Saturday, May 18, 2013

Syntagmatic and Paradigmatic

Syntagmatic and Paradigmatic
            Ferdinand de Saussure saw the linguistic sign at once as static and dynamic or developing The pairing of terms, synchrony-diachrony; form-substance; langue-parole as sets of contrasting relations amply demonstrates this concept. The idea is to highlight and demonstrate two dominant properties of a linguistic sign, one linear and the other arbitrary. La langue is thus more stable and predictably organized than la parole which displays freedom and dynamism which is not rule-governed, therefore unpredictable. Similarly, de Saussure put forward the concepts of syntagmatic and paradigmatic and what he at that time called ‘associative relations’.
            It is commonplace today to say that linguistics is structural and languages as analyzed by linguist are treated structurally. There are two kind of relationship the structure and langae – sthe syntagmatic and the paradigmatic. Words become sentence because they are chained together. This chain relationship is called syntagmatic relationship. It is the combination or chain relationship. For instance.“We can come tomorrow.”
            This is a sentence because in this chain arrangement of words we is related with can, can is related with come, and so on. For the relationship is that a
Pronoun + AV (Auxiliary Verb) + MV (Main Verb) + Adverb.
            The relationship of a sentence should be in a particular manner or order. “Come can tomorrow we” is not a sentence. So in the syntagm,  every word has its value and position. Every word is different from the words which precede it or follow it. In the above sentence ‘we’ is not what ‘can’ is not, ‘can’ is not what ‘come’ is what ‘tomorrow’ is not ‘come’. In this manner, syntagmatic relations are those hold between elements forming serious structure at a  given time. The concept of syntagmatic relations underlines the structural potential of any item, under examination.
            The paradigmatic relationships are contrastive or choice relationships. Words that have something in common, are; associated in the memory, resulting in groups marked by diverse relations. For example, the English word learning will unconsciously call to mind a host of other words––study, knowledge, discipline, etc. All these words are related in some way. This kind of relationship is called associative or paradigmatic relationship. Here the co-ordinations are outside discourse and are not supported by linearity. They are relations in absentia, and are vertical type relations. Their seat is in the brain; they are a part of the inner storehouse that makes up language of each speaker.” (Saussure)
            A syntagm immediately suggests an order of succession and fixed number of elements terms in associative family which occur neither in fixed numbers nor in a definite code. e.g. If we associate painful, delightful, fruitful etc. we are unable to predict the number of words that may be suggested by the memory or order in which they will appear. A particular word is  the centre of a constellation around which spring other words. These relations are unpredictable. Associations that are called up in one person may not occur in the mind of another. Since it is psychological, it is also subject to individual vagaries and governed by the specific factors governing the individual’s speech behaviour, Paradigmatic relations are unpredictable, free, dynamic and idiosyncratic, comparable to la parole. It is a choice relationship. It operate in Phonemes. Words, and Morphemes. They syntagmatic relationship is horizontal while the paradigmatic relationship is vertical. It could be illustrated in the following manner.
  1. Weà canà meet àtomorrow syntagmatic
  2. Youà couldà goà now
  3. Ià will àeat ànext
  4. Sheà shouldà comeà soon. à paradigmatic
It was the Danish linguist Lois Hjelmslev who suggested the term ‘paradigmatic’ for de Saussure’s’ ‘assocative relations’.² ² ²

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