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Niederland, W.G. (1967). Pathological and Normal Language: By Julius Laffal, Ph.D. New York: Atherton Press, 1965. 249 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 36:108-112.

(1967). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 36:108-112

Pathological and Normal Language: By Julius Laffal, Ph.D. New York: Atherton Press, 1965. 249 pp.

Review by:
William G. Niederland

If the reviewer takes the liberty of starting his task of examination and scrutiny with a personal reminiscence, it is because the anecdote to be reported throws light not only on the importance of the subject matter with which this book deals, but also on the peculiar type of Problematik of at least one aspect of its topic.

The first time this reviewer became interested in and acutely aware of problems of language goes back to a lesson in history shortly after World War I. One of the reasons why Germany lost that war—the history teacher told his class—was the fact that in 1916-1917 the Kaiser's government in Berlin had understood the meaning of the word anxious in the secret communications it received from the United States as denoting aengstlich, i.e., fearful or timid, and it had therefore dismissed the thought of America's entry into the war from its further calculations. (The alleged reports had said that America was anxious to enter the war against Germany, the meaning of which was understood in Berlin to be that the United States was afraid of a war against Imperial Germany.) If so, the Kaiser's government would have been well advised to consult the work of the great linguist Ferdinand de Saussure whose work, Course in General Linguistics (1915), had just been published. He had written: '… a particular word is like the center of a constellation; it is the point of convergence of an indefinite number of coördinated terms' and associative relationships.


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