“The ‘doctrine of untranslatability'” (17)
“Language-cultures’ is a silent emendation which allows Steiner to bet the crucial question of the relationship of ‘apprehension’ to culture and to language. Steiner only repeats Whorf’s errors when he calls the ‘apprehensions’ of ‘time, space, identity and sequence’ neurophysiological. These are all psychological and linguistic ‘apprehensions’, categories of human understanding” (18). ***What does it mean for a phenomenon to be identified as “psychological” and “linguistic” not “neurophysiological”? How are these categories different? What are the implications for contemporary discussions in cognition and metacognition? Pretty huge, I’d think. This is a place where it’s very clear why and how Berthoff must not be considered a “cognitivist”; she rejects the decontextualized: “biological” or “physical” or “behavioral” or “linguistic” or… For Berthoff “acts of mind” must not be be cleaved, categorized, heirarchized, formulae-d, laid out into neat processes (goal-oriented). Acts of mind happen…. And they happen “allatonce” AND they happen as “apprehensions”. This is an important term: “categories of human understanding”… Understanding. Not “knowledge.” Understanding and apprehension embody the notion of the nature of an individual in relationship with her world, and that relationship happens
as perceptions mix with perceptions
in the “organ” of imagination….
Imagination. How do we, as pedagogues, work “imagination” into our “methods”? We must. Until we do, we will always teach less than what we can.
“To separate the apprehension of time, space, identity, and sequence from meaning-making, to deny that such apprehensions are symbolic in character, is only to convert langauge to a ghost in the machine” (18). ***Meaning-making is symbolic in nature [always]. Apprehension of T,S, I, S is biological per Steiner. Physical. Cartesian dualism at play here. In this sense AEB’s work in agreement with Latour’s.
“Feuer, in an important critique of Whorf’s views (probably teh one Steiner thought he was countering), sees that the natural world is mediated by culture…” (18). ****Bizzell Letter & FTW
Steiner…Like other Whorfians, he believes that for every language there corresponds a different reality and that, a fortiori, every poetic creation renders a special reality. The argument is the mirror image of the one by which post-structuralists impute to all language use the self-referentiality once alleged to be peculiar to the poetic function. The interdependence of language and thought in a process of determination, mediated by tradition and the individual talent, is not a Whorfian concept.: …” (19).
“That the very idea of translation should be illusory (one of Whorf’s favorite words) is a conviction we should expect to find expressed by all who hold a dyadic view of the sign—by positivists for whom words only substitute for reality, and by mystics for whom language is a veil between us and reality” (19). **One of the problems I feel with Berthoff’s approach generally to the field: she seems to set up a kind of “test”: Does so-and-so pass the “not positivist” test? Virtually no one does, I think. Rhetorically this does nothing to advance the notion of triadicity. I’m not here on this planet to call people “positivists” or not. (Admittedly, Ann’s much more patient with folks in-person, I think. I think….)
“…For Whorf, a cross-cultural exchange has nothing to do with language: the reason that Chinese physicists can understand Western science is not that they have translated texts but that they have taken over an alien belief system, or that they have been able to entertain one (Whorf 1956: 214). That…is a fair description of what is involved in translating, which, properly conceived, is a matter not of substituting one word for another, but of finding ways in which an interpretation of what is being said in one language can be represented in another” (19).**Interpretation is always involved in language acts…of communication and of meaning-making.
“Whorf did not grasp the fact that the ‘takeover’ is a mediation; that the transfer is by way of the meanings that are being made; that meanings can be brought into correspondence with one another only by analogy and that analogy depends upon linguistic formulation. In short, Whorf’s dyadic view of the sign, his understanding of language as a map, meant that he had no way of conceiving of the interpretant as a constituent element of the sign and thus of translation as entailing ‘belief systems’. Translation is copying and interpreting is something else, so far as WHorf is concerned” (19). ***No “direct translation” if this means one-to-one “matching” of concepts across languages; meanings are always mediated, and so “translation” involves “mediating meanings”… connotations not just denotations, contextualized, individualized (acknowledging positionally, for instance).