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Saying, the Said, Signification and Meaning in L’Etourdit

The Letter, Issue 41, Summer 2009, Pages  97 - 114

Saying, the Said, Signification and Meaning in L’Etourdit

Tony Hughes

One of the levels of complexity which is found in L'Etourdit arises because Lacan distinguishes between “what is said”, “what is heard”, and “saying”. It is necessary to be aware of the differentiation he makes and the implication this has for signification. This paper shows how these issues affect interpretation within the clinic of psychoanalysis which relies on the movement of the four discourses.

Keywords: said; saying; heard; signification; four discourses


L'Etourdit makes important distinctions between saying, what is said, signification, and meaning. I hope to show how they differ from each other, as this is essential when trying to understand some of the complexities of this challenging text of Lacan. I am relying of the interpretation by Christian Fierens which is found in his excellent book Lecture de L'Etourdit,[1] and of which Cormac Gallagher has, thus far, translated the first four chapters into English. I will be focusing on the work contained in the first six pages of L'Etourdit. These pages are commented upon by Fierens in the first two chapters of his book - “Relationship of Signification to Meaning” and “Freud's Saying”. I have included, by way of appendix, the four discourses, set out in the three different ways in which they can be utilised - clockwise, anti-clockwise and inverse directions - as this may help in following some of the comments made.

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