is coloured by the philologism of the contemporary academic milieus. When Saussure in Cours claims that ”Linguistiquement, la morphologie n’a pas d’objet réel et autonome; elle ne peut constituer une discipline distincte de la syntaxe” (Saussure 1916/1973:186), he is merely alluding to the isolated paradigms of declination (puer, puerum, etc.) and conjugation (sum, es, est, etc.). But elsewhere Saussure actually does define morphology, namely in a manuscript from ca. 1894-1895 which is quoted in Robert Godel’s A Geneva School Reader in Linguistics (Bloomington & London 1969). Here Saussure states:

Définition. La morphologie est la science qui traite des unités de son correspondant à une partie de l’idée, et du groupement de ces unités. […] Le vrai nom de la morphologie serait: la théorie des signes, et non des formes. (Godel 1969:28)

5. Finally, we present one of the great Danish linguists, Viggo Brøndal (1887-1942). Brøndal was not directly a part of the Copenhagen School of Hjelmslev (actually they couldnŽt stand each other!), but in many ways his thoughts were quite close to those of the contemporary strucuralists. His definition of morphology is (in Danish and in our translation):

Morfologi, i vid Forstand defineret som Logisk Systematik, betragter udelukkende Ordenes indre Form, Kategorier og Systemer, – men ikke deres Combinationer. (Brøndal 1932:8)

Morphology, defined – in its broadest sense – as Logical Systematism, considers exclusively the inner form, categories and systems of the words, – but not the combinations of these. (Brøndal 1932:8; our translation, jb&ss)

We identify three main problems in these definitions of morphology and – explicitly or implicitly – of morphemes. These problems are (i) The problem of meaningfulness, (ii) The problem of relationality and (iii) The problem of ’smallest unit’. We discuss these three points in 2-4.

2. Meaning in Ecolinguistics

The problem of meaningfulness is for instance seen in Crystal’s definition. His definition of the morpheme isolates the notion of meaningfulness from our human experiences with what makes sense. Crystal does not ask the question: What makes sense – and how does it make sense?

We get a hint of the answers to these questions if we just for a second consider the etymology of the word ’morpheme’. Etymologically, ’morpheme’ constitutes and is constituted by the morphemes ’morph-’ and ’ema’. ’morph-’ means ’form-’, and ’-ema’ is used in greek nominalized verbs, and indicates what is remaining after a given action. The structuralist use of the suffix ’-eme’ seems to ignore this processual background, thus leaving the ’-emes’ at any given level as an ahistorical and de-personalized distinctive unit or element. An ecolinguistic definition should be based on the processual forming and creation of meaningfulness. To quote Vološinov:

For a person speaking his native tongue, a word [or, a morpheme; jb&ss] presents itself not as an item of vocabulary but as a word that has been used in a wide variety of utterances by co-speaker A, co-speaker B, co-speaker C and so on, and has been variously used in the speaker’s own utterances. (Vološinov 1973:70)

Thus, a morpheme definition must take its starting point in the dialogical reality of fluent speech. As human beings we were capable of communicating already in the uterus (Bang 1987). When we were born we continued developing this capacity – by crying, moving, making facial expressions etc. Later we started cooing and babbling, and later again we started uttering words and sentences. And all the time we developed our awareness of actions and utterances of our parents, brothers, sisters and others. Through this growing awareness we noticed differences and similarities of their speech, and our awareness of these differences and similarities depended on our way of sensing the rhythmes of language – or the melody of language – and the rhymes of texts, words and parts of words. We did not perform structuralist commutation tests, we heard the melody of our mother tongue.

It was our co-creative re-productions of these differences and similarities that led us to our own speech. It was our acts of interpreting, re-producing and re-creating rhymes and rhythmes that made us able to distinguish those parts of our family’s speech that made sense in relation to a particular situation. And at the same time we learned that the recurring patterns in their speech depended on the situations and intentions of their speaking. This is how we first found out about morphemes – not as independent building blocks in the construction of a sentence, but as concrete individualities in the creation of meaning. In a sense we met the complete utterance as a textual whole or as an individuality with an understandable meaning, depending on – and derived from – the situation. But we soon became aware of smaller individualities which made sense within the utterance. We performed acts of natural linguistic analysis and creativity, thus creating and developing our own speech. Morphemes are produced and consumed as individualities that are dialectically constituted by and constituting an utterance in a dialogue.

In order to distinguish the significance of the utterance from the significance of the smaller individualities of the utterance, Vološinov talked about theme and meaning:

Let us call the significance of a whole utterance its theme. [...] The theme of an utterance itself is individual and unreproducible, just as the utterance itself is individual and unreproducible. […] By meaning [...] we understand all those aspects of the utterance that are reproducible and self-identical in all instances of repetition. […] Theme is the upper, actual limit of linguistic significance; [...] Meaning is the lower limit of linguistic significance. (Vološinov 1973:99-101)

We widely agree with Vološinov, although we do not consider morphemes to be ”self-identical in all instances of repetition.” Identity is always situational and there is thus no absolute self-identity, but only more or less identical textual phenomena, produced and consumed by human beings. It follows from this that a reproduction is not an identical copy or repetition, but a situational re-creation of those textual phenomena we have experienced.

A dialectical morpheme definition

These comments lead us to suggest a dialectical or ecolinguistic definition of the morpheme:

Definition. Morphemes are rhythmical and rhymic identifiable textual individualities which: (i) Are constituted by and constituting a textual whole (text, utterance, sentence, word). (ii) Are creatively formed, co-formed and con-formed individualities in a dialogue situation (socio-, bio- and ideo-logical). (iii) Are individualities in our cognitive and bodily configurations of knowledge and memory – and thus recreatable in a dialogue situation (bio-, socio- and ideo-logical).

