top of page

The man who sold words.

The Letter, Issue 2, Autumn 1994, Pages 112 - 124


C. Edward Robins


"Tongue", La langue, Lalangue: this word "tongue" I take as a signifier of this congress, entitled "The Subject of the Unconscious and Language(s)". Tongues have uttered "tongue" scores of times in the presentations and discussions during these days. Now in a Cantonese Chinese restaurant, you would never hear the word "tongue" pronounced, even though beef and ox tongue are popular delicacies. Why? Because the sound of the word "tongue" (shuh) also means "losing", as in "losing money". Superstitious as Chinese are, you would never suggest the topic of "losing money"! So instead of pronouncing the word shuh as indicated by the Chinese character on the menu, the waiter announces the work li (which means "gaining", as in "gaining money"). In English the waiter's spiel would sound like this: "We have very nice ox-gaining-money today".

The Fable[1]

In times gone by there lived in ancient China a man named Lo Shi, who was neither dull nor bright. From early morning till late at night he toiled for others, scraped together a little money and, when the time was ripe, took himself a wife. Then, after he had earned himself a little money, he went off with a party of merchants to trade in a distant town by the Great Wall.

Want to read more?

Subscribe to to keep reading this exclusive post.

Related Posts

See All

Little Hans' real father

Lacan, in his seminar of 1956-57, La relation d'objet, tells us that the phobia emerges as a consequence of a shortcoming, a deficiency...

Issue 2: Editorial

This issue of The Letter opens with a paper by Julien Quackelbeen which addresses the question of what answers psychoanalysis can provide to


Não foi possível carregar comentários
Parece que houve um problema técnico. Tente reconectar ou atualizar a página.
bottom of page