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What is said, what is left unsaid, what is said differently and what is implicit


Directors: Véronique de Colombel and Micheline Lebarbier

Within this research theme, the following questions were raised:

The various ways used to express something that cannot be said outright.

  • How does one express that which cannot be said, that which must not be said, taboo and prohibited terms?
    Among other means, through coded language love and sexuality, especially in facetious stories and suggestive songs.

Forms which hint at social deviance, transgressing norms.

  • How should one interpret omissions and silences used to avoid naming what is frightening or creates unease?
    This is namely the case in oral tradition texts (proverbs, stories, fantasy tales…), but also appears in some written texts.

Saying things differently can be a way to conform to rules of etiquette or of insult, to express language taboos or to express sentiments which are emotionally revealing.

  • How do insults work in societies where Islam plays a predominant role?
    In certain types of societies, explicit or deviated language is strictly regulated by the social code which imposes various language strategies.

What is left unsaid can also exist outside of words and be expressed through gestures, representations, ostentation or silence (strategies of speech or silence in encounters with supernatural forces).

  • How can one express, through gestures or metaphors, that which one cannot, or which one does not want, to name?
    The implicit namely appears in certain types of rituals: therapeutic rituals where forgotten languages are used or where certain words may not safely be uttered; verbal abstinence rituals comparable to initiation rites; funeral rituals and the social codes used in them.

The various language registers are also a manifestation of ‘saying things differently’, the register of ordinary reality, of poetic language or metaphor (for example in societies with shamanic traditions).

  • How is the notion of secrecy expressed in the transmission of hidden knowledge, and how is the implicit expressed in discourse on initiation knowledge?

Lastly, changing from one language to another can entail a reinterpretation of the initial text resulting in a translation, which can only incompletely render what is ‘culturally implicit’.

Current seminars aa

Among the themes we propose to study, let us also mention:
– Formulating prohibited elements: what acts are prohibited and how are they said or expressed?
– Expressing negative comments on some one
– Does saying, leaving unsaid, or saying differently, bring to mind the feared object, that which one does not wish to see or hear?
– Emblematicized identities: what do coats of arms reveal in heraldic language?

A collective volume will summarize our reflections on these matters.

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