By Catherine Dollez, Sylvie Pons

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Example text

As to the second part, one may refer again to Davis's characterization of linguistics as 'unregulated'. Her observation concludes: although linguistics is unregulated . . it can never be redefined out of existence, only into existence, into an analytic understanding of one's individual linguistic experience. One might gloss that observation as a call for linguists to begin by examining the foundations of their own metalinguistic practices. The integrationist critique of orthodox linguistics may thus be seen historically as bringing the critical inquiry begun by Saussure full circle.

Following the dialogue, there is an analysis of what has gone wrong. It makes little difference for present purposes that the example used is hypothetical. What has gone wrong is typical enough of such situations. There is panic on one end of the telephone and seemingly impersonal bureaucracy at the other. When the operator asks for the number, the caller evidently thinks that it is the street number she is being asked for. She cannot understand why anyone would want to know the telephone number: it is the address that matters.

They are both fluent native speakers. So there is evidently a difference, the inference will be, between the merely linguistic and the communicative aspects of the interchange. Effective communication requires the right linguistic basis: but mastery of the language is not a sufficient condition for effective communication. To take a somewhat different example, a letter in The Times of 3 October 1980 makes the following humorous complaint. Sir, The latest advertisement on the London Underground tells us that 'The last train leaves later than you think'.

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