↳ “Kirsitubakas” 2014 (Cherry Tobacco)

“Kirsitubakas” is about a small town girl Laura, who finds her mother annoying, boys her age stupid and everything seems childish to her. When her friend Merit asks her to come to a hike to bog, she’s unimpressed. A middle-aged nature-loving group leader Joosep does everything to impress the group, including Laura. As the hike continues, Laura realises she is actually kind of into the man. Nearing the end of the hike, she has to figure out if the relationship with an older man is a mere stop on the road of becoming a woman or is it her first love. 

Actors the in the movie were Maris Nõlvak, Gert Raudsep, Getter Meresmaa, Anne Reemann, Andres Kütt, Tiina Kadarpik, Viiu Maimik, Aap Salumets and Maarja Jakobson. 

Certainly, then, words like mama and dada wouldn’t necessarily stay the same, or even close to the same, in languages around the world and over tens of thousands of years. So what happened?

The answer lies with babies and how they start to talk. The pioneering linguist Roman Jakobson figured it out. If you’re a baby making a random sound, the easiest vowel is ah because you can make it without doing anything with your tongue or lips. Then, if you are going to vary things at all, the first impulse is to break up the stream of ahhh by closing your lips for a spell, especially since you’ve been doing that to nurse. Hence, mmmm, such that you get a string of mahs as you keep the sound going while breaking it up at intervals. […] Nichols has proposed that the reason a language like Yukaghir’s pronouns for I and you look so much like the mama/tata alternation—as well as why French has moi and toi and English once had me and thou—is because even as these languages have changed over time, the sounds of the words for I and you have been influenced by the way mama and tata differ. The m sound is used for what is closest—mama for Mommy and “me” for the self. The t sound—often learned just after m—is for what’s just one step removed from the closest: Daddy hovering just over there, which we can understand would feel like “you” rather than “(Mommy and) me.

#Mayakovsky... 'on a generation that squandered its poets)...

i feel/like a soviet factory
manufacturing happiness.
i don’t want/to be plucked
like a flower/after a the days work
i want the heart to be paid
its wage of love/at the specialists rate
i want the factory/committee
to put a lock on my lips
when the work is done
i want the pent to be equal to the bayonet
and i want stalin/to report in the name of the politburo
about the production of verse
as he does about pig iron and steeeeel
thus, and so it is/we’ve reached
the topmost level/up from the workers hovels
in the union of republics
the appreciation of verse/has exceeded the prewar level

Mayakovski – quoted in Jakobson (On a generation that squandered its poets…) in the fabulous Verbal Art, Verbal Sign, Verbal Time…

Though really if Jakobson and I were sitting drinking espresso in some small place in paris we’d be lamenting of the way the spectacle has generated a generation that squandered its intellectuals…

The poem is decapitalised…

On December 22, 1926 Trubetzkoy answered me with one of his most significant messages: […] The general outlines of the history of language, when one reflects upon them with a little attention and logic, never prove to be fortuitous. […] If Saussure did not dare to draw the logical conclusion from his own thesis that language is a system, this was due in large measure to the fact that such a conclusion would have contradicted the widely accepted notion of the history of language, and of history in general. For the only accepted sense of history is the notorious one of ‘progress’, that queer concept which as a consequence reduces 'sense’ to 'nonsense’.
—  From “Chapter 5: Speech Artefact” in Word, Sound, Image: The Life of the Tamil Text by Saskia Kersenboom. 
Any assumption of ineffable or untranslatable cognitive data would be a contradiction in terms. But in jest, in dreams, in magic, briefly, in what one would call everyday verbal mythology and in poetry above all, the grammatical categories carry a high semantic import. In these conditions, the question of translation becomes much more entangled and controversial.
—  Roman Jakobson, “On Linguistic Aspects of Translation”
Roman Jakobson and Claude Lévi-Strauss

“Linguistics and Poetics” (1960)

I am not a linguist, but linguistic theory has understandably had a huge impact on the critical study of literature.

Roman Jakobson, like Shklovsky, was interested in exploring the formal function of language on poetics. The question that he hoped to answer was what makes a verbal or written message a work of art. As a linguist, Jakobson built on the work of Saussure (this seems to be a recurring pattern here), expanding on and questioning some of Saussure’s basic notions about the arbitrariness of language and the linearity of the sign. Many of the poetic features that Jakobson notes apply more generally to semiotics, and thus have an application to the study of film and painting as well as language proper.

“The poetic function is not the sole function of verbal art, but only its dominant, determining function” (1264).

from “Two Aspects of Language and Two Types of Aphasic Disturbances” (1956)

In this short excerpt, under the heading “The Metaphoric and Metonymic Poles,” Jakobson lays out the two poles of how meaning is created: relations of similarity, or metaphor, and relations of contiguity, or metonymy. These are how we create value.

Jakobson noted the predominance of one or the other in various types of literature. In the Romantic and Symbolist poets, he noted the primacy of the metaphoric register. In Realist work, metonymy. Jackobson also noted that this oscillation of relations also occurs in other sign systems as well. In film for instance, the close-ups favoured by Griffith were of the metonymic register, while the montage in Chaplin and Eisenstein was more metaphoric. He coins these “filmic similes.”

This structural analysis based on linguistics can be a useful tool and give a critic or theorist a way to get a strong handle on a work.

Jakobson’s friend Claude Lévi-Strauss attempted to apply this same kind of Saussurean structuralism to cultural studies. In his famous book, Structural Anthropology, Lévi-Strauss looks at cultural phenomena as forms of communication, including myths.

I read Chapter XI of the book, “The Structural Study of Myth,” in which Lévi-Strauss investigates the role and function of myths. He compares the seeming arbitrariness of myth against the similarities of myths across cultures and regions. Thus, the link between linguistics and mythology is in how meaning is made in relations between myths.

