April 15, 2011 § Leave a comment

…the ‘entity’ that is being referred to via any linguistic expression is not some entity in reality, but rather a ‘ma’na fi’l-nafs.’ This ‘ma’na‘ in the mind or being of the speaker is a concretely existing entity, and this, according to al-Jurjani, is how we are to understanding ‘meaning.’ Certainly al-Jurjani shares ‘Abd al-Jabbar’s basic understanding of ‘ilm and its relationship to being and reality. Indeed, we wll see in the chapter on majaz just how relevant the notion of ontological reference was even for al-Jurjani. But by elaborating his understanding of ma’na along the psycholinguistic lines that he did, al-Jurjani allowed a measure of flexibility that held great promise for the creator of discourse. His definition of ma’na allowed for a space in which the features of reality, the components of ‘ilm, could be reconfigured and modified, if not actually re-imagined, via the intellectual and creative mediation of the speaker/writer.

– Margaret Larkin, The Theology of Meaning: ‘Abd al-Qahir al-Jurjani’s Theory of Discourse (American Oriental Society, 1995), 71.

Imagine that – a theory of discourse in which language has extradiscursive effects.


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