By Simon Dentith
In Bakhtinian Thought, Simon Dentith offers a lucid and approachable advent to the paintings of Bakhtin and his circle, helpfully taking the reader throughout the many components in their suggestion. Dentith shows the various issues of rivalry, hassle and significance. The booklet not just attracts jointly the customarily disparately accumulated writing of Bakhtin, but additionally that of Voloshinov and Medvedev, language theorists of commensurable value as well.
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Additional info for Bakhtinian Thought: An Introductory Reader (Critical Readers in Theory and Practice)
We will return to this distinction between a sign and a signal; but first we need to recognize that in this conception the quality of systematicity in language is subordinated to the multiple and nonsystematic (or at least differently systematized) occasions of its use, for only in these occasions does it become meaningful. Under abstract objectivism, language and hence society has to be conceived as a set of abstract norms and rules that you carry around in your head; in Voloshinov’s conception, by contrast, language and linguistic interaction are the very means by which society in all its conflicts and contradictoriness is realised.
It pays to bring a Bakhtinian perspective to bear on the question of whether their arguments are identical or not. Clearly some of the fundamental ideas of both writers are the same. But just as meaning only exists in potentia and requires theme for its potential to be realized, can a ‘fundamental idea’ exist independently of its particular expression? An answer in the spirit of Bakhtin would surely be that it cannot, so that the explicit Marxism of Voloshinov’s writing means that it positions itself differently in debate, assumes a different relationship to authority, anticipates a different response.
For this reason arguments and debates cannot be settled by reference to dictionaries; these provide at best only records of usage, records that can scarcely capture the continuous pulling to and fro that actually constitutes the meaning of any word in any living language. Dictionaries are the graveyards of language. Voloshinov understands the sociality of language in a very particular way, then, a way which distinguishes him from the mainstream of linguistic thought in the twentieth century, which stems from the Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure.
Bakhtinian Thought: An Introductory Reader (Critical Readers in Theory and Practice) by Simon Dentith