Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0017090, Tue, 23 Sep 2008 10:06:57 EDT

Re: THOUGHTS re: stranger-danger; midges-midgets]

Jerry Friedman wrote:

Stan Kelly-Bootle wrote:

"Apart from a few onomatopoeic words, sounds and meanings have
no innate connection. Recall Saussure¹s key notion that the mapping from
signifier to signified is quite arbitrary, a point that VN and some
Nabokovians choose to ignore."

Maybe Nabokov chose to ignore it because he believed, as
you and I don't, that something supernatural was involved,
that the players of some game above our world shaped the
evolution of "stranger" and "danger" to provide a convenient
rhyme at our period of history.

But Saussure's key notion, accepted uncritically by so many, seems to me
itself arbitrary. One doesn't have to postulate supernatural players of games
above or beyond our world to notice profound links between words, and between
words and things, in a given language, and also between languages. Why should
these links have been devised above and beyond our world rather than by
generations of men and women living in our world?

Anthony Stadlen

Anthony Stadlen
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