Taal als gebrek. Bréal, Van Eeden en het misverstand.
The year 1897 saw the publication of both Michel Bréal’s Essai de sémantique: science des significations and Frederik van Eeden’s Redekunstige grondslag van verstandhouding (‘Logical basis of mutual understanding’). Bréal’s work was based on the ideas concerning general linguistics and language in use he had been propounding from the late 1860's onwards. Van Eeden’s ‘Tractatus logico-psychologicus’ was an ‘anti-rationalistic essay’ which is considered to be an early study in ‘significs’. As such it demonstrates a critical approach to language which is generally associated with the signific ideas promoted by his friend Victoria Lady Welby. In 1918, van Eeden, a well-known Dutch psychiatrist and man of letters, hailed Bréal’s Sémantique as an important book in language criticism. This paper provides some new data with regard to the reception of both works and discusses the difference between the views of Bréal and van Eeden on the deficiency of language as a means of communication.