The forming, co-forming and con-forming of morphemes as parts – or shares – of dialogical utterances are always situational and personal. The morphemic forming is an act of the text producer (S1 or ’the speaker’). The co-forming is an collective act of all subjects present in the communication situation (S1, S2 and S3). And the con-forming is the subjects’ uttering of that social and cultural order that to a certain degree pre-organizes our linguistic actions. We emphasize that linguistic actions have two interdependent dimensions: Form and content. We reproduce a certain meaning by reproducing a certain form. Our linguistic forming, co-forming and con-forming of form is our forming, co-forming and con-forming of content.

When we learn our mother tongue we (unconsciously) internalize a social and cultural order (cf. Døør 1998:42). In our modern Western societies, we generally internalize different aspects of a capitalist and unecological way of living, thinking and communicating. This internalization is inevitable. In our living, thinking and communicating we can more or less support or non-support (trans-form or con-firm) the internalized social and cultural order. We do not learn our mother tongue once and for all, but in a lifelong creative, co-creative and con-creative process. Therefore we always have a possibility of changing our way of living, thinking and communicating – but this takes thorough reflexions.

The subjects of the internalization process are both those who (knowingly and unknowingly) internalize and those who (knowingly and unknowingly) utter the social and cultural order as the neutral background for our living, thinking and communicating. We are all subjects of internal­ization processes – as loving and caring parents and as teachers, examiners and scientists.

We consider it to be a task for ecolinguists to promote healthy ways of becoming aware of these internalization processes. Being aware is the only way of identifying the subjects and interests at work in a given situation. Without this awareness we are confronted with the anonymous third, ie. a cultural and societal order that presents itself (sic!) as-if it was neutral and objective.


In the third point of our definition we propose that we know or remember morphemes in order to recreate them. This knowledge or memory is as well cognitive as bodily, because our experiences are as well cognitive as bodily.

[6] At the same time our knowledge or memory is situational. We do not remember atomized units, waiting to be used in utterances. We remember parts/shares of situations (and probably also our mood and feelings in that situation), and we recreate these shares in our present situation. And sometimes we forget such shares, especially if we rarely use them. We tend to forget ’perlocutionary’ rather than ’we’!

3. Relationality in Ecolinguistics

All of the structural definitions quoted in 1.1. have one thing in common: They only treat the inner relations of the word, and this they do in isolation from all other textual and contextual phenomena. Two key terms in structural morphology therefore seems to be: Word and Internality. In these definitions there is an implicit claim that the word can be isolated from other textual aspects, and that inner relations can be isolated from other types of relations.

We disagree with such an explanation. We consider every individuality (ie. person, group, word, text, etc.) to exist in three relational dimensions: Intra-relationality, inter-relationality and extra-relationality. Intra-relations are relations within the individuality. Inter-relations are relations between an individuality and other individualities of the same kind or species. Extra-relations are relations between an individuality and other individualities of other kinds or species.


Our starting point in our linguistic analyses is always texts in dialogues. When we work with textual phenomena, our theoretical basis for a description of relationality is the “Triple Model of Reference.” This model was produced by Jørgen Chr. Bang and Jørgen Døør – together with Harry Perridon, Amsterdam University – in 1990 (Bang & Døør 1990:30). The Triple Model describes (1) the traditional term for referential parts of a text (”Dimension of reference”), (2) the relationality of the referential part of the text – ie. inter-/intra-/extra-relationality (”Dominating reference”) and (3) what the part of the text refers to, ie. whether the referred-to is cotextual, intextual, or contextual. The Triple Model is presented here:

Triple Model of Reference


                           C-prod        =  the context of the producer(s)

                           C-comm      =  the context of the communicator(s)

                           C-cons        =  the context of the consumer(s)

                           C-derivated  =  the context of the recontextualizer(s)


Furthermore, it could be added that the inter-textual reference is primarily a semantic category, the intra-textual reference primarily a syntactic category, and the extra-textual reference primarily a pragmatic category. This means that our description of the inter-textuality of morphemes is primarily a semantic description – or a description of morphological semantics. Similar points go for the intra- and extra-textuality (respectively morphological syntax and morphological pragmatics).

Traditional definitions of morphology are incompatible with these relational principles, since there is no such notion as extra-textuality in traditional morphology, only the intra-textual function of morphemes is acknowledged. We suggest that an ecolinguistic morphology takes all three kinds of relationality into consideration.

Haugen’s definition of ecolinguistics is primarily concerned with the extra-relations of language, and indeed that is exactly what structural linguistics and morphology has ignored. But Haugen does not in his definition of ecolinguistics take into account that the extra-relationality of language (ie. the environmental interactions) changes the intra- and inter-relationality of language. Seen from our dialectical point of view, ecolinguistics is the study of intra-, inter- and extra-relations and of the relations between these relations.

In the following we shall shortly comment on the inter-, intra- and extra-textual function of morphemes.

The inter-textual function of the morpheme

We start with the inter-textual function of the morpheme because we already have touched on that subject in 2. It is one of the most crucial and beautiful things about language that it is learnable for each new generation. Indeed, there would be no language if our children could not consume it and (re)produce it. Language is not a closed circuit between two homogenous adults, and therefore Saussure’s ”circuit de la parole” – and for that sake Chomsky’s theories – are not theories on language, but on calculations of language.

                      Most words have an ideo-logical existence for us (we know them, can produce and consume them), because they first have had a socio-logical existence for us (we have heard them in a dialogical situation in a social praxis).

