GENETIC JOYCE STUDIES - Issue 1 (Spring 2001)



Supplementing Babel: Paget in VI.B.32


Laurent Milesi


In the late twenties, Joyce became acquainted with the theories of Father Marcel Jousse, whose lectures or rather performances he attended with enthusiasm. His deep interest is reflected in a series of small clusters entered in three contemporary notebooks (VI.B.18 262, VI.B.21 16-7, 20, 22, 24, 26, VI.B.23 103) and in VI.A 1, and its structural relevance, especially for the "Mime of Mick, Nick, and the Maggies," has already been adequately documented.

Soon after, with still fresh enthusiastic memories of Joussean performances in his mind, Joyce came across Sir Richard Paget's Babel, or The Past, Present, and Future of Human Speech (London: Kegan Paul, 1930). Joyce was no doubt alerted by the title, as is indicated by an earlier indirect reference, "The Tower of Berli{c?t}z" (VI.B.32 140), some four or five years after the first major linguistic offensive in notebooks and drafts, and the earliest treatment of the myth of Babel - also at a time when the composition of Work in Progress threatened to grind to a standstill. Paget's book offered Joyce a ready parallel with and differences from Jousse's theory about the evolution of language. In this treatise, as well as in Human Speech (also 1930), Jousse's coeval expounds a view of the gestural articulation of sound as an "etymological" basis for the constitution of oral language and a "Gesture Theory of human speech" (Paget, p. 47), comparable to Jousse's gesticulation laryngo-buccale (only a derived stage in the latter's system), which sees speech primarily as a pantomime of mouth gestures, a recurrent description which Joyce recalled in "learned to speak from hand to mouth" (130.18; see VI.B.32 141 unit), also having Vichian undertones. Although it was mainly used for FW 130.13-20 and not "directly" for II.1, Joyce's Paget index in VI.B.32 (a notebook whose main draft usage was precisely for II.1), especially his slight reworking of Paget's gestural-phonemic atomisation of "butter" on VI.B.32 142 (and "cheese" to a minor extent, thereby affording a late parallel with the fable of the Mookse and the Gripes), seems also to have sparked off the wording of the Maggies' first charade in 223.09-11. The description of "heliotrope" in the "Twilight Games" thus admits of a dual "gestural" miming right from the start, "choreographic" (Jousse) as well as "buccal" (Paget).

Dated ca. 1925-1927 in the preface to the relevant Archive volume, the VI.B.32 notebook would therefore seem, on the basis of that 1930 source, to have been filled out over a longer period of time. This further corroborates Vincent Deane's earlier revision of the dating of the notebook to ca. May 1930 on the basis of notes derived from Cyrus Brooks' translation of Jabotinsky's Samson the Nazarite in VI.B.32 74-76 and 80-88, also published the same year, with the month's identification coming from two letters from Helen Fleischman to Harriet Shaw Weaver (British Library Add. MS 57350-42 and -45).



Main draft usage in FW 130.13-20; deleted material appears at 1.6+/2.4+/3.9+/4.5+ stage as part of a long manuscript addition, dated 1936 by the Archive editors, on either side of the appropriate "Roh re his root" (MS 47475-271 and 232, JJA 47:264-5; pages of the final page proofs or "First edition" of transition 6.


VI.B.32, page 140

oAl $E
Paget 33-34: "The root AL, or its vowel variants EL and IL [...], are found in many words for God or Heaven."
FW 130.13

2 yrs = anthropoid
Paget 37: "It is stated that the normal development of a human being recapitulates, to some extent, the evolution of the human race, and that a human child of two years is mentally comparable with an adult anthropoid ape."

oad = eat
FW 130.16

oan = wind

otan = stretch
FW 130.17

oda = give
FW 130.16


VI.B.32, page 141

orup = break
FW 130.17

osa = sow
FW 130.17

osu = squeeze.
Paget 47 lists the seven Indo-European roots given above, which he calls "gestural-phonemic roots"
FW 130.18

$E names / objects
[not found in Paget]

bfrom hand / bto mouth
Paget 54: "... the influence of unconscious mouth-gesture will continue to affect human speech as long as the pantomimic instincts of man and the sympathy between his hand and mouth both persist."
FW 130.18

ohang = static
FW 130.20

ohack = dynamic
Both given in Paget 60: "We have only to compare such words as [...], hang and hack, to see that the same tendency persists even in our own language - the nasal sound symbolizes something static, the same mouth gesture without the nasal bypassing something dynamic."
FW 130.19


VI.B.32, page 142

mio culpo / di glotti.n.e. /\
Not in Paget but obviously suggested by his arguments.
Cf. FW 165.02

butter = / down in front / up at the back / down in back / backward jerk
Paget 65 decomposes "butter" in pantomimic mouth gestures: "Butter: [...]. The whole gesture therefore means: down in front (BA or BU), up at the back (-T), down at the back (TA) and a backward jerk (R)."
Not in FW but see supra

squiss out / the cheese.
Paget 66 decomposes "cheese" in pantomimic mouth gesture: "Cheese (from Latin CASEUS): [...] SEUS is due to a tight pressure (S-), followed by an ejecting tongue and lip gesture (-EU-), whittled to a thread (-S), as in the Old English word SQUISS, meaning squeeze."


VI.B.32, page 143

Paget 67: "nearly all words in STR import the idea of stroking or stretching - which is what the tongue actually does to produce the STR sound."

to above a horse / horse above
Paget 70 (a comparison with Chinese): "in SHANG MA, to above a horse, i.e. to mount a horse, it [SHANG] corresponds to a verb; in MA SHANG, horse above, i.e. on the horse, it corresponds to a preposition."

hic ? / = / ille ? / (he or she)
Paget 72: English "has some very obvious gaps, as, for example, the absence of any words meaning he (she or it) here, and he (she or it) there, like the words HIC and ILLE in Latin."

Paget 73: "We make, in fact, no pretence of speaking as we write; we use a form of shorthand, or short-tongue (as it should be called) [...]"


VI.B.32, page 144

passage titled "CencluzHn"
Paget 74


VI.B.32, page 145

peat, pit, / part, port / put, . [pairs joined together by a brace on left-hand side]
Paget 76: "It stands to reason that if we are to identify each of the 13 words: peat, pit, pate, pet, pat, pe(r)t, putt, pa(r)t, pot, port, pote, poot, put, without uncertainly [sic], we must form the various vowel postures, which distinguish them, with accuracy."

ac af ag av / unemployed
Paget 80: "the sounds AB, AC, AF, AG, AJ, AL, AP, and AV are all among the unemployed."



VI.B.32, page 146


down with / homofun
Paget 85: "We should eliminate homophones. It is true that in so doing we shall deny ourselves the pleasure of the pun, [...]"

shy / shytongue
Paget 86: "There is precedent for the elimination of s as an undesirable sound. The Yezidis of the Jebel Sinyat are said to have a deep-rooted objection to pronouncing the letter s, which is taboo inasmuch as it occurs in the forbidden name Sheitan."