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When we speak, we draw small borders in the pursuit of larger ones: in speaking (syntax), in the sayable (semantics), in social relations (pragmalinguistics). The opposition of nothing and something, of silence and speaking, is the ‘partial unit’ (Vygotsky 1934:9) of such borders, their smallest units of construction. So empty, so blank, so full of possibilities, that speakers are able to set in motion an elusively complex dynamic; orderly science is overwhelmed. In order to get a better grasp, science draws its own artificial and more rigid boundaries. As a first step, the chaotic competitor, silence, is shut out. Thus, the boundaries of linguistics become the boundaries of its world. But these boundaries are artificial and not those of language, not those of the speaker. Science institutionalizes itself by separating the inner from the outer; rules and exceptions are then left in a tangle ‘inside’.

– Eloquent silence [Beredtes Schweigen - Zur sprachlichen Fülle der Leere. Über Grenzen der Sprach­wissenschaft], Ulrich Schmitz, 1990, trans. Mundy

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