THE SOCIAL SEMIOTIC OF NARRATIVE EXCHANGES

IAN REID

Abstract


Before looking at particular features of a couple of texts, I should offer briefly some broad working definitions and propositions. First, those Siamese twins in whose joint names we are conferring here: I take 'Language' in a Hallidayan sense to consist of the verbal exchange of meanings in interpersonal contexts, and I take 'Ideology, as a semiotically constructed set of representations that purport to govern social 270 Semiotics - Ideology - Language processes and positions. To consider the mutual intrication of language and ideology is to recognise that meanings are framed by power relations. Lewis Carroll's Humpty Dumpty, in an often cited passage, expressed his awareness of this: 'When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean -neither more nor less.' The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean different things.' 'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master -that's all.' (Lewis Carroll1958;220)


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