Sounding out différance Derrida, Saussure, & Bharthari Charles Li Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Cambridge firstname.lastname@example.org And Reality itself remains unaffected by these differences of textual explanations. Vkyapadya 2.233, as rendered by K. R. Pillai1 "There is no purely and rigorously phonetic writing," 2 proclaims Jacques Derrida as he coins the term différance. The a in différance is not audible; the difference is purely graphic, and when expressed orally the hearer understands différence whether it is written with an e or an a. But Derrida is working in French, and while it is clear that French is not purely and rigorously phonetic in its writing, this does not necessarily hold for other languages or linguistic scripts, nor does the silence of différance necessarily survive translation. Moreover, especially if one considers Derrida's more generalized definition of "writing" not only as marks on a surface, but as a sign system then a natural counter-example of a rigorously phonetic "writing" springs to mind: over two millennia before Derrida's proclamation, Indian grammarians such as Pini were refining and documenting the pronunciation of Sanskrit, rigorously matching spoken phonemes with linguistic signs. Derrida notes accurately that in French,
Philosophy East and West – University of Hawai'I Press
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