Language in History: Theories and Texts (Politics of by Dr Tony Crowley

By Dr Tony Crowley

Utilizing a re-reading of Saussure and Bahktin, the writer demonstrates the ways that language has been used to build social and cultural id in Britain and eire. for instance, he examines the methods in whcih language used to be hired to build a bourgeois public sphere in 18th-century England, and he unearths how language continues to be getting used in modern eire to articulate nationwide and political aspirations. via bringing jointly linguistic and important idea, this research presents an time table for language examine; one that recognizes the truth that writing approximately heritage has continuously been made up our minds by way of the historic context, and via problems with race, category and gender.

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It would look to the role of language in the making and unmaking of nations, of forms of social identity, of ways and patterns of ideological and cultural beliefs. In short, it would consider the modes in which language becomes important for its users not as a faculty which they all share at an abstract level, but as a practice in which they all participate in very different ways, to very different effects, under very different pressures, in their everyday lives. It would seek neither the abstract linguistic structure fixed in a static present nor the evolutionary unfolding of linguistic elements in empty time.

Gramsci 1985:183–4) Gramsci’s stress on the importance of language in the formation of cultural hegemony is essentially a political theorisation of Bakhtin’s more elliptical assertions. For Gramsci, however, the importance of language lay not merely in this area but in the fact that at a more abstract level it functioned as a paradigm of the operations of social change and the achievement of hegemony. Thus it was at one and the same time engaged in political practice, and a blueprint for it. 1 Essentially the argument of the spatial linguists was that linguistic change is brought about by the effect of the prestigious speech community’s language in its contact with the languages of the non-dominant neighbouring speech groups.

Once Bakhtin had made this crucial theoretical shift, the rejection of the conception of monoglossia, and in consequence polyglossia and heteroglossia, as fixed stages of linguistic being led to the axiomatic statement on the processes of historical becoming in language: At any given moment of its historical existence, language is heteroglot from top to bottom: it represents the co-existence of socio-ideological contradictions between the present and the past, between differing socio-ideological groups in the present, between tendencies, schools, circles and so forth.

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