[8] The sustainability of language depends on this ability of the language producers and consumers[9] to remember and to reproduce language. The relation between our consumption of language in one situation, our memory and our re-production in another situation is an inter-relation between the linguistic phenomena in the two situations. In our morpheme definition we understood the linguistic memory as a morphemic memory, ie. our lexicon as a morphemic lexicon. This is due to our understanding of morphology as a principle of linguistic (re)creation.

But we do not just remember morphemes, we do also remember the situational back­ground of them. Our parents did not use the same morphemes as our teac­hers in school, and even if they did we did not understand them in the same way, because they had different institutional status. This is what the great eco­linguist Adam Makkai describes (in ”How does a sememe mean?” (Makkai 1993:208-231)), as a sememic difference between psychosememes, cogno­seme­mes and techno­sememes (cf. Makkai 1993:230). We would like to add that this sememic difference is due to the situational and social environment of our experiences with these sememes or morphemes, and not due to specific sememic, morphemic or cognitive proportions.

                      Everytime we produce or consume textual shares, ie. morphemes, in a dialogue situation, we reproduce semantic meaning that is non-identical with the meaning of the ”same” morphemes in another situation. But even though there is a non-identity between these morphemes in different dialogue situations, the meaning and form of a morpheme is more or less constant in different situations, just as all situations have some general proportions in common.

[10] So our semantics has a general dimension, the situational and textual constancy, and a specific dimension, the situational and textual variability.

                      At the same time meaning can be more or less common for a community. Meaning is at the same time shared between the individualities in a community and individual for each member of the community. In other words, we operate with a universal semantic dimension and a particular semantic dimension. These two dimensions are the constituting axes of the dialectical Semantic Matrix that Jørgen Chr. Bang & Jørgen Døør formulated in Bang & Døør 1990. In the Semantic Matrix they constitute four semantic fields that all are simultaneously present in every text: The Social Sense, the Social Import, the Individual Meaning and the Personal Significance (For further explanations, see Bang & Døør 1990:14ff.).

The semantic Matrix

Some shares of our speech are morphemes in a more social sense, and some shares are morphemes in some persons individual meaning but not in others. Here we disagree with those structuralists, who say that a given utterance always have the same morphemes. We say that it depends on the situation and on what the participants of the dialogue consider to be morphemes in the utterance and in the dialogue.

                      Finally, one important bio-logical phenomenon is at work in the inter-textual function of the morpheme: We must be able to remember morphemes, and morphemes must be easily reproduced. It is a healthy ecological principle that those words we use most (eg. the personal pronouns I, you, he, she, it, we, my etc.) are one-syllabic, and technical terms (eg. psychosememes) are poly-syllabic.

The extra-textual function of the morpheme

Language is always produced in a social praxis, and therefore every dialogue, every text and every part/share of a text are related to the dialogue situation. This relation between text and situation is extremely complex. We try to recognize at least three dimensions of extra-textual reference: A deictic dimension, a modal dimension and a metaphoric dimension.

vDeixis is a key term in dialectical linguistics. Bang & Døør have now through three decades investigated and explained the social raison d’être of texts and dialogues, and this they have primarily done through thorough analyses of deictic phenomena. We quote the newest deixis definition made by Bang & Døør:

Deixis A category used to subsume features of languages which indicate

     (i)      personal, objectical, and medial;

     (ii)     topical (i.e. temporal-locational features);

     (iii)    logical,(iv) modal, and (v) lexical characteristics of

     (a)     the text-context-discourse, or language game,

     (b)     the dialogue-situation, and

     (c)     the form of life/praxis within which an utterance takes place and has its life, whose MEANINGS are dialectically determined by praxis. (Bang & Døør 1998:26)

Traditionally, deixis is exemplified with such words as I/you/he (personal deixis), now/then (temporal deixis) and here/there, this/that (locational or spatial deixis). But also indications of the logical, modal and lexical configuration of the text and situation are deictic phenemona, because there is no such thing as universal logics. The logical and modal configuration of a text is just as sensitive to the situation as the personal configuration is: Compare these two sentences: ”If we want welfare goods, then we need to produce them, and unfortunately that results in pollution.” And: ”If we want welfare goods, then we must produce them so it does not result in pollution.” The different situational and modal configuration in these sentences become obvious if we ask, whether the two sentences could have been rationally uttered by the same person? If not so, is then the category of logics and modality not as situationally determined (and determining) as that of person, place and time?

                 Prototypical examples of morphemes with deictic (ie. extra-textual) functions are the Danish suffixes ’-en’ and ’-et’ and the English article ’the’ (which Otto Jespersen wisely terms ”the defining or determining article,” rather than ”the definite article”, Jespersen 1924:109). They determine the meaning of lexemes to be one particular and situational well known one.

vModality is also a traditionally well described category of linguistics, cf. Lyons 1977. When we use this term in relation to the extra-textual reference of a share of a text, we imply a wider use of the term. Modality can be defined as the attitudes of the communicating subjects towards the dialogue and its (co-)subjects and objects. When we communicate we do not just convey information; we rationally and emotionally relate ourselves to what we say and hear. Bang & Døør operate with the principle of dialectical description and indication, according to which ”every description and any indication is always-also at the same time a self-descrption and self-indication.”(Bang & Døør 1998:28). When I describe the capitalist system, I also describe how I relate myself to it, rationally and emotionally. Every utterance – and every part of an utterance – has a specific and dynamic modality.

