Translated by Larry Marks




acception: sememe whose meaning includes socially coded afferent semes.

actant: semic group that includes a case seme.

actor: unit of the evenemential level of the dialectic component, composed of a semic molecule to which roles are associated.

actualization: interpretive operation that allows the identification or construction of a seme in context.

afference: an inference that allows the actualization of an afferent seme.

afferent seme: extreme of an antisymmetrical relation between two sememes that belong to different taxemes. E.g., /weakness/ for ‘woman’. An afferent seme is actualized by contextual information.

agonist: a type that is constitutive of a class of actors ; a unit having to do with the agonistic level of the dialectic component.

agonistic level: level of dialectics constituted by agonists and of sequences. Only stories include this level, a level that is hierarchically superior to the evenemential level.

allotopie: contextual relation of exclusive disjunction between two sememes (or two groups of sememes) that include incompatible semes.

archidialectics: that part of dialectics that has to do with the series of operations that cause valuated contents to succeed each other in textual time.

archithematics: that part of thematics that accounts for the carving up of semantic universes into valuated spaces.

assimilation: actualization of a seme by presumption of isotopy.

associative network: totality of relations that allow one to identify the recurrence of a semic molecule.


bundle: totality of isotopies brought about by the recurrence of elements of the same semic molecule.


chronotope: temporal isotopy.

classeme: group of generic semes belonging to a sememe.

coherence: unity of a linguistic sequence or chain, defined in terms of its relations with its surroundings.

cohesion: unity of a linguistic sequence or chain, defined in terms of its internal semantic relations.

component: a systematic instance which, being in interaction with other in stances of the same order, regulates the production and interpretation of linguistic chains. For the semantic plane, there are four components: thematic, dialectic, dialogic and tactic.

connection: relation between two sememes that belong to two different generic isotopies.

constituent: semantic feature. There are two types of constituent, semes and primitives.

content: plane of the text comprised by the totality of signifieds.

context: for a given semantic unit, the totality of un its that have an influence on it (active context), and on which it has an influence (passive context). The context has as many zones of locality as there are layers of complexity.


dialect: functional language (as opposed to historical language).

dialectics: semantic component that articulates the succession of intervals in textual time, such as states that are created in texts and the processes that unfold in texts.

dialectic function: interaction between actors. It is dependent up on which types are involved.

dialectic sequence: dialectic unit of the agonistic level, constituted by homologation of isomorphic functional syntagms.

dialogic: semantic component that articulates modal relations between universes and between worlds.

dimension: class of very general sememes, independent of do mains. Dimensions are grouped into smaller closed categories (ex. //animate// versus //inanimate//). Evaluations are part of dimensions.

dimensional: relative to a dimension.

discourse: the totality of codified linguistic usages attached to a given type of social practice. E.g.: legal discourse, medical discourse, religious discourse.

dissimilation: actualization of opposing afferent semes in two occurrences of the same sememe or in two “parasynonymous” sememes.

domain: group of taxemes, linked to a social practice. It is common to the different genres specific to discourse that correspond to this practice. There generally exists no polysemy in a given domain.

dominance: one isotopy dominates an other if it contains markers of represented enunciation and /or if it determines a referential impression.


elementary interpretative operation: see “ actualization ”, “ virtualization ”, “ assimilation ”, “ dissimilation ”.

evenemential level: level of dialectics constituted by actors and functions.



generic seme: element of a classeme. It marks the fact that a sememe belongs to a semantic class ( taxeme, domain, or dimension ).

genre: program of positive or negative prescriptions (and licences) which regulate the production and interpretation of texts. All texts have to do with a genre and all genres have to do with a discourse. Genres do not belong to the language system strictly speaking, but rather to other social norms.

grammeme: a morpheme that belongs to a closed class, in a given synchronic state.


hermeneutics: theory of text interpretation. In our culture, we can distinguish between philological hermeneutics, which originated from the task of describing ancient texts: it establishes the meaning of texts, insofar as they are immanent to the situation of communication in which they were produced. Philosophical hermeneutics, on the other hand, is independent of linguistics and seek s to specify the transcendental conditions of all interpretation.

hermeneutic order: order of the conditions of textual production and interpretation. It encompasses phenomena of communication, but exceeds pragmatic factors by including codified situations of communication, which are differed and not necessarily interpersonal. It is inseparable from historical and cultural conditions of production and interpretation.

hierarchy: relative evaluation or assessment, in a given semantic universe, of the various classes that define generic isotopies.


idiolect: use of a language and of other social norms that are proper to a given enunciator.

imagization: pairing of a signified with a mental image.

inherent seme: a seme whose occurrence is dependent on a type, by default. E.g., /black / for 'crow '.

interlaced: this is said of lexicalized isotopies whose sememes alternate in sequences or chains that are at a lower level than the dimension of the period.

interpretant: linguistic or semiotic element that allows one to establish a relevant semic relation between elements linked by an interpretative trajectory.

interpretation: the assigning of meaning to a linguistic chain.

interpretative trajectory: succession of operations that allow one to assign one or more meanings to a linguistic sequence.

