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As a form of language, writing bears a troubled relation to linguistic theory. For reasons both historical and theoretical, contemporary linguistic theory has been reluctant to treat the phenomenon of writing as an object of study on par with spoken language. This essay explores this troubled relation between linguistic theory and written language through the grid of deconstruction or post-structuralism. Though short, this essay will require much wandering and wondering in pursuit not so much a hypothesis but a clarification of the question: what does it mean to say that writing is not just a simple secondary object of study of linguistics but the condition of possibility for the ideal objects of linguistic theory. Among the wanderings I hope first to clarify the empirical import of the question, provide some motivation for the deconstructive grid, and cross some disciplinary boundaries between linguistics and philosophy in order to clarify what I mean when I say that writing constitutes the data of linguistic theory not just simply records it.

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