                      The modal aspect of our utterances can be exemplified by the prefix ’un-’. ’un-’ implicates that something referred to by the stem of the word, is negated, eg. in words like undeveloped and uncontrolled. Thereby the producer of such prefixes operates with a yardstick for the valuation of the described. When we refer to certain countries as undeveloped, we (i) use the conditions of the developed (ie. Western) world as a yardstick for our comparison, and we (ii) maintain that the comparison is in favour of the Western world. Such a geopolitical classification has a bias which directs the political actions of those who accept this term as their descriptive basis.[11] In the same way something ’uncontrolled’ is suspicious. This is a modality that for sure is in accordance with the Western, capitalist urge to control nature.

vMetaphor is defined by Lakoff & Johnson: ”The essence of metaphor is understanding and experiencing one kind of thing in terms of another” (Lakoff & Johnson 1980:5). This ’another’ is defined by our particular social praxis, and the metaphoric dimension of extra-textuality is hence a question of establishing an experiental interpretation of the actual situation.

A morpheme that is prototypical for the metaphoric aspects of morphemes is the germanic suffix *-lika- which means ‘like’. In English, the suffix is ’-ly’ (as in friend-ly), in Danish it is ’-lig’ (as in ven-lig), and in German it is ’-lich’ (freundlich). Together with the root this morpheme constitutes an adjective that can be used in a nominal syntagma. In such cases, the substantive of the syntagma is experienced and understood in the same way as we normally experience and understand the root in the adjective. “A friendly foreigner” is a foreigner that behaves like friends normally do.

                      There is a certain degree of coherence in our world view and in the way we talk about this world. The deictic, metaphoric and modal aspects of the morphemes we use indicate our systems of knowledge and belief. Therefore we can criticize our ideological and social praxis by examining morphemes. Furthermore we can put forward alternative formulations and actions and thereby we can trans-form or con-firm certain socio-, bio- and ideological praxises.

The intra-textual function of the morpheme

So far, we have treated morphology in a way that pretty much resembles a general theory of the linguistic sign. The extra-textual function was to indicate (”to deixis”) those situational entities referred to. And the inter-textual function was to predicate something about the situational indicated entities. But what is the intra-textual function of morphemes?

Instead of merely pointing at ”him” and ”her”, we can – due to our inter-textual habits – predicate something about their relation: ”He loves her” or ”she loves him.” This is where the intra-textual function comes in. The intra-textual function of a morpheme is to explicate the relations between textual (deictic or lexical) entities, thus explicating the extra-textual relations of the deictic or lexical indicated entities, as seen from the speaker’s (S1’s) point of view.

                      In some environments a morpheme has a predominantly extra- and interrelational function, while it has a predominantly intrarelational function in other. Certain morphemes have a tendency to have one dominant relational function, regardless of the environment.[12] Eg. in the sentence ”That is Peter’s hat”: In most situations and environments, ’that’ has a dominant extratextual (ie. deictic) function, pointing to an object well known in the dialogue situation. ’Peter’ and ’hat’ have dominant inter- and extratextual functions, referring to a person and an object, probably known to the participants of the dialogue. Finally, the ’-s’ has a dominant intra-textual function, explicating the relation between ’Peter’ and ’hat’. Of course this intratextual function is only possible due to inter- and extratextual experiences with language production and consumption. The last morpheme, ’is’ is a relator, relating the deictic ’that’ to the lexical explanation of what ’that’ is.

[13] Again it is important to underline that we have so much situational knowledge that we readily would understand a statement like ”That Peter hat”.

                      In relation to the referential function of a word like ’Peter’s’, the stem ’Peter’ is the dominant core, while the inflectional morpheme is an adhesive phenomenon. But in relation to the the syntagmatic constitution of the utterance, the inflectional morpheme is the dominant core, while the stem is the adhesive phenomenon. As Jørgen Chr. Bang puts it:

In a more semantic sense the former is the core, while the latter is the core in a more syntactic sense, while they pragmatically stick together as a dialectical unity, where the dominancy is historically changing and changeable. (Bang 1995:16; our translation, jb&ss)

We found it reasonable to distinguish between some morphemes that prototypically are more semantic (ie. lexemic) and some that prototypically are more syntactic (ie. inflectional). Furthermore we operate with a medio-class of semantico-syntactic morphemes, namely the derivational morphemes. Between a pair of words like ’friend’ and ’friendly’ there is as well a semantic difference as a syntactic difference. Semantically, we use such a derivation to change the reference from a person (’the friend’) to a specific way of behaving (’the man is friendly’). Syntactically, we use this derivation to incorporate a predicate into the sentential subject (thus creating a new individuality, ’the friendly man’), so we can relate another predicate to the new individuality: ’the friendly man is an outstanding ecolinguist.’

                      According to our definition of the intra-textual function of a morpheme, we operate with a function of relational explication. This implies that we understand morphology on a par with certain syntactic phenomena. If we for instance have four textual entities, ’Eve’, ’Adam’, ’apple’ and ’to give’, then we could morphologically (eg. through casus) explicate the textual and contextual relations (like in Latin), or we could do so syntactically: ’Eve gave Adam the apple’. From their situational and linguistic experiences, most people will interpret such a sentence in a way that implies that Eve started having the apple, and Adam got the apple from her, and not the other way round. Another possible syntactic organisation of the same referentiel entities is ’Eva gave the apple to Adam’. Here we use another relator (’to’) to explicate the textual and contextual relations between the refered-to entities.

It is a crucial part of a morphological analysis to find out how the morphological, syntactical and prosodic organisation of the textual features explicate the situational relations explicated by the text. Do morphology, syntax and prosody ”co-operate” or do they indicate different situational conjunctures? And how is such a textual organisation determined by the situation – and how does it determine the situation? These are questions of textual and situational awareness.

4. Micro-morphology in Ecolinguistics

The third problem we identified in relation to the structuralist definitions of morphology was the problem of ’smallest unit’. According to these, the morpheme is the smallest meaningful unit in language. Smaller textual units, like phonemes, do not ’mean’ anything.

