[Toegepaste Taalwetenschap in Artikelen 8] 1980
► pp. 200–208
Over Ik-taal, Je/men-taal en Elk-taal
In western societies there are many mechanisms and processes at work that seduce people to give up their LANGUAGE in exchange for all kinds of CODES. By CODE I mean all those varieties which are directed toward societal (cultural or sub-cultural) approval. By LANGUAGE I mean language in its two essentially human functions: individual expression of one's own thoughts and feelings, and individual evaluation of one's own experiences ("making sense"). CODES are defined by their "market value", LANGUAGE by its intrinsic, human value. Speaking a CODE is speaking in what we call the YOU-mode; it is always monitor-controlled, I listen to myself as a representative of the society, as a kind of "judge", not as a friend. When speaking LANGUAGE (the I-mode), I ignore questions of form in terms of appropriateness and pay only atten-tion to form in function of what I am trying to say. A CODE is a means of recognition for members of a certain group; it can also express group solidarity. But for intimacy LANGUAGE is needed. Having presented a few examples of CODES and one example of a speaker speaking in the I-mode (from a story by the Dutch writer Simon Carmiggelt, significantly entitled "Man"), I discuss (serious) talk with a friend as a form of intimacy in language. Some characteristics of this type of conversation are: - the disappearance of all kinds of group shibboleths (CODE-markerš); - simpler syntax, more common words, fewer learned words; - decrease of speech tempo, long pauses, within turns (to find the right words) and between turns. Such a conversation is seldom the exchange of somehow "pre-existing" messages. On the contrary, speaking itself is the process of giving sense to one's experiences. Notions as developed in speech act theory seem hardly applicable to it. Speaking in the I-mode can also lead to mutual recognition, but not as members of a specific group or category, but as man to man. This recognition does not require that partners in a conversation speak the same language in a formal sense. So one speaker may speak general Dutch and the other speaker a local dialect. When both speak as an individual, in the I-mode, recogni-tion will take place because of the Universal Base of LANGUAGE which we call EVERYMAN'S LANGUAGE.
Article language: Dutch