Publication details [#4009]

Del Bello, Davide. 1997. Forgotten paths: The making of Vico's etymology. Semiótica 113 (1-2) : 171–188. 18 pp.


A discussion of modern criticism of Vichian theory, particularly the relevance of etymology within G. B. Vico's 'New Science' (1928), is presented. A survey of recent studies of Vichian etymologies reveals conflicting interpretations: one is that his etymologies are too simplistic and unscientific in their lack of formalism (De Mauro, T., 1969) and the other that the framework has heuristic value. The historical evolution of etymology from art to science is described. Vico's metaphorical etymology is compared to the ancient practice of divination whereby connections between variable meanings of a word and the objects it interprets are examined. This process is the basis of an objectivist semantic theory that allows for the reconstruction of morphological roots for comparative and historic purposes via meaning and not just form. Vico's approach is illustrated with his treatment of Homeric verse where meanings are related to the history of an entire culture. It is concluded that Vichian etymologies provide methodology with which to integrate and explore memory/culture, imagination, and ingenuity in discourse. They are a valuable means to describe both human and individual history (Copyright 1998, Sociological Abstracts, Inc., all rights reserved). (T. Rosenberg in LLBA 1998, vol. 32, n. 2)