                      We doubt that this is so. If language is at the same time of a socio-, bio- and ideological nature, then the bodily – or biological – forming of sounds (phonemes) is interconnected with a certain ideo- and sociological conjuncture. Certain sounds are related to certain feelings, moods, experiences etc., cf. the Hindu tradition of phonetics (eg. Panini’s Astadhyayi). This means that sounds to a certain degree can be treated as having a meaning. With Jørgen Chr. Bang, we term these meaningful phenomena micro-morphemes. Of course the meaning of a morpheme cannot be seen as some sum of micromorphemic meaning. The micro-morphemes ’M’, ’O’, ’TH’, ’E’ and ’R’ cannot be ‘added up’ to a resulting morpheme ‘mother’. From the micro- to the meso-level there is a qualitative difference.

Roman Jakobson has worked with these phenomena in his article ”Why ‘MAMA’ and ‘PAPA’?” According to him, George Peter Murdoch has examined 1.072 words for mother and father in a number of non-related languages. Murdoch has shown that these languages (or rather, the producers and consumers of them) have developed “similar words for father and mother on the basis of nursery forms” (Jakobson 1971:538). For example 55% of the words for mother include the sounds [m], [n] and [ng], while only 15% of the words for father include these consonant classes. This is, as Jakobson points out, no coincidence. The nasal murmur is the only sound that the child can produce while sucking his or her mother’s breast. Jakobson argues that this sound is associated to the mother, to food, to satisfaction and other wishes. The problem for Jakobson is of course the structuralist axiom of arbitrarity. Jakobson must maintain that phonemes are meaningless, and therefore he restricts these arguments to this particular area of human life.

But in our dialectical theory of language we do not operate with an axiom of arbitrarity. It makes good sense to maintain that [m], [n] and [ng] has a socio- and ideological meaning because of some natural bio-logical basis. No linguistic phenomenon is mono-logical. Different languages have different conjunctures of logics. So it is not necessarily a falsification of a micro-morphological theory that some languages do not have the exact same conjunture of the same bio-, socio and ideo-logics.

Jørgen Chr. Bang has worked with these linguistic phenomena, and he focuses his attention on what from an ecological point of view seems to be our basic words, such as deictic words, pronouns, strong verbs etc. Further research must be done within this field. In our point of view, this is an important question of the ecological constitutedness of language – and thus an important question within ecolinguistics.

Besides the micro- and meso-morphemes, we also work with macro-morphemes. These are morphemes bigger than the word, ie. ‘phrases’. An instance of a macro-morpheme is ‘so to say’; we use such an expression as an individuality, we do not form it of the morphemes ‘so’, ‘to’ and ‘say’. Our linguistic perceptions and conceptions are dynamical, and therefore we do not have one level of linguistic memory. Our linguistic memory consists of a dynamical and dialectical whole of micro-, meso- and macro-morphemes, organised individually as well as collectively – in different relations of dominance. With one expression, we refer to micro-, meso- and macro-morphemic individualities as morphemic fields.

5. Implications of an Ecolinguistic Morphology

To show the implications of the morphological theory we have put forward in this paper, we will analyse (a part of) a text. Doing dialectical linguistics, it is vital not to constrain a linguistic analysis to textual phenomena, but to gain an insight in our social praxis through analysis of a living communication. This is an axiological sine qua non of our morphological analysis.

We propose a method of investigating the morphological features of this text. It consists of five methodological rules that might give us an insight in texts, on the basis of a morphological analysis:

R1          Identify the inter-, intra- and extra-textual functions of some vital and interesting (micro-/meso-/macro‑)morphemes in the text.

R2          Identify key morphemes, ie. morphemes with a vital deictic and/or lexemic function.


R3          Identify the relations between key morphemes and other morphemes, syntactic structures (sic!) and prosodic features (or – in written texts – the graphemic organisation).

R4          Compare the situational relations of the subject and objects in the dialogue situation with the texual relations of morphemes, syntax and prosody.

R5          Discuss and criticise the implications of the text, ie. the conditions of its production and consumption (cf. Bang & Døør 1988:15).

We exemplify this method through an analysis of a text taken from a well-known introduction to the linguistic field of psycho­linguistics, namely Jean Aitchison’s book The Articulate Mammal – An introduction to psycholinguistics, London & N.Y.: Routledge 1998, 4th edition, pp. 83-84:

Tekstboks: The grammar of a child of 5 differs to a perhaps surprising degree from adult grammar. But the 5-year-old is not usually aware of his shortcomings. In comprehension tests, children readily assign interpretations to the structures presented to them – but they are often the wrong ones. ’They do not, as they see it, fail to understand our sentences. They understand them, but they understand them wrongly’ (Carol Chomsky 1969:2). To demonstrate this point, the researcher showed a group of 5- to 8-year-olds a blindfolded doll and said: ’Is this doll hard to see or easy to see?’ All the 5- and 6-year-olds said HARD TO SEE, and so did some of the 7- and 8-year-olds. The response of 6-year-old Lisa was typical:
Lisa:			HARD TO SEE.
Some psychologists have criticized this particular test. A child sometimes believe, ostrich-fashion, that if his own eyes are covered, others will not be able to see him. And he may be partly switching to the doll’s viewpoint when he says a blindfolded doll is hard to see.		(Aitchison 1998:83f.)


We focus on the quoted conversation between Lisa and Chomsky, and we use Chomsky’s and Aitchison’s interpretation of the text as a basis for a comparison between their and our analyses. Through this comparison we will suggest some vital axiological and methodological differences between an ecological and strucuralist analysis. We present an alternative to the ”They understand them, but they understand them wrongly”-attitude, namely a situational understanding in which Lisa’s understanding is understandable. Thus, we prefer to ask: How and why do the linguist and the child understand a given sentence differently?

