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Myth, sign and propaganda: Aspects of language theory in the French Renaissance

Bracher, John Christopher; (1992) Myth, sign and propaganda: Aspects of language theory in the French Renaissance. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This study discusses the main areas of Renaissance linguistic thought, and shows how authors from a variety of professional backgrounds took a keen interest in the nature of words and were highly aware of the changing roles of the classical and vernacular tongues. Many sixteenth-century writers believed that the key to an understanding of a language lay in its origins, both in a historical sense, through speculation about the identity of the first language spoken by mankind, and also in terms of its development in individuals, through observation of the process of speech acquisition in the very young. These two categories are by no means distinct, as is demonstrated by the example of the Psammeticus legend, a commonplace of Renaissance linguistic theory, which, together with the biblical story of Adam's naming of the animals in the Garden of Eden, is the principal mythical source to which authors of the period refer. The special case of the Hebrew tongue is also considered, with reference to the mystical belief that this was the original divine language of creation, a 'natural' form of communication in which the words were essentially related to the objects or ideas which they denoted. Within the wide-ranging field of sign and gesture, particular attention is given to the Renaissance emblem, and to the domain of sixteenth-century medico-linguistic writing, in which the study of the deaf and dumb in particular helped both to throw light upon the workings of the human speech organs, and to put into perspective the relationships between verbal and non-verbal language. Finally, this study includes a brief survey of the propaganda written, notably in the fields of theology and education, both for and against the more widespread use of the European vernaculars.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Myth, sign and propaganda: Aspects of language theory in the French Renaissance
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Language, literature and linguistics; Social sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10116288
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