Academic journal article Contemporary Readings in Law and Social Justice

The Hypotheses of Francesco Casetti's View on Cinematographic Enunciation

Academic journal article Contemporary Readings in Law and Social Justice

The Hypotheses of Francesco Casetti's View on Cinematographic Enunciation

Article excerpt


This paper frames an analysis of the premises from which Italian semiotician Francesco Casetti started in building his conception on cinematographic enunciation. These premises are borrowed by Casetti from three interrelated domains: linguistics, communication sciences and semiotics. From linguistics there comes Benveniste's theory of enunciation with its principles that the enunciation is considered as an individual act to use language, assumed by an "I," through putting language into action within the speech, and that any act of enunciation is also an allocution, the locutor "I" addressing always to a "you," present or absent. From communication sciences there comes the new conception on addressee within the semiotic models of communication, where the transmission of messages is substituted by the exchange of meanings. Finally, text semiotics is the one that provides the central notion of text that, unlike Saussure's structure, includes both linguistic and extralinguistic elements.

Keywords: enunciation; discourse; narrative; spectator; film; text

1. Introduction

Benveniste's theory of enunciation was one of the main view (with Austin's speech act theory and Peirce's semiotics) that opens the study of language, until then restricted by the well determined frames of Saussure's structuralism, towards the communication sciences through the pragmaticsemiotic direction of linguistics. One of the ways through which the cinematographic enunciation enters into the research area of the filmic discourse is the linguistic-pragmatic one inaugurated by Benveniste. The Italian semiotician Francesco Casetti undertakes the principles of Benveniste's conception and places them into his own view on the cinematographic enunciation. But out of French linguist's theory, Casetti hangs on two others fundamental perspectives from semiotics and communication sciences. First, it is the reconsidering of the addressee into the communication process from semiotic perspective, then the transition in the semiotic research area from structuralism to text semiotics.

2. The Concept of Enunciation

The concept of enunciation is formed on the field of linguistics and subsequently valued especially by pragmatics and discourse analysis. Structural linguistics had entailed the isolation of the study of language from its relationships with mind and world through the classical distinction made by Saussure between langue and parole. The linguistic sign, as relation between signified and signifier, let out the research of the extralinguistic elements of language with which the linguistic components interact within the use of language. Focusing on the study of language as system and ignoring the use of language within the speech, notions such as enunciation and discourse was excluded from linguistics (Moeschler and Reboul, 1999: 73-74). Criticizing the structuralist conception of language, Emile Benveniste reconceives the limits of linguistics bringing back in the focus the concepts of enunciation and discourse. Starting from the study of the personal pronouns the French linguist establishes within the language two correlative oppositions: first, the correlation of personality, in which the pronouns "I" and "you" are opposed, by indicating person, to "he/she" characterized by the absence of person; then, included in the first, the correlation of subjectivity, where "I" as mark of subjectivity is opposed to "you," the non-subjective person, to which it is external and transcendent (Benveniste, 2000c: 215-225). First-person and second-person pronouns are nothing but instances of discourse, "namely discrete acts and every time unique, through which language is actualized in speech by the locutor" (Benveniste, 2000e: 239). The statement that contain "I" and "you" belongs to the pragmatic level of language, the referents of two pronouns being mobile and variable, dependent on the partners involved in the use of language. "I" cannot be defined except by the act of locution and "you," except by the one of allocution: "I" refers to the person who utters the instance of discourse that contains the linguistic instance "I," and "you" refers to the person whose "I" speaks to in the instance of discourse that contains the linguistic instance "you" (Benveniste, 2000e: 240). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.