                      The starting point of our analysis is Chomsky’s first line: ”is this doll easy to see or hard to see?” We analyse according to R1 and R2 in the matrix below. The identification of relevant and/or interesting morphemes is always a question of topos and interests. In our analysis of this sentence we work with eight morphemic fields, as indicated in the matrix. Some of these morphemic fields have an obvious and necessary deictic function, indicating time and topic of the conversation (cf. ”Extra-text” below). All morphemic fields have meaning, which we express through the semantic matrix: What is the social sense and the individual meanings involved? The social sense is quoted from Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language (N.Y. 1996), and the individual meanings of the linguist, Chomsky, and the child, Lisa, are our creative reconstructions. The intra-textual functions indicate a sketch of our dialectical analysis.

R3: We should now identify the relations between the key morphemes and the rest of the text. We see two reasons for Lisa’s interpretation: First, the verbal extension ’to see’ is usually related to a subject and an object. Lisa’s and Chomsky’s understanding of the question differs on whether the doll is interpreted as the subject or the object for ’to see’. Second, Chomsky forms her sentence as a question, ie. as an 2.pers. modality (”I ask – you answer”), but there is no 2.pers. pronoun (’you’) in the sentence – she starts with the verbal relator ’is’ and forms the sentence in a 3.pers. modality. The ’you’ as subject is not explicated. Chomsky interprets ’this doll’ as object (and Lisa as subject) of the sentence. Lisa, on the contrary, interprets the only nominal entity in the sentence, ’this doll’, as subject – not just in relation to the unstressed verbal relator, but also in relation to ’to see’. Furthermore Lisa does not hear the implicit ’you’ – she reacts on the explicit 3.pers. modality.

                      R4: Why is this so? It might be a point – and it is for as well Chomsky as for Aitchison – that Lisa is not yet familiar with the interpretation of the syntactic forming of the passive voice. But seen in a situational context, Lisa’s answer is perfectly understandable. What is the relation between ’this’ and ’doll’? ’This’ indicates that the ’doll’ is wellknown, it is visible for the dialogue partners. In such a situation it must seem quite strange to Lisa to be asked whether she can see ’this doll’ that is perfectly visible to both of them.

A matrix of morphemic functions – R1 and R2



this doll


to see



to see






Deixis: situational.






Logical. Modality:








Social sense





3rd pers. sing. pres. indic. of be.

used to indicate a person, thing, idea, state, event, time, remark, etc., as present,

not difficult; requiring no great labor or effort.


to perceive with the eyes; look at.

used to connect words, phrases, or clauses representing alternatives.

difficult todo or accomp­lish; fatiguing; trouble­some

to perceive with the eyes; look at.


near, just mentioned or pointed out, supposed to be understood, or by way of emphasis.

[Doll:] a toy representing a baby or other human being, esp. a child’s toy.

Individual Meaning of





English verb, 3.p. singular,

present, indicative, (active).

Deixis and substantive:



ž alive

English adjective:





English verb, to-infinitive. Di-valent: +subect


English equivalent of the logical function Ú. Frege, Russel and, Wittgenstein

English adjective:




English verb, to-infinitive. Di-valent:



Question mark » Raising intonation = Question

Individual Meaning of ’Lisa’


I have a doll just like that

I can do it alone.

I see you and you see me, through eyes, glasses or tv.

Maybe one – maybe other.

But not both/

maybe both?

Mum and dad help me.

I see you and you see me, through eyes, glasses or tv.



Verb-relator. Initial = inter­rogative modality


N-predicate [¹eas(i)-ly]

Verbal extension: Subject-medium-object.


N-predicate [¹hard-ly]

Verbal ex­tension: Subject-medium-object.

Prosody: Question = 2.p. modal.

Key morph.


this doll





to see


Maybe, in such a situation, she chooses the only interpretation that makes sense: To interpret the question as regarding the doll’s ability to see. That is even a quite relevant question since the doll is blindfolded. In other words, Lisa answers as if Chomsky were an interested fellow human being with whom she can create a sensitive and interesting dialogue.

R5: In relation to an abstract linguistic system, maybe Lisa understands Chomsky’s question wrongly. But the proces of understanding is a creative one – maybe especially for children who do not have that many linguistic experiences as grown-ups. Lisa is used to grown-ups that she can trust, and pragmatically she might expect Chomsky to be wise enough not to ask silly questions. Thus Lisa lets her pragmatic expectations overrule her semantic experiences. As she has done so often, she uses her new pragmatic experiences as a background for extending the semantic field of the utterance in question: ”To see must be an act of the doll and not of me.” So in relation to the situation she makes the only sensitive interpretation. And we notice that Chomsky actually confirms Lisa’s interpretation: She does not deny it (”No, she is not hard to see, I can see her, and so can you!”), she accepts Lisa’s interpretation as a premise of her next question (”Will you make her easy to see?”). After all, maybe Lisa’s answer is not wrong – she answers exactly what the linguist expects her to answer. Chomsky does not cooperate in the process of making sense, and thus she excludes herself as an interested partner in a vital dialogue. Thus, in the dialogue there are deictic references to Lisa, the doll and the blindfold – but not once to the linguist. If Chomsky really wanted to know whether Lisa could see the doll, it would make much more sense to ask ”Can you see this doll?” Her question is a trick question, and children are not familiar to that genre before school. In school they learn to be aware of ”easy questions” – and their ulterior motives!

