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In the early 1970s, Lacan turned his attention more and more to the place of jouissance in human sexuality, the field he had discussed with such subtety in the late 1950s with the theoretical tools of desire and the phallus. Whereas language and jouissance had remained distinct in mot of his formulations until now, Lacan argued that there is a side to language which is itself a form of jouissance. If language was traditionally seen as made up of signifiers, each of which was linked to another signifier, he now proposed that there was a signifier without such links... a One, which makes up "lalangue", an amalgam of libido and signifiers.

Language is now shown to have not only effects of meaning and signification, but direct effects of jouissance. These ideas complicated the received notion that the libido and jouissance were different in nature from linguistic elements.