Monday, October 10, 2011

Heteroglossia, Agency and Signification

Heteroglossia, according to Bakhtin, is "one's speech in another's language". I understand this best as, saying something the way you'd think someone else would say it. I thought the best example was one given in class which was the example of Scout Finch saying something that her father Atticus had said without actually quoting him. This example brought a feel ideas to my mind. One, is Atticus really speaking at this point. Two, this example made me thing of Locke and the imperfection of words. Three, Bakhtin's idea that language is a viewpoint. I thought that based on what Locke and Bakhtin have to say about langueage arise ideas about language and agency

We already know Locke's ideas about the imperfection of words. They signify different ideas to different people, and so understanding exactly what a person means can be difficult sometimes. Bakhtin writes that what unites all languages is that they "are a specific view of the world" (291). I found this really important in terms of Agency because I wonder if when Scout recounts things Atticus says without quoting him, does he lose his agency? Scott is telling us the story from her point of view (or language for Bakhtin), so when she changes Atticus' words into hers Locke would say some of the ideas Atticus had intended to convey may have been lost in translation. Since the words used to describe what Atticus had said are not his, one has to wonder if he is really speaking or if those words describe how his 6 year old daughter Scout percieved what he said which may or may not be the same thing. When an author uses this style of heteroglossia it seems that it will give more insight on the speaker (in this case scout) than the party the speaker is speaking for (Atticus). We learn more about how Scout feels about what Atticus says than what "really" was said. Based on what Locke and Bakhtin tell us about words and language and what we have learned about Agency, heteroglossia shows connects the ideas of signification to agency. Words and language are imporant aspects of Agency because if there is failed or anti-signifaction, then there would seem to be a loss of Agency at some level because the ideas inteneded won't be understood.

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