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Saussure and Bakhtin

F. de Saussure determined rigid limits of priorities in linguistics and separated language from speech that has no system in his opinion. M. M. Bakhtin in his work «The Problem of Speech Genres» accepted the differentiation of language and speech (utterance in his system of terms) unlike V. N. Voloshinov but he considered the concentration on the problems of language insufficient and the study of speech necessary. In the field of speech he singled out the most stable component – speech genres that are set to speakers together with language.

Now there are two opposite, but often co-existing trends. On the one hand, we see the desire for scientific rigor, especially in experimental and applied research. By a purely linguistic study of the functioning of language, linguists also try to rely on some stable characteristics, among which, of course, are speech genres. On the other hand, many linguists, compared with the previous period, have a level of scientific rigor which has decreased. In general, in modern Russia the functional linguistics is far from the principles which F. de Saussure relied on.  And among the precursors of functionalism, Mikhail Bakhtin undoubtedly took an important place.

The modern functional linguistics took Saussure’s limits away and expanded the object of studies including speech genres.


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