Tieme van Dijk, [Cheerful reflections on language, time, and myths]
Blijmoedige beschouwingen over taal, tijd en mythe
Edition and introduction: Niels Helsloot
Amsterdam/Münster: Stichting Neerlandistiek VU/Nodus 2001
ISBN 90 72365 70 4 / ISBN 3 89323 444 6
Language, because it can be spoken, is a dynamic phenomenon. Conversation is a process in which interlocutors need work together without exactly knowing where this will end, except in the – let's hope 'happy' – ending of their conversation.
This is one of the very exceptional certainties in this area, and as such it plays an important part in structuring conversation: linguistic utterances are continuously open to interpretation and reinterpretation, and therefore always become what they are only in retroaction. Language unfolds in reverse.
In this volume, a reasonable case is made for this view on the basis of salient examples from conversations, and overlooking broader worlds of thought – in which science and mythology are increasingly interwoven.
Gradually it is shown to be incontestable that linguistics cannot do justice to its subject without considering its mythical aspects: myths can elucidate language because language itself, in a mythical form, intervenes in our conversations.
Tieme van Dijk works at the Free University's Dutch institute. Among other things, he lectured about sociolinguistics, pragmatics, and conversation analysis; he started working in those disciplines at a time that, in academic curriculums in the Netherlands, they were only just in the process of being established.
By those new theoretical perspectives, which especially underscored language use instead of language system, many traditional self-evidences relative to language were brought up for discussion. A need arose to redefine what language is.
Van Dijk's cheerful reflections initiate a mythical, or even magical, linguistics.