Summary Of Joy William's Speaking A Dead Language

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Joy William’s Speaking a Dead Language is an exploration into the dissemination of language and culture surrounding what we know as the Tower of Babel. Her search for meaning concerning the narrative found in Genesis, is considered through means not dissimilar to those of Saussure, Lacan and Derrida. Consider here the first verse:
 We built a tall, tall tower Towards the sun, towards the sun Took some words and built a wall And called it love, called it love In the first line we can understand each word making it up using basic deconstruction, an invention of Derrida. The word ‘we’ can be deconstructed to mean “relating to ourselves,” ‘built’ as “having created or developed,” and ‘tower,’ “a tall or narrow building” (New Oxford American). Each of these words are signifiers which, according to Saussure, is the “form or medium of signs” (Barker, 77). By only looking superficially at designations much is lost in terms of meaning. In this case, the signifiers in each sentence are given meaning by their relation to the other signifiers present. This is a Lacanian idea (Barker, 99). Not only does the meaning rely on the signifiers contained within the sentence, it also depends on past and future signifiers reaching throughout the entire text. From this perspective we can make connections between that…show more content…
It speaks to the confusion surrounding the “lack”, in Lacanian terms (Barker, 98), of the ability to communicate effectively. ‘Dead’ in this context can be taken to mean “[lacking] life” (New Oxford American) in relation to the individual being unable to understand what another is trying to communicate. This lack of translatability, meaning “ability to convert from one form to another” (New Oxford American), results in the discontinuation and break down of the tower which acts as a metaphor for the disruption and dissemination of language and culture in accordance with Biblical
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