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He is, along with Roland Barthes , considered the most prominent of the French semioticians. With his training in structural linguistics , he added to the theory of signification and laid the foundations for the Parisian school of semiotics. Among Greimas's major contributions to semiotics are the concepts of isotopy , the actantial model , the narrative program, and the semiotics of the natural world. He also researched Lithuanian mythology and Proto-Indo-European religion , and was influential in semiotic literary criticism.
Greimas's father, Julius Greimas, —, a teacher and later school inspector, was from Liudvinavas in the Suvalkija region of present-day Lithuania. They returned with him to Lithuania when he was two years old. His baptismal names are "Algirdas Julius"  but he used the French version of his middle name, Julien , while he lived abroad. He did not speak another language than Lithuanian until preparatory middle school , where he started with German and then French, which opened the door for his early philosophical readings in high school of Friedrich Nietzsche and Arthur Schopenhauer.
The Soviet ultimatum led to a new "people's government" in Soviet-occupied Lithuania which Greimas was sympathetic to. In July , he gave speeches urging Lithuanians to elect leaders who would vote in favor of annexation by the Soviet Union. As his friend Aleksys Churginas advised, in every speech he would mention Stalin and end by clapping for himself.
Greimas became an avid reader of Marx. This underground network was preparing for a Nazi German invasion as the opportunity to restore Lithuania's independence and drive out all of Lithuania's Jews. On 14 June , the Soviets detained his parents, arresting his father and sending him to Krasnoyarsk Krai , where he died in His mother was deported to Altai Krai.
Meanwhile, during these traumatic deportations, Greimas had been mobilized as an army officer to write up the property of detained Lithuanians. Greimas became an anti-Communist but retained a lifelong affinity with Marxist, leftist and liberal ideas.
The next day, Greimas met with other partisans and was put in charge of a platoon. He handed down an order from the German Commandant to round up Jews to sweep the streets. He felt uncomfortable and did not return the next day. In he enrolled for graduate study at the Sorbonne in Paris and specialized in lexicography , namely taxonomies of exact, interrelated definitions.
He wrote a thesis on the vocabulary of fashion a topic later popularized by Roland Barthes , for which he received a PhD in Greimas began his academic career as a teacher at a French Catholic boarding school for girls in Alexandria in Egypt,  where he would take part in a weekly discussion group of about a dozen European researchers that included a philosopher, a historian, and a sociologist.
His mother managed to return in ; his father perished and his grave is unknown, but he has a symbolic tombstone at the cemetery. Greimas's first published essay Cervantes ir jo don Kichotas " Cervantes and his Don Quixote"  came out in the literary journal Varpai , which he helped to found, during the period of alternating Nazi and Soviet occupations of Lithuania.
He published three dictionaries throughout his career. Greimas proposed an original method for discourse semiotics that evolved over a thirty-year period. His starting point began with a profound dissatisfaction with the structural linguistics of the mid-century that studied only phonemes minimal sound units of every language and morphemes grammatical units that occur in the combination of phonemes.
These grammatical units could generate an infinite number of sentences, the sentence remaining the largest unit of analysis. Such a molecular model did not permit the analysis of units beyond the sentence.
Greimas begins by positing the existence of a semantic universe that he defined as the sum of all possible meanings that can be produced by the value systems of the entire culture of an ethno-linguistic community.
As the semantic universe cannot possibly be conceived of in its entirety, Greimas was led to introduce the notion of semantic micro-universe and discourse universe , as actualized in written, spoken or iconic texts. To come to grips with the problem of signification or the production of meaning, Greimas had to transpose one level of language the text into another level of language the metalanguage and work out adequate techniques of transposition. The descriptive procedures of narratology and the notion of narrativity are at the very base of Greimassian semiotics of discourse.
His initial hypothesis is that meaning is only apprehensible if it is articulated or narrativized. Second, for him narrative structures can be perceived in other systems not necessarily dependent upon natural languages. This leads him to posit the existence of two levels of analysis and representation: a surface and a deep level , which forms a common trunk where narrativity is situated and organized anterior to its manifestation.
The signification of a phenomenon does not therefore depend on the mode of its manifestation, but since it originates at the deep level it cuts through all forms of linguistic and non-linguistic manifestation. Greimas' semiotics, which is generative and transformational , goes through three phases of development. He then constructs a narrative grammar and works out a syntax of narrative programs in which subjects are joined up with or separated from objects of value.
The subjects' competence is organized by means of a modal grammar that accounts for their existence and performance. He later began researching and reconstructing Lithuanian mythology. He also wrote on Proto-Indo-European religion. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Lithuanian-French linguist. This article includes a list of references , but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations.
Please help to improve this article by introducing more precise citations. November Learn how and when to remove this template message. Tula , Russian Empire. Sign relation relational complex. Code Confabulation. Lexical Modality Representation. Salience Semiosis Semiosphere. Umwelt Value. Biosemiotics Cognitive semiotics. Morris Charles S. Structuralism Post-structuralism. Deconstruction Postmodernism. Retrieved 15 December Mokslo Lietuva in Lithuanian. In Cobley, Paul ed.
The Routledge Companion to Semiotics and Linguistics. London: Routledge. Metmenys in Lithuanian. Compiled by Irina Guzenberg, Jevgenija Sedovas.
Key Thinkers in Linguistics and the Philosophy of Language. Oxford University Press. Histoire du structuralisme I: Le champ du signe, — in French. Archived from the original on 6 November Retrieved 6 November Vilniaus universiteto biblioteka.
Varpai in Lithuanian. Churginas, Aleksys ed. Poems by Aleksys Churginas. Greimas come traduzione semiotica" PDF. In Migliore, Tiziana ed. Incidenti ed Esplosioni.
Greimas e Y. Per una semiotica della cultura. Aacne editrice. La Mode en Paris: Presse universitaires de France, JRank Psychology Encyclopedia. Archived from the original on 5 August Retrieved 23 August Lithuanian Philosophy: Persons and Ideas. The Council for Research in Values and Philosophy. Greimas's biography and semiotic theories. July Greimas's Conversion to 'Saussurism ' ". Archived from the original on 31 May Retrieved 19 May Special issue: A.
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The Actantial Model
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Sémantique Structurale by Greimas
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Algirdas Julien Greimas
The actantial model, developed by A. Greimas, allows us to break an action down into six facets, or actants: 1 The subject for example, the Prince is what wants or does not want to be joined to 2 an object the rescued Princess, for example. Lastly, 5 a helper for example, the magic sword, the horse, the Prince's courage helps to accomplish the action, while 6 an opponent the witch, the dragon, the Prince's fatigue or a suspicion of terror hinders it. Click here to obtain the English translation of this book. During the sixties, A.