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March 1996, Week 1


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Mike Frank <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 6 Mar 1996 10:53:34 -0400
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mikel koven, less long winded than some [one?] of us, writes:
> Without reiterating Mike Frank's comments in their entirity, the question
> is for me, where the general principles of signification end before
> cultural specifics begin. You can only generalize so much before you
> cease to say anything at all. (And that's NOT an attack on Mr. Frank,
> just my own rule of thumb)
> _____________________________________________________________________________
> Mikel J. Koven
. . .  this is very useful . . . i think that some of us, for temperamental
and/or ideological reasons, care mainly about the range of issues where
generalizations do work, while others care more about the complementary range
where cultural specifics take over . . . and this is as it should be
. . . but i take it that semiotics as a discipline is concerend with
categories of signification that exist across cultures, categories that get
filled with very different specifics under different cultural circumstances .
. . thus, to take a fairly mechanical example, what counts as a phoneme
varies dramtically from people to people, culture to culture, even individual
to individual -- and sometimes the same individual will register sound
differences as phonemic or non-phonemic depending purely on the context in
which the sound is heard; thus phonemes vary wildly -- but the notion of the
phoneme, pointing to any differentiation between sounds that carries signifying
weight, remains constant among all these differences . . . and in fact the
value of the notion of phoneme is that by remaining fixed it allows us to see
clearly the range of cultural differences . . .
. . . i had hoped to be as brief as mike koven, but am probably incapable of
doing so, so let me add a final BTW note . . . i'm puzzled why mike koven had
to apologize and explain that his comment was NOT an attack . . . there was
nothing in it that seemed even remotely belligerent
        . . .but i do have to admit to being just a little troubled by being
called "MISTER frank" . . . kinda reminds me of the first time one of my
students called me "Sir"!!!  . . . boy, was that a downer . . . and it's
especially disconcerting to think that i've done things to get peers to call
me "mr." . . .
        . . . whatever it was, i'll try to be less mister-like (mister-ious?)
from now on . . .
mike frank
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