Aitchison’s comments

We will end our analysis with a few comments on Aitchisons’s interpretation of the dialogue. As we have just seen, Lisa is unfamiliar with the passive voice and she does not notice that the passive excludes one of the arguments of the active form: ”I see the doll” – ”The doll is seen [by me]”. Another way of excluding such arguments is by nominalizations of verbs. There is a number of such nominalizations in Aitchison’s comments, and we identify them through the derivational morphemes ’-ing’, ’-sion’, ’-ation’ etc. Some examples: ’surpris-ing’, ’shortcom-ings’, ’comprehen-sion’ and ’interpret-ations’. We also find some participles, marked by the morphemes ’‑ed’ and ’-ing’: ’present-ed’ and ’blindfold-ed’.

The nominalized verbs have two functions: First, to implicate subjects (cf. Bundsgaard forthcoming), and second, as a grammatical metaphor (cf. Halliday 1992). In phrases such as “to a perhaps surprising degree” and “structures presented to them” Aitchison exclude – or implicate – some pragmatic subjects. It is for some reason not nessesary for Aitchison to explicate who is surprised, and who presents. In such phrases we see the logics of structuralist science: There are no subjects influencing the data collection. It does not matter who does the presenting. It does not matter who talks with the child. This kind of ‘objective’ – ie. non-subject-ive – acts are the structuralist yardstick for good data collection.

There are no of the so-called modal verbs – but all verbs indicate a certain modality, thus being ”modal verbs” – and only two modal adverbs (perhaps, usually) in the text. The verbs are mainly of a constative kind (”we are presenting the facts”): The grammar differs, the 5-year-old is not aware, children readily assign etc. The adult linguist knows the system, and she can judge what ”parts” the child possesses and does not possess. The linguist proclaims eternal and global (non-context-sensitive) trouths.

Finally, we notice that a child exclusively is referred to as ’he’. The female linguist reproduces a specific understanding of the sexes, with the masculine being the neutral gender. As Dale Spender writes: ”for females, the only semantic space in English is negative.” (Spender 1980:161).

6. Conclusions & Invitations

The purpose of doing linguistics should be an intervention in a vital and interesting problematics. The purpose of doing ecolinguistics is thus an attempt to intervene in the problematics of our living as human beings in a world of diversity. Our living (ie. our co-living with Gaia) reflects and affects our language, and our language affects and reflects our living (ie. our co-living with Gaia). Therefore it makes a difference how we think and speak about language.

                 This is why we attempt to formulate a theoretical alternative to the traditional way of understanding morphology. This alternative, ecomorphology, is based on a dialectical view on some vital and basic dynamic and dialectical wholes:

·        The dialectics of socio-logics, bio-logics and ideo-logics.

  • The dialectics of intratextuality, intertextuality and extratextuality.
  • The dialectics of syntax, semantics and pragmatics.
  • The dialectics of micro-perspectives, meso-perspectives and macro-perspectives.
  • The dialectics of acting, thinking and communicating.

In our final analysis we realised that the concept of morphology only makes sense in relation to a syntactic, semantic and pragmatic analysis (ie. an analysis of intra‑, inter-, and extra-textual morphemic functions) of the complex relations between a text and (or: in) a situation. So, on the one hand we might not at all need ecomorphology as an ecolinguistic subdiscipline: Ecolinguistics is about language as a whole, ie. in its pragmatic, semantic, syntactic, morphologic, phonetic, etc. dimensions. On the other hand ecolinguistics is incompatible with traditional a-situational morphology, because this discipline builds on the invalidating dichotomy of ’pure’ versus ’applied’ – one thing that ecolinguistics must never do. It is a vital concern for ecolinguistics to provide a healthy basis for thinking and communicating about language – not just to apply some traditional linguistic artifacts on a given problematics. We invite our fellow ecolinguists and other to consider morphology in this light. So far, linguists have only reflected differently on language – but the point is to refract language.


Aitchison, Jean (1998): The Articulate Mammal – An introduction to psycholinguistics. 4th ed. London & N.Y.: Routledge.

Bang, Jørgen Chr. & Døør, Jørgen (1988): Sprogteori III. Odense: Nordisk Institut & Filosofisk Institut, Odense University.

Bang, Jørgen Chr. & Døør, Jørgen (1990): Sprogteori V. Odense: Nordisk Institut & Filosofisk Institut, Odense University.

Bang, Jørgen Chr. & Døør, Jørgen (1995): Sprogteori VII. Odense: Nordisk Institut & Filosofisk Institut, Odense University.

Bang, Jørgen Chr. & Døør, Jørgen (1995b): Sprogteori VIII. Odense: Nordisk Institut & Filosofisk Institut, Odense University.

Bang, Jørgen Chr. & Døør, Jørgen (1998): Sprogteori IX. Odense: ELI Reseach Group, Odense University.

Bang, Jørgen Chr. (1987): Antydninger af en økologisk sprogteori. Odense: Nordic Department, Odense University.

Bang, Jørgen Chr. (1995): Flexiver som Relatorer. Odense: Center for Nordiske Studier, Odense University.

Brøndal, Viggo (1932): Morfologi og Syntax. Festskrift udgivet af Københavns Universitet i Anledning afUniversitetets Aarsfest november 1932. Copenhagen: Copenhagen University.

Bundsgaard, Jeppe (2000): Internettet - Atom eller fragment. ELI Working Papers no. 1. Odense: ELI Research Group, Odense University.

Bundsgaard, Jeppe (forthcoming): Genernes Grammatik.

Crystal, David (1992): The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Døør, Jørgen (1998): Moralske Meditationer. Odense: Institute for Language and Communication, Odense University.

Fill, Alwin (ed.) (1996): Sprachökologie und Ökolinguistik. Tübingen: Stauffenberg.

Godel, Robert (1969): A Geneva School Reader in Linguistics. Bloomington & London: Indiana University Press.