isosemy: an isotopy that is prescribed by the functional system of language (ex. agreement, government).

isotopizing: said of a seme who se recurrence creates an isotopy.




level: degree of complexity. The principal levels are the morpheme, the syntagm, the period, and the text.

lexeme: a morpheme that belongs to one or more closed classes, in a given synchronic state. (E.g.: run - in running )

lexicography: branch of applied linguistics that is concerned with the compiling, editing, and writing of dictionaries.

lexicology: the linguistic study of the lexicon.

lexie: a stable grouping of morphemes, constituting a functional unit.


macrogeneric: relative to a semantic dimension.

meaning (sense): content of a linguistic unit, defined in terms that are relative to its context and communicational situation.

mesogeneric: relative to a semantic domain.

metaphorical connection: connection between lexicalized sememes: such connection that there is a relation of incompatibility between at least one of their generic features, and a relation of identity between at least one of their specific features.

microgeneric: relative to a taxeme.

morpheme: the minimal sign, un decomposable in a given synchronic state E.g.,retropropulseurs contains five morphemes.




paradigmatic order: order of codified association. A semantic unit acquires its value only in relation to others that can be substituted for it and that form its definitional paradigm.

period: textual unit composed of syntagms that have obligatory concordance relations.

philology: discipline concerned with the establishment and study of texts at all levels of analysis ; it is the foundation of linguistics.

poly-isotopy: in the limited sense it is the property of a linguistic chain that includes several generic isotopies whose isotopizing semes are in a relation of incompatibility; in the larger sense, the property of a chain that includes more than one isotopy.



reading (lecture): the result of a textual interpretation. Transcribed, a reading is a text produced by the transformation of a source text that it is supposed to describe, scientifically or not.

reference: relation between the text and the non linguistic part of the practice in which it is produced and interpreted (rather than a relation of representation between things and states of affairs). In order to determine a reference, it is necessary to specify the conditions by which a linguistic sequence can create a referential impression.

referential order: order that determines the influence of the linguistic on the non linguistic strata of the practice. It is involved in the construction of referential impressions.

referential impression: mental representation constrained by the interpretation of a linguistic sequence. This representation can be defined as a multimodel simulacrum.

relevance: activation of a seme. There exist three types of relevance (linguistic, generic or situational), depending on whether the activation is prescribed by the functional system of language, the textual genre, or the practice involved.

role: elementary dialectic valence of an actor. Each function confers a role to each of the actors participating in that function.


semanteme: totality of semes that are specific to a given sememe.

semantic rhythm: a regulated correspondence between a tactic form and a thematic structure, be it dialectic or dialogic. The rhetorical figure of chiasmus is a simple example.

semantic case: a primitive semantic relation between actants. Being semantic primitives of method, they are not to be confused with morphosyntactic functions.

semantic isotopy: effect of a recurrence of one and the same seme. Relations of identity between occurrences of the isotopizing seme bring about relations of equivalence between sememes that include them.

seme: element of a sememe, defined as the extreme of a binary relational function between sememes. The seme is the smallest unit of signification defined by analysis.

sememe: signified of a morpheme.

seme cluster (semic molecule): stable grouping of semes, not necessarily lexicalized, or whose lexicalization can vary (a “theme”, when it can be defined semantically, is nothing more than a seme cluster).

semie: signified of a lexie.

sentence: syntactic structure of an utterance.

signification: signified of a linguistic unit defined by abstracting context and communicational situation. Any given signification is an artefact.

signified: content of a linguistic unit.

social practice: codified activity, which puts into play specific relations between the semiotic sphere (to which texts belong), the sphere of mental representations, and the physical sphere.

sociolect: usage of a functional language proper to a specific social group.

specific seme: element of the semanteme which sets the sememe in opposition to one or more sememes of the taxeme to which it belongs. Ex. /feminine sex/ for 'woman'.

surroundings or context (entour): the totality of the semiotic phenomena associated with a linguistic sequence; more generally, a non linguistic context.

symbolic connection: connection between two sememes (or groups of sememes) such that starting with one lexicalized sememe (or group), one can lexicalize another sememe (or group of sememes).

syntagmatic order: order of the linearization of language, in a spatial and/or temporal dimension. It accounts for positional relations and functional relations. It is therefore the site of contextual relations.


tactic (of content): the tactic of the content is a component that regulates the linear disposition of semantic units.

taxeme: minimal class of sememes in language, within which the semantemes of those sememes are defined as well as their common microgeneric seme.

taxemic: relative to a taxeme.

text: autonomous linguistic chain (oral or written) that constitutes an empirical unit and that is produced by one or more enunciators in a given social practice. Texts are the object of linguistics.

topos: the normative axiom that underlies a socialized afference.


universe of assumption: part of the semantic universe composed of propositions attributed to an actor of the utterance or of the represented enunciation.

use (emploi): a sememe whose meaning includes afferent semes that obey a set of localized or idiolectal norms.


virtualization: neutralization of a seme, in context.


word: completely integrated grouping of morphemes.

world: totality of seme clusters associated with an actor and modalized in the same way in the same interval of textual time.




© juin 2001 pour l'édition électronique