Friday, September 30, 2011

La révolution technologique (sous-titrage en français)

The cultural expectations of the forms of discourse (communication through language by use of a particular  set of word forms with expected associative meanings that extent beyond the meaning of the words strung together) and the meaning of words used together to communicate in culturally meaningful ways always changing.  Technological progress, like war and other significant disruptors of traditional patterns of behaviors ans social expectations, tend to speed up the process of change.  Words themselves may not change meaning but their significance and the understandings of the way they are used to communicate meaningfully may render old patterns of discourse obsolete.    

This is the essence of the semiotic experience.  My colleague Jan Broekman recently brought to my attention a charming example in the form of a mock commercial purporting to introduce a revolution in information technology--Book. BOOK : La révolution technologique.  The commercial is in Spanish with French subtitles.

There is a Scandinavian variant--First IT Professional Service Call (2007).  

(First IT Professional Service Call ("Ansgarr is having trouble dealing with all of the new technology being thrown at him. In his frustration he's has to place a call with the help desk for assistance from Tech Support, as he can't get into his new system. Here, from the annals of history, is the first recorded IT Professional support call. No text is lost, but Ansgarr is just going to have to learn to deal with the new, high-tech system. Flot! Tak, alletiders..." Id.))

For those with a taste for it, the mock commercial provides an excellent application of the semiotic notions of codes and ideologies that shape the context (the shared assumptions that construct communal realities and the limits of what can be expressed in form that has mean) and the limits of meaning itself.  The Scandinavian variant adds the element of time.  It suggests the semiotics of anachronism--the temporal misplacing of custom suggests the narrow context of sign and signification as a moving object. It reminds us that communication is not separated merely by differences in language, but by the social framework of the time in which it is deployed.  It may be easier for a French speaker to learn English than to speak French in the patois of Marseilles of 1911. 

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