chapter  1
4 Pages

An Approach to Symbolism 1923

WithEdward Sapir

The tyranny of incidental services should be the one obsession of social reformers. Messrs Ogden and Richards are no mere sophists, no clever hair-splitters. It is doubtful if the essential limitations of speech have ever been more vividly, yet sympathetically, realized than in their radical study of symbolism. Most students of language, aside from somewhat naive teleologists like Professor Jespersen, are inclined to be more interested in the form than in the function of speech, but, as Messrs Ogden and Richards might reflect, that is perhaps their private weakness. New sciences are a general theory of signs a psychological approach to the problems of epistemology; a theory of symbolism; and, as the most important special development of a general theory of symbolism, a broader theory of language than the philologists have yet attempted. To a far greater extent than is generally realized language serves also effective and volitional purposes.