Indian Statistical Institute
January 25, 2005
Shileendhra, Vol. 39, No. 1, pp.115-128, 2005
This is a paper on the problems of writing a Bangla dictionary on societal terms. Writing a lexicon by fixing a stable meaning with compositional function to something called ‘word’ (citation form) is always a problem as the area of meaning is a slippery area and cannot escape fuzziness. Sometimes the term and its network with other terms within the imagined speech community conveys just the opposite meaning of the lemmatized term, e.g., the values ascribed to the network of some words (like the celebration of ‘fundamental truth/knowledge’ in contrast with the negation of “fundamentalism” in contrast with the fête of ‘eco-fundamentalism’; ‘black’ as in black- market /money/mail in contrast with the ‘black’ as it is used in the context of man and woman) are not the same as one of its lexical network-members. Furthermore, the order of things of the lemma always transgresses their boundary, though they (order of things in the lexical network as revealed in different components with an ultimate ‘etc.’) are considered as a ‘taking it for granted’ order and that discursive order is controlled, appropriated by the non-discursive formation of the regulative society. The technical terms, ‘society’, ‘community’, ‘nation state’, ‘civil society’ do not match with the Bengali worldviews of ‘kowm'(roughly ‘community’), ‘sOmaj'(society), ‘bOrno’ (caste), ‘jat(i)’ etc., though preconditioned by the colonial order of things, a lexicographer is striving for the matching condition. The author of this paper negates the possibility of any truth-claims regarding a ‘complete’ dictionary with ‘stable’ meaning of ‘words’ with differing as well as deferring components. The author concludes componential analysis is a futile effort with unending ‘etc.’ and this type of analysis avoids fuzziness of the lexical entry; etymology does not provide so-called ‘authentic’, ‘original’ meaning or this practice of dissecting the body of the ‘signifier’ does not lead to the body of the so-called ‘signified’; lemmatization provides tautologus information by fixing a stable meaning, though, no doubt, it struggles to connect the lexical network of a given speech community; searching for stable meaning does not consider the (dis)continuous changes and simultaneous cohabitation of diachrony in synchrony in a given society; all formal system for categorization lacks completeness – difference always pervades the identity of the term.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 8
Keywords: Order of things, static meaning, plural meaning, lexicography