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Terms of a distinction observed in structuralist theory, between what is said (the énoncé) and the act or process of saying it (the énonciation). The linguist Émile Benveniste has defined énonciation as a process by which a speaker (or writer) adopts a position within language as an ‘I’ addressing a ‘you’ and perhaps referring to a ‘they’. Whenever I say ‘I’, however, the I who speaks can be distinguished (as the ‘subject of the énonciation’) from the ‘I’ that is thus spoken of (the ‘subject of the énoncé’). This splitting of the subject by language has been of great interest to theorists of post-structuralism, notably the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan. In literary analysis, the distinction leads to a further differentiation between discours, in which first- and second-person pronouns and other markers of the situation of the énonciation are evident (see deixis), and the more ‘objective’ mode of histoire in which the énonciation seems to have disappeared into or behind the énoncé. So while a first-person narrative will show a split between the narrating I of the énonciation and the younger ‘I’ spoken of (énoncé) in the narrative, a third-person narrative will often be able to disguise the distinction between the process of narration and its result.

Subjects: Literature.

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