For Lévi-Strauss, “myth is language” (209). He applies even more linguistic analysis to his exploration of myths, using the term mythemes to describe the discrete units of myths that he is comparing. Thus, myth is made up of the relations between this units. And, like Jakobson notes, these relations are both diachronic and synchronic.

Lévi-Strauss believed that while poetry could not be accurately translated, myth was that which survives the worst translation. The substance of myth is the relations between mythemes.

Lévi-Strauss is one of the first theorists here that I’m not quite convinced by. His theories are the least compelling to me, as his structuralist approach seems at times somewhat arbitrary and yet also too specific.

[Lacan] called upon the findings of structural linguistics in order to explain the complex relation between oedipal dynamics and language, using Freud’s (1920) famous example of the fort/da game and Roman Jakobson’s (1956/1971) phonology to illustrate the way in which the acquisition of language goes hand in hand with the process of primal repression.

…Therefore, when Freud’s grandson was able to say fort/da to symbolize his mother’s leaving and returning, … expressing joyfully, through words, his ability to control a loss, the child in this paradigmatic anecdote at the same time repressed the cause of his sadness, and his unconscious came into being.

From this moment on in development, the unconscious becomes the repository of all the phonematic traces related to subsequent experiences of loss or lack.

—  Joël Dor, the Clinical Lacan, the Paternal Function and Psychic Structures
The pun, or […] paronomasia, reigns over poetic art, and whether its rule is absolute or limited, poetry by definition is untranslatable. Only creative transposition is possible: either intralingual transposition–from one poetic shape into another, or interlingual transposition–from one language into another, or finally intersemiotic transposition–from one system of signs into another, e.g., from verbal art into music, dance cinema, or painting.
—  Roman Jakobson, “On Linguistic Aspects of Translation”
A century ago Schleicher could confidently compose fables in Primitive Indo-European. Now, after stimulating attempts by Beneviste and Kuryłowicz, we are acquiring methods of penetrating into the prehistoric past more deeply than once believed possible; but the more we learn about the Indo-European linguistic pattern, the more clearly do we realize that the concrete speech of this distant era remains beyond our scientific horizon.
—  Studies in Comparitive Slavic Metrics, Roman Jakobson (Oxford Slavonic Papers, viii)
Gendered Nouns Trouble

My Sister Life, the title of a book of poems by Boris Pasternak, is quite natural in Russian, where “life” is feminine, but was enough to reduce to despair the Czech poet Josef Hora in his attempt to translate these poems, since in Czech this noun is masculine život.” (117)

Jakobson, Roman. (2000) “On Linguistic Aspects of Translation” in The Translation Studies Reader, L. Venuti ed.

Week 3: Culture & Linguistics

      One key theme that I found in the readings is linguistics, its relation to culture and social class. I assume that these common themes are vital to “explore the relationships among the ways we talk about the world and how we understand and live in it”. We must understand linguistics (science of studying human language) and that language is not only tied to culture, but it also shapes a society’s perception of the world.

      From my understanding Sapir’s “Status of Linguistics as a Science” is centered on the Indo-European linguistics and how the study of Indo-European linguistics has created a foundation/formula of how to study other languages. Sapir further discusses the importance of linguistics as a science in understanding and studying different cultures. “The network of cultural patterns of a civilization is indexed in the language which expresses that civilization” (209).  I do agree with this, last semester I took Communication 303 and 490, both of these classes were focused on communication and culture. Different cultures do view things differently according to their language. “No two languages are ever sufficiently similar to be considered as representing the same social reality” (Sapir, p. 209). For example, both of these classes focused on Asian cultures. In many Asian cultures there is no exact translation for Sir, Madame, Mr. and Ms. Instead, older men and women are regarded as “Aunt” and “Uncle”. I think this shows that the language and labels that culture’s use can greatly affect perception. In our society, generally for us to call anyone an “aunt” or an “uncle” they must be related to us or have close family ties. 

While reading these articles I couldn’t help but think about the discussion about “context” and “cow” we had the first day of class. Things may have different meanings in different contexts, but it is also important to understand that in studying language and culture. The way we express ourselves through words have a large way of how we perceive the world and society. 

I found Halliday’s article to be interesting, but not clear. The idea of different classes of society speaking different codes is not an entirely new concept. The article focused on Bernstein and his research on social class and linguistics and the differences in the way children learn to mean. I would like to discuss this more in class. Does he mean, the way we express ourselves and our emotions, (desires, wants, commands) related to our class? Confused. 



“The pun, or to use a more erudite, and perhaps more precise term—paronomasia, reigns over poetic art, and whether its rule is absolute or limited, poetry by definition is untranslatable. Only creative transposition is possible: either intralingual transposition—from one poetic shape into another, or interlingual transposition—from one language into another, or finally intersemiotic transposition—from one system of signs into another, e.g., from verbal art into music, dance, cinema, or painting.” (Jakobson, 118)


Jakobson, Roman. (2000) “On Linguistic Aspects of Translation“ IN The Translation Studies Reader, L. Venuti ed

The Sorrow of Love

by W.B. Yeats

The brawling of a sparrow in the eaves,
The brilliant moon and all the milky sky,
And all that famous harmony of leaves,
Had blotted out man’s image and his cry.

A girl arose that had red mournful lips
And seemed the greatness of the world in tears,
Doomed like Odysseus and the labouring ships
And proud as Priam murdered with his peers;

Arose, and on the instant clamorous eaves,
A climbing moon upon an empty sky,
And all that lamentation of the leaves,
Could but compose man’s image and his cry.