no

"The Seventh Function of Language" by Laurent Binet

13 comments
Translated from the French by Sam Taylor



I doubt “fanciful” adequately describes Laurent Binet’s The Seventh Function of Language, although it has its fanciful features. Imagine a Paris police procedural involving international skullduggery, secret debates featuring more erudition than a graduate seminar in philosophy, crimes that cross international borders, including murder and dismemberment … all in a long chase to find a document (or maybe two) about the seventh function of language.

In case you’re wondering, Twentieth Century British philosopher John L. Austin posited six functions of language as speech acts, and his work was seconded and expanded by the renowned John R. Searle of the University of California. One key takeaway is that Austin described the functions, but did not include any instructions on how to wield language’s power. Here are the six:

  1. The referential function - providing information about something.
  2. Emotive or expressive function - information about the sender and her attitude toward the message.
  3. Conative function - directed toward the receiver.
  4. Phatic function (regarded as the most amusing) - talk for the sake of talk, where the message is not the point.
  5. Metalinguistics function - concerned that the sender and receiver understand each other.
  6. Poetic function - aesthetic in nature: the sound of the words - rhyme, alliteration, assonance, repetition, rhythm of the message.

This entire novel focuses on the purported seventh function of language, and why governments would engage in trickery and murder to possess and understand it. François Mitterrand uses it to defeat Giscard in a debate ahead of the French election in 1981. Jacques Derrida doubts its existence, or at least its performative power, and attacks it and its devotées, arguing that so much human communication is simply rote repetition, a parroting of outside influences. (I for one believe people intend to communicate with one another across a whole series of levels, depending on the urgency or the strength of the intention. This often includes attempting to influence their actions. These communications involve a subtle understanding between interlocutors, and sometimes the interests or desires of the two diverge, leading to conflict. The performative function - where language either performs an act itself, or attempts to induce another’s actions - exists in the statements and may or may not succeed.)


The novel at any rate follows thinkers who are famous in today’s philosophical circles: Derrida, Michel Foucault, Philippe Sollers, Umberto Eco, Julia Kristeva, who all have an interest in either finding or suppressing the seventh function. They speak endlessly (and depending on your familiarity or interest, do it fairly entertainingly), they chase across Europe and the United States, and much of what is said has topical importance in today’s thought. I don’t profess to have caught all the references and implications, but I caught enough to follow at a distance from which my cultural knowledge kept everything a little indistinct.

Binet has written a novel that deals with the refined points of current linguistics, psychology, and philosophy. He takes up the question of the performative function of language - the seventh function in this framework - and by making a somewhat comic romp out of it, very faintly takes the side that the function does not exist as Austin and Searle posit it.


I’m not sure I would recommend this book to readers who are not versed in today’s cutting edge philosophies. The author makes current historical characters the actors in his farce/thriller, and the level of discourse is the highest you will see in current fiction.  But if you don’t know why Derrida and Searle are having a dispute, or why in this story Roland Barthes was attacked, robbed, and murdered, this book won’t make much sense, or hold your interest. The author manages to point out along the way that language has real power in today’s world. It’s a power wielded by the wealthy to keep minorities and the poorer classes in “their place.” It’s not the only power wielded to that end, but it is the most important.
author profile image
Abdelghafour

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book.

13 comments

  1. Thank you for your sharing articles. I have been finding interesting posts and your articles are what I need. They are really useful and engaging. They are precious pieces of advice. I can branch out with new knowledge. Learn captivating things. Hope you will upload more me. Product discount master Product discount apps shopify

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm going to search and research my problem and see this web site, it really attracts me because a lot of useful information for everyone, I will often visit this site.
    Discount master app
    Product discount master app

    ReplyDelete
  3. I am very interested in the post, it helps me gather a lot of necessary information, I think they will help my life, thanks for posting it, hope that people will visit it often , thank you
    https://bit.ly/2y8RMwK , https://bit.ly/2QslLr4, autoketing

    ReplyDelete
  4. This is really a good source of information, I will often follow it to know more information and expand my knowledge, I think everyone should know it, thanks
    Shopify free shipping bar app, shopify app free shipping bar, autoketing

    ReplyDelete
  5. This is really a good source of information, I will often follow it to know more information and expand my knowledge, I think everyone should know it, thanks
    autoketing
    currency converter box free online
    currency converter app

    ReplyDelete
  6. Cafe-milk tea is a form of business is quite popular and strong development in many aspects. This is considered a form of sound capable of generating huge revenue with investment potential. Not too high. This is also a place to focus many sources of customers in the country, neighboring localities and also foreign visitors.However, the creation of them but comfortable space, harmony is always necessary. at.
    gái gọi, gái gọi cao cấp, hinh sex, Gái gọi Đống Đa, Gái gọi Mỹ Đình

    ReplyDelete
  7. It would be nice if a lot of people discuss this article together, it has a lot of different aspects and I think everyone will have a new way of approaching it.
    facebook chat, facebook live chat, best autoketing

    ReplyDelete
  8. I think you're blurring together Roman Jacobson's 6 functions of language with Austin's 3 functions. Austin's "speech act" is the "illocutionary" function, alongside the locutionary and perlocutionary. Binet blurs these together too, probably because the models overlap so much it leaves it unclear just how many functions the two linguists have named.

    ReplyDelete
  9. abcya games for school
    free friv land click here
    iogames hot 2018
    Hello, i think that i saw you visited my site thus i came to “return the favor”.I’m trying to find things to improve my web site!I suppose its ok to use a few of your ideas!!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Games Flyordieio
    Free Dynamons evolution
    Crayon shinchan adventure online
    I can't get enough of your posts. They are exactly what I need. I often read them to get the information. I learn some lessons from the articles. If you can write posts frequently, that will be awesome. Thanks for giving tips and interesting pieces of information.

    ReplyDelete
  11. This is actually the kind of information I have been trying to find. Thank you for writing this information.
    jogos io gratis
    friv free online juegos
    2 player games for boy

    ReplyDelete

  12. food games
    play basketball games
    soccer games play
    This is actually the kind of information I have been trying to find. Thank you for writing this information.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Kids Kitchen
    Pro Zombie Golf
    World Basketball Championship
    It should be noted that whilst ordering papers for sale at paper writing service, you can get unkind attitude. In case you feel that the bureau is trying to cheat you, don't buy term paper from it.

    ReplyDelete