Re: [Foucault-L] Re : Translation of énoncé to English

I think Emmanuel hits the mark.

The same question was discussed in Holland some twenty years ago. The Dutch translation <uitspraak> (= German <Aussage>) has the same judicial connotations.
The problem is that Foucault does not mention that connotations at all in the Archeology of Knowledge. He is completely fixed on the linguistic meaning there.
From the point of view of History <énoncé> is in my opinion equivalent to <évenement>.


machiel karskens

At 17:11 18-9-2007, you wrote:
énoncé : dans la langue de la procédure judiciaire, action d'énoncer, fait d'énoncer. Synonyme usuel : énonciation. (Trésor de la langue française)

My bloody translation :

"énoncé" : in the language of judicial procedure, the act(*) or the fact of enouncing something.

(*) The Trésor even says "action" : so you see fraçois, Foucault didn't introduce the notion of "activity" : it was already in place.

("énoncer"'s meanigs range from "utter" to "express", "speak out", "say", "make (publicly) known", "declare (formally) ) - the latter being precisely the one at stake, here, I guess).

Implicit to the meanig of "fact of enouncing something" are the notions that the "fact" in question has to be "take into account" (acknowledged but also registered, recorded and reported), and that the thing being enounced is actually being enounced by an authorized source - if not a source of authority.

In French we use the term most usually in phrases such as "l'énoncé d'un jugement / d'un verdict" (it belongs to the same constellation as "verdict" or "avow", another terms in which Foucault breathed a new life), "l'énoncé d'un théorème ou d'un problème" - i.e. in french "énoncé" is a master's thing - be it a master of truth (savant, doctor, master, teacher, etc.) or a master of jutice. The very history of the term connects "véridiction" to "juridiction".

This use of the term (the one quoted high above) is the first listed by the Trésor de la langue française - it's also (not coincindentally, I suspect) the closest use to Foucault's own one ("the fact that something is being / has been said, in that it constitutes an event, itself constitutive of a practice" - a ritual, a procedure, etc. - sorry, can't sum it up better at present) I could found.

The notion that "énociation" is linked to authority has long been ingrained in roman languages : Benveniste had it that the latin dicere's primary use was as a "vocable d'institution", and that, as suc, it meant something like " showing through words and with authority whast has to be or be done".

So one (someone pretty bold) could say that Foucault somewhat generalized the notion : the "énoncé" does not have to come necessarily from a position of authority for "énonciation" to take place in a complex system of power relationships.

Sorry for the broken english.


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Prof. Machiel Karskens
social and political philosophy
Faculty of Philosophy
Radboud University Nijmegen - The Netherlands

[Foucault-L] Re : Translation of énoncé to English, emmanuel pehau
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