Politics and the Theory of Language in the USSR, 1917-1938: The Birth of Sociological Linguistics

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Craig Brandist, Katya Chown
Anthem Press, 2010 - History - 199 pages
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'Politics and the Theory of Language in the USSR 1917-1938' provides ground-breaking research into the complex interrelations of linguistic theory and politics during the first two decades of the USSR. The work examines how the new Revolutionary regime promoted linguistic research that scrutinised the relationship between language, social structure, national identity and ideological factors as part of an attempt to democratize the public sphere. It also looks at the demise of the sociological paradigm, as the isolation and bureaucratization of the state gradually shifted the focus of research.

Through this account, the collection formally acknowledges the achievements of the Soviet linguists of the time, whose innovative approaches to the relationship between language and society predates the emergence of western sociolinguistics by several decades. These articles are the first articles written in English about these linguists, and will introduce an Anglophone audience to a range of materials hitherto unavailable.

In addition to providing new articles, the volume also presents the first annotated translation of Ivan Meshchaninov's 1929 'Theses on Japhetidology', thereby providing insight into one of the most controversial strands within Soviet linguistic thought.


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Intro du ction
Soviet Linguistics of the 1920s and 1930s
Theoretical Insights and Ideological Pressures in Early Soviet
Early Soviet Linguistics and Mikhail Bakhtins Essays
Language as a Battlefield the Rhetoric of Class Struggle
Language Nation Stalin
Grigorii Vinokurs Applied
Language Ideology and the Evolution of Kaltara iazyka
Psychology Linguistics and the Rise of Applied Social Science
Glossary of Names
List of Contributors

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About the author (2010)

Craig Brandist is currently Professor of Cultural Theory and Intellectual History and  Director of the Bakhtin Centre at the University of  Sheffield. His recent publications include ‘Bakhtinian Perspectives’ and ‘The Bakhtin Circle: Philosophy, Culture and Politics’. Katya Chown currently works as an Honourary Research Fellow at the University of Sheffield. Her recent publications include ‘Reflex Theory in a Linguistic Context: S.M. Dobrogaev on the Social Nature of Speech Production’ in ‘Studies in East European Thought’, and ‘The Soviet Language Workshop (1930-1939): The Struggle for Tools, Principles and Approaches’ in ‘Russian Literature’. 

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