Author:Elisabeth Hsu (University of Oxford)
Paper short abstract:
In Chinese lexicography sounds and meaning tend to be intricately related, as they appear to be in some Chinese materia medica texts. The sound of the word qing, 1st tone, can mean light, transparent, bluegreen, depending on the graph with which it is written.
Paper long abstract:
This paper will first present what Merleau-Ponty says about meaning-making with words (phenomenology of language), and how his understanding of the process of meaning making differs from meaning that is considered to be encoded in a word (semiotics). It will then present an example where the sound qing as the prefix for plant ingredients/names in certain recipes can be read as gesturing towards the efficaciousness of the recipe. Rather than considering this phenomenon as onomatopoetic, and hence an exceptional kind of meaning making in linguistics, it will open up discussion about how to make sense of such phenomena. The paper will explore to what extent such a sound might inform us about perceived materialities of the ingredients of Song dynasty recipes (ca 11th century).
Semiosis as orchestration