International journal

Speech Genres

ISSN 2311-0759 (Online)
ISSN 2311-0740 (Print)

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Sériot P. Voloshinov and Vossler: Allies without knowing it. Speech Genres, 2022, vol. 17, iss. 2 (34), pp. 99-107. DOI: 10.18500/2311-0740-2022-17-2-34-99-107, EDN: EZUOWM

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Voloshinov and Vossler: Allies without knowing it

Sériot Patrick, University of Lausanne

Between both solutions to the crisis of positivism at the beginning of the 20th century, V. N. Voloshinov chose K. Vossler’s idealistic neophilology, entirely rejecting Saussurianism. Voloshinov transposed Vossler’s stylistic individual idealism into sociological concepts: “spirit” becomes “ideology”, “culture” becomes “superstructure”, and “idealistic neophilology” becomes “sociological poetics”. This terminological rearrangement has caused constant misunderstandings in the interpretation of the book “Marxism and the Philosophy of Language”. Indeed, here is a source of interesting fluctuations in the assessment of structuralism: the holistic approach, which requires starting from the Whole in order to arrive at the particular, and not the other way around, which is encountered at that time among many linguists in Russia, for example Peshkovsky, was often confused by critics with the structuralist principle. The article compares the French, generally “leftist”, mostly Marxist reception of V. N. Voloshinov’s book with the predominant role of the interindividual (personalist) moment, situational determinism and rejection of linguistics in the name of concrete pragmatics. That is why the main object of Voloshinov’s research is not the sentence, as it is for linguists, but the unrepeatable utterance, understandable only within the framework of a particular communication situation.

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