Introduction to Part I  pp. 7-8

Introduction to Part I

By John A. Lucy

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Part I, “Theoretical foundations,” provides contextual and theoretical background for the volume. In Chapter 1, Lucy provides a general, nontechnical overview of existing research on reflexive language. He first illustrates the range of language forms and uses that have been seen as reflexive. Then he outlines the distinctive orientations and contributions of three major research traditions which have explored this reflexivity. The logico-linguistic tradition formulates a metalanguage/object language distinction to resolve difficulties in the philosophical analysis of the truth value of symbolic referential uses of language. The semiotic—functional tradition foregrounds the centrality of metacommunicative framing for all language use. And the literary—performance approaches emphasize the use of reflexivity in language and especially in verbal art to establish and transform existing contexts. En route, many of the basic concepts and theoretical ideas employed in other papers in the volume are clarified and located conceptually and historically. The chapter concludes by indicating the broader significance of studies of reflexive language within the human disciplines. This discussion focuses in particular on the significance of various semiotic limits to awareness and their implications for research in the human disciplines.

In Chapter 2, Silverstein, building on his previous work, develops a formal statement of the various theoretical issues at stake in a theory of metasemiotic practice.