Halliday, M.A.K. (1992): “New ways of meaning: The challenge to applied linguistics”. In: Pütz, Martin (ed.): Thirty Years of Linguistic Evolution. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Haugen, Einar (1972): The Ecology of Language. Stanford, Cal.: Stanford University Press.

Jakobson, Roman (1971): ”Why ’MAMA’ and ’PAPA’?” IN: Selected Writings. 2nd ed. Haag.

Jespersen, Otto (1924): The Philosophy of Grammar. London: George Allen & Unwin.

Kuhn, Thomas S. (1962): The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Lakoff, Mark & Johnson, Mark (1980): Metaphors We Live By. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Lyons, John (1977): Semantics I-II. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Makkai, Adam (1993): Ecolinguistics - ¿Toward a new ”paradigm” for the science of language?

 London: Pinter Publishers.

Matthews, P.H. (1991): Morphology. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Saussure, Ferdinand de (1972): Cours de linguistique générale. 1. ed. 1916. Critical edition by Tullio de Mauro. Paris: Payot.

Sjørup Simonsen, Simon (2000): Sundhedens Filosofi. Århus: Klim.

Spencer, Andrew & Zwicky, Arnold M. (1998): The Handbook of Morphology. Oxford: Blackwell.

Spender, Dale (1980): Man Made Language. London, Boston, Melbourne & Henley: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Steffensen, Sune (2000): Strukturalisme, Marxisme & Dialektik. ELI Working Papers no. 2. Odense: ELI Research Group, Odense University.

Vološinov, N.V. (1973): Marxism and the Philosophy of Language. [Original: Marksizm i Filosofija Jazyka, Leningrad 1930]. Translated by Ladislav Matejka & I.R. Titunik. New York and London.

Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language (1996). N.Y.: Gramercy


[1] We define a dialectical relation, or a dialectical determination, or a dialectical implication, as a ”relation between (i) to different individualities, (ii) who are parts of a whole, (iii) and who condition and restrict eachothers modus of being, (iv) and one of them is the historically dominating.” (our translation of Døør 1998:64)

[2] We quote Jørgen Døør’s definition of an individuality (in Danish and in English): ”Jeg bruger […] termen ”individualitet” til at betegne et individ, der hverken er autonomt eller udeleligt.” (Døør 1998:14): ”I use […] the term ”individuality” to denote an individual [as oppposed to a species, jb&ss] which neither is autonomous nor individable.” (our translation, jb&ss).

[3] Shortly, S1 is the text producer(s), S2 the text consumer(s), S3 the subject(s) that – incarnated or not in the dialogue situation – restrict(s) the communication. O is the referred-to objects of the communication.

[4] ”The laws of language generation are sociological laws.” (Vološinov 1930/1973:98).

[5] The term ’anonymous third’ is coined by Jørgen Døør, cf. Døør 1998:40.

[6] Also, we do not just produce utterances by speaking. We gesticulate, we make facial expressions, we have eye contact and so on. Probably, our cognitive and bodily interpretations of such communicative acts are on a par with our knowledge of textual morphemes. If this is so, an ecolinguistic morphology might also touch upon these kinds of communications, especially since they prototypically are inseparable from our verbal communication. In this paper we do not elaborate further on this point.

[7] Please notice that we still refer to an individuality in Jørgen Døør’s sense, cf. note 2. Expressed in terms of relationality, an individuality can be seen as an entity whose intra-relations are relatively constant and dominating in relation to its inter- and extra-relations. This relative independence is to be interpreted as a dominating self-organisation and not as autonomy of the individuality: My being a living human being is relatively independent of what I eat and where I am, but only to a certain degree. If I have no food to eat or oxygene to breathe I would not be able to maintain my intra-relational constancy. My extra-relations would in that case dominate my intra-relations.

[8] A very few words, the socalled neologisms, start existing in an individuals mind, but by being uttered they enter the socio-logical sphere. If they are never uttered, they disappear with the death of the individual. (Or, if an individual produces too many words of this kind, they disappear in psycotherapy!)

[9] We avoid the term ”language users” because it implies that language has an existence independent of the personal production, distribution and consumption. We do not use language, we produce language.

[10] There is a dialectical relation between the linguistic constancy and the situational constancy. As Vološinov pointed out, the dominant class in society will try to prevent changes in meaning, because that will maintain the class’ dominant position. The dominant class is always ”accentuating yesterday’s truth as to make it appear today’s.” (Vološinov 1973:24). We might add: the dominant sex, the dominant age, etc., cf. the dialectical model of core contradictions. (Bang & Døør 1990:9).

[11] An anechdote tells that Gandhi once was asked what he thought about Western civilisation. His answer was: ”That sounds like a good idea!” What would happen if we referred to a non-industrial way of living as ”unalienated”? And ecological groceries as ”untoxic(ant)”?

[12] Traditional morphology refers to these as ’free morphemes’ and ’bound morphemes’, respectively, but this is seen with the optics of the text: A ’free morpheme’ is in no way ’free’ in relation to the situation.

[13] The term relator is coined by Bang to signify a central word class in dialectical linguistics. In this context we might add that relators prototypically are mono-morphemic, ie. they cannot be inflected. Also we operate with a class of verbal relators, ie. verbs that do not indicate som action but relate nominal entities to each other (’he is my son’, ’I have a car’), to predicates (’you are beautiful’) or to verbs (’I am doing my best’, ’he has saved the world’).

[14] These might readily be seen as morphemes that could not be done without in order to make a sensitive interpretation of the text and situation.

Kommentarer modtages gerne: Jeppe Bundsgaard | Sune Steffensen
Webmaster: Jeppe Bundsgaard
Publiceret: 19-03-2002
Læs og deltag i dialogen om denne tekst
Denne sides adresse: