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Marxism and
the Philosophy of Language






, .
. , ..





v. N. Volosinov
Translated by

Harvard University Press

Cambridge, Massachusetts
London, England

8o5e 2


Copyright 1973 by Seminar Press, Inc.; Translators' Preface, 1986,

and Author's Introduction, 1929 copyright 1986 by the President
and Fellows of Harvard College
All rights reserved
Printed in the United States of America

Eighth printing, 2000

This Harvard University Press paperback is published by
arrangement with .Academic Press, Inc.


Voloshinov, V. N.
Marxism and the philosophy of language.
Translation of: Marksizm i filosofiia' Qzyka.
Bibliography: p.
1. Dialectical materialism. 2. Languages
Philosophy. I. Title.
B809.8.V 59413 1986
ISBN 0-674-55098-6

40 1


t /

Translators' Preface, 1986
Author's Introduction, 1929
Guide to Transliteration
Translators' Introduction



xii i



Chapter 7 . T h e Study o f I deologies a n d Philosophy

of Language
Chapter 2. Concern ing the Rel ation of the Basis and
Chapter 3. Philosophy of Language and
Objective Psychology



Chapter 7. Two Trends of Thought in P hilosophy

of Language
Chapter 2. Language, S peech, and Utterance
Chapter 3. Verbal Interaction
Chapter 4. Theme and M eaning i n Language



( S tud y in the Application of the S oc iol ogic al
Method to Problems of S yntax )

Chapter 7 . Theory of U tterance and the Problems of .

Chapter 2. Exposition of the Problem of Reported
Chapter 3. I ndirect Discourse, D irect D iscourse, and
Their Modifications
Chapter 4. Quasi-Direct D iscourse in French, German,
and Russian

1 1 1 1 111111 111111

. 1 09
1 25
1 41


Appendix 7.

On the First Russian Prolegomena to Semiotics.

Ladislav Matejka
Appendix 2.

1 61

The Formal Method and the Sociological Method

(M. M. Baxtin, P.

N. Medvedev, V. N. Volosinov) in

Russian Theory and Study of Literature.

1 75

I. R. Titunik


Translators' Preface,


In the early 1970s, whn V. N. Volosinov's book of 1929, Marksizm i

fi/osofija jazyka, was translated into English and published as Marxism and
the Philosophy of Language, both the book and its author were virtually
unknown. Very few scholars possessed any knowledge of Volosinov's
work and even fewer made any use of it. Among those rare exceptions,
fortunately, was that coryphaeus of modern thought in the humanities,
Professor Roman jakobson. For jakobson, Volosinov was first and foremost
an insightful linguist who skillfully used a semiotic framework for the study
of utterances and their dialogical exchange in verbal communication. In a
letter of 1931 to Nikolai Trubetzkoy, Jakobson praised Volosinov's "superb
interpretation of linguistic problems" and, in the spirit of Volosinov's
book, emphasized the dialectic method as a prerequisite for an adequate
understanding of historical philology.1
While Volo'S-inov's work went largely ignored in the Soviet Union, it
played an important role, thanks to jakobson, in shaping the theories of the
Prague Linguistic Circle. It also influenced jakobson's model of the incessant
interaction between the variability of utterances and the systematic pro
visions of language, as developed in his trail-blazing treatise Shifters,
Verbal Categories, and the Russian Verb. In that study, jakobson prominently
cited Volosinov's key concept of the nature of reported speech, the topic to
which the entire third part of Marxism and the Philosophy of Language had
been devoted. Furthermore, it was jakobson's good offices that brought

1. Roman jakobson to Nikolaj Trubetzkoy,

Paris, 1975), p. 222.

N. 5. Trubetzkoy's Letters and Notes


(The Hague


Translators' Preface, 1986

about the selection of that book in 1972 by Seminar Press for translation as
the first volume in its series Studies in Language. In honor of the role he
played, the translators wish to dedicate the present Harvard University Press
edition of Marxism and the Philosophy of Language to the memory of
Roman Osipovic Jakobson.
With its appea,rance in English in 1973, Marxism and the Philosophy of
Language began to attract considerable interest. Indeed, for many of its new
readers it had the impact of a major discovery. It provided, to speak in its
own terms, a welcome synthesis to replace the Humboldtian I Vosslerian
thesis and the Saussurean antithesis in the theory and study of language.
Volosinov is concerned above all with the social role of verbal utterances.
He regards verbal utterances as social interaction, which is most typically
displayed in dialogical exchanges and, by means of internalization, in inner
speech and thoughts. In his view, the refraction of existence in the human
consciousness originates solely in verbal communication which, by its
nature, is anchored in social interaction. Consequently, for Volosinov, the
study of human language cannot be detached from social existence in time
and space and from the impact of socioeconomic conditions. The concep
tualization of dialogue in the dialectical method is regarded by Volosinov as
the only way of understanding the fundamental significance of language for
all aspects of human civilization.
It was precisely the suggestive ramifications of dialectics for all fields of
the humanities that made the resurreEted Marxism and the Philosophy of
Language an important book for modern trends not only in linguistics but
also in anthropology, psychology, and the studies of literature and culture.
In his comprehensive review of Volosinov's book (in its English translation),
Fredric Jameson called Marxism and the Philosophy of Language "the best
general introduction to linguistic study as a whole:'2 According to Aram
Yemgoyan, Volosinov's book "is a must for anthropological linguists for it
moves beyond all traditional linguistic concerns and virtually predates all
contemporary interests ranging from semiotics to speech act theory:'3 And
in the view of the British "nee-formalist" Ann Shukman, "Volosinov's extreme
contextualism leads him to a semiotic theory that is primarily sociological,
and to a theory of language that emphasizes process rather than system,
function rather than essence:'4

Fredric Jameson, review of Marxism

and the Philosophy of Language, Style, 1 (Fall


p. 535.

3. Ararn Yemgoyan, review of Marxism and the Philosophy of Language, American

no. 3 (1977), p. 701.
4. Ann Shukman, review of Marxism a nd the Philosophy of Language, Language and
12, no. 1 (1979), p. 54.

A nthropologist, 79,


Translators' Preface, 7986


There can be no doubt that a paramount factor in the promotion of

Marxism and the Philosophy of Language to international prominence was
the association of this book with the name of M. M . Baxtin, whose
reputation among students of the humanities around the world has reached
prodigious proportions. Undoubtedly instrumental in this development was
V. V. Ivanov, the distinguished Soviet semiotician and linguist who, in his
contribution to the celebration of Baxtin's 75th birthday in 1973, publicly
declared that certain works signed by P. N. Medvedev and V. N. Volosinov,
including Marxism and the Philosophy of Language, actually belonged to
the pen of M. M . Baxtin. Although he provided nv proof whatsoever, many
scholars accepted Ivanov's claim as fact . Baxtin himself, then still alive, of
course, had the opportunity to accept Ivanov's assertion or to deny it, but he
remained silent and never made a public statement. It is known, however,
that he refused to sign an affidavit concerning the alleged authorship when,
shortly before his death, the official Soviet publishing agency (VAAP) urged
him to sign for the sake of the copyright law.
The effect of Ivanov's declaration and its wide acceptance has been to
draw into one integral and magisterial oeuvre works previously understood
to have belonged to different writers and thinkers. Thus, works like Marxism
and the Philosophy of Language-and indeed that work prominently among
them-came to share the limelight of international attention along with the
signed works of Baxtin, such as his books on Dostoevskij and Rabelais. In
fact, Marxism and the Philosophy of Language became a focal point as the
fundamental and most systematic exposition of the "Bakhtinian" conception
of sign and language.
The merging of all the various writings into a single unified Bakhtinian
recension is problematic, however. To this day, for example, no one has
convincingly explained why Baxtin in 1929 would have used the name of
his friend Volosinov for Marxism and the Philosophy of Language when that
very same year Baxtin's book on Dostoevskij was published under his own
name and was acclaimed by the Soviet critics, including the cultural
commissar Lunacarskij. The seemingly simple question as to what actually
happened remains unanswered, despite considerable research and inquiry,
and despite the fact that some participants and witnesses-among them
Baxtin himself-remained alive until fairly recently; indeed, a few are still,
alive today. Instead of being clarified by concrete evidence, the problem of
authorship has turned into a mystery compounded by the special Soviet
penchant for secrecy.
There are also the conceptual and ideological divergencies and even
contradictions among writings signed by Baxti]l, Volosinov, and Medvedev.
The books and articles by Volosinov and Medvedev explicitly declare and
implement a Marxist orientation. If Baxtin is to be regarded their author,

Translators' Preface,


then his relationship to Marxism must be defined-an issue of considerable

controversy in itself. Some critics have explicitly denied Baxtin's Marxist
sympathies or, at least, tried to minimize the Marxist character of the writ
ings signed by Volosinov and Medvedev as "editorial re- touches;' mere
"expedience;' "window-dre::;sing" meant to insure publication in the Soviet
Union. Among the holders of this view are Katerina Clark and Michael
Holquist, the authors of the most ambitious and, in many respects, the most
fascinating work on Baxtin yet published (Mikhail Bakhtin). Others, how
ever, have hailed Baxtin precisely as an outstanding Marxist writer and
thinker; this is the opinion of such authors as Frederic jameson, Marina
Yaguello, and Radovan Matijasevic, among others. Quite a different tack is
taken by tne German Marxist scholarHelmut Gluck, who assigns Maxist
credentials only to Volosinov and Medvedev, denying them to Baxtin, and
on that basis rejecting Ivanov's claim of Baxtin's authorship of their writings.
Still other scholars, most notably Tzvetan Todorov, are inclined to see all the
writings in question as belonging to one unified system whose author is
Baxtin, but do, nevertheless, admit that the question of Marxism is a serious
moot point. Such a variety and contradiction of informed expert opinion
must give one pause, especially since identification of the overall concep
tual and ideological framework is by no means a trivial matter: similar ideas
in different systems of thought may well possess different values and pursue
different aims.
Another point that deserves, but has not received, attention concerns what
V. V. Ivanov apparently meant when he claimed that the "technical aspect"
of his approach had always bee.n "a secondary matter" for Baxtin.5 Indeed,
there have been many critics who have claimed that the loose, ambiguous,
and contradictory nature of Baxtin's "technical aspect" has been exonerated
by the "profundity of his ideas:' Such a strategy, however, flagrantly ignores
the fact that there are among the works attributed to Baxtin at least two in
which the technical aspect is highly developed and skillfully deployed: they
are T he Formal Method in Literary Scholarship (Medvedev) and the very
work presented in this volume, Marxism and the Philosophy of Language.
The first documents the technical expertise of the practicing professional lit
erary critic, polemicist, and theorist in its detailed, closely argued analysis of
formalism and in its elaboration of a program for "sociological poetics:' The
second brings to bear, especially in its third part, the professional linguist's
technical concern with "theory of the utterance" and ."problems of syntax;'
specifically with the problem of "reported speech:' That these two works,
5. V. V. Ivanov, "The Significance of M. M. Bakhtin's Ideas on Sign, Utterance and Dialogue
for Modern Semiotics;' in Semiotics and Structuralism: Readings from ihe Soviet Union, ed. H.
Baran (White Plains, N.Y ., 1976), p. 332.

Translators' Preface, 7986


technically and stylistically so different from Baxtin's signed writings, are at

the same time attributed to him inevitably makes for something of a poser: if
Baxtin did write these works in the technical register of their signatories as
well as in their conceptual and ideological code, then the result may be
viewed as an extreme case of stylization or even as a sort of intellectual
Thus there are serious grounds for reservations regarding the attribution to
Baxtin of works signed by Volosinov and Medvedev. This has been acknowl
edged by the occasional use of the ambiguous slash in the designation of
author of the works in question, that is, Voloshinov I Bakhtin, Medvedev I
Bakhtin, allowing, to paraphrase Tzvetan Todorov, for the possibilities of col
laboration and I or substitution and I br discussion.
We, the translators of this English version of Marxism and the Philosophy
of Language, aware of the new materials and information that have come to
light since its first publication and aware of the arguments in the controversy
over attribution, understand that certain assumptions we made and certain
conclusions we drew in 1973 are now open to question. To help the reader
acquaint himself with other, more recent assumptions and conclusions, we
append below a selected list of titles from the current literature on the
Baxtin problem in addition to the works already cited. At the same time, we
stand by the main content of our analyses and arguments. Furthermore, we
believe that fair-mindedness and scholarly integrity dictate that the author of
Marxism and the Philosophy of Language continue to be identified as
Valentin Nikolaevic Volosinov since it has not been conclusively proved
otherwise. It is a common practice in countries like the Soviet Union to
remake the past by fiat; we see no reason to follow suit.

Bahtin, Mihail, Marksizam i filozofija jezika, translated and introduced by Radovan
Matijasevic (Belgrade, 1980).
Bakhtin, M. M. I P. N. Medvedev, Formal Method in Literary Scholarship: A Crit
ical Introduction to Sociological Poetics, translated by Albertj. Wehrle with
a new introduction by W lad Godzich (Cambridge, Mass., 1985).
Bakhtine, Mikhail (V. N. Volochinov), Le marxisme et Ia philosophie du language,
translated and presented by M. Yaguello with a preface by Roman Jakobson
(Paris, 1977).
Baxtin, M. M., Estetika slovesnogo tvorcestva, ed. with commentaries S. G.
Bocarov and S. S. Averincev (Moscow, 1979).
Baxtin, M. M., V. N. Volosinov, Frejdizm: kriticeskij ocerk, reprint of 1927 original
edition with new afterword by Anna Tamarchenko (New York, 1983).
Clark, Katerina, and Michael Holquist, Mikhail Bakhtin (Cambridge, Mass., 1984).


. Translators' Preface, 1986

Holquist, Michael, "The Politics of Representation;' in Allegory and Represen

tation, ed. S. j. Greenqlatt, Selected Papers from the English Institute, vol.
5 (Baltimore, 1979-80), pp. 163-182.
Kozinov, V., and S. Konkin, "Mixail Baxtin, kratkij ocerk zizni i dejatel'nosti;' in
Problemy poetiki i istorii literatury (Saransk, 1973), pp. 5-35.
Matejka, Ladislav, ''The Roots of Russian Semiotics of Art;' in The Sign: Semiotics
around the World, ed. R, Bailey et al. (Ann Arbor, Mich., 1978), pp. 146-169.
Medvedev, Pavel, Die formale Methode in der Literaturwissenschaft, presented
and translated by Helmut GlUck (Stuttgart, 1976).
Perlina, Nina, "Bakhtin-Medvedev-Voloshinov: An Apple of Discourse;' Revue de
I'Universite d'Ottawa I Ottawa University Quarterly, 53, no. 1 (1983), pp.
Segal, D. , Aspects ofStructuralism in Soviet Philology, Papers on Poetics and
Semiotics, val. 2 (Tel-Avi v, 1974), pp. 120-132.
Titunik, I. R . , "Bachtin and Soviet Semiotics (A Case Study: Boris Uspenskij's
Poetika kompozicii);' Russian Literature, 10 (1981), pp. 1-16.
"Bakhtin & I or Volosinov & I or Medvedev: Dialogue & I or Doubletalk?"
in Language and Literature, ed. B. A. Stolz et al. (Ann Arbor, Mich., 1984),
pp. 535-564.
Todorov, Tzvetan, Mikhail Bakhtin: T he Dialogical Principle (Minneapolis, 1984).
Volosinov, V. N., Freudianism: A Marxist Critique, translated by I. R. Titunik and
ed. in collaboration with Neal H. Bruss ( New York, 1976).
Marxismus und Sprachphilosophie, translated and introduced by Samuel
M. Weber (Frankfurt, 1975).

Author's Introduction,


To date, there is not as yet a single Marxist work on the philosophy of lan
guage. What is more, nothing of a definitive or elaborated nature has been
said about language in Marxist works devoted to other, related fields.1 For
completely understandable reasons, then, our work, w hich is"essentially the
first of its kind, can set itself only the most modest of objectives. Nothing
like a systematic and conclusive Marxist analysis even of only the basic
issues in philosophy of language is feasible here. Such an analysis could
only come about as the product of long and collaborative effort. Here we
have hd to limit ourselves to the modest task of delineating the basic direc
tions that genuine Marxist thinking about language must take and the
methodological guidelines on which that thinking must rely in approaching
the concrete problems of linguistics.
Our task has been made especially difficult by the fact that Marxist litera
ture as yet contains no conclusive and commonly accepted definitions as to
the specific nature of the reality of ideological phenomena.2 In the majority
1. The s ole Marxist work touching on language-the recently publis hed little book by
of Speech and Thought- has little, if anything, to do with the philosophy
of language. The book examines problems of the genesis of s peech and thought, where speech
is unders tood not in terms of language as a certain s pecific ideological system but in terms of
"signal" in the reflexological sense. Language as a phenomenon of a s pecific type cannot under
any circumstances be reduced to "signal;' and for that reason I. Present's investigations do not
engage language at alL There is no direct route from his investigations to the concrete issues of
linguistics and the philosophy of language.
2. Definition of the place of ideology in the unity of s ocial life was provided by the founders
of Marxism: ideology as supers tructure, the relation of the s uperstructure to the basis , and so
on. But as far as questions connected with the material of ideological creativity and the condi
tions of ideological communication are concerned, thos e questions, as s econdary matters for
the overall theory of historical materialism, did not receive concrete or conclus ive resolution.
I. Present, The Origin



Author's Introduction,


of <;ases, ideological phenomena are understood as phenomena of con

sciousness; that is, they are understood psychologistically. Such a concep
tion is detrimental in the extreme to a correct approach to the specific char
acteristics of ideological phenomena, which under no circumstances are
reducible to the character[stic features of the subjective consciousness and
psyche. This also explains why the role of language as the specific material
reality of ideological creativity has failed to be adequately appreciated.
Furthermore, it must be added that mechanistic categories are firmly
entrenched in all those fields of knowledge untouched, or only perfuncto
rily touched upon, by the hands of Marxism's founders-Marx and Engels.
All those fields of knowledge are still, in a fundamental sense, arrested at a
stage of predialectical mechanistic materialism. An expression of this is the
continued dominance, to the present day, of the category of mechanistic
causality in all fields in the study of ideology. Along with mechanistic
causality is the still unsurmounted positivistic conception of empirical
data-a reverence for "fact'' understood not in a dialectical sense but as
something fixed and stable.3 The philosophical spirit of Marxism has hardly
yet made itself felt in those fields.
As a consequence of this state of affairs, we find ourselves v irtually unable
in the field of philosophy of language to derive support from any definitive,
positive achievements in other fields of ideological studies. Even literary
scholarship, the most advanced field of ideological study thanks to Plexanov,
provides us with practically nothing relevant to our topic.
The work presented here basically pursues purely scientific investigative
aims. However, we have made efforts to give it as popular a character as we
In the first part of our work, we attempt to substantiate the significance of
the philosophy of language for Marxism as a whole. That significance, as we
said, has yet to be adequately appreciated. T he fact is that the concerns of
the philosophy of language stand squarely at the juncture of several para
m ount domains in the Marxist worldview-domains, moreover, that today
enjoy wide interest at the leading edge of our society.5
In addition, issues concerning the philosophy of language have recently
taken on extraordinary acuteness and fundamentality, in Western Europe as
well as the U.S.S.R.6 Contemporary bourgeois philosophy may be said to

Positivism is essentially a transfer of the basic categories and habits of substantialistic

thought from the region of "essences;' "ideas;' "the general;' etc. to the region of individual facts.

4. Of course, in addition to a general background in Marxism, the reader wil l need some
fami liarity with the basics of linguistics.
5. These are such fields as literary criticism and psychology.


But not at all in Marxist circles. We have in mind here the awakening of interest in the

word brought about by the "formalists" and by such books as those of G. Spett (Esthetic
Fragments, The Inner Form of the Word) and also Losev's book, The Philosphy of Name.

Author's Introduction, 1929


have begun developing under the sign of the word this new trend in the
philosophical thought of the West still being in its very earliest stage. A
vehement struggle is going on over "the word" and its place in the system, a
struggle for which analogy can be found only in the medieval debates
involving realism, nominalism, and conceptualism. And indeed, the tradi
tions of those philosophical trends of the Middle Ages have, to some degree,
begun to be revived in the realism of the phenomenologists and the concep
tualism of the neo-Kantians.
In linguistics itself, once its positivistic aversion to the theoretical aspect of
posing scientific questions had passed and with it the enmity (typical for
latter- day ositivism) toward all demands for taking account of the world
view, an acute awareness of the discipline's own general-philosophical pre
suppositions and of its ties with other fields of knowledge awakened.
Together with that awareness has corne a sense of crisis which linguistics is
experiencing due to its inability to meet all those new challenges.

To bring out the position that the philosophy of language occupies in the
Marxist worldview-that is the objective of the first part of our book. There
fore, we do not in the first part attempt to prove anything and do not offer
final solutions to any of the questions raised; what interests us here is not so
much the connections between phenomena as the connections between
In the second part of the book we attempt to resolve the basic problem of
the philosophy of language, that of the actual mode of existence of linguistic
phenomena. This problem is the axis around which turn all the major issues
in modern thought on philosophy of language. Such basic problems as
those of the generation of language, of verbal interaction, of understanding,
and of meaning, as well as others, all converge on this one problem at their
common center. Of course, as regards the solution of this problem itself, we
have been able merely to map out its basic route5 Numerous questions
remain barely touched upon; numerous lines of inquiry brought out in our
exposition are left without being followed through to the end. But that could
not be otherwise in a book of small size, which attempts virtually for the
first time to approach these problems from a Marxist point of view.
The final part of our work is a concrete investigation of one of the prob
lems of syntax. The fundamental idea of our entire work the productive
role and social nature of the utterance- needs concretization; its signifi
cance needs to be shown not only on the plane of general worldview and of
theoretical issues in the philosophy of language but also in issues particular
and peculiar to the science of language. After all, if an idea is correct and
productive, then that productivity must manifest itself from top to bottom.
But the topic of the third part the problem of the reported utterance- has
in itself broad significance extending beyond the confines of syntax. The fact



Author's Introduction, 1929

is that a number of paramount literary phenomena-character speech (the

construction of character in general), skaz, stylization, and parody-are
nothing but different varieties of refraction of "another's speech:' An under
standing of this kind of speech and its sociological governance is an essen
tial condition for the productive treatment of all the literary phenomena
Moreover, the very question dealt w ith in the third part has been totally
neglected in the Russian linguistic literature. 'For instance, no one has .yet
pointed out and described the phenomenon of quasi-direct discourse in
Russian (found already in Puskin). The considerable variety of modifications
of direct and indirect discourse have been left entirely unstudied.
Thus, our work moves in the direction from the general and abstract to the

particular and concrete: from the concerns of general philosophy we turn to

general linguistic concerns and from there, finally, to an issue of a more
specialized nature that lies on the boundary between grammar (syntax) and
sty I istics.

7. As a matter of fact, precisely these phenomena are attracting the attention of literary
scholars at the present time. Of course, other points of view wou l d also have to be applied to

gain a full u nderstanding of all the phenomena we have mentioned. However, w ithout analysis
of the forms of reported speech n o productive work is possible here.

Marxism and
the Philosophy of Language

Guide to Transliteration
R ussian names and words i n the translated text and footnotes and i n the ap
pendices are transliterated in accordance with the standard scholarly system in
which the fol lowing special signs have the approxim'ate value i n d i cated below:





soft sign, i n d i cating that t he preceding consonan t is " softened " (i.e.,
palata l ized)
hard sign, i ndicating that the preceding consonant is not palatalized
e, as i n egg
e, as i n egg, preceded by "j" as explained below
y i n i tially (before a vowel) , termi nally (after a vowel), med ially be
tween vowels or between hard or soft sign and a vowel elsewhere i ndi
cates that the preced ing consonant i s palatal ized
i, as i n bill

Compare the fol lowing examples of certain Russian names i n their common
E nglish spellings and their transliterated equivalents: C hekhov= Cexov, Dos
toyevsky= Dostoevskij , Gogol =Gogo!', Pushkin = Puskin, To lstoy= Tolstoj,

Translators' Introduction

I n h i s retrospective observations about the early stages of American structural

l i nguistics, Zellig Harris found it relevant to recall the impact Karl Marx's Das
Kapital h ad made on L eo nard B loomfield, the most powerfu l leader of the struc
tural ist school i n the U nited States. Writes Harris:
I n the late Depression years, when neither admiration of Russia nor war preparations
in A merica had yet o bscured the scientific and social results of Karl Marx, L eon ard
B l oomfield remarked to me that in studying Das Kapital he was impressed above all
with the similarity between Marx's treatment of social behavior and that of linguistics.'
I n curious contrast, B loomfield's Russian contemporary, Val entin N i kolaevic
Vol osi nov ( 1 895-? ), whose Marxism and the Philosophy of Language was written
in the late twenties in the U.S.S. R. , makes no reference to Das Kapita/ at al l .
I nstead; i n the brief i n troduction to his work,2 Volosinov openl y dec lares that
the study of lan guage was o ne of those fiel ds of k nowledge " u ntouch ed or only
perfun ctorily touched. u pon by the hands of Marxism's fou nders" and that such
fields of k nowledge were sti l l, at that time, u nder the domination of a " p redia
lectical, m echanistic m aterialism" wherei n the "phi losophical spirit of Marxism
had hardl y yet made itself felt. " I ndeed, Volosinov considered Marxism and the
Philosophy of Language to be a pioneering ventu re, a first of its kind hav i ng no
direct, substantive, positive support in Marxian or Marxist writings.
] ..Language, 27 (1 951), p. 297.
2. That introduction is included

in this edition as 'Author's Introduction, 1929:'

Translators' Introduction

Lacking so.u rces i n Marxism itself, as he claimed, and eschewi ng the co mmon
exegetical tech n i q u e of speciously coaxing needed principles from canonical
d icta, Volosinov fou n d h is i nsp iration in the von H u mboldtian concep t of the
creative aspects of h u man language and proposed analyzing language as "a con
tinuous generative process i mplemented in the social-verbal interaction of
speakers." At the same time, he cautions l i ngu ists against mere descri ptive cata
loguing of forms and patterns, against mechan istic systematization an d; i n gen
eral, against the tem p tations of a superficial empiricism w hich, he avers, are very
powerful in l ingui stic science. "The study of the sou n d aspect of language," he
says, "occup ies a d isproportionately large p lace i n l i ngu istics, often setting the
tone for the fiel d, and in most cases carried on outside any connection with the
real essence of language as a meani ngful sign." From this basic position, h e
vehemently attacks reflexology, which was preoccupied w ith investigation of
responses of the an imal organism to signals (stimuli). "The grievous m isconcep
tions and ingrai ned habits of m echanistic thought, " Volosinov asserts, " are alone
responsible for the attempt to take these 'signals' and very nearly make of them
the key to the u nd erstanding of language and the h u man psyche."
In the 1 920s, according to Volosinov's account, the most influential book
among the leadi ng Russian l i nguists was Ferd i nand de Saussu re's Course in
General Linguistics. I t i s obvious that Volosinov h im se lf was strongly i m p ressed
by Saussu re, although he approaches h i m critical l y and often uses l engthy q uota
tions from the Course as antitheses to h i s own views. H e is particularly chal lenge
by the Saussurian d ichotomy between Ia langue ( language system) and Ia parole
(speech act/utterance) , and he seriously questions the conceptual separation of
synchrony from d iachrony i n the investigation of verbal communication. I n
Volosinov's view, the very fou ndations of the Saussure school represent an
intellectual heritage originating from L e ib n iz's conception of un iversal gram mar
and, above all, from the Cartesian ism and rationalism of the 1 7th and 1 8th
H ere are his own words:
T he idea of the conventiona l ity , the arbitrariness, of language is a typical one for ra
tionalism as a who le; and no less ty pica! is the co mparison of language to the system
of mathema.t ical signs. W hat interests the mathematica l l y m inded rationalists is not
the relationsh i p of the sign to the actual rea l i ty it reflects or to the individual who is
its originator, but the relationsh ip of sign to sign within a closed system a lready ac
cepted and authorized. In other words, they .are interested onl y in the inner logic of
the system of signs itself, taken, as in a lgebra, co m p l etel y independently of the mean
ings that give signs their content.

Accord ing to Voloinov's i n terpretation, a verbal sign i s a speech act that

necessarily includes as i nseparable components the active participation of the
speaker (writer) on the o ne hand, and the h earer (reader) on the other. " I ts

Translators ' Introduction

s pecificity," as he puts it, "consists precise l y i n its b ei n g located between orga

n ized i nd ividuals, i n its being the medi u m of their commu nication. " Convinced
that the verbal sign is the purest and most sensitive med i u m of social i ntercourse,
Yolosinov promotes the study of signs to the primary task of lingu istic i nvestiga
tion. Consequently, in spite of its title, Volosi nov's book is chiefly concerned
w ith the sign and with the laws governing the systems of signs in their deploy
ment with in human society. In certain respects, therefore, Volosinov's pivotal
i nterests overlap with q uestions that had challenged the profound i nquisitiveness
of Charles Sanders Peirce and had stimu Iated his epoch-making contribution to
the general theory of signs.
Among various sign systems, Volosinov considers h u man language the most
fundamental and the most characteristic of that which is h u man about a
species. For that reason, Volosinov suggests that the analysis of the speech act
as a verbal interaction can i l l u minate not only the m ysteries of the hu man psy
che, but also that complex phenome non called "social psychology" in M arx ism
and considered by the majority of Marxists as the l i n k between the material basis
and the mental creativity of man. He does not hesitate to assert that the Marxist
" social psychology," removed from the actual process of verbal interaction, risks
turning i nto the metaphysical or mythic concept of "collective sou 1," "collective
i nner psyche," or "spirit of the people." In short, the s peech act and the rules
that govern its systematic u sage in society were recogn ized by Volosinov as the
dominant characteristic of h uman behavior and assigned a central role in the
framework of Marxism itself. In th is way, the science of signs; which cou ld be
traced back to the ancient phi losophers, which had i nspired St. Augustine, and
which, in the M iddle Ages, had challenged the scholastics, became an i m portant
issue of d ialectical material ism as conceived by Volosinov. The most d ecisive
i m p ul ses for such a revision of Marxism came, no doubt, from Saussu re, from
the American pragmatists, and from the Vosslerian rein terpretation of von
H umboldt, all critically transformed in the i ntellectual cli mate of Len ingrad in
the late 1 920s.
The ph ilosophy of language, for Volosinov, is the p h ilosophy of sign. Among
numerous systems of signs, he held the verbal sign, i mp l emented i n an utterance,
to be the most reveal ing object of semiotic studies. Vol osinov views every sign
operation, including the utterance, as a binary arran gement inseparab ly asso
ciating the physical properties with the meaning they stand for and necessarily
i nvolving the binary participation of those who enter i nto the meaningfu I pro
cess of communication. " Utterance," as Volosinov puts it, " i s constructed be
tween two socially organ ized persons and, in the absence of a real addressee, an
addressee is presupposed in the representative of the socia l grou p to which the
speaker belongs." Volosinov, of course, recog' n izes the fact that every word as a
sign has to be selected from the inventory of avai lable signs, but he emphasizes
that the i ndividual manipulation of this social sign i n a concrete utterance is

Translators' Introduction

reg u lated by social rel ations. I n h i s words, "The i mmed iate social situation and
the broader social m i l ieu whol l y d etermine-and determine from with in, so to
speak-the structure of a n u tterance."
I t follows naturally that, for Volosinov, d ialogue is the basic mode l of recip
roca l relations in verbal communication. " Dialogue, " Volosinov asserts, "can be
u nderstood in a broader sense, meani ng not only direct, face-to-face, vocalized
verbal communication between persons, but also verbal communication of any
type whatsoever." H e impl ies that actually every cu ltural pattern can be derived
from the conceptual framework of human dia logue; hence d i alogue assumes the
character of a primordial source of social creativity in general. I n strik ing paral lel
to the Peircian interpretation of i nner speech, Volosinov suggests that closer anal
ysis reveal s that the u n its of i nner speech join and alternate in a way t hat re
sembles an exchange in dialogue. "The understanding of a sign," Volosinov
claims, "is an act of reference between the sign apprehended and other a l ready
known signs: understanding is a response to a sign w ith signs:' Thus the under
lying operation is v iewed as a creative activity matc hing another creative activity
and u nderstandable o nly in that relationshi p; since, "a generative p rocess can
only be grasped with the aid of another generative process. "
I n h is book on psychoanalysis, pu blished i n 1 928 u nder the title Freudianism,
Volosinov was even incli ned to recognize the therapeutic effects of dia logue i n its
role of verbalization of h idden mental complexes. As a matter of fact, Volosinov
felt that Freud's attention to the role of language in psychoanalysis was a major
asset, w h ile, at the same time, fundamentally d isagreeing wit h the i deological
aspects of Freud ianism.
I n con nectio n with dialogue, Volosinov brings into focu s the problem of de
fin i ng the eleme ntary lingu i stic u nits in their relationship to the form of the
utterance as a whole. He seems to be convinced that l ingu istic analysis, w hich
proceeds from the constitu tive parts to the structural whole and not v ice versa,
cannot adequately hand le the structural characteristics of dialogue and their
relevance to sem iotic commun ication. "As long as the utterance in its wholeness
remains terra incognita for the l inguist," Volosinov asserts, " it is out of the ques
tion to speak of a gen uine, concrete, and n ot a scholastic kind of u nd erstanding
of syntactic forms." Accord i ng to Volosinov, most linguists, being sti l l u nder the
impact of 1 9th-century comparative I ndo-European stu d i es, have continued to
think i n terms of p ho netic and morphological categories and have tried to ap
proach syntax by morphologization of syntactic problems. I n Volosinov's view,
syntactic forms come closer to the real condition s of d i scourse than do p honetic
and morphological ones. "Therefore," he insists, "our point of view, which deals
with the l iving phenomena of l anguage, m u st give precedence to syntactic forms
over morpho logical or phonetic ones."
To i l l u strate his approach to syntax, Volosinov d evotes a third of h is book to
the problem of reported speech conceived as " speech within speech, u tterance

Translators' Introduction

within utterance and, at the same ti me, as speech about speech and utterance
about utterance." In this crucial verbal operation, an utterance, removed from
its original context, becomes a 'part of another utterance within another context,
so that two different contexts, implying two different time-space positions, ap
pear in an interaction with i n a single u n ify i ng syntactic structure. Such a struc
ture has to prqvide for two sets of speech participants and, consequently, for
two sets of grammatical and styl istic ru les. In this way, two d istinct dialects,
whether cultural or regional, or two distinct styl istic variants of the same dialect,
can interact within a single sentence.
In such an arrangement, one utterance reports while the other u tterance is
reported, either as a citation (repetition ) , a paraphrase (transformation ) , or as
an interaction of repetition and transformation. Thus the resulting construction
brings into contrast the products of two d i stinct speech acts and their contextual
implicatio ns. Actually, each reported utterance can be at the same time a report
ing utterance so that, theoreticall y, the resu lti ng structure can consist of the in
teraction of an unl imited nu mber of dialects or dial ectal variants; it appears as
a system of systems i n tegrated by the structural properties of the syntactic whole.
Since the usage of reported speech, as Volosinov shows, is very typical for verbal
com munication, the problems of citation and of paraphrase are revealed as
crucial operations in the generative p rocesses of verbal sign. Volosi nov sugges
tively ind icates that an adequate analysis of reported speech, which he considers
i ntrinsica l l y related to the problems of dialogue, can i l l u m i nate all aspects of
verbal communication, including verbal art. H is book, in effect, i m plies that such
an analysis can be direct l y relevant to the study of ideological va.l u es and of the
human m i nd in general.
Although V. N. Vo losinov professed h imself to be a Marxist theorist of the
philosophy of language and set hi mself the task, as he specifi es i n the introduc
tion to Marxism and the Philosophy of Language, of "marking out the basic di
rection which genuine Marxist th i n k i ng about language m ust take . . . in ap
proach ing the concrete problems of l i nguistics," his work ran afoul of the Party
line version of Marxism then in force in the U .S.S.R. A long with a great many
other outstanding intellectual and creative personalities, he became the victi m
of the Stalinist purges of the 1 930s, and he and his work were consigned to
oblivion. For decades no mention of Volosinov was to be fou nd. H is own per
sonal fate remains a mystery to the p resent day.
Only o utside the Soviet U n ion did Volosinov's ideas find ack nowledgment
and productive treatment. I n the 1 930s and 1 940s, members of the Prague
Linguistic Circle openly continued to develop various aspects of Yolosinov's
stimulating outline of the philosophy of language. Volosi nov's suggestions
contributed greatly to the semiotic stud ies of Petr Bogatyrev, jan Mukarovsky,
and Roman jakobson.

Translators' Introduction

trail-blazing treatise, Shifters, Verbal Categories, and the Russian Verb (first
pub lished by the H arvard U niversity Slavic Department in 1 957 ) .
Recently, thanks to the current p henomenal renaissance of semiotics in the
Soviet Union, n ew and intriguing information has come to light concerning a
whole school of semioticians o perating during the period of the late 1 920s a nd
earl y 1 930s. M. M. Baxtin, whose masterworks o n D ostoevskij and Rabelais have
now achieved international accfaim, has been identified as the leader of t his
school and V. N. Volosinov as his clo sest fol lower and col laborator.3
The Russian original, Marksizm i filosofija jazyka: osnovnye problemy
sociologiceskogo metoda v nauke o jazyke [Marxism and the Phi losop hy of
. Language: Basic Problems of the Sociological Method in the Study of Language],
appeared in Len i ngrad in two editions, 1929 and 1930 respectively, in the series
Voprosy metodologii i teorii jazyka i literatury [Problems of the Methodology
and Theory of Language and Literature]. The translation presented here is
based on the second edition. I nsofar as could be ascertained by comparin-g the
two editions, they differ only with respect to a few minor discrepancies. The
tran sl ators willingly acknowledge the difficulty of the translated text and their
frequent recourse to English locutio n s and terms whose special tec h n ical mean
ings have to be grasped from the context of the argument itself. While not wish
ing to excuse errors and m isunderstan dings of which they may wel l be guilty, the
translators shou ld like to bring to the reader's attention the fact that Voloinov
himself had to contend with the formidab l e problem of finding suitab le expres
sion for ideas and concepts that lacked any established vocabu lary in Russian.
In an appendix fol lowing the translated text, the reader will find essays by the
translators that attempt to clarify and com ment on certain key aspects of the
intellectual trend in Russia represented by V. N. Voloinov with regard to the
stud ies of langu age and l iterature.
Thanks are due to the Ed itors of the M IT Press for permission to u tilize the
Translators' earlier version of P art I l l , Chapters 2 and 3 , of Marxism and the
Philosophy of Language , wh ich appeared in Readings in Russian Poetics (For
malist and Structuralist Views), edited by Ladislav M atejka, and Krystyna
Pomorska, M IT Press, Cambridge, M assachusetts, 1 971 , pp. 1 49-1 7 9 . Omission s
in the earlier translation have been restored in t h e p resent one and a few minor
changes and corrections made.

3. Voprosy jazykoznani]a,

(1971), p. 1 60.





The Study of Ideologies

and Philosophy of Language

The problem of the ideological sign. The ideological sign and

consciousness. The word as an ideological sign par excellence.
The ideological neutrality of the word. The capacity of the
word to be an inner sign. Summary.
Problems of the philosophy of languagtfhave in recent times acquired excep
tiona! p)L:l'(Et,RCe and i mportance f?r Marx ism . Over a wide range of the most
vital sectors In its scientific advance, the M arxist method bears d irectly u pon
these problems and cannot .continue to move ahead prod u ctivel y w ith out special
provision for their investigation and solution.
F irst and foremost, the very fou ndations of a Marxist t heory of ideologies
the bases for the studi es of scientific knowledge, literature, religion, ethics, and
so forth-are closely bound up with problems of the p h ilosophy of langu age.
Any i d eo logical product is not only itself a part of a real ity ( natural or social ) ,
just a s i s a n y ph ysical body, any i nstrument o f prod uction, or any product for
consumption, it also, i n contradisdnction to these other p henomena, reflects and
refracts another reality outside itself. Everyth ing ideological possesses meaning:
i t represen ts, depicts, or stands for somethi ng lying outside i tself. I n other words,
it is a sign. Without signs there is no ideology. A physical body equal s itself, so
to s peak; it doe s not signify anythi ng but wholly coi ncides with its partic u lar,
given natu re. I n this case there is no question of ideology.
However, any p hysical body may be perceived as an image; for i nstance, the
i mage of natural inertia and necessity embodied in that particular thing. Any
such artistic-sym bolic i mage to which .a particular physical object gives r i se is
already an ideo l ogical product. The physical object is converted i nto a sign. With
o ut. ceasing to be a part of material real ity, such an object, to some degree, re
flects a nd refracts another reality.


Philosophy of Language

[Part I

The same is true of any instrument of production. A too l by itself is devoid

of any special meani ng; it comman d s only some designated function-to serve
th is or that p urpose jn production. The tool serves that purpose as the particular,
given thing that it is, without reflecting or stand ing for anyth ing e l se . However,
a tool also m ay be converted i nto an ideological sign. S uch, for instance, is the
hammer and sickle insignia of the Soviet U nion. In this case, hammer and sickle
possess a purely ideological meani ng. Additionally, any instr u ment of produ ction
may be ideologicall y decorated. Tools used by prehistoric man are covered with
pictures or designs-that is, w ith s igns. So treated, a tool still doe s not, of course,
itsel f become a sign.
It is further poss i b le to enhance a too l artistically, and in such a way that its
artistic shapel iness harmonizes with the purpose it is meant to serve in p rodu c
tion. I n this case, someth ing l i ke maxi mal approx imation, al most a coalescence,
of sign and too l comes abou t. B ut even h ere we sti l l detect a distinct conceptual
dividing l i n e : the tool, as such , does not become a sign; the sign, as such , doe s
not become an instr u ment o f produ ction .
Any consumer good can l i kewise be m ade a n ideological sign. F o r instance,
b read and wine beco me religious symbols in the Christian sacrament of commu
n ion. But the consumer good, as such, is not at all a sign. Consumer goods, j ust
as tools, may be com b i ned with ideological signs, but the d i stinct con ceptual
dividing l ine between them is not erased by the combination. B read is made in
some particular shape; this shape is not warranted solely by the bread 's fun ction
as a consumer good; it also h as a certain , if primitive, value as an ideological sign
(e.g., bread in the shape of a figure e ight (krendel} or a rosette) .
T h u s, side by side with the natural p henomena, with the equipment of tech
nology, and with articles for consumption, there exists a special world-the
world of signs.
>Ji igns also are particular, material things; and, as we have seen , any item of
nature, technology, or consumption can become a sign, acquiring in the process
a mean ing that goes beyo"nd its give n particularity>A sign does not simply exist
as a part of a reality-it reflects and refracts another real ity. T herefore, it may
distort that reality or be true to it, or m ay perceive it from a special point of
view, and so forth. Every sign is s ubject to the criteria of ideological evaluation
( i.e., w hether it is true, false, correct, fai r, good, etc.) . The domain of ideology
coincides with the domain of signs. T hey equate with one another. Wherever a
sign is present, ideology is present, too . Everything ideological possesses semiotic
W ithin the domain of signs-i.e., w ithin the ideological sphere-profou nd d if
fere nces exist: it is, after all, the d omain of the artistic image, the rel igious sym
bol, the scientific formula, and the jud icial ruling, etc. Each fie ld of ideological
creativity has its own kind of orientation toward reality and each refracts reality
in its own way. Each field com mands its own special function with in the u n ity

Chap, 7 ]

Study o f Ideologies


of social l ife. But it Is their semiotic character that places all ideological phenom
ena under the same general definition.
Every ideological sign is not o n ly a reflection, a shadow, of real ity, but is also
itself a material segment of that very reality. Every phenomenon function i ng as
an ideological sign has some kind of material embodiment, whether in sound,
physical mass, color, movements of the body, or th e l ike. I n th is sense, the
reality of the sign is fu lly objective and lends itself to a u n i tary, monistic, objec
tive method of study. A sign is a phenomenon of the external world. Both the
sign itself and all the effects it produces (all those action s, reactions, and new
signs it el icits in the surrounding social m i l ieu) occur in outer experience.
This is a point of extreme i m portance . Yet, e le mentary and self-evident as it
may seem, the study of ideologies h as sti l l not drawn all the concl usions that
follow from it.
The idealistic philosophy of cu lture and psychologistic cultural studies locate
ideology in the consciousness.1 I deology, they assert, is a fact of conscio usness;
the external body of the sign is merely a coating, merely a tech nical means for
the real ization of the i n ner effect, which is u nderstan ding.
Idealism and psychologism alike overlook the fact that understanding itself
can come about o nly within some kind of semiotic material (e . g., inner speech),
that sign bears u pon sign, that consciousness itself can arise and become a viable
fact only in the material embodiment of signs. The u nderstanding of a sign is,
after all, an act of reference between the s ign apprehended and other, already
known signs; in other words.. understanding is a response to a sign with signs.
And this chain of ideo logical creativity and understanding, moving from sign to
sign and then to a new sign; is perfectly consistent and continuous: from one
link of a sem iotic nature (hence, also of a material nature) we proceed u n i n ter
rupted ly to another l i n k of exactly the same nature. And nowhere is there a brea k
in the chain, nowhere does the chain p lunge into i n ner being, nonmaterial in na
ture and unembod ied in signs.
This ideological chain stretches from individual consciousness to individual
conscio usness, connecting them together. S igns emerge, after all, only in the
process of interaction between one i ndividual consciousness and another. And
the individual consciousness itself is fil led with signs. Consciousness becomes
consciousness only once it has been filled with ideological ( semiotic) content,
consequently, only in the process of social interaction.
1 . 1 t should be noted that a ch ange of outlook in th is regard can b e detected in modern
neo-Kantianism. We have in mind the l atest book. by E rnst Cassi rer, Phi!osophie der sym
bolischen Formen, Vol. 1 , 1 923. W h ile remaining on the grounds of consciousness, Cassirer
considers its dominant trait to be representatio n . Each element of consciousness represents
something, bears a symbolic function . The whole exists in its parts, but a part is comprehen
sible only in the whole. According to Cassirer, an idea is just as sensory as matter; the sen
soriness i nvolved, however, is that of the symbolic sign, it is representative sensoriness.



Philosophy of Language

[Part I

Despite the deep methodological d ifferences between them, the idea l i stic
phi loso phy of culture and psychologistic c ultural studies both comm i t the same
fundamental error. By localizing ideology in the consciousness, they transform
the study of ideologies into a study of consciousness and its laws; it m a kes no
d ifference w hether this is done in transcendental or in e m pirical-psychological
terms. This error is responsible not only for methodological confusion regardi ng
the interrelation of d isparate fields of knowledge, b ut for a rad ical d i stortion of
the very reality under study as well. I deological creativity-a material and social
fact-i s forced into the framework of the individual consciousness. The individual
con sciousness, for its part, i s deprived of any support i n reality. It becomes either
all or noth i ng.
" For ideal i sm it has become all : its locus is somewhere above existence and it
determines the latter. In actual fact, however, this sovereign of the u niverse is
merely the h ypostatization in ideal ism of an abstract bond among the most gen
eral forms and categories of ideological creativity.
For psychological positivism, on the contrary, consciousness amounts to
nothing: it is just a conglomeration of fortuitous, psychophysiological reactions
which, by some m iracle, resu lts in meaningful and u nified ideological creativity.
The objective social regulatedness of i deological creativity, once m isconstrued
as a conformity with laws of the individual consciousness, m ust inevitably for
feit its real place i n e xistence and depart e ither u p into the s uperexistential empy
rean of transcendental ism or d ow n into the presocial recesses of the psychophys
ical, biological organism.
However, the ideol ogical, as such, cannot possibly be explained in terms of
e ither of these superhuman or subhuman, ani malian, roots. Its real p lace in ex
istence is in the special, social material of signs created by man. I ts specificity
consists precisely in its being located between organized ind ivid uals, in its being
the medium of their communication.
,?ign s can ari,se only on interindividual t(!rritory. I t i s territory that cannot be
cal led " n atural" in the d i rect sense of the word :2 signs do not arise between any
two members of the species Homo sapiens. I t is essential that the two i nd i viduals
be organized socially, that they compose a gro u p ( a socia l u n it) ; o n ly then can
the mediu m of signs take shape between them. The in d ividual consciousness not
only cannot be used to explain anyth ing, b ut, on the contrary, is itself in need
of explanation from the vantage point of the social, ideological medi u m .
The individual consciousness is a social-ideological fact. N o t until t h i s point
is recognize d with due provision for all the consequences that fol low from it will
it b e possible to construct either an objective psychology or an obje ctive study of

2. Society , of course, is also a p art of nature, b u t a part that is q u a litatively separate and
distinct and possesses its own specific systems of laws.

Chap. 7]

Study of Ideologies


I t is precisel y the problem of conscio u sness t hat has created the major diffi
culties and generated the formidable confusion encountered in a l l issues asso
ciated with psychology and the study of i deologies a l i ke. By and large, conscious
ness has become the asylum ignorantiae for a l l phi losophical constructs. It has
been made the p lace w here al l unresolved problems, a l l objectively irred uci ble
residues are stored away. I nstead of trying to fi nd an objective definition of con
sciousness, thin kers h ave begun using it as a means for rendering a l l hard and fast
objective definitions s ubjective and fluid.
The o n ly possible objective definition of consciousness is a sociological one.
Consciousness cannot be derived d irectly from nature, as h as been and sti l l is
being attempted by naive mechanistic m ateria lism and contemporary objective
psychology (of the biological, behaviori stic, and reflexological varieties) . I d eology
cannot be derived from consciousn ess, as is the practice of idealism and psychol
ogistic positivism. Consciousness takes shape and being i n the material of s igns
created by an organize d group in the process of its social i ntercourse. The i n
d ividual consciousness is n urtured on signs; it derives its growth from the m ; it
reflects their logic and laws. T he logic of consciousness is the logic of ideological
commun ication, of the semiotic interaction of a social grou p. I f we deprive con
sciousness of its semiotic, ideological content, it would h ave absol u te ly nothing
left. Consciousness can harbor o n ly in the image, the word, the meaningful ges
ture, and so forth. O utside such materia l , there remains the sheer physiological
act uni l l uminated by consciousness, i .e., without having l ight shed on it, w ithout
having meaning given to it, by signs.
A l l that has been said above leads to the fol lowing metnodological con cl usio n :
the study o f ideologies does n o t depend o n psychology to any extent and need
ho t be grounded in it. As we shal l see in greater detail in a later chapter, it is
rather th e reverse : objective psychology must be grounded in the study of ideol
ogies. The real ity of ideological phenomena is the objective reality of social signs.
The laws of th is reality are the laws of semiotic com munication and are d i rectly
determined by the total aggregate of social and economic l aws. I deological reality
is the immediate superstructure over t h e economic basis. I n dividual conscious
ness is not the archi tect of the ideological superstructure, but only a tenan t
lodging i n the social edifice o f ideological signs.
With our preli minary argument dise ngaging i deological phenomena and their
regu latedness from ind ividual consciousness, we tie them in all the more firmly
with conditions and forms of social communication. The real ity of the sign is
wholly a matter determined by that com m unication. After all, the existence of
the sign is nothing but the materializatio n of that communication. Such is the
nature of all ideological signs.
But nowhere does this semiotic quality and the continuous, comprehensive
role of social communication as conditioning factor appear so clearly and ful ly
expressed as in language. The word is the ideological phenomenon par excellence.

[Part I

Philosophy of Language


T h e enti re real ity of the word is wh o l l y absorbed in. its fu nction of being a
sign . A word conta i n s noth ing that is indifferent to t h i s function, not h i n g that
wo u l d not have been engendered by it. A word i s the p urest and most sen si tive
medi u m of social i n tercourse.

T h i s i n d i catory, representative power of the word as an i deological phenom

enon and the exceptional d isti n ctiveness of its semiotic stru ct u re wou ld already
fur n ish reason enough for advancing the word to a p r i me position i n the study of
ideologies. It i s precisely i n th e material of the word that the basic, general-ideol
ogical forms of se m iotic co m m u n i cation cou ld best be revealed.

B u t that is by no means al l . T h e word i s not o n l y the p u rest, most i n d i catory

sign b ut is, in additio n , a neutral sign. Every other k i n d of sem iot i c m aterial i s

special i zed for some particu l a r fie l d of ideological creativity. Each fie l d possesses
its own ideological m aterial and form u l ates signs and sym b o l s specific to itself

and not appl i cabl e i n other fie l d s . In these i n stan ces, a sign i s created by some
specifi"c ideo logical function and remai ns i n separab le from it. A word , in con

trast, i s neutral with respect to any specific ideolog i ca l function . It can carry o u t
id e o logical functions of any k i nd -scientific, aesthetic, eth ical, rel igio u s .

Moreover, there i s that i m m ense area of ideological com m u n i cation that can

not be pinned d own to any one ideolog i ca l sphere: t h e area of communication

in h uman life, human behavior.

This k i n d of com m u n i cation is extraord i narily

rich and i mportant. O n one side, it l in k s up d i rectly with the processes of p ro

d u ction ; on the other, it is tangent to the spheres of the various speci a l i zed and

fu l l y fledged i d eo logies. In the fo l lowing chapter, we s h a l l speak i n greater deta i l

of this special area of behavioral, or life, ideology. For the time being, we shal l
take note of the fact that the m aterial of behavioral com mu n i catio n i s preem i

nently the

word. T h e

locale of so-called conversational l anguage and i ts form s is

precisely h e re, i n the area of behavioral ideology.

One other property belo ngs to the word that is of the h ighest o rd e r of i m
portance and is what makes the word the pri mary med i u m of the i n d i vi d ual con
sciousness. A lthough the rea l i ty of the word, as i s true of any sign, resides be
tween i n d i v i d u al s, a word, at the same ti me, i s prod uced by the i n d i v i d ual or

gan i s m ' s own means without recourse to any eq u i pment or any other kind of
extracorporeal material. This h as dete r m i ned the role of word as

material of inner life-of consciousness ( inner speech ) .

the semiotic

I n deed, the consciousness

co u l d have developed only by having at its d isposal material that was p li ab l e and

express i b l e by bod i l y means. And the word was exact l y that kind of m ateri a l .

The word is avai lable a s t h e s i g n for, s o t o speak, inner e m p loyment: i t can func
tion as a sign in a state short of o utward ex pression. For th i s reason , the pro b l e m

o f i n d ividual consciousness a s t h e inner

word ( as an inner sign

i n general ) be

comes one of the most vital problems in p h i losophy of language.

It i s c l ear, from the very start, that th i s problem can not be properl y ap
proached by resorting to the usual concept of word and l anguage as worked o u t

Study of Ideologies

Chap. 7 }


i n nonsociological linguistics and phi losophy of language. W hat is needed is pro

found and acute analys i s of the word as social sign before its function as the
medium of consciousness can be understood.
It is owing to this exclus ive role of the word as the mediu m of consciousness
that the word functions as an essential ingredient accompanying all ideological
creativity whatsoever. The word acco m panies and com ments o n each and every
ideological act. The processes of understanding any ideological phenomenon at
a l l (be it a picture, a piece of music, a ritual, or an act of h u man cond uct) cannot
o perate without the participation of in ner speech . All manifestations of ideo!
ogica l creativity-all other n on verbal signs-are bathed by, suspended in, and can
not be entirely segregated or d i vorced from the e lement of speech .
This does not mean, of course, that the word may supplant any other ideol
ogical sign . None of the fundamental , s pecific ideological signs is replacable
wholly by words. It is u ltimately impossible to convey a musica l composition or
pictorial image adequately i n words. Words cannot wholly substitute for a reli
gious ritual; not is there any really adequate verbal substitute for even the sim
p lest gesture in h u man behavior. To deny this would lead to the most banal
rationalism and simpl isticism. Nonetheless, at the very same ti me, every single
one of these ideological signs, though not su pplantable by words, has support in
and is accompanied by words, just as is the case with singi ng and its musica l ac
No cultural sign, once taken i n and given meaning, remains i n isolation: it
becomes part of the unity of the verbally constituted consciousness. It is in the
capacity of the consciousness to find verbal access to it. Th us, as it were, spread-
ing ripples of verbal responses and resonances form around each and every ideol
ogical sign. Every ideological refraction of existence in process of generation, no
matter what the nature of its significant material, is accompanied by ideological
refraction in word as an obligatory concom inant phenomenon . Word is present
in each and every act of understand i ng and in each and every act of i nterpretation.
A l l of the properties of word we have exam ined-its semiotic purity, its ideol
ogical ne Jtrality, its involvement in behavioral communication, its ability to be
come an inner word and, finally, its obligatory presence, as an accompanying
phenomenon, in any conscious act al i these properties make the word the fun
damental object of the study of ideologies. The laws of the ideological refraction
of existence in signs and in con sciousness, its forms and mechan ics, must be
studied in the material of the word, first of al l . The only possible way of b ri nging
the Marxist sociological method to bear o n all the profundities and subtleties of
" immanent" ideological structures is to o perate from the basis of the p h ilosophy
of language as the philosophy of the ideological sign. And that basis m ust be de
vised and elaborated by Marxism itself.


Concerning the Relat ionship of

the Basis and Superstructu res

Inadmissibility of the category of mechanistic causality in the

study of ideologies. The generative process o f society and the
generative process of the word. The semiotic expression of so
cial psychology. The problem o f behavioral speech genres.
Forms of social intercourse and forms ofsigns. The theme o f a
sign. The class struggle and the dialectics of signs. Conclusions.
The problem of the relationship of basis and superstructures-one of the fun
damental problems of Marxism-is closely linked with questions of phi losophy
of language at a number of crucial points and cou ld benefit con siderab ly from
a solution to those questions or even j u st from treatment of them to some ap
preciable extent and depth.
When the question is posed as to how the basis determ i nes ideology, the
answer given is: causally; which is true enough, but also far too general and there
fore a m biguous.
If w hat is meant by causal ity is mechanical causality (as causality has been
and sti l l is understood and defined by the positivistic representatives of natural
scientific thought) , then th is answer would be essentially incorrect and contra
dictory to the very fundaments of dialectal materialism.
The range of application for the categories of mechanical cau sality i s extreme
l y narrow, and even w ith in the natural sciences themselves it grows constantly
narrower the further and more deeply d ialectics take.s hold in the basic princi
ples of these sciences. As regards the fu ndamental problems of historica l ma:
terialism and of the study of ideologies altogether, the app licab ility of so inert
a category as that of mechanica l causality is simply out of the question.
No cognitive value whatever adheres to the establ ishment of a connection
between the basis and some isolated fact torn from the u nity and integrity of its



Philosophy of Language

(Part I

ideological context. I t i s essential above a l l to determine the meaning of any,

given ideological change in the context of ideology appropriate to it, seeing that
every domain of ideology is a u n ified whole w hich reacts with its entire con sti
tution to a change i n the basis. T herefore, any explanation m u st preserve all the
qualitative differences between i nteracting domain s and m u st trace a l l the vari
ous stages through which a change travels. O n ly on this con d it ion w i l l analysis
resu lt, not in a mere o utward conjunction of two adventitiou s facts b e longing
to different levels of th i ngs, but i n the process of the actual dialectical genera
tion of society, a process which e merges from the basis and comes to completion
i n the superstructures.
If the specific nature of the semiotic-ideological m aterial is ignored, the ideo
logical phenomenon studied u ndergoes simpl ificatio n . Either only its rational
i stic aspect, its content side, i s noted and explained (for example, the d irect,
referential sen se of an artistic image, such as " R u d i n as superflous man") , and
then that aspect is correlated with the basis (e.g., the gentry class degenerates;
hence the "superflous man" in l iteratu re) ; or, o p positely, o n l y the o utward,
technical aspect of the ideological phenomenon i s singled o u t (e.g., some tech
n icali ty in b u i l ding construction or in the che m i stry of coloring materials) and
then this aspect is derived directly from the technologica l level of production .
Both these ways of deriving ideology from t h e basis m iss t h e real e ssence of
an ideological phenomenon. Even if the correspondence establ ished is correct,
even if it is true that "superfl u ou s men" d i d appear in l i terature in connection
with the breakdown of the economic structure of the gentry, still, for one thing,
it d oes not at al l follow that related economic u psets mechanically cau se "super
fluous men" to be produced on the pages of a novel ( the absurdity of such a
claim is perfectly obvious) ; for another thing, the correspondence establ ished
i tself remain s without any cognitive val u e u ntil both the specific role of the
"su perfluous man ': i n the artistic structure of the n ovel and the specific role of
the n ovel i n social l ife as a whole are elucidated.
Surely it m u st be clear that between changes i n the economic state of affairs
and the appearance of the "superfl u o u s man" i n the n ovel stretches a long, long
road that crosses a n umber of qualitatively d ifferent domain s, each w ith its own
specific set of laws and its own specific characterist ics. Surely it m u st be clear
that the "superfl u ou s man" did not <;ppear in the novel in any way i ndependent
of and u nconnected with o ther e lements of the novel, but that, o n the contrary,
the whole n ovel, as a single organic u nity subject to its own specific laws, u nder
went restructuring, a n d that, consequently, a l l its other e lements-its composi
tion, style, etc.-al so u n derwent restructuring. And what is more, this orga n ic
restructuring of the n ovel came about i n close connection with changes i n the
whole fie ld of l iterature, as wel l .
T h e problem o f t h e i nterrelat ionship o f the basis a n d superstructures-a prob
lem of exceptional complexity, requiring e normou s amou nts of prel i mi nary data

Chap. 2)

Basis and Superstructures


for its productive treatment-can be elucidated to a significant degree through

the material of the word.
Looked at from the angle of our concerns, the essence of th is problem comes
down to how actual existence {the basis) determi nes sign and how sign reflects
and refracts existence in its process of generation.
The properties of the word as an ideological sign {properties discussed i n the
preceding chapter) are w hat make the word the most suitable materia l for view
ing the whole of this problem in basic terms. What is important about the word
in this regard is not so m uch its sign purity as its social ubiquity. T he word is
implicated in l iterally each and every act or contact between col lab
oration on the job, in ideological exchanges, in the chance contacts of ordinary
life, in politica l relationships, and so on. Countless ideological threads r u n ning
through all areas of social intercourse register effect in the word. It stan d s to
reason, then, that the word is the most sensitive index of social changes, and
what is m ore, of c hanges still in the process of growth, sti l l without defin itive
shape and not as yet accomodated into already regu larized and fu lly defined
ideological systems. The word is the med i u m in w hich occur the slow quanti
tative accretions of those changes w h ich have not yet achieved the status of a
new ideological qual ity, not yet produced a new and fu lly-fledged ideological
form. The word has the capacity to register all the transitory, delicate, m o men
tary phases of social change.
That w h ich has been termed "social psychology" and is considered, accord ing
to Plexanov's theory and by the majority of Marxists, as the transitional l i n k
between the sociopolitical order and ideology in t h e narrow sense {science, art,
and the l i ke), is, i n . its actual, material existence, verbal interaction. R emoved
from this actual process of verbal commun ication and interaction {of sem iotic
communication and interaction in general) , social psychology would assume the
gu ise of a metaphysical or mythic concept-the "col lective sou l" or "co l lective
inner psyche," the "spirit of the people," etc.
Social psychology in fact is not located anyw here with in {in the " sou Is" of
communicating subjects) but entirely and completely without-in the word, the
gesture, the act. T here is nothi ng left unexpressed in it, nothing " i nner" about
it-it is wholly on the o utside, wholly brought o u t in exchanges, w ho l ly taken
up in material, above all in the material of the word.
Produ ction relations and the sociopo litica l order shaped by those relations
determine the ful l range of verbal contacts between peop le, all the forms and
means of their verbal communication-at work, in pol itical l ife, in ideological
creativity. I n turn, from the conditions, forms, and types of verbal com m u n ica
tion derive not only the forms but a l so the themes of speech performances.
Social psychology is first and foremost an atmosphere made up of m u lti
farious speech performances that e ngulf and wash over a l l persistent form s and
kinds of ideological creativity : u nofficial d iscussions, exchanges of o p in ion at


Philosophy of Language

[Part I

the theater or a concert or at var io u s types of social gatherings, purely chance

exchanges of word s, one's manner of verbal reaction to happen ings in one's l ife
and daily existence, one's inner-word manner of identifying oneself and identi
fying one's position in society, and so on. Social psychology exists pr imar i l y i n
a wide var iety o f form s o f th'e "utterance, " of l ittle speech genres of i nternal
and external kinds-things left completely u n studied to the present day. A l l
these speech performances, are, o f course, joined with other types o f semiotic
manifestation and interchange-with m i ming, gesturi ng, acting out, and the l ike.
All these form s of speech i n terchange o perate in extremely close connection
with the conditions of the social situation in which they occur and exhibit an
extraordinary sensitivity to all flu ctuatio n s in the social atmosphere. And it is
here, in the inner wor kings of this verbally mater ialized social psychology, that the
barely noticeable shifts and changes that w i l l later find expr ession i n fully fledged
ideological products accumulate.
F ro m what has been said, it follows that social p sycho logy m u st be stu d ied
fro m two d ifferent viewpoints: first, from the viewpoint of content, i.e., the
themes pertinent to it at th is or that moment in time; and second, fro m the view
point of the form s and types of ver bal comm u n ication in w h ic h the themes in
q uestion are implemented (i.e., d iscussed, expressed, q uestio ned, pondered over ,
U p til l now the study of social psychology has restr icted its task to the f ir st
viewpoint only, concerning itself exclusively with d efinition of its t hematic
makeu p. Such being the case, the very question as to where documentationthe
concrete expressio n s-of this social psychology cou l d be sought was not posed
w ith fu l l clari ty. H ere, too, concepts of "consciousness," " p syche," and "inner
life " p layed the sorry role of r e l ieving one of the necessity to try to d iscover
clear l y delineated mater ial form s of expression of social psycho logy.
Meanwhi le, this issue of concrete form s has significance of the highest order.
The point here has to do, of course, not w ith the sources of our k now ledge about
social psychology at some particu lar per iod (e.g., memoirs, letters, l iterary wor ks) ,
nor w ith the sources for our u n derstandi n g of the "spir it of the age"-the point
here has to do with the form s of con crete i m plementation of this spir it, that i s,
precisely with the very form s of semiotic commu n i cation in human behavior.
A typology of these forms i s one of the urgent tasks of M arxism. Later on, i n
connection with the problem o f the utterance a n d d ia logue, w e shall agai n touch
u pon the problem of speech genres. F or the time being, let us take note at least
of the fol lowing.
Each per iod and each socia l gro u p has had and h as its own repertoire of speech
for ms for ideological commun ication in h uman behavior. Each set of cognate
forms, i.e., each behavioral speech genre, has its own corresponding serof themes.
An i nter l ocking organic u nity joins the form of com m u n ication (for example,
on-the-job com m u n ication of the str ictly technical kind) , the form of the utter.

Chap. 2}

Basis and Superstructures


ance (the concise, b u sinesslike statement) aAd its th eme. T h erefore, classification
of the forms of utterance must rely upon classification of the forms of verbal
communication. T he latter are entirely determi ned by prod uction relati o n s and
the sociopo litical order. Were we to a p p l y a more deta i le d analysis, we would see
what e normous significance belongs to the hierarchical factor in the processes of
verbal i n terchange and what a powerfu l i nfluence is exerted on forms of utter

a n ce by the h ierarchical organization of com m u n i cation. Language etiq u ette,

speech tact, and other fo rms of a d j u sting an utterance to the h ierar'ch ica l organi

zation of society have tremendou s importance i n the process of devising the

basic behavioral genres.1

Every sign, as we know, is a construct between socia l l y organized persons in

the forms of signs are conditioned

above all by the social organization of the participants involved and also by the
immediate conditions of their interaction. When these for m s change, so d oes
the process of their i n teraction . T h erefore,

sign. A n d it should be one of the tasks of the stu dy of id eologies to trace this
social life of the verbal sign. O n l y so ap proached can the problem of the

ship between sign and existence


find its concrete expressio n ; o n ly then w i l l the

process of the causal shaping of the sign by existence sta n d out as a process of
genuine existence-to-sign transit, of gen ui ne d ia lectical refractio n of existence
in the sign.
To acco m p l ish th i s task certai n basic, m ethodological prereq u i s ites m u st be
respecte d :

1 . Ideology may not be divorced from the material reality of sign (i.e., by

l ocating it in the " consciou sness ' ' or other vague and e l usive regions) ;

2. The sign may not be divorced from the concrete forms o f social intercourse

(seeing that the sign is part of organized social i ntercourse and cannot exist, as

such, o utside it, reverti ng to a mere p h y sical artifact) ;

3. Communication and the forms of communication may not be divorced

from the material basis.
Every ideological sign-the verbal sign included-in coming about t h ro ugh the

process of social intercourse, i s defined by the social purview of the given time

period and the given social gro u p . So far, we have been speaking about the form

of the sign as shaped by the for m s of social interaction. N ow we sha l l deal with
its other a spect-the

content of the

sign and the eval uative accentuation that

accompanies all content.

Every stage in the developme n t of a society has its own special and restricted

circle of items which alone have access to that society ' s attention and w h ich are
1 . T h e problem of behavioral speech genres has only very recently become a to pic of
discussion i n linguistic and p h iloso p h i ca l scholarshi p . O n e of the first serious attem pts to
deal w ith these genres, though, to be sure, w ithout any clearly defined sociological orienta
tion, is Leo S p itzer's ltalienische Umgangssprache, 1 922. More w i l l be said about S pitzer,
h is predecessors, and colleagues later o n .

Philosophy of Language


[Part I

e n d owed w ith eva luative accentuation by that attention. O n l y ite m s w i t h i n that

c i rc l e w i l l ach ieve sign formation and become objects i n sem iotic co m m u n ication.
W hat determines t h is circle of ite m s en dowed with va l ue accents?

I n order for any item, from whatever d omain of rea l ity it may come, to enter

the social p u rv i ew of the grou p and e l i cit i deological sem iotic reaction, it m u st

be associated w i th the vita l socioeconomi c prerequ is i tes of the part i c u lar gro u p ' s

e x i stence ; i t m u st somehow, even if o n l y o b l iquely, m a k e contact w i t h the bases

of the group's mater ial l ife.
I nd ivid ual c h o i ce u nder these circumstances, of course, can have no meaning
at a l l . The sign i s a creation between i n d ivid uals, a creation w it h i n a social m i l ie u .
T herefore the item i n q uestion m u s t first acq u ire i nter i n d ividual sign ificance,

and o ri l y t h en can it become an object for sign formation. I n other words, only
that which lias acquired social value can enter the world of ideology, take shape,
and establish itself there.
For this reason , a l l ideo l ogica l accents, despite their being pro d u ce d b y the
i n d ividual voi ce (as i n the case of word) or, in any event, by the i n d ivid ual or

gan ism-a l l i deological accents are soc ia l accents, o ne s with claim to social re


and, o n l y thanks to that recognition, are made o u tward u se of in ideol

ogical material.

Let u s agree to cal l the entity wh ich becomes the o bject of a sign t he


of the sign. Each ful ly fledged sign has its theme. A n d so, every verbal perfor
mance has its theme.2
A n. i d eolog i ca l theme i s a lways social ly accentuated. Of course, all the social
accents of ideo logical themes make their way a l so into the i n d ivid u a l consc io u s
ness (which, as we know, is ideologica l through and t h rough) and there take on

the semblance of i n d ividual accents, s i n ce t h e i n d iv i d u a l con sciousness a ssimi

lates them as its own. However, t h e source of these accents is not the i n d ividual
con sciousness. Accent, as such , i s i nter i n d ividual. The animal cry, t h e p u re re
sponse to pain in the organ ism, is bereft of accent; it is a purely natural p henom
enon. For such a cry, the social atmosphere is irrelevant, and t h erefore it does
not contain even the germ of sign formation.
T h e theme of an ideo logical s ign a n d the form of a n i d eo logical sign are in
extricably bound together and are separable only i n t h e abstract. U lt i mately, the
same set of forces and the same material prerequ isites bring both t h e o n e and the
other to l ife.
I ndeed, t h e economic co nd itions that i naugurate a new e lement of reality
into the socia l p urview, that make it social ly mea n ingfu l and " interesti ng," are
exactly the same conditions that create the for m s of i deo log i ca l com m u n ication

2. The relationsh i p of theme to the semantics of individual words shall be d ealt with i n
greater detail i n a later section o f o u r stu dy.

Chap. 2/

Basis and Superstructures

( the cognitive,


the artistic, the religious, and so on ) , wh ich i n turn shape the

forms of semiotic expression.

Thus, the themes and forms of ideo logical creativity emerge from the same

matrix and are in essen c e two sides of the same t hi ng.

The process of i n corporation i nto ideology-the birth of theme and b i rt h of
form-is best fol l owed out in the material of the word . T h i s process of i d e o log
ical generation is reflected two ways i n l anguage : both in its large-scale, u n iver

sal-historical d i mensions as studied by semantic paleonto logy, wh i ch has d i s

closed the i n corporation of u n differentiated ch u n k s of reality i n to the social

purview of prehistori c man, and i n its small-scale d i me n s ions as constituted with
in the framework of contemporaneity, s i n ce, as we know, the word sen si t ively

reflects the s lightest variations in social e x istence.

Existence reflected in sign is n ot merely reflected b ut refracted. H ow is this

refraction of existence in the ideo logical sign determined ? By an interse cti n g of

d i fferently oriented social interests within one a n d the same sign com m u n i ty,

i.e., by the class struggle.

Class does not coi n cide with the sign com m u n ity, i .e., with the com m u n ity

which is the tota l i ty of u sers of the same set of signs for ideological com m u nica
t ion. Thus various d ifferent classes w i l l use one a n d the same language. A s a re

sult, d ifferently oriente d accents i n tersect in every ideological sign. S ign b e comes

an arena of the class struggle.

Th i s social

multiaccentuality of the

i d eo logical sign is a very crucial aspect.

By and large, it is than k s to this intersecting of accents that a sign maintai n s its
vita l ity and dynamism and the capacity for further deve lopment. A sigri that has
been withd rawn from the pressures of the social struggle-which, so to speak,

crosses beyond the pale of the class strugg le-inevitably loses force, degenerating
i n to a l l egory and beco m i ng the object not of l ive social i n te l l igibil ity but of
p h i lological com prehension. The h istorical memory of mankind is fu l l of s u ch
worn out ideological s igns i ncapab l e of serving as arenas for the clash of l ive
social accents. However, i nasmuch as they are remembered by the ph i lo logist
and the h i storian, they may be said to retain the last g l i m mers of l ife.
The very same th i n g that makes the ideological sign vital and m utab l e i s a l so,
however, that wh i ch makes it a refracti n g and d i stort i ng medium. The r u l i ng
class strives to im part a supra class, eternal character to th e ideological sign , to
extingu ish or d rive inward the strugg le between social va l ue j udgments wh ich
occurs i n it, to make the sign u n iaccentual .
I n actual fact, each l iv i ng ideological sign has two faces, l ike J an u s. A n y cur
rent curse word can become a word of praise, any current truth m u st inevitab ly

sound to many other peo p l e as the greatest l ie. T h i s inner dialectic quality of the
sign comes out fu l ly in the open o n ly in times of social crises or revo l utionary
changes. I n the ordinary cond itions of l ife, the contradiction embedded in every
i deological sign cannot emerge fu l l y because the id eological sign in an estab l i shed,


Philosophy of Language

[Part I

d o m inant i d eo l ogy i s always somewhat reactionary and tries, as it were, to sta

b i l ize the prece d i n g factor i n the d i a l ectical flux of the social generative process,
so accentuating yesterday's truth as to make it appear today' s. A n d t hat is what
is respons i b l e for the refracting and d i storting pecu l iarity of the ideological sign
w ithin the d o m inant ideology.
T his, then, i s the p icture of the problem of the relation of the basis to super
structures. Our concern with i t has b ee n l im i ted to concretization of certain of
its aspects and e lu c idation of t he d i rection an d routes to be fo l l owed i n a pro

d u ctive treatment of it. We made a special po i n t of the p lace p h i l o so p h y of lan

guage has in that treatment. T he material of the verbal sign a l lows one most fu l l y
a n d easi l y to fol l ow o u t the co ntinu ity of t h e d ia lectical process o f change, a
process which goes from the bas i s to superstructures. The category of mechanical
cau sal ity in explanations of i d eo l ogica l phenomena can most easil y b e surmounted
o n the gro u nds of p h i losophy of language.


Philosophy of Language
and Objective Psycholog y

The task of defining the psyche objectively. Dilthey 's notion o f

an "understanding and interpreting" psychology. The semiotic
reality of the psyche. The point of view of functional psychol
ogy. Psychologism and antipsychologism. The distinctive qual
ity of inner sign (inner speech). The problem of introspection.
The socioideological nature of the psyche. Summary and con

One of Marxism's fundamental and most urgent tasks i s to construct a gen

u i nely o bject ive psychology, w h ich means a psycho logy based on sociological,
not physiological or b iological , principles. As part and parcel of that task, Marx
ism faces the d ifficu lt prob lem of find ing an objective-but also subtle and flex
ible-approach to the conscious, subjective human psyche over w h ich, o rdinari ly,
methods of introspection claim j u risdiction.
This is a task which neither b iology or physiology is equi pped to cope with :
the conscious psyche i s a socioideological fact and, as such, beyond the scope of
physiological m ethods or the methods of any other of the natural sciences. The
subjective psyche is not something that can be reduced to processes occu rring
within the confines of the natural, an imal ian organism. T he processes that basic
ally define the content of the psyche occur not inside b ut outside the ind ividual
organ ism, although they involve its participation.
The subjective psyche of the human being is not an object for natura l-scien
tific analysis, as would be any item or p rocess in the natural world; the subjective
psyche is an object for ideological understanding and socioideological interpreta
tion via understanding. Once u nderstood and interpreted, a psychic phenomenon


{Part I

Philosophy of Language


becomes explainable so lely i n terms of the social factors that shape the concrete
l ife of the i n dividual i n the cbn ditions of h i s social environment.1

The first issue of fun d amental i m portance that arise s once we move in th i s

d irection i s that of defi ning " inner experience" objectively. Such a defi n ition

m u st include inner experience within the u n ity of o bjective, outer experie nce.
What sort of rea l ity pertains to the subjective psyche?

psyche is the same reality as that of the sign.

The reality of the inner

O utside the material of signs there

i s no psych e ; there are p hysiological processes, processes i n the nervou s system,

but no su bjective psyche as a special existential qual ity fundamenta l ly d i stinct

fro m both the p h ysio logical processes occurring withi n the organism and the

reality encompassi ng the organism from o u ts ide, to w h ich the psyche reacts and

w hich one way or another i t reflects. By its very existentiai nature, the s ubjec

tive psych e is to be local ized somewhere between the organism and t h e outside

world, on the

borderline separati n g these two spheres of rea l i ty .

It i s here that

an encou nter between the organism and the o utside wor l d takes p lace, b u t the

e ncou nter is not a physica l one:

in the sign.

the organism and the outside world meet here

Psychic experience i s the sem iotic expression of the contact between

the organ ism and the outside enviro nment. T hat is why the inner psyche is not
analyzab/e as a thing but can only be understood and interpreted as a sign.

The idea of an " understand i n g a n d i n terpreting" psychology is a very o l d one

and has a n i n structive h i story. S y mptomatica ll y , i n modern times it has found
its greatest substantiation i n conn ection with the methodological requ irements
of t h e h u manLties, i .e., t h e i deological sciences.
The most astute and w e l l -grounded advocate of t h i s idea in modern t i mes was
W i l h e l m D i lthey. For D i lthey, it was not so much a matter that subjective psy
chic ex perience ex isted, the way a thing may be said to exist, as that it had


When d isregard ing t h i s meaning in the attempt to arrive at the pure

rea lity of experience, we fi nd o u rsel ves, accordi n g to D i lthey, confronting i n

actual fact a physiological process i n the orga n i sm a n d losing sight o f the ex
perience in the meantime-j u st as, when d i sregarding the meaning of a word, we
lose the word itself and confron t its sheer p hysica l so u nd a n d the p h ysio logical
process of its articulation. What makes a word a word i s its meaning. What makes

an experience an experience i s a l so its meani ng. And o n l y at the expense of losing

the very essence of inner, psych ic l ife can mean i ng be d i sregarded. Therefore,
psychology cannot pursue tasks of explaining experiences causal ly, as if they
were analogous to physical or p h ysiological processes. Psychology m u st pursue
the task of u nderstand i ng, descr i bi n g, segmenting, and i n terpreting psych ic l ife,
j ust as if it were a document u nd e r p h i l o logical analysis. O n l y that k i n d of des1. A popular sketch of the modern problems of psychology is given in our book Frejdizm
(krfticeskt} ocerk) [ F reudianism (A Critical Outline) ] {Leningrad, 1 927). See Chapter 2,
"Two Tren ds i n Contem porary Psychology."

Objective Psychology

Chap. 3}


cri ptive and i n terpretive psychology i s capab le, accor d i n g to Di lthey, o f serving

as the basis for the h u manities, or as he cal ls them, the 1 1 s piritual scie n ce s "

(Geisteswissenschaften}. 2

D i lthey's ideas have proved to be very fecund and, to the present d ay , con

tinue to fi nd many su pporters among representatives of the human ities. I t cou l d

be c la i med that v i rtu a l l y a l l contem porary German h u man ist scho lars w ith a
p h i losophical bent are to a greater or lesser degree dependent u pon the i deas of
Wilhe l m D i lthey.3
D il they's conception grew from idea l istic gro u n d s and i t is o n these same

gro u n d s that his fol l owers remain . T he idea of a n u n derstan d i n g and i nterpret i n g
psychology i s very close l y con ne cted w i t h certai n pre s u p positions of ideal istic
thought and in many respects may be said to be a specifical ly idea listic i d ea.

I ndeed, in the form i n w h i c h i t was first estab l i s hed and has conti n ued to de

vel o p to the present day, i nterpretive psychology


ideal i stic and untenable from

the sta n d point of dialectical materialism.

What i s u ntenable above all i s

over ideology.

the methodological precedence ofpsychology

After a l l , D i lthey and other representatives of interpretive psy

chology wou l d have it that their psychology m u st provide the basis for the hu
man ities. I deology i s expla i ne d i n terms of psychology-as the expression and

i n carnation of psychology-and not the other way aro u n d . True, the psyche and
ideology are said to coi ncide, to share a common d e n o m i nator-mean i n g-by

virtue of wh ich both the one and the other are a l i ke d i sti nguished from a l l the
rest of real ity. B u t it is psychology, not i deology, that sets the tone.

F urthermore, the ideas of D ilthey and his fo l lowers make no provision


the social character of meaning.

F i n a l l y-and t h i s i s the proton pseudos of the i r whole conception they have
no notion of the essential bond between meaning and sign, no notion of the

specific n ature of the sign.

I n point of fact, the comparison D i lthey makes between experience and word
means nothing more to him than a s i m p l e analogy, an exp lanatory figu re -a rather
rare occurrence i n D i l they's works, at that. He i s far from d rawing the co n c l u s i o n s
that shou l d fol low from that comparison. What is more, h e is inte rested i n ex
plaining not the psyche through the age n cy of the ideological sign but, j u st l i ke
any other idea l i st, the s ign through the agency of the psyche: a sign becomes a

sign for D i lthey on ly i nsofar as it serves as the m ea n s of expression for i n ner l ife.
And t h e latter, he maintain s, confers its own proper meaning u pon the sign. I n
this respect D i lthey's postu lation carries o n the common tendency of a l l i deal i s m :
2 . A n accoun t o f D ilthey i n Russian can b e fou n d i n Frisejzen-Keler's article i n Logos,
1-1 1 , 1 9 1 2-1 9 1 3.
3. D il they's trend-setting infl uence has been ack nowledged by (to mention o n l y names
of the most distinguished mem bers of the human ities in p resent-day Germany} Oskar Walzel ,
Wi lhelm G u ndolf, E m i l E rmatinger, a n d others.


Philosophy of Language

[Part I

to remove all sense, all meaning from the material world and to locate it in a
temporal, a-spatial Spirit.
If experience does have meani ng and is not merely a particu lar p iece of reality
(and i n this contention D i lthey i s correct) , then surely experience cou ld hardly
come about other than in the material of signs. After all, m eaning can belong
o n l y to a sign; meaning outside a sign i s a fiction . . M eaning is the expression of
a semiotic relationship between a particular piece of real ity and another kind of
real ity that it stands for, represents, or depicts. Mean ing is a function of the s ign
an d is therefore inconceivable (since mean ing is pure relation, or function) out
s i de the s ign as some particular, i nd ependently existing th ing. I t w ou l d be j ust
as absurd to maintain such a notion as to take t h e meaning of the word "horse"
to be thi s particular, live animal I am pointing to. W hy, if that were so, then I
could claim, for i n stance, that having eaten an apple, I h ave consumed not an
apple but the mea n ing of the word "apple." A sign i s a particu lar material th ing,
but mean ing is not a th ing and cannot be i solated from the sign as if i t were a
p iece of real ity existing on its own apart from the sign. Therefore, if experience
does have mean ing, if it is susceptible of being u nderstood and i nterp reted, then
it must have its existence in the material of actual , real signs.
Let us emphasize thi s point: not only can experience be outwardly expressed
through the agency of the sign (an experience can be expressed to others vari
o usly- by word, by facial expression, or by some other means), but also, aside
from th i s outward ex pression (for others) , experience exists even for the person
undergoing it only in the material of signs. Outside that m aterial there i s no ex
perience as such. I n this sense any experience is expressible, i .e., i s potential ex
pression. A n y thought, any emotion, any w i l led activity i s expressib le. T h i s fac
tor of expressivity cannot be argued away from experience without forfeiting
the very nature of experience. 4
Thus there i s no l eap i nvolved between inner experience and its expression, no
crossing over fro m o ne qualitative realm of reality to another. The transit from
experience to its outward expression occurs with i n the scope of the same qual i
tative realm and i s quantitative i n nature. True, it often happens that in the pro
cess of o utward expression a transit fro m one ty pe of semiotic material (e.g.,
m imetic) to another (e.g., verbal) occurs, b ut nowhere in its entire course does
the process go outside the material of signs.
What, then, i s the sign material of the psyche? A ny organic activity or process:
b reathi ng, b lood c ircu lation, movements of the body, articulation , inner speech,
m imetic motions, reaction to e xternal sti m u l i (e.g., light stim u l i) and so forth.
4. The notion of the expressivity of all phenomena of consciousness is not fore ign to
neoKantianism. Besides the book by Cassirer already cited, H erman Cohen, in the th ird
section of h is system, A esthetik des reinen GefiJh!s, h as w ritten on the expressive character
of consciousness. However, the idea as expounded there least of all allows of the p roper con
clu sions. The essence of consciousness continues to rem a in beyond the pale of existence.

Chap. 3}

Objective Psychology


I n short, anything and everything occurring within the organism can become the
material of experience, since everything can acq u i re semiotic significance, can
become expressive.
To be sure, all this material is far from standing on the same level of impor
tance. Any psyche that has reached any degree of development and d ifferentia
tion m u st have subtle and pliable semiotic m aterial at its disposal, and semiotic
material of a kind that can be shaped, refined, and differentiated in t h e extra
corporeal social m i l ieu in the process of o utward expression. Therefore, the
semiotic material of the psyche is preeminently the word inner speech. I n ner
speech, it is true, is intertwined w ith a mass of other motor reactions h aving
semiotic value. But a l l the same, it is the word that constitutes the fou nd ation,
the skeleton of i nner l ife. Were it to be deprived of the word, the psyche would
shrink to an extreme degree; deprived of a l l other expressive activities, it would
die out altogether.
If we disregard the sign function of inner speech and of a l l the other expres:
sive activ ities that together make up the psyche, we wou l d turn out to be con
fronting a sheerly physiological process taking p lace within the confines of the
i ndividual organism. Abstraction of that kind is perfectly legitimate and n ecessary
for the physiologist: a l l he needs is the physiological process and its mechanics.
Yet, even for the physiologist, in h i s capacity as biologist, there is good rea
son to take i nto account the expressive sign function ( i.e., social function) of
the various physiological processes i nvol ved. Otherwise h e w i l l not grasp their
biological position in the overal l economy of the organ ism. The biologist, too,
in th is respect, cannot afford to ignore the sociological point of view, cannot
afford to discou nt the fact that the human organism does not belong to the ab
stract realm of nature but forms p art of a specifica l ly social realm. B u t when he
has taken into account the sign function of the var i ous p hysiological processes
i nvolved, the physiologist proceeds to investigate their purely physiological me
chanism (for example, the mecha n i sm of the conditioned reflex) and complete l y
d isregards t h e ideological values i nherent i n t hese p rocesses that are variable and
subject to their own sociohistorical laws. I n a word, the content of the p syche
does not concern him.
But it is precisely thi s content of the psyche, taken with regard to the indi
vidual organism, that is the object for psychology. No science worthy of the
n ame psychology has or can have any object of interest other than th is.
I t h as been asserted that the content of the psyche is not the object of psy
chology but, rather, only the function that this content has in the ind ividual
psyche. Such is the point of view of so-cal led functional psychology. 5

5. The major representatives of functional psychology are Stu mpf, Meinong, e t a/. The
foundations for functional psychology were laid down by Franz B rentano. Functional psy
chology is unquestionably at this moment the dominant movement in German psychological
though t, although not, to be su re, in its pure, classical form.

Philosophy of Language


[Part I

Accor d i n g to t h e doctrine of t h is school, "experience" is composed of two

factors. O ne factor is the

content of experience.

I t i s not psychic i n nature. What

i s involved is e ither a physical phenomenon o n w h i ch the experience focuses

(e .g., an

o bj ect of perception } or a cognitive concept hav i ng its own logical

governance or an ethical valu e, etc. T h is content-oriented, referential aspect of

experience is a property of nature, cu lture, or h i story and, consequently, perta i n s
t o the competence of the appropriate scientific disciplines a n d i s of n o concern
to the psychologist.

Th e other factor i n experience is the function of any particular referential

content within the closed system qf individual psychic life. And i t is p recisely
thi s experienced-ness or experientiality of any content o utside the psyche that
is i n fact t h e object of psychology. Or, to put it another way, the object of func
tional psychology is not the

what of experience b ut



So, for example,

t h e content of any thought process-its what-i s nonpsy c h i c an d pertains to the

com petence ofthe log i c ian, e p istemologist, or mathematician ( if the kind of

t h i n king i nvolved i s mathematical t h i n k i n g) . T h e psychologist, i n contrast,

studies only how thought processes with various objective contents ( logical,
mathematical, or other ) come about uhder conditions su p p l ied by any given in
dividual subjective psyche.

W e shall not d e lve i nto the details of this psychological conception, a nd we

shall skip certain, sometimes very apposite, d i sti nctio n s regardi n g p sychic func
tion such as can be fou n d in the writings of representatives of t h i s school and of
other related movements in psychology. For our pu rposes, the basic p ri n ciple of
fu nctional psychology, a lready set forth, w i l l be suffi cient. l t w i l l h e l p us to ex
press i n more precise terms o u r own conception of the psyche a n d of the signif

i ca n ce that belongs to the p h i losophy of the sign ( o r t h e p h i loso p hy of language)

in the sol u t ion of the prob lem of psychology.
F u n ctional psychology also grew and took shape o n t h e gro u n d s of idealism.
Yet, in certain respects, it exhib its a tendency diametri cally o p posite to the in
terpretive psychology of the D i lthey type.
I n point of fact, while D i lthey would seem i ntent o n b ri n g i n g t h e psyche and
i deology down to one common deno m i nator-mean i ng-functional psychology

m a kes the o p posite effort of d rawing a fundamental and rigorous borderline

between the psyche and ideology, a borderline t h at seem s to cut through the
psyche itself. As a result, everyth i ng regarded as meani n g ends u p b e i n g exclu d ed
without a trace from the scope of the psyche, w h i le everyth ing regarded as per
tai n ing to the psyche ends up amounting to the sheer fun cti o n i n g of separate ref
erential contents arranged i n some sort of i nd ividual constellation cal led the
" i n d ividual sou l." Thus functional psychology, as d i stingu ished from interpretive
psychology, gives precedence to i deology over t he p syche.
O n e m ay ask at this poin t : How does the psyche fun ction, and w h at i s the
nature of its existence? This is a question for which we cannot find a clear-cut,

Chap. 3}

Objective Psychology


satisfactory answer in t h e writings o f t h e representatives o f functional psych ol

ogy. There is no clear i dea, no agreement, no u nanimity among them on this
issue. However, there is one point o n which they all agree: the functioning of
the psyche is not to be identified with any physiological process. Thus the psy
chic is sharply delimited from the p hysiologica l . B u t what sort of entity this new
quality, the psychic, i s-that remains unclarified.
S im i larly, the problem of the reality of an ideological phenomenon remains
equally u nclear i n functional psychology.
The o n ly instance where the fun ctiona l i sts provide a clear answer is t h e case
of an experience d irected toward some object i n nature. H ere they draw a n op
position between psychic functioning and natural, p hysical being-this tree,
earth, stone, and the l ike.
But what sort of o p position obtains between psychic functioning and ideol
ogical being-a l ogical concept, an ethical value, an artistic image, etc.?
On t h i s i ssue the majority of representatives of functional psychology adhere
to commonly held idea l istic, mainly Kantian, views.6 I n addition to the i n d ivid
ual psyche and the individual subjective consciousness, they make a provision
for a "transcendental consciousness," "consciousness per se," or " pure episte
mological subject," and the l i ke. And into that transcendental realm t he y p lace
the ideological phenomenon in its o pposition with individual psychic function.7
Thus the problem of the real ity of ideology remains without a solution on
the grounds of functional p sychology.
Failure to u n derstand the ideological sign and its specific mode of bei n g is,
consequently, w hat is responsible, b oth in this and in a l l other instances, for the
i nsolubility of the problem of the p syche.
The problem of the psyche will never find a sol u tion u ntil the problem of
ideology is solved. These two problems are inextricably bound together. The
whole history of psychology a nd the whole history of the i deological sciences
logic, epi stemol ogy, aesthetics, the h u manities, etc.-is a h i story of incessant
struggle i nvolving mutual delimitation and m utual assimilation between these
two cognitive d isciplines.
A sort of pecul iar periodic alternation seems to take p lace between an e le
mental psychologism, w hich subj ects a l l the ideological sciences to inundation,
and a sharply reacting antipsychologism, which deprives the psyche of a l l its
content, relegating it to some empty, formal status (as in functional p sychology)
or to sheer physiologism . As for ideology, once a consistent antipsychol o gism has
taken away its normal p lace i n existence (which p lace is precisely the psyche) ,
6. At t h e present time, the phenomenologists, too, take their stand on the gro u n d s of
functional psychology, associated , as they are , w ith F ranz B rentano (an association that ex
ten ds to their overall ph ilosophical outlook) .
7. As for the phenomenologists, they ontologize ideological notions, provid ing them w it h
a n autonomous sphere o f ideal being.


Philosophy of Language

[Part I

it i s left with n o p lace at a l l and is o b l iged to exit from real ity and to take to the
transcendental, or even l itera l l y ascend to the transcendent.
At the beginning of the 20th century, we experienced one of those strong
waves of antipsychologism {by no m eans the first i n h i story, to be sure). The
trend-setting works of Hussrl,8 the main representative of modern antipsychol
ogism; the works of h is fol lowers, the intentionalists ( "p henomenologists"); the
sharply antipsychologistic turn taken b y representatives of modern neo-Kant
ianism of the Marbu rg and Freiburg school;9 and the banishment of p sycholo
gism from a l l fie l d s of k nowledge and even from psycho logy itself ! -a l l these
things constituted an event of paramount philosophical and methodo logical im
portance in the first two d ecades of o u r century.
Now, in the third decade of the century, the wave of antipsycho logism has
begu n to abate. A new and evidently very powerful w ave of psycho l ogism is
com ing to take its place. A fashionable form of psychologism is the " p h i lo sophy
of l ife." U nder that trade name, p sycholog ism of the most u nbrid led kind once
again, w ith extrao rdinary speed, has occupied al l the positions in a l l the branches
of philosophy and ideological stud y that it had so recently abandoned .10
The approaching wave of psychologism carries w ith it no fresh ideas about
the fundamentals of psychic rea lity. In contrast to the preceding wave of p sy
chologism (the positivistic-empirical psychologism of the second half of the 1 9th
century whose most typical representative was Wu ndt) , the new p sycho logism
is inclined to interpret i n ner being, the "elemental p henomenon of ex perience,"
in metap hysica l terms.
Thus no dialectfcal synthesis has resulted from this d ia lectical flux of psycho!:
ogism and antipsy chologism. N either the prob lem of psychology nor the prob8 . See Volume 1
1 9 1 0). The work has

of his Logische Untersuchungen (a R ussian translation w as made in

become something of a bible of contemporary antipsychologism. See,
also, his article ( Russian translation), "Philosoph y as an Exact Science," L ogos, I, 1 9 1 1 -1 9 1 2.
9. See, for example, the instructive study by H einrich R ickert, the h ead of the F reiburg
school , (Russian translation) "Two Paths in the Theory of Knowledge," No vye idei v filo
sofii [ N ew I deas in P h ilosophy ] , V I I, 1 9 1 3. I n this study, Rickert, u nder H usserl's influence,
translates h is originally somewhat psychologistic concept of theory of knowledge i nto anti
psychol ogistic terms. The article is very characteristic for the attitude taken by neo-Kant
ianism toward the antipsychologistic movement.
1 0. A general su rvey of contemporary philosophy of life, though a ten dentious and some
what out-dated one, can be fou nd in Rickert's book, ( Russian translation) The philosophy
of Life, "Academia," 1 92 1 . Very considerable infl uence o n the humanities was exerted by
E. Spranger's book, Lebensformen. All the major representatives of the fields of literary and
lingu istic s tu dies in G ermany are to greater or lesser degrees u nder the influence of the phi
losophy of l ife at the presen t time. Let us mention: Ermatinger (Das dichterische Kunstwerk,
1 92 1 ) , G u ndolf (books about G oethe and George, 1 9 1 6-1 925 ) , Hefele (Das Wesen der
Dichtung, 1 92 3 ) , Walzel (Gehalt und Gestalt im dichterischen Kunstwerk, 1 92 3 ) , Vossler
and the Vosslerites, and many others. A b out certain of these scholars we shall h ave some
thing to say later on.

Chap. 3]

Objective Psychology


l em of ideology has to th is very day fou nd its proper sol u tion i n bourgeois
The bases for the treatment of both problems must be established s i m u l ta
neously and i n tercon nectedly. We are suggesting that one and the same key
opens objective access to both spheres. That key is the philosophy of sign (th e
philosophy o f t h e word a s the ideological sign par exce l l ence). T h e ideological sign
is the common territory for both the psyche and for ideology, a territory that is
material, sociological , and meaningfu l . It is on th is very territory that a del i mi
tation between psychology and ideology shou ld be worked out. The p syche need
not be a dupl icate of the rest of the world ( the i deological world above a l l ) , and
the rest of the worl d need not be a mere material remark to the monologue of
the psyche.
But if the nature of the psyche's reality is the same as that of the sign 's
reality, how can one draw a dividing l ine between the i n d ividual su bjective psyche
and ideology, i n the exact sense of the word, which is l ikewise a semiotic entity ?
W e have s o far only pointed out the general territory; n o w w e must draW the
appropriate bou ndary with i n it.
The kernel of th is issue amou nts to a definition of i nner (intracorporeal) sign
which, in its i mmediate real ity, is accessible to i n trospection .
Between the psyche and ideology no bou ndaries do or can exist from the
poi nt of view of i deological content itself. All ideological content, without excep
tion, no matter what the semiotic material embodying it may be, is su sceptible
of being Ufl_derstood and, consequently, of being taken i nto the psyche, i.e., of
being reproduced i n the material of i n ner signs. O n the other hand, any i deologi
cal phenomenon in the process of creation passes through the psyche as an
essential stage of that process. We repeat: every outer ideological sign, of what
ever kind, is engu lfed in and washed over by inner signs-by the consciousness.
The outer sign originates from th is sea of i nner signs and continues to abide
there, since its l ife is a process of renewal as something to be understood , experi
enced , and assimi lated, i .e., its life consists in its being engaged ever anew into
the inner context.
Therefore, from the standpoint of content, there is no basic division between
the psyche and ideology; the difference is one of degree only. The ideologeme
is a vague enti ty at that stage of its i nner development when it is not yet em
bodied in outer ideological material ; it can acquire defin ition, d ifferen tiation,
fixity only in the process of ideological em bodimen t. I ntention is always a lesser
thing than creation-even u nsuccessful creation. A thought that as yet exists
only In the context of my consciousness, without embodiment in the context
of a d i sci p l i ne constituting some unified ideological system, remai ns a d i m ,
u nprocessed though t. But that thought h a d come into existence iri m y conscious
ness already with an orientation toward an ideological system, and it i tself had
been engendered by the i deological signs that I had absorbed earl ier. We repeat,

Philosophy of Language


[Part I

there is no qual i tative differe n ce h ere i n any fu n damental sense. Cogn i tion w i th
respect to books a n d to other peo p l e 's words and cogn ition i ns i de one's head

b e l ong to the same sphere of rea l i ty, and s u ch d ifferences as do exist between
the head and book do not .affect the content of cog n ition.

What mostl y com p l icate our problem of de l i m i ti ng p sy che and ideology i s

the concept o f " i n d iv idual i ty . " T h e "socia l " i s u su a l l y thought o f i n b inary
opposition w i th the " i n d i v i d u a l , " and h e n ce we have the notion that the psyche
i s i nd ividual wh i l e ideology is socia l .

Notions o f that sort are fu ndamenta l ly false. T h e correl ate o f t h e social i s the

"natura l " a n d thus " i nd iv i d u a l " i s not meant i n the sense of a perso n , b u t

" i nd ividual " a s natural, b i o l ogical speci men. T h e i n d iv i dual, a s possessor of the
contents of his own consciousness, as author of h i s own thoughts, as the person
a l i ty responsible for h is though ts and feel i ngs,-such a n i n dividual i s a purely
socioideological phenomenon. Therefore, the con te n t of the " i nd iv i d u a l " p syche
i s by i ts very nature j ust as social as i s ideology, a n d the very degree of conscio u s
ness of one's i nd i v i d u a l i ty and i ts i n ner rights and p r iv i l eges i s i d eo l ogical ,
h istorical , and who l l y con d i tioned by sociological factors. 1 1 Every sign as sign i s

socia l , and this is no l ess tru e for t h e i n n e r s i g n t h a n for t h e o u ter sign .

To avoid misu n dersta n d i ngs, a rigorous di stinction must always be made

between the co ncept of the i ndividual as natu ral specimen without reference to
the social world ( i .e., the i n dividual as obj ect of the biolog i st's knowledge and

study) and the concept of i ndivid ual ity which has the status of an ideological
sem iotic su perstructure over the natural i n dividual and wh ich, therefore, i s a
social concept. These two meani ngs of the word. " i n d ividual " (the natural

specimen and the person) are comm o n l y confused, with the res u l t that the argu
ments of most p h i l osophers and psycholog i sts constantly exh i b i t



now one concept is i n force, now the other takes i ts p l ace.

I f the content of the i n d ividual psyche i s just as social as i s i deol ogy, then, on
the other hand, ideologi cal phenomena are j ust as i ndividual (in the ideological
meaning of the word) as are psycho l ogical phenomena. Every i deological p ro d u ct
bears the i mpri nt of the i n dividual i ty of its creator or creators, b u t eve n this
i m p ri n t i s j u st as social as are all the other properties and attri b u tes of ideolog i ca l
Thus every sign, even the sign of i nd i v i d u a l ity, i s socia l . In what, then, does
the difference between i nn e r and outer sign, between psyche and i deology,
Meaning i mp l emented i n the material of i nner activity i s mea n i ng turned
toward the organ ism, toward the particular i n d iv i d u a l ' s self, and i s determined

1 1 . In the last section of our stud y , we shall see how relative and ideological the conce pt
of verbal authors h i p , of "property right to the w ord ," really is and how l ate in appearance is
the development in language of a d istin ct sense of ind ividual prerequisites of speec h .

Chap. 3]

Objective Psychology


first of all in the context of that self's particu l ar l ife. I n th i s respect, a certain
element of truth does adhere to the views held by representatives of the fu nc

tional school . The psyche does possess a special u n i ty d istinguishable from the
u n ity of i d eologi cal systems, and to ignore that u n i ty is i nad missable. T h e special
nature of this psych ic u n ity is comp l etel y compatib le with the i deological and
sociologi cal conception of the psyche.

In poi n t of fact, any cognitive thought whatever, even one in my con scious

ness, i n my psy che, comes i n to existence, as we have said , with an orientation

toward a n ideological system of k nowledge where that thought wi l l fi n d i ts place.
M y thought, in th i s sense, from the very start belongs to a n ideological system
and is governed by its set of laws. B u t, at the same ti me, it belongs to another
system that i s j us t as m u ch a u nity and j u s t as m u ch in possession of its own set
of laws-the system of my psyche. The u n i ty of th i s secon d system is deter mined
not o n l y by the u n ity of my biological organi s m b u t a l so by the whole aggregate
of condi tions of l i fe and society in wh i ch that orga n i sm h as been set. It is along
the l i nes of this organic u nity of my sel f and these specific cond itions of my
existence that the psychologist wi l l stud y my thought. T h i s same though t will
i n terest the ideologist o n l y i n ter m s of i ts objective con tr i b u tion to a system of
The system of the psych ic, a system d e term i ned by organ ic and , i n the broad

sense of the word, biographical factors, is by no means m erely the res u l t of the
psycho l ogist's "point of view." I t is i ndeed a real u ni ty , as real as the biological

sel f with i ts particu lar constitution, on w h i ch the psyche is fou n ded, and as real

as the whole set of con d i tions of l i fe that determ i nes the l ife of th i s self. The
more closely th e i n ne r sign i s interwoven w i th the u n ity of this psychic system
and the m ore strongly marked by biological and b iograph ical factors, the further
away wi l l the i n ner sign be from fu l l y fledge d ideologi cal expressio n . Conversely,
as it approaches cl oser to its ideological form u lation a n d e mbod i ment, the i nner
sign may be said to cast off th e bonds of the psych ic context i n wh i ch i t had
been h el d .
This i s what also determines the d i fference i n the processes o f u nderstand i ng

the i n n er sign ( i .e . , experience) on the o n e hand , and the outer, p u rely i d eologi

cal sign, on the other. I n the first i n stance,

to understand

means to refer a parti

cular i n ner sign to a u nity consisting of other i nner signs, to perceive it i n the

context of a particu lar psyche . I n the second i nstance, to u n dersta n d is to per

ceive the sign i n the system of ideology app ropriate to i t. True, the first i nstance
m u st also i n c l u de con si de ration of the p u re l y ideological mean ing of the experi
e nce-after all, if the psychologist does not u nd e rstand the purely cognitive

sense of some thought, he w i l l not be abl e to u ndersta n d i ts place in h i s s u bject's

psyche e i ther. If he d isregards the cognitive mean ing of the thought, he w i l l be
confronting what i s not a thought, not a sign, but the sheer physiological process

of i mp l e m enting the thought or sign in the organ i s m . That is why psycho l ogy of


Philosophy of Language

[Part I

cogn ition must be grounded i n epistemology and l ogic; why, i n general, psychol
ogy must be grounded in ideological science and not the other way aroun d .
I t should b e noted that a n y outer sign expression, an u tterance, for instance,
can also be organized in e ither one of two d irections: e ither toward the subject
h imself or away from him toward ideology. In the first i nstance, the u tterance
a ims at giving outer sign expression to i nner signs, as such, and requ ires the
receiver of the utterance to refer them to an inner con text, i .e., req uires a pure l y
psychological k i n d of understa nd i ng. I n th e second instance, a purely ideological,
objective-referential u nderstanding of the utterance is requ ired. 1 2
I t i s i n th is way that a deli mitation between the psyche and ideology takes
shape. 1 3
Now, i n what form do we receive the psyche, receive i n n e r signs, for observa
tion a n d study? I n its pure form, the inner sign, i.e., experience, is receivable
only by self-observation ( i n trospection). Does i n trospectio n contravene the
u ni ty of outer, objective experien ce ? G iven a proper u nderstanding of the psyche
and of i n trospection itself, noth ing of the sort occurs. 1 4
The fact is, after all, that i nner sign is the o bject of i ntrospectio n and i nner
sign, as such, can also be outer sign . I n ner speech cou l d i ndeed be given voice.
The resul ts of i n trospection in i ts process of self-clarification must necessarily be
expressed outwardly or, at the very l east, be brough t up to the stage of outer
expression . I n trospection, functio n i ng as such, fol lows a course from inner to
outer signs. I ntrospection itsel f, then, has an expressive character.
Self-observation (introspection) is the u nderstanding of one's own inner sign .
I n this respect i t i s distingu ished from o bservation o f a physical o bj ect or some
physical process. We do not see or feel an ex perience-we u n derstand it. Th is
means that i n the process of i ntrospection we engage our experience i n to a con
text made u p of other signs we u nderstand . A sign can be i l l u mi nated only with
the help of a nother sign.
1 2. I t should be noted that utterances of the first kind can have a dual character: they
can i nform about experiences ( " I feel joy"), or they can express them d i rectly ("Hurray ! " ).
Transitional forms are possible ("I 'm so h app y ! "-with a strong expressive intonation of joy).
The d istinction between these two types is of enormous i mportance for both the psycholo
gist and the ideologist. I n the first case, there is no expression of the experience and, there
fore, no actualization of inner sign. What is expressed is the result of introspection (the sign
of a sign is given, so to speak). I n the second case, introspection in i nner experience erupts
to the surface and becomes an object for external observation (granted, h aving been al tered
somewhat in erupting .to the surface). In the third-transitional-case, the result of i ntro
spection is colored by the erupting inner sign (the initial sign).
1 3. An exposition of our view on the content of the psyche as ideology is given i n our
book cited above, Frejdizm. See the chapter, "The Content of the Psyche as Ideology."
1 4. Such a contravention would have taken place if the reality of the psyche were the
reali ty of a thing and not that of a sign.

Chap. 3]

Objective Psychology


I ntrospection is a k i n d of understanding and, therefore, inevitably proceeds

in some specific i deological d i rection. Thus it can be carried out in the i n terests
of psychology, and, in that case, it becomes u nderstanding of a particular
experience within the context of other i nner signs, with focus on the u n i ty of
psychic l ife.
I n this instance, introspection i l lumi nates i nner signs with the help of the
cognitive system of psychological signs; it subjects the experience to clarification
and differentiation, aiming toward an' exact psychological account of it. This is
just the sort of thi ng, for i nstance, that a subject i n a psychological experiment
is asked to do. The subject's response is a psychological account, or the rough ing
out of such an account.
But i n trospection can proceed in a different d i rection, gravitating toward
ethical or moral self-objectification. Here the inner sign is drawn into a system
of eth ical values and norms, a n d is u nderstood and elucidated from their point
of view.
Other directions are a l so possible. But a lways and everywhere introspection
aims at elucidating i nner sign, at advancing it to the highe st degree of semiotic
definitiveness. This process reaches its l im i t when the object of introspection
becomes fu lly understood, i.e., when it can become an object not of i n trospec
tion only but also of ord inary, objective, ideological (semiotic) observation.
Thu s i n trospection, as ideological u nderstanding, is included within the unity
of objective experience. To th is we must append the qual ification that in con
crete i nstances it is i m possible to draw a clear d ividing l i n e between inner and
outer signs, between i nternal i ntrospection and external observation, the latter
supply i ng a steady stream of both semiotic and e mpirical commentaries to the
i n ner signs being u nderstood .
Empirical commentary is always present. The u nderstanding of any sign,
whether i nner or outer, occurs inextricably tied i n with the situation in which
the sign is implemented. This situation, even i n the case of introspection, exists
as an aggregate of facts from external experience, the latter commentating upon
and i l l u m inating a particular i n ner sign. It is always a social situation. Orientation
in one's own sou l (introspection) i s i n actu ality i n separable from orientation in
the particular social situation i n wh ich the experience occurs. Thus, any deepe n
i n g of i ntrospection can come about o n l y i n u nremitting conjunction w i th a
deepened understanding of the social orientation. Complete disregard of social
orientation leads to a complete extingu ishment of experience, j ust as a l so happe n s
when i t s semiotic nature is disregarded. A s we s h a l l see i n greater detail later on,
the sign and its social situation are inextricably fused together. The sign cannot be
separated from the social situation without rel i n q u ishing its nature as sign.
The problem of the i nner sign is one of the most crucial problems of philoso
phy of language. I nner sign is, after all, preeminently the word, or inner speech .

Philosophy of Language


[Part I

The problem of i nner speech is a p h i l osoph ical p ro b lem, as are a l l the problems
treated i n this chapter . It l ies at the j u n cture between psychology a n d the
concerns of the i deological sciences.

A fu n damenta l ,

methodolog ical solution to

this problem can be arrived at only on the grou n d s of the p h i losophy of language

as the p h i l osophy of sign . What i s the nature of the word i n i ts role as i n ner sig n ?
I n what form i s i nner speech i m p lemented ? How d oes i t tie i n wi th the social
s i tuati o n ? What i s i ts rel atio n to the external u tterance? What are the procedures
for u n covering, for seizi n g hold, so to speak, of inner speech ? The answers to a l l
these questi ons c a n only b e given b y a fu l ly elaborated p h i l osophy of language.
Let us take a l ook at j u st the seco n d of these questions-the question of the
forms in which i n ner speech i s i mp lemented.
I t i s clear fro m the ou tset that, w i thout exception, al l categories worked ou t
by l i ngu istics for the analysis of the form s of external language (the lexico logical,
the grammatical, the phonetic) are inap p l i cable to the analysis of i n ner speech
or, if appl i cable, are a p p l i cable only in thorough l y and rad ical l y revised versions.
C loser analysis wou l d show that the u n i ts of which i nner speech i s consti
tuted are certa i n

whole entities somewhat rese m b l i n g a passage of m o n ol ogic

alternating lines

speech or whole u tterances. B u t most of all, they rese m b l e the

of a dialogue.

There was good reason why th i n kers i n ancient times shou l d have
conceived of i n ner speech as inner dialogue. These w hole entities of i nner speech

are not resolvable i n to grammati cal ele ments (or are resolvable o n l y wi th consid
erabl e qual ifications) and have i n f6rce between them, j u st as i n the case of the

al ternating l i ne s of d ialogue, not grammatical connections b u t con nections of a

different k i n d . These u n its of i nner speech, these total impressions 15 of utter


are joined w i th one another a n d alternate wi th one another not accor d i n g

t o t h e laws of gram mar or l ogic b u t accor d i n g t o t h e l aws of evaluative (emotive)

correspondence, dialogical deployment,

etc., in close dependence o n the h i stori

cal con d i tions o f t h e social situation a n d t h e whole pragmatic r u n o f I ife.16

O n l y by ascerta i n i ng the forms of whole u tterances and, especi a l l y , th e for m s
of d ialogic speech, can l i ght b e shed on the forms o f inner speech, as wel l, and o n
t h e pecul iar l ogic of the i r concatenation i n t h e stream o f i nner speec h .
1 5 . T h e term is borrowed from Gompertz, We!tanschauungs!ehre. I t a p pears that t h e term
was first used by Otto Weininger. Total im pression means the s ti l l u n differentiated i m pression
of the totality of a n object-the aroma of its totality, as it were, w h i c h precedes a nd under
lies knowing the object disti nctl y . So, for example, we sometimes cannot rem e m ber a n a m e
o r a word , though "it is on t h e t i p of our tongue," i .e., we al ready have a total i mp ression of
the nam e or word b u t the i m pression cannot develop i n to its concrete d i fferentiated i m age.
Accord i ng to G o m pertz, total i m pressions have great epistemological significance. They are
the psychic equival e n ts of the forms of the whole and endow the whole with i ts u n i ty .
1 6. The co m m on d istinction made among types o f inner speech-visua l , aura l , and
motor-is not relevant to our considerations h ere. W ithin each type, speech proceeds in
term s of total i mpressions, whether visual , aura l , or motor.

Chap. 3]

Objective Psychology


Al l the problems o f i n ne r speech we have noted here far exceed the b o u nd s o f

o u r stu dy. Their prod u ctive treatment i s sti l l a n i m possib i l ity a t t h e presen t time.
I t i s essential to have huge amounts of p re l i minary factual mater ial before h an d

a n d an e l u cidation o f t h e more elementary a n d basic issues o f t h e philosophy of

language, for example, the problem of the u tterance in particular.
In conclusion, then, we bel ieve that the problem of the mutual del i m i tation
of the psyche and ideol ogy can be solved on the u n i tary territory of the i deol og
ical sign which embraces both .
By means of this sol u tion, the contra d i ction between psychologism a n d anti
psychologism wou l d be done away wi th , d i alectical ly, as wel l .

Antipsychologism is correct in refusing to derive ideology from the psyche.

But even more than that is needed : the psyche must be derived from i de o logy.
Psychology must be grou nded in i deolog i cal scie n ce. Speech had first to come

i nto being and develop in the process of the social i n tercourse of organ i s m s so

that afterward i t coul d e n te r with i n the organism and become i n ner speec h .

Psycho/ogism is also correct, however. There is no outer sign without an inner

sign. An outer sign i ncapabl e of e n tering the context of i n ner signs, i .e., i n capab l e
o f being u nderstood a n d ex perienced, ceases to be a sign a n d reverts to t h e status
of a physical object.

The Ideological sign Is made viable by its psychic Implementation just as much
as psychic Implementation is made viable by its ideological imp!etion. Psych ic
experience i s someth i n g i nner that becomes outer and the i deological sig n , some
thing outer that becomes i n ner. The psyche enjoys extraterritorial stata s i n the
organism. It i s a social entity that penetrates inside the organism of the i n d ividual
person. Everyth i n g ideol ogi cal i s l ikewise extraterritorial i n the socioeco n omic

sphere, since the i deolog i cal sign, whose l ocus i s outside the orga nism, m us t en ter
the i nner world in order to i mplement its meani n as sign.
Between the psyche a n d i d eology there exists, then, a continuou s d i a l ectical
i nterplay :

the psyche effaces itself, or Is obliterated, In the process of becoming

Ideology, and ideology effaces itself in the process of becoming the psyche. The
i nner sign must free i tsel f from its absorption by the psyc h i c context (the
biological-biographical context) , must cease being a su bjective experience, i n
order to become a n ideolog i cal sign. T h e i deological sign must i m merse i tself in
the element of i nner, su bjective signs; it must ring with su bjective tones i n order
to remain a l iving sign a n d not be relegated to the honorary status of an i n com
prehens i b l e m useu m p i e ce .

Th i s dialectical i nter p l ay between i n ner a n d outer signs-between t h e psyche

and i deol ogy-has attracted the attention of th i n kers many a time, but it has
never fou n d proper u n d ersta n d i n g or adequate expression .

I n recent ti mes the most profound a n d i nteresting analysis of this i nter p lay .

was given by the p h i l osopher and sociologist Georg S i m m e l .


Philosophy of Language

[Part I

Simmel perceived this interplay i n a form typical for contemporary bourgeois

speculation-that of the "tragedy of cul ture" or, more accurately, the tragedy of
the su bjective persona l i ty creating cu l tu re. This creative personal i ty , accord ing
to Simmel, obl iterates itself, its su bjectivity, and its very "personality " in the
objective product it i tself creates. The birth of an objective cultu ral valu e enta i l s
the death of the s u bjective sou l .
W e shal l not go into the deta i l s of Simmel 's analysis o f th is whole problem
(an analysis which contains no small nu mber of acute and i n teresting observa
tions) . 1 7 But let us take note. of the basic deficiency in Simmel 's conceptio n .
For S i mmel, an irreconcilable d iscrepancy exists between t h e psyche a n d
ideology : h e does not know the sign o f a form of reality common to both
psyche and ideology. Moreover, though a sociologist, he u tterly fails to appreci
ate the thoroughgoing social nature of the reality of ideology, as well as the
reality of the psyche, Both the one and the other k i n d of real ity are, after a l l ,
a refraction o f o n e a n d t h e same socioeconom ic existence. A's a resul t, t h e v i tal
dialectical contradiction between the psyche and existence assu mes for Simmel
the shape of a n inert, fixed antinomy-a " tragedy," and h e .e ndeavors i n vain to
surmount that i n evitable antinomy by resorting to a metaphysica l l y col ored
dynam ics of the I ife process.
Only on the grounds of a materialistic monism can a dialectical resolu tion of
all such contradictions be achi eved . Any other grou nds woul d necessarily enta i l
either closing one's eyes t o these contradictions and ignoring them o r transfor
mating them i nto a hopeless antinomy, a tragic dead end . 18
I n the verbal mediu m, i n each u tterance, however trivial i t m ay be, th is l iving
dialectical syn thesis is constantly tak ing place again and again between the
psyche and ideology, between the inner and the outer. In each speech act,
subjective experience peishes in the objective fact of the enunciated word1 7 . Two studies of Simmel 's, d evoted to this issue, have been translated into Russia n :
"The Tragedy o f Culture," L ogos, 1 1 - 1 1 1 , 1 9 1 1 -1 9 1 2 , a n d "The Conflicts o f Contemporary
Culture," published separately and with a preface by Professor Svjatlovskij u nder the title,
Nacatki znanij [ " R udiments of Knowledge " ] ( Petrograd, 1 92 3 ) . Sim mel 's m ost recent book,
Lebensanschauung, 1 9 1 9 , is a treatment of the same problem from the philosophy-of-life
point of view. The very same idea is the leitmotif of Simmel's l ife of Goethe and to some
degree also of his books on Nietzsche and Schopenhauer and h is studies of Rem brandt and
Michelangelo ( the latter appeared i n Russian translation in Logos, I, 1 9 1 1 -1 91 2 ) . The vari
ous means for overcoming this conflict between psyche and its creative objectification in an
external prod uct of culture u nderlie Simmel's typology of creative personalities.
1 8 . In Russian philosophical l i terature, Fedor Steppun has dealt and contin u es to d eal
with the problem of the objectification of the subjective psyche in ideological products and
the contradictions and conflicts that resu lt therefrom. See his studies in Logos, 1 1 - 1 1 1 , 1 9 1 1 1 9 1 2, and 1 1 - I V , 1 9 1 3 . Steppun, too, p resents these problems i n a tragic and even mystical
l ight. He is incapable of examining them in the framework of objective material reality.
Only in that framework can the problem find produ ctive and sober dialectical sol u tion.

Chap. 3]

Objective Psychology


utterance, a n d the enunciated word is su bjectified i n the act of responsive

u nderstanding i n order to generate, sooner or later, a cou n ter statement. Each
word, as we k now, is a l i ttle arena for the clash and criss-crossi ng of d ifferently
oriented social accents. A word in th e mouth of a particular individual person
is a product of the l iving interaction of social forces.
Thus, the psyche and ideology d ialectically i n terpenetrate in the unitary and
objective process of social intercourse.




Two Trends of Thought

in Philosophy of Language

The problem of the actual mode o f existence of language. The

basic principles o f the first trend of thought in the philosophy
of language (individualistic subjectivism). Representatives of
the first trend. The second trend of thought in philosophy of
language: abstract objectivism. The historical roots of the
second trend. Contemporary representatives of abstract objec
tivism. Conclusions.
What, in fact, is the subject matter of the philosophy of language? W here are
we to fin d it? What is its concrete, material existence l i ke ? By what method or
methods can we come to grips with its mode of existence ?
I n the first-the i ntroductory-section of our study, we com pletely eschewed
these concrete issues. We addressed ourselves to the philosophy of language, the
philoso phy of the word . But what is language, and what i s word ?
We d o not, o f course, have in m i n d anything l i ke a con cl usive defi n ition of
these concepts. Such a d efin i tion ( insofar as any scientific defin ition may be
cal led conclusive ) might co me at the end of a study , but not at its begi n ni ng.
When beginning an investigation, one needs to construct methodological guide
lines, not definitions. It is essential above a l l to get the feel of the actual subject
matter-the object under investigation ; it is e ssential to separate it from the
reality surround ing it and to make a preliminary delimitation of it. At the outset
of an investigation, it is not so much the i nte l lectual faculty for making formulas
and defi n itions that leads the way, b ut rather it is the eyes and hands attempting
to get the feel of the actual presen ce of the subject matter;
But when we turn to our particular case, the eyes and hands find themselves
in a q uandary: the eyes see noth ing and there is nothing for the h ands to touch.
The ear, it wou ld seem, i s at an advantage because it can clai m to hear a word,

Marxist Philosophy of Language


to h ear language. And i n deed, the temptations of a superficial phonetic


/Part II

are very powerfu l i n l i ngu istic science. The stu dy of the sou nd aspect of lan

guage occupies a d isproportionate l y large p l ace i n l i ngu i st i cs, often setting the

tone for the fie l d , and in most cases i s carried on outsid e any connection with t h e

real essence o f language a s ideological sign. 1

T he task o f identify i n g t h e real object o f stud y i n t h e p h il o so p h y of language
is b y n o means an easy one. With each attempt to del i m i t the object of i nvestiga
tion, to red uce it to a compact subject-matter complex of defi n itive and in spec
tab l e d i mensions, we forfe i t t h e very essence of the th i n g we are studyi ng-its

semiotic and i d eological nature. If we i solate sou n d as a p urely acoustic phenom


we will not have language as our specific object. S o u n d perta i n s who l l y to

the competence ofphysics. I f we add the physiological process


of sound pro
reception, we sti l l come no closer to o ur ob
th i s the experience ( i n ner sign s) of the speaker and l i s tener,

and the process of sou n d

ject. I f we join onto

we obtain two psychophysical processes, tak i ng pl ace in two d ifferent psycho

physiological beings, and one physical sou n d complex whose n atu ral manifesta

tion is governed by the laws of p h ysics. Language as the specifi c o bject of stud y

keeps e l u di ng u s. Y e t w e have al ready e n compassed three spheres of reality-the

ph ysical, the p hysiological , and the psychologi cal , and we h ave obtained a fai r l y

elaborate composite com p l e x . W h a t this complex l acks i s a "so u l " ; its com ponent

parts are a col lection of separate enti ties not joined together to form a u n ity by
som e i nner, pervasive governance that wou l d tra n sform that com pl ex i n to pre
cisely the p henomenon of l anguage.

What, then, needs to be add e d to o u r "al ready elaborate. complex? F irst of al l ,

t h i s complex needs to be i n cl u de d i n to a m uch wider and more com prehen sive

complex-i nto the u n ified sphere of organ ized social i n tercourse. I n order to
ob serve the process of com b ustion, a substance m ust be p l aced i n to t he air. I n
order to observe the phenomenon o f language, both the pro d u cer and the re

ceiver of sound and the sou nd itself m u st be placed i n to the social atmosphere.
After a l l , the speaker and l i stener m ust belong to the same language comm u n i ty
t o a society organized along certai n particu lar l ines. F u rthermore, o u r t w o i n
d i v i duals m ust be e n compassed by u n i ty of the i m med iate social situation , i .e.,

they m ust make contact, as o n e person to another, on a specific basis. O n ly on

a specific basis i s a verbal exchange possib le, however impersonal and however
m u ch d ictated, so to speak, by the occasion that shared basis m ay be.

1. This concerns pri m arily experimental phonetics, wh ich , in fact, does not study sou n ds
i n a language b ut sounds as produced by the vocal organs ahd received by the ear, com p l etely
without regard for the position those sounds occupy i n the system of a l anguage o r i n the
construction of an Utterance. Other branches of phonetics also em ploy h uge m asses of factual
material, laboriously and meticul o usly col lecte d , which are in no way methodological l y po
sitioned in language.

Chap. 7 ]

Two Trends o f Thought


So, we m ay say that the unity of the social milieu and the unity of the imme
diate social event of communication are cond itions absol utely essential for bring
ing our physico-psycho-physiological com plex into relation with language, with
speech, so that it can become a language-speech fact. Two biological organ isms
under purely natural cond itions wil l not produce the fact of speech .
B ut the results of our analysis, i nstead of providin g us the desired del i m ita
tion of our object of investigation , h ave brought us to an extreme expansion and
to a further compl ication of it. For the fact of the matter is that the organ ized
social milie u into which we have included our complex and the immediate social
communicative situation are i n the m selves extremely complicated and i nvolve
hosts of m u ltifaceted and m ultifarious con nections, not a l l .of which are equal ly
important for the u nderstanding of l inguistic facts, and not all of which are con
stituents of. l anguage. What is neede d , final ly, is to bring this whole multifarious
ystem of features and relations, of processes and artifacts, to one common de
nominator: all its various l ines must be channeled to one center-to the focal
point of the language process.
Above we gave an exposition of the problem of language, that is to say, we
unfolded the problem itself and revealed the difficu lties inherent in it. W hat,
then, are the attempts that have been made by phi losophy of language and by
general l inguistics to solve this prob lem? What are the signposts already p laced
along the road to its sol ution by wh ich we may take our bearings?
A detail ed survey of the history of philosophy of language and general l in
guistics or even only of their conte mporary states is not our aim. We sha l l limit
ourselves here to a general analysis of the main arteries of philosophical and l in
guistic thought in modern times?
I n the philosophy of language and in the related methodological sectors of
general li nguistics, we observe two basic trends i n the sol u tion of our problem, '
2. U p 'to the present moment, no stud ies special ly'Jevoted to the ph ilosophy of language
have appeare d . B asic research is available only on the subject of the philosophy of l a nguage
in antiquity, e.g., S teinthal, Geschichte der Sprachwissenschaft bei den Grie chen und Romern
( 1 890) . As regards its Euro pean history , we possess only monographs on i ndividual th i n kers
and l inguists ( H u mboldt, W u ndt, M a rty , and others) . We shall refer to the m in their proper
place. The reader will find an outline of the h istory of the p h ilosophy of l anguage and l i n
guistics, so far the only substantive one of its kind, in Ernst Cassirer's book, Philosophie der
symbolischen Formen: Die Sprache ( 1 92 3) . See Ch apter 1 , " Das S p rach problem in der
Geschichte der Philosophic," pp. 5 5 1 2 1 .
I n Russian scholarly l iteratu re, a brief but solid sketch of the contemporary state of af
fairs in l ingu istics and the p h ilosophy of language is provided by R . Sor in her article, " Krizis
sovremen noj l ingvistiki" [The Crisis in Contem porary Linguistics] , jafeticeskij sbornik, V
( 1 927), pp. 327 1 . A general, though far from complete, su rvey of sociological stu d ies in
linguistics is given i n an article by M . N . Peterson , " j azyk kak social'noe javlenie" [ Language
as a Social Phenomenon ] , lfcenye zapiski instituta jazyka i /iteratury, Ran ion ( Moscow,
1 927), pp. 32 1 . Works on the history of l inguistics shall be left u nmentioned here.


Marxist Philosophy of Language

[Part II

i .e . , the problem of the identification and the delimitation of language as a spe

cific object of study. Differences over th is i ssue also i mply, of cou rse, funda
mental differences between these two trends over all other issues concer n in g the
study of l anguage.
The first trend can be termed individualistic subjectivism i n the study of
language, and the seco nd, abstract objectivism. 3
The first trend con si ders the basis of language ( language mean i ng a l l l inguistic
manifestation s without exception ) to be the indivi dual creative act of speech.
The source of language is the ind ividual psyche. The laws of language creativity
and l anguage is, i t assumes, a contin uous process, a n u nceasing creativity-are
the laws of i n dividua l psychology, and the?e laws are just what the l i nguist and
the philosopher of language are supposed to study. To e lu ci date a l i ng u i stic phe
nomenon means to bring it in line with a meaningful (often even d iscursive) in
dividual act of creativity. Everything e l se the l inguist does h as only a preli m inary ,
delineatory, descri ptive, or classifactory character; it i s meant only to prepare
the ground for the true explanation of the l i nguistic phenomenon in terms of
the i ndividual creative act or to serve the practical aims of language teaching.
Language, so viewed, is analogous to other ideological phenomena, i n particular,
to art-to aesthetic activity.
The fundamental outlook on l anguage of the first trend amou n ts, therefore,
to these fou r basic principles:
1 . Language is activity, an unceasing process of creation ( energeia) realized
in individual speech acts,'
2. The laws of language creativity are the laws o f individual psychology,'
3 . Creativity of language is meaningful creativity, analogous to creative art;
4. Language as a ready-made product (ergon) , as a stable system (lexicon,
grammar, phonetics}, is, so to speak, the inert crust, the hardened lava of
language creativity, of which linguistics makes an abstract construct in the
interests of the practical teaching of lanwage as a ready-made instrument.
The most i m portant represen tative of the first trend, the one who laid its
fou ndations, was W ilhelm von H u mboldt.4
H u mboldt's powerful thought has exercised an i nfluence far exceeding the
scope of the tre n d we have just characterized. It can be claimed that all post
H u m boldtian l inguistics, to the present day, has experienced h i s determi native
influence. The whole of H umboldt's thought in its totality does not, needless to
say, fall within the four-principle framework we have adduced ; it is b roader,

3 . Neither term, as always happens with terms of this sort, fully covers the breadth and
comple ity of the tren d denoted. As we shall see, the designation of the first trend is par
ticularly inadequate. We were unable to devise better ones, however.
4. H amann and Herder were H u m boldt's p redecessors so far as this tre n d is concerned.

Chap. 7 ]

Two Trends o f Thought


more com p lex, and more contradictory, w h ich explains how it was possib le for
H u mboldt to become the preceptor for widely d ivergent trends and movements.5
Yet, the kernel of H u mbol dt's ideas may be taken as the most powerful and
most profound expression of the basic tendencies exemplified by the first trend .
A. A. Potebnja and h i s circle of fol lowers are the most i m portant representa
tives of this trend in Russian l inguistic scholarshi p.6
The representatives of the first trend, who came after H u mboldt, d id not
reach the scale of his philosophical synthesis and profund ity. The trend became
decidedly narrower especial l y as part and parcel of its adopting positivistic and
q u asi-empiricistic ways. A l ready in Steinthal 's case, the H umboldtian sweep is
m issing. As compensation, however, greater methodological precision and sys
tematization came to the fore . Steinthal, too, viewed the i nd ividual psyche as
the source fcir language ani:. considered the laws of l inguistic development to be
psychological laws.7
The basic principles of the first trend were drastically reduced i n scale by the
empiricistic psychologism of Wundt and his fol lowers.8 Wundt's position amounts
to the notion that all the facts of language without exception are amenabl e to
ec><planation in terms of i n dividual psychology on a vol u ntaristic basis.9 T rue,
Wundt considers language, as does S teinthal, a fact of the " psychology of nations"
5 . Hu m boldt exposited his ideas on philosophy of language in h is study, " Ueber die
Verschiedenheiten des mensch l ichen S prachbaues," Gesamme/te Werke, VI, ( Berl i n , 1 84 1 1 85 2 ) ; a Russian translation was made a long time ago, i n 1 8 5 9 , b y P. B iljarsk ij under the
title, 0 razlicii organizmo v ce/o veceskogo jazyka [On the D istinction among Organisms of
H u man Language ] . There is a vast literature about Humboldt. We m ight mention the book
by R. Haym, Wilhelm von Humboldt, which is available in Russian translation . Among more
recent studies, we might mention Edward S p ranger, Wilhelm von Humboldt, (Berlin, 1 909).
Russian commentary on H u mboldt and his role in Russian linguistic thought can be foun d
in the boo k b y B . M . Engel 'gart, A . N. Vese/o vskij (Petrograd , 1 92 2 ) . Recently G-. S pett pub
lished a provocative and interesting boo' entitled: Vnutrennjaja forma slova (etjudy i
variacii na temu Gumbo/'dta) [ The Inner Form of the Word ( Etudes and Variations on a
Theme of Humboldt) ] . I n it, Spett tries to restore the original, authentic H u mboldt from
under s uccessive overlays -of traditional interpretations. Spett's very subjective concept of

H u mboldt once again proves how complex and contradictory H um boldt is; the "variations"
prove to be very free indeed.
6. Potebnja ' s basic philosophical study is: Mysl' i jazyk [Thought and Language ] . H is
followers, the so-called Xar 'kov chool (Ovsjani ko-Kulikovskij, Lezin , X arciev, et a!. ) , pub
lished a non periodical series, Voprosy teorii i psixologii tvorcestva, which included Potebnja's
posthumous works and articles about him by h i? students. In Potebnja's vol ume of basic
writings, there is an exposition of Humboldt ' s i deas.
7. Beh ind S te inthal's conception stands Herbart's psychology , which is an atte m pt to
construct the whole ed ifice of the human psyche out of elements of ideas bound together
by association.
8. At this point, the connection with Humboldt becomes very slight.
9. Voluntarism places the element of will at the basis of the psyche.

Marxist Philosophy of Language


[Part II

or "eth n i c psychology. " 1 However, Wund t 's national psy
chology i s made up of the psyches of i nd ividual persons; o n ly they, for h i m ,

( Volkerpsychologie)

possess a fu l l measure o f reality.

I n the final analysis, all his explanations of the acts of l anguage, myth, a n d
rel igion a m o u n t t o p u r e l y psychological explanations. A p urely so cio logi cal reg
u latedness, which is a property of a l l signs an d which cannot t>e reduced to laws
of i n d ivi d ua l psychology, is beyond h i s ken .
I n recent ti mes, t h e first trend i n t h e ph i losophy o f language, havi n g cast off
the bonds of pos itivism, has once again achieved powerfu l growth a n d w i d e scope
in the conception of its tasks through the Vossler school.
The Vossler school (the so-cal le d " l dea l i stische N e u p h i lo l ogi e " ) is beyond
question one of the most potent movements in contemporary p h i loso p h i cal-li n
guistic thought. And the positive, specia l i zed co n tr ib ution its adherents have

made to l i nguistics ( i n Romance and Germanic philology) is also e xceptionally

great. One need o n l y name , i n add ition to Vossler h imself, s uch of h is followers
as Leo Spitzer, Lorek, Lerch, among others. A bout each of these scholars we
shall have occasion to speak later o n .

T h e general phi loso p h i cal-linguistic view h e l d by Vossler and the Vossler

school is fully characterized by the four basic prin ciples we have add u ced for the

first tre n d . The Vossler school is defi ned first an d foremost by its decisive and
theoretical ly grounded rejection

of linguistic positivism

with its i n ab i lity to see

anyth i ng beyond the lingui stic form (primarily, the phonetic for m as the most

" positive" kind) and the elementary psychophysiological act of its generat i o n . 1 1
I n con nection w i t h this, t h e meaningful ideological factor i n language has been

advanced to the fore. The main i mpetus to l i nguistic creativity is said to be

" l i nguisti c taste, " a special variety of artistic taste. L i nguistic taste is that l i n

guistic truth by which language l ives a n d whi ch the l inguist m ust ascertain i n
every man ifestation o f l anguage i n order gen u inely t o u nd erstand a n d explain
the manifestation in q uestion. Writes Vossle r :
T h e o n ly history o f language that can claim t h e status o f a science is t h e o n e th at can
run the whole gamut of the practical , causal order of things so as to arrive at the aes
thetic order, so that thereby linguistic thought, l inguistic truth, linguistic taste, and

1 0. It was G. Spett who proposed using the term "eth n ic psychology" instead of the
l iteral translation of the German term , "Volkerpsychologie." T h e original term is indeed
completely u nsatisfactory and S pett's alternative seems to us very apt. See G . S pett,
Vvedenie v etniceskuju psixologiju [ I ntroduction to E th n i c Psychology ] , Gosudarstven n aja
A k ad emija X ud ozestv i Nauk ( Moscow , 1 92 7 ) . T h e book contains substantive criticism of
Wu ndt's outlook, but G. Spett's own system is com p l etely u n acceptable.
1 1 . Vossler's first, trend-setting philosophical study , Positivism us und Idealismus in der
Sprachwissenschaft (Heidel berg, 1 904). set out to criticize linguistic positivism.

Chap. 1]

Two Trends of Thought


linguistic sensibility or, as Wilhelm Humbol d t h as called it, the inner form of language,
in its p hysically, psychically, politically, economically. and, in general, its culturally
conditioned transformations, may be made clear and u nderstandable.11
Thus we see that a l l factors having a determinative effect o n a l inguistic phe
nomenon ( physical, political, eco nomic, and other factors) have no d irect rele
vance for the linguist, according to Vossler; what is important for h i m i s only the
artistic sen se of any given linguistic phenomenon.
Such is the nature of Vosshr's purely aesthetic conce ption of l anguage. In his
own words : "Linguistic thought is essentially poetic thought; linguistic truth is
artistic truth, is meani ngfu l beauty."13
It is completely understandabl e , then, that for Vossler the basic manifestation,
the basic reality, of language shou ld not be language as a ready-made system, in
the sense of a body of inherited, immediately usable forms- phonetic, gram
matical, and other- but the individual creative act of speech (Sprache a/s Rede).
What fol l ows from this is that, from the standpoint of language generation, the
vital feature of every speech act d oes not consist i n the grammatical form s, which
are shared, stable, and immediate l y usable i n all other utterances of a given lan
guage, b u t in styl i stic concretization and modification of these abstract forms,
which individualize and uniquely characterize any given utterance.
Only this stylistic ind ividualization of language in concrete utterance is his
torical and creatively productive. I t is here precisely that language is generated,
later to solid ify i nto grammatical forms: e verything that becomes a fact ofgram
mar had once been a fact of style. This is w hat Vossler's idea of the precedence
of style over grammar amounts to.14 Most of the l i nguisti c studies published by
the Vossler school stand on the boundary between l ingu i stics (in the narrow
sense) and sty listics. The Vosslerites consistently d irect their efforts toward
d iscerning meaningfu l ideo logical roots in each form of language.
That, basically, is the philosophical-linguistic view held by Vossler and h is
school _ IS
1 2. ( Russian translation) "G ram mar and the H is tory of Language," Logos, I , 1 9 1 0, p. 1 70.
1 3. /bid., p . 1 6 7 .
1 4. We shall return later to criticism o f this idea.
1 5 . Vossler's basic philosophico-linguistic studies, published after Positivismus und /dea/
ismus, are collected in Philosophie der Sprache ( 1 926). This book provides a com plete picture
of Vossler's philosophical and general linguistic outlook. A mong l inguistic studies that dis
play the characteristic Vossler method, we might cite his Frankreich Ku/tur im Spiegel seiner
Sprachentwicklung ( 1 9 1 3). A complete bibliography of Vossler's writings u p to 1 922 will be
found in /dealistische Neuphi!o!ogie. Festschrift fUr K. Vossler ( 1 922). Two articles of
Vossler's are available in Russian translation: "G rammatika i istori]a jazyka" [Grammar and
the H istory of Language ] , L ogos, I , ( 1 9 1 0), and "Otnosenie istorii jazykov k istorii liter
atury" [The Relationshi p of the H istory of Languages to the H istory of Literature] , Logos,
1-1 1 ( 1 9 1 2-1 9 1 3) . Both articles contribute to an u nderstanding of the fundamentals of Voss
ler's outlook. No d iscussion whatever of the views of Vossler and his follow ers has been


Marxist Philosophy of Language

(Part II

Among contemporary representatives of the first trend i n the phi losophy of

language, the name of the I talian philosopher and literary scholar, B e nedetto
Croce, must also be mentioned in view of the great influence he has had on con
tempor-a ry E uropean thought in the philosophy of language a n d literary studies.
Benedetto Croce's ideas are close in many respects to Vossler's. For Croce,
language is a lso an aesthetic phenomenon . T he basic, key term in his con ception
is expression. Any sort of expression is, at the root, artistic. Hence th e notion
that l i nguistics, as the study of expression par exce ll ence (which is what the
verbal med ium is) , coincides with aesthetics. And this means that for Croce, too,
the i ndividual act of verbal expression is the fun damental m an ifestation of
Let us now go on to a characterization of the second trend of thought i n
philosophy o f language.
The organizing cen ter of a l l l inguistic phenomena, that which makes them
the specific object of a special science of l anguage, shifts in the case of the second
trend to an entirely different factor-to the linguistic system as a system of the
phonetic, grammatical, and lexical forms of language.
If, for the first tren d , language is an ever-flowing stream of speech acts in
which nothing remains fixed a n d identica l to itself, then, for the second trend ,
language is the stationary rainbow arched over that stream .
Each individual creative act, each utteran ce, is idiosyncratic and u n i q ue , but
each utterance conta i ns e lements identical with elements i n other utterances of
the given speech group. A nd it is precisely these factors-the phon etic, gramm at
ica l, and lexica l factors that are identical and therefore normative for a l l utter
ances-that insure the unity of a given language and its comprehension by a l l the
members of a given commu n ity.
I f we take any sound in a language, for instance the phoneme /b/ i n "rainbow,"
then this sou n d as produced by the physio logical articulatory apparatus of in
d ividual organisms is idiosyncratic and u n iq u e for each s peaker. T he /b/ in "rain
bow" will have as many different pronunciations as there are peo ple w ho pro
nounce the word (even though our ear may resist or be i ncapab le of d i stinguish
ing these pecu l iarities) . Physiological sou n d ( i.e., sound produced by the indi
vidual p hysiological apparatus) is, after all, j u st as u ni q ue as are a person's finger
prin ts or as is the chemical com position of each individual person 's b lood ( not

.1 6. The first part of B. Croce's A esthetics as a Science of Expression and General L in

h as been translated into R ussian ( Moscow, 1 920). Croce's overall views on l anguage
and linguistics are already specified in the first section of his book.


undertaken in Russian linguistic l iterature. A few references to them are given only in an
article by V. M . Z irmunskij about contemporary G erman literary scholarshi p ( in Poetika,
sb. I l l , "Academia," 1 927). I n the above-cited survey by R. Sor, the Vossler school is men
tioned only in a footnote. In due time, we sha l l have something to say about w orks by
Vossler's followers that have a philosophical and methodologica l significance.

Chap. 7 /

Two Trends o f Thought


withstanding t h e fact that science h as not yet been able t o provide the formula
for individual blood) .
However, the question is: H ow i m portant, from the standpoint of language,
are all these idiosyncratic pecu liarities in the pronunciation of /b/--pecu liarities
for which, we may hypothesize, the shape of the individual person 's lips and
oral cavity are responsible ( assuming that we were i n a position to distinguish
and pinpoint all these pecu liarities) ? The answer is, of cou rse, that they are to
tal ly unimportant. What is important is precisely the normative identity of the
sound in all i n stances in wh ich the word "rainbow" is pronounced. It is th is
normative iden tity (factual identity being, after al l , nonexistent) that con stitutes
the unity of the sou n d system of a language (at some particular moment in its
l ife) and that guarantees that the word in question will be u nderstood by a l l
members of the language community. T h i s normatively identi cal phoneme /b/
may be said to be a l i nguistic fact, a specific object for stu d y by the scien ce of
The same is also true with respect to al l other e l ements of language. H ere,
too, we find the same normative identity of l inguistic for m throughout (e.g., a
syntactic pattern) and the individ ua l-specific implementation and impletion of
the particular form i n the singu lar act of speech . The former belongs to the sys
tem of language, the latter is a fact belonging to ind ividual processes of s peaking
conditioned by fortuitous (from the stand point of language as system) physiol
ogical, s u bjective-psychologica l , and a l l other such factors as are not amenable
to exact accountabil ity.
It is clear that the system of language in the sen se characterized above is com
p letely i n dependent of individual creative acts, intentions, or motives. F rom the
point of view of the second trend, meaningful language creativity on the speak
er's part is simply out of the q uestion.17 L anguage stands before the ind ividual
as an inviolable, i n contestable norm which the individual , for h is part, can only
accept. If the individual fai ls to perceive a linguistic form as an incontestab le
norm, then it does not exist for h i m as a form of language but simply as a na
tural possibility for h is own individual, psychophysical apparatus. The i n dividual
acquires the system of language from his speech commun ity com pletely ready
made. A ny change with i n that system lies beyond the range of h i s individual
consciou sness. The ind ividual act of articulating sounds becomes a l ingu i stic act
only by measure of its compliance with the fixed (at any given moment in time)
and incontestable (for the individual) system of language .
What, then, is the nature of the set of laws in force with i n the language sys
1 7. T h o u g h , as we s h a l l see, t h e b a s e s j u s t described o f t h e second t r e n d of t h o u g h t in
p h i l oso p h y of l anguage did, o n t h e grou n ds o f r a t i o n a l i s m , i n co r p o rate the idea of a n arti
fic i a l l y constructed, logical, u n iversal l a n guage.

Marxist Philosophy of Language


T h i s. set of laws has.a pure l y immanent

{Part II

and specific nature that

is not reduc

ible to any other set of law-ideological, artistic, or otherwise. A l l for m s of lan

guage at any given point in time, i.e., synchronically, are i n a position of mutual

i n dispensab i l ity and complementariness, w hereby they transform language into .

an orderly system pervaded. by l aws of a specifica l l y l i ng u i stic nature. This spe-

cifical/y linguistic systematicity, In distinction from the systematicity o f ideol

ogy-of cognitio n , creative art, and et h ics -cannot become a motive for the in
dividual consciousness. The individual must acce p t and assim i l ate t h i s system
e ntirely as is; there is no place in it for eva luative, i d eological d iscrim inat ions

s u ch as whether somethi n g is better, worse, beautifu l , ugly, or the l ike. I n fact,

there is o n ly one l inguistic criterio n : correct versus incorrect, wherein linguisti

cally correct is understood to mean o n l y the correspondence of a given form to
the normative system of language: Conseque n tly, no such thi ng as l inguistic taste
or l inguistic truth comes up for d iscussion. From the ind ividual 's point of view,
linguistic systematicity is arbitrary, i.e., utterl y lacking any natural or ideological
(for i nstance, artistic) com p rehen s i b i l ity or motivation. T hus between the pho
netic design of a word and its meaning, there is neither a natural connection nor
an artistic correspondence.
If language, as a system of for m s, is com pletely i ndependent of creative im
pu lses or activities on the part of the i n d ividual, then i t fo l lows that language i s

t h e product of col l ective creativity-that i t is a social entity a n d therefore, l ike

all social i n stitutio n s, is normative for each separate individual.

However, t h i s system of language, which is an i m mutab le u n ity at any given

po i n t i n time, i.e., synchron ically, does change, does evolve in the process of the
h istorical evol ution of the speech com mu nity. After all, the normative identity
of the phoneme we esta b l i shed above w i l l be d ifferent at d ifferent periods in the
deve lopment of the language in question . I n short, language does h ave i t s h i story.
Now, how can t h i s h i story be understood in the outlook of the seco n d tre n d ?

A n overr iding characteristic of t h e second trend of thought in t h e ph ilosophy

of language is its ass u ming a special k i n d of discontinuity

language and the system of language

between the history of

( i.e., language in its a-h i storical, synchron i c

d i mensio n ) . From the sta n d point o f the basic principles of t h e second trend, th i s

d ualistic disconti n u ity is abso l ute l y insurmountable. T here can b e noth i ng i n

common between the logic governing the system o f l i nguistic form s at a n y given

moment in time and the logic (or rather "a-logic") of the h i storical change of

these for m s. The log i c is of two d ifferent k i n d s; or rather, if we recognize only

one of them as logic, the other will be a-logic, i.e., sheer violation of the logic
accepte d .
I ndeed , t h e l in g u istic forms that comprise t h e system of language are m utual l y

i n d ispensab le and com plementary t o o n e another i n just the way that terms i n a

mathematical formula are. A change of one member of the system creates a new

system, just as a change of one term in a form u l a creates a new for m u la. The

Chap. 7 ]

Two Trends of Thought


interconnection and regularity governing the relationship between terms in one

formula do not, of course, extend, nor can they extend, to the relations h i ps be
tween that particu lar formula or system and another, subsequent formu la or
A rough analogy can be used here that will adequately portray the attitude of
the second trend of thought in the philosophy of language toward the h is tory of
language. Let us l i ken the system of language to N ewton's formula for the solu
tion of binomials. Withi n this formula reigns a strict set of regulations under
which each term of the formu la is subsumed and given its fixed fu nction . Now
let us suppose that a student using this formula has m isconstrued it (for i nstance,
has m ixed up the exponents or the plus and minus signs) . I n this way, a new
formula with its o wn inner regulatory principles is obtained (of course, the new
formula does not work for the sol ution of binomials, but that is beside the point
of the analogy) . Between the first and the second formulas there is no m athe
matical connection analogous to that which holds for the terms within each
The situation is exactly the same in language. Systematic relationships con
necting two l inguistic forms together in the system of a language ( at some par
ticular point in time) h ave noth ing in common with relationsh i ps that connect
one of these forms with its altered aspect in a subsequent period of the h istorical
evol ution of that language. Up until the 1 6th century, a G erman formed the past
tense of the verb "to be" as: ich was; wir waren. The German of today u se s :
ich war; wir waren. " l ch was," therefore, changed into " ich war." Between the
forms "ich was" and "w ir waren" and between the forms "ich war" and "wir
waren," systematic linguistic connection and comp l ementariness exist. T h ey
connect with and com plement each other, to be precise, as the first person sin
gular and plural of the same verb. Between "ich was" and " ich war" and between
"ich war" (modern times) and "wir waren" ( 1 5th and 1 6th centuries) , there
exists a different, entirely separate relationsh i p having nothing in common with
the first, systematic, one. The form "ich war" came about by analogy with "wir
waren"; under the influence of "wir waren " people (separate individuals) began
creating "ich war" in p l ace of "ich was." 1 8 This phenomenon became w ide
spread and, as a result, ari individua l error turned into a linguistic norm. T hus,
between the fol lowing two series:

I I.

ich was-wir waren (in the synchronic cross section of the 1 5th century,
let us say) or ich war-wir waren (in the synchronic cross section of, say,
the 1 9th century) and
ich was-ich war

wir waren (as a factor promoting analogy)

1 s. Compare , English "I



Marxist Philosophy of Language

{Part II

the re exi st profo u nd and fundamental d ifferences. The first-the synchronic

series is governed by the systematic l inguistic con nectedness of mutually i n dis
pensable a n d com p lementary elements. T h i s series stands apart from the i n d ivid
u a l i n its capacity as an i n contestable l i nguistic nor m . T h e second-the h istorical
or d iachronic-series is govern ed by its own special set of principles-strictly
speaking, that of error by analogy.
T he logic of the history of l anguage-the logic of i nd i vidual errors or d evia
tion s ( the shift fro m " ich was" to "ich war") -operates beyond the range of the
i nd ividual consciousness. T he shift is u n intentional and u nnoticed and only as
s u ch can it come about. At any one period of time only o ne l i nguistic norm can
exist: either " ich was" or "ich war." A norm can coexist only with its violation
and not with another, contradictory norm (for w hich eason there can b e no
"tragedies" i n language) . I f the viol ation does not make itself felt and conse
q u ently is n ot corrected, and if there is favorable ground for this particular viola
tion to become a widespread fact-a n d analogy in our instance q u alifies as favor
able ground-then such a violation w i l l become the next l ingu i stic norm.
I t turns out, then, that there is nothing i n com mon-no con ne ct ion-between
the logic of language as a system of forms and the logic of its h i storical evo l u
tion. Completel y d ifferent sets of princi ples and sets of factors h o l d sway i n each
of the two domains. What e n dows language w ith m eaning and u nity i n its syn
chronic d imension is overridden and ignored i n its d iachronic d imensio n . The
present state of a language and the history of a language do not enter into and
are incapable of entering into mutual comprehensibility.
At this point we come u pon a cardinal difference between the first and second
trends in the philosophy of language. I n deed, for the first trend the very esse n ce
of l anguage is revealed precise ly i n its h i story ; the logic of language i s not at a l l
a matter of reproducing a normativel y identical form b u t o f continuous renova
tion and i ndividualization of that form via the styl istical l y u nrepro d ucible utter
ance. The reality of language is, in fact, its generation. Com plete mutual com
prehensibility obtains in langu age between any given moment in its I ife and its
h istory. T he same ideological motives prevail in the one and the other . I n Voss
l erian terms, linguistic taste creates the unity of a language at any given moment
in time; dnd it is the same linguistic taste that creates and secures the unity of a
language 's historical evolution. T he transition from one h istorical form to another
occurs b asical ly within the i n d ividual consciousness, si nce, for Vossler, as w e
know, each gram matical form was originally a free stylistic for m .
T he d ifference betwee n t h e first and second trends i s very graphicall y b rought
out in the following contrast. The self- identical forms com prising the i mmutabl e
system o f language (ergon ) represented for the first trend only the i nert crust of
the actual generative process of language, i.e., of the true essence of language
i m p lemented in the unreproducible, i ndividual act of creation. Meanwhi le, for
the seco n d trend, it is exactly this system of self-identical forms that becomes the

Chap. 7]

Two Trends of Thought


essence o f language ; individual creative refraction a n d variation of linguistic

forms are, for this trend, only the d ross of l i nguistic life or, rather, of lingu istic
monu m en ta lity, only the mercurial and extraneous overtones of the basic, fixed
tone of linguistic forms.
The outlook of the second trend can, on the whole, be summarized in the
fol lowing basic principles:
1 . Language is a stable, immutable system of normatively identical linguistic
forms which the individual consciousness finds ready-made and which is incon
testable for that consciousness.
2. The laws of language are the specifically lingvistic laws of connection be
tween linguistic signs within a given, closed linguistic system. T hese laws are ob
jective with respect to any subjective consciousness.
3. Specifically linguistic connections have nothing in common with ideological
values ( artistic, cognitive, or other) . Language phenomena are not grounded in
ideological motives. No con nection of a kind natural and comprehensible to the
consciousness or of an artistic kind obtains between the word and its meaning.
4. Individual acts of speaking are, from the viewpoint of language, merely for
tuitous refractions and variations or plain and simple distortions of normatively
identical forms, but precisely these acts of ind ividual discourse explain the h is
torica l changeabi lity of l inguistic forms, a changeabi l i ty that in itself, from the
standpoint of,the language system, is irrational and sense less. There is no con
nection, no sharing of motives, between the system of language and its history.
They are alien to one another.
The reader w i l l note that the four basic princi ples we have j u st formu lated to
characterize the second trend of thought in the p h ilosophy of language represent
antitheses to the corresponding four basic principles of the first trend .
T h e historical development o f the second trend is a great deal more d ifficult
to trace back. In this case, no representative, no founder equal to W i l he l m von .
Humboldt appears at the d aw n of our era. T he roots of this trend must b e sought
in the rational ism of the 1 7th and 1 8th centuries. T hese roots go b ack to Carte
sian grounds. 1 9
The i deas behind the second trend received their first and very sharp l y de
l ineated expression in Leibniz's conception of universal grammar.
The idea of the conventionality, the arbitrariness of language, is a typical
one for rational ism as a whole, and no Jess typical is the comparison of lan
guage to the system of mathematical signs. What interests the mathematically
19. There can be no doubt that the second tren d has profound inner connection w ith
Cartesian thought and with the overall world view of neoclassicism and its cult of autono
mous, rational , fixed form. Descartes himself produced no studies in the philosophy of lan
guage, but charaCteristic pronouncements of his can be found in his letters. See Cassirer,
Philosophie der symbo/ischen Formen, pp, 67-68.


Marxist Philosophy of Language

{Part II

m i nded rationalists is not the relationshi p of the sign to the actual reality it re
flects nor to the individual who is its originator, b u t the relationship of sign to
sign within a closed system already accepted and authorized. I n other words,
they are interested o n ly in the Inner logic of the system of signs itself, taken, as
i n algebra, completely independently of the ideo logical m eani n gs that g i ve the
signs their content. Rationa.lists are not averse to takin g the understander's view
point into account, but are least of a l l i nclined to consider that of the speaker,
as the subject expressing his own inner l ife. F or the fact is that the mathematical
sign is least amenable to interpretation as an expression of the individual psyche
-and it is the mathematical sign, after all, that rationalists hold to be the ideal
of any sign, including the verbal s ign. This is exactly what fou n d graphic expres"
sion in Leib niz's idea of universal grammar?0
I t shou l d be noted at thi s point that the precedence of the u nderstander's
v iewpoint over the speaker's has remained a constant feature of the second trend.
T h is means that o n the basis of this trend, there i s no access to the pro blem of
expression nor, consequently, to the p roblem of the verbal generation of thought
and the subjective psyche (one of the fundamental problems for the first
In somewhat simplified form, the idea of language as a system of con ventional,
arbitrary signs of a fundamenta l l y rational nature was propou nded by representa
tives of the Age of the E n l ighten ment in the 1 8th century.
Engendered on French soi l , the ideas of abstract objectivism sti l l hold sway
pre dominantly in France.21 Let us pass over its intermed iary stages o f d evelop
ment and turn directly to a characterization of the modern state of the second
Abstract objectivism finds its most stri king expression at the present time i n
t h e so-ca l l ed G eneva school o f F e rdinand de Saussure. I ts representatives, par
ticularly Charles Bally, are among the most prominent linguists of modern times.
The ideas of th is second trend all have been e ndowed with amazing clarity and
precision by F erdinand de Saussure. H i s formu lations of the basic con cepts of
l ingu istics can w e l l be accou nted classics of their kind. M oreover, Saussure un
dauntedly carried his ideas out to their conclusions, providing all the basic
l ines of abstract objectivism with exceptionall y clear-cut and r igorou s defi
n ition.
I n R u ssia, the Sau ssure school is as popular and i nfluential as the Vossler
school is not. It can be clai med t hat the majority of R ussian t h i n kers in l ingu is20. The reader can acquaint himself with the views of Leibniz pertinent here by referring
to Cassirer's book, Leibniz' System in seinen wissenschaft/ichen Grund/agen ( Marburg,
1 902).
2 1 . Curiously, the first trend, in contradistinction to the second, has developed and
continues to develop primarily on German soil.

Chap. 7 j

Two Trends of Thought


tics are u nder the determ inative infl uence of Saussure and h i s disciples, Bally
and Sechehaye.22
I n v iew of the fundamental importance of Saussure 's views for the whole
second tren d and for Russian l inguistic thought in particu lar, we shall consider
those views in some detail . Here as elsewh ere, to be sure, we shall confi ne o ur
selves to basic p h ilosophical-linguistic positions o n ly.23
Saussure's point of departure is a distinction among three aspects of language:
language-speech (langage), language as a system of forms ( langue) and the in
dividual speech act-the utterance ( parole) . Language (in the sense of langue: a
system of forms) and utterance (parole) are constituents of language-speech
(langage) ' and the latter is understood to mean the sum total of al l the phenom
ena-physical, phy,siological, and psychological-involved in the realization of
verbal activity.
Language-speech (langage) , according to Saussure, cannot be the object of
study for l i nguistics. I n and of itself, it lacks inner unity and validity as an auto
nomous entity; it is a heterogeoeous composite. I ts contrad ictory composition
makes it d i fficult to handle. Precise definition of l inguistic fact would be an im
possib i l ity on its grounds. Language-speech cannot be the point of departure for
linguistic analysis.
W hat, then, does Saussure propose should be chosen as the correct method
ological procedure for the identification of the specific object of l i nguistics?
We shal l let h i m speak for h im se lf:
I n our opinion, there can be but one solution to al l these d ifficulties [ i.e., d ifficulties
entailed in taking /angage as the point of departure for analysis- V. V. ) : we must first
and foremost take our stand on the grounds o f language ( langue) and accept it as the
norm for all other manifestations of speech (langage). I ndeed, amidst so many d uali
ties, language alone appears susceptible to autonomous definition , and it alone can
provide the' mind a satisfactory base of operations!4
22. R. S or's jazyk i obscestvo [Language and S ociety] ( Moscow, 1 926), is entrenched
in the spirit of the G eneva School. S he also functions as an ardent apologist of Saussure's
basic ideas in her article, " Krizis sovremennoj l ingvistiki," already cited. The linguist
V. V. Vinogradov may be regarded a follower of the G eneva S chool. Two schools of R ussian
linguistics, the Fortunatov school and the so-called Kazan' school ( Krusevskij and B audouin
de Courtenay ) , both of them vivid expressions of linguistic formalism, fit entirely w ithin the
framework we have mapped out as that of the second trend of thought in philosophy of
2 3. Saussure's basic theoretical work, published after his d eath by his students, is Cours
de linguist/que generate ( 1 9 1 6) . We shall be q uoting from the second edition of 1 922. Puzz .
lingly enough, Saussure's book, for all its influence, has not as yet been translated into Rus
sian. A brief summary of Saussure's views can be fo.u nd in the above-cited article by R. Sor
and in an article by Peterson, "Obscaja l ingvistika" [ General Linguistics] , Pecat' i R evo/juc
ija, 6, 1 92 3.
24. Saussure, Cours de linguist/que, p. 24.


Marxist Philosophy of Language

(Part II

And in w hat does Saussure see the fundamenta l d ifference between speech

(langage) and language {langue) ?

Taken in its totality, speech is m anifold and anomalous. A stride several domains at
once-the physical , the physiological, the psychological, it pertains, also, both to the
domain of the individual arid to the d omain of society. I t resists classification under
any of the categories of human facts because there is no knowing how to elicit its
Language, on the contrary, is a self-contained w hole and a princi ple of classification.
Once we give it first place among the facts of speech, w e introduce a natural order
into an assemblage that is amenable to no other classification!'
Thus, Saussure ' s contention is that language as a system of normative l y iden
tical forms must b e taken as the point of departure and that all manifestations
of speech m u st be i l l u m i nated from the angle of these stable and autonomous
After having d i stinguished language from speech ( speech meani n g the sum
total of all manifestatio n s of the verbal faculty, i.e., /angage ) , Saussure proceeds
to d isti nguish language from acts of individual speaking, i.e., from utterance
(parole) :
I n distingu ish ing langu age (langue) from utteran ce (parole) , we by the same token
distinguish ( 1 ) w hat is social from what is individual, and (2) w hat is essential from
what is accessory and more or less random.
Language is not a fu nct ion of the speaker; it is a product that the ind ividual registers
passively: it never rel ies upon premed itation and reflection pl;lys no part in it, except
in the matter of classification-which is a topic for later consideration.
Utterance, on the contrary, is an ind ividual act of will and intelligence in which we
must distinguish between ( 1 ) the combinations through which a speaker utilizes a
particular language code for expressing his own personal thoughts, and ( 2 ) the psy
ch ophysical mechanism that enables h i m to exteriorize those combinations.26
Lingu i stics, as Saussure con ceives it, cannot h ave the utterance as its obj'ect

of study.27 What constitutes the linguistic element in the utterance are the nor
matively identical forms of language present in it. Everything e l se is "accessory
and random."
Let u s u nderscore Saussure's main thesis: language stands in opposition to
utterance in the same way as does that which is social to that which is individual.
2 5 . Ibid., p. 2 5 .
2 6 . Ibid., p. 30.
2 7 . Saussure does, it is true, allow the

possibility of a special l inguistics of u tterance

("linguistique de Ia parole") , but he remains silent on just w hat sort of linguistics that would
be. Here is what he says on this point:
II faut choisir entre deux routes qu'il est impossible de prendre en meme tem ps; elles
doivent etre suivies separe'ment. On peuU. Ia rigueur conserver le nom d e lingu istique
de Ia parole. M ais il ne fau d ra pas Ia confondre avec Ia l inguistique proprement d ite,
celle dont Ia langue est !'unique objet [Ibid., p. 39] .

Chap. 1 ]

Two Trends of Thought


The utterance, therefore, i s considered a thoroughly individual entity. This point,

as we shall see later, contains the pseudos proton of Saussure's v iews and of the
whole abstract objectiv ist trend.
The individual act of speaking, the utteran ce (parole), so decisively cast aside
from l inguistics, does return, however, as an essential factor in the h istory of
language.28 Saussure, in the spirit of the second trend, sharply o pposes the his
tory of language to language as a synchronic system . H is tory is dominated by
"utterance" with its indiv iduality and randomness, and therefGe a completely
d ifferent set of principles holds for the h i story of language than for the system
of language. Saussure declares:
Such being the case, the synchronic " phenomenon" can have nothing in common
with the diachronic
Synchronic linguistics will be concerned with the l ogical and
psychological relations that bind together coexistant terms and form a system, such
as these relations are perceived by one and the same collective mind.
Dia chronic linguistics, on the contrary, must study relations binding successive terms
together, which relations are not perceived by the collective m i nd and replace one
another without forming a system!9

Saussure's views on h i story are extremely characteristic for the spirit of ra

tionalism that continues to hold sway in this second trend of thought i n the
phi losophy of language and that regards h i story as an irrational force distorting
the logical pur ity of the language system.
Saussure and the Saussure school are not the only h igh point of abstract ob
j ectivism in our tinie. Loom ing alongside the Saussure school i s another-the
sociological school of D urkheim, represented in lingui stics by a figure such as
Meil let. We shall not dwell on a characterization of Meil let's views.30 They fit
entirely with in the framework of the basic principles of the second trend. For
Meillet, too, language is a social phenomenon , not in its aspect as a process, but
as a stable system of l ingu i stic norms. The compu lsory nature of language and
the fact that language is exterior to the ind iv idual consciousness are for Meilfe t
its fundamental social characteristics.
So much, then, for the views of the second trend of thought in p h i lo so p hy of
language-the trend of abstract object ivism.
N eedless to say, there are n u merou s schools and movements in l inguistics,
sometimes h ighly signifi cant ones, that do not fit into the framework of the two
trends we have described. It was our purpo se to trace the major arteries o n ly.
A l l other manifestations of p h i losophical-l inguistic thoug h t are in the nature of
28. Saussure says: "Tout ce qui est diachronique dans /a langue ne /'est que par fa parole.
C ' est dans Ia parole que se trouve le germe de tout les changements [ Ibid., p. 1 38 ] .
29. Ibid., pp. 1 2 9 and 1 40.
30. An exposition of Meillet's views in connection with the principles of Durk heim's so
ciological method is give n in the above-cited article by M. N . Peterson, "] azyk kak social'noe
javlenie." The article includes a bibliography.


Marxist Philosophy of Language

[Part II

com b i nations or compromises w ith respect to the trends d iscussed or are entirely
devoid of any appreciable theoretical orientation.
Let u s take the example of the neogrammarian movement, a phenomenon of
no smal l i mportance in the linguistics of the latter half of the 1 9th century. The
neogrammarians, w ith respect to part of their basic principles, are associated with
the first tre n d, tending toward its p hysiological extreme. For them, the individ
ual who creates language is essentially a p hysiological being. O n the o ther hand,
the neogrammarians d id attem pt to construct, o n psychop h ysiological gro unds,
invariable natural scientific laws of language completely removed from anything
describable as the individual will of speakers. From th is i ssued the neogrammar
ians' notion of sou n d laws (Lautgesetze). 3 1
I n l i nguistics, as in any other d iscipline, there are two basic devices for avoid
ing the o b l igation and trouble of thinking in responsible, theoretical, and, con
seq uently, philosophical terms. T he first way is to accept a l l theoretical views
wholesale (academ ic eclecticism ) , and the secon d is not to accept a si ngle point
of view of a theoretical nature and to procla i m "fact" as the u ltimate basis and
criterion for any kind of knowledge ( academic positivism ) .
The philosophical effect of both these devices for avoi d ing philosop h y amounts
to one and the same thing, since in the second case, too, all possible theoretical
points of view can and do creep into investigation u nder the cover of "fact."
Which of these devices an investigator w i l l choose d epends entirel y u pon his
temperament: the eclectic tends more to the bl ithe side; the positivist, tD the
There have been in l inguistics a great many developments, and entire schools
( here, school has the sense of scientific and technical tra i n ing) that have avoided
the troub l e of a phi losophical l inguistic orientation. T h ey , of course, d i d not
find a place in the present survey.
We sha l l have o ccasion to mention later, in connection with our analysis of
the prob lem of verbal i nteraction and the problem of meaning, certai n l i nguists
and philosophers of language not mentioned here-for i n stance, O tto D eitrich
and A nton Marty.
At the beginn ing of th is chapter, we posed the problem of the identification
and delimitation of language as a specific object for Investigation. We endeavored
to bring into view those gu ideposts already p laced along the road of the solution
to the problem by the precedi ng trends of thought i n the philosophy of language.
As a result, we fin d o urselves confronted by two series of guideposts pointing i n
3 1 . T h e basic works o f the neogram marian movement are: Osthoff, Das physio logische
und psycho/ogische Moment in der Sprachlichen Formenbildung (Berlin, 1 879); B rugmann
and Delbrilck, Grundriss der vergleichenden Grammatik der indogermanischen Sprachen,

5 Volumes {Vol. I , 1 st edition, 1 886). The neogram marian program is spelled out in the
preface to the book by Osthoff and B rugmann, Morphologische Untersuchungen, Vol . I
{ Leipzig, 1 878).

Chap. 7]

Two Trends of Thought


diametrica l l y opposite directions: the theses of individualistic subjectivism and

the antitheses of abstract objectivism.
What, then, is the true center of l i nguistic rea l ity : the i n dividual speech act
the utterance-or the system of language? A nd what is the real mode of existence
of language: unceasing creative generation or inert immutab i lity of self-identical


Language, Speech, and Utterance

Can language as a system of normative, self-identical forms be

considered an objective fact? Language as a system of norms
and the actual viewpoint on language in a speaker's conscious
ness. What kind of linguistic reality underlies a linguistic
system? The problem of the alien, foreign word. The errors of
abstract objectivism. Summary and conclusions.
I n the preced ing chapter, we tried to give an entirely objective .picture of the
two mai n trends of thought i n the philosophy of language. Now we must submit
those trends to a thorough critical analysis. Only after having done so wil l we be
able to answer the question posed at the end of the preceding chapter.
Let us begin with critical analysis of the second trend, that of abstract objec
First of all, let us pose a question : to what degree may the system of self
identical l i nguistic norms ( i .e., the system of language, as the representatives of
the second tre n d u n d e rstand it) be considered a real entity ?
None o f t h e representatives of abstract objectivism wou l d , o f course, ascribe
concrete material reality to the system of l anguage. True, that system is expressed
in material things-in signs-but as a system of normativel y i dentical forms, it has
reality only i n the capacity of the social norm.
Representatives of abstract objectivism constantly stress-and it is one of their
basic principles-that the system of language is an o bjective fact external to and
independent of any i ndividual consciousness. Actual ly, represented as a system
of self-identical, immutable norms, it can be perceived i n th is way only by the
individual consciousness and from the poin t of view of that con sciousness.
I ndeed, if we were to disregard the su bj ective, i ndividual consciousness vis-a
vis the l anguage system, the system of norms incontestable for that consciousness,


Marxist Philosophy of Language

[Part II

if we were to l ook at language in a truly objective way - from the side, so to

speak, or more accurately, from above i t, we wou l d d iscover no i nert system of
self-identical norms. I nstead, we woul d find ourselves witnessing the ceaseless
generation of language norms.
From a trul y objective iewpoi n t, one that attempts to see l anguage i n a way '
completely apart from h ow it appears to any given individual at any given
moment i n time, language presents the p icture of a ceasel ess flow of becoming .
From the stand point o f o bservi ng a l anguage objectively, from above, there is
n o real moment in time when a synchronic system of l anguage cou l d be con
Thus a synchronic system, from the objective point of view, does not corre
spond to any real moment in the historical process of becoming. And i ndeed, to
the h istorian of language, with his diachronic point of v iew, a synchroni c system
is not a real entity ; it merely serves as a conventional scale on which to register
the deviations occur i ng at every real i nstant in time. .
So, then, a synchronic system may be said to exist only from the point of
v iew of the subjective consciousness of an ind ividual speaker belonging to some
particul ar language grou p at some particu lar moment of h istorical time. From
an o bjective point of view, no such system exists at any real instant of h i storical
time. We may suppose, for i nstance, that while Caesar was engaged i n writing h i s
works, the Latin language was for h i m a fixed, incontestable system o f self
identical norms; but, for the h i storian of Lati n, a continuous process of l i nguis
tic change was going on at the very moment that Caesar was working ( whether
or not the h i storian of Latin wou l d be able to p i npoint those changes) .
Any system of social norms occupies an analogous position. I t exists only
with respect to the subj ective consciousness of i ndividuals belonging to some
particu lar community governed by norms. Such i s the nature of a system of
m oral norms, of j udicial norms, of norms for aesthetic taste (there are, i n deed,
such norms) , and so on. Of course, these norms vary: their obl igatory nature
varies, as does the breadth of the i r social compass, as does also the degree of
their social significance, determined by their proxi mity to the basis, etc. B u t
the nature o f their existence as norms remains the same-they exist only with
respect to the su bjective consciou sness of members of some particu lar commu nity.
Does i t fol low, then, that this relationshi p between the su bjective conscious
ness and l anguage as a system of objective, incontestable norms i s itself bereft of
any objectivity? Of course not. Properly understood, this relationship can be
considered an o bjective fact.
If we claim that language as a system of incontestabl e and i m m u table nor m s
exists objectively, w e commit a gross error. B u t i f we claim that l anguage, w i th
respect to the i ndividual consciousn.e ss, is a system of i m m u table norms, that
such i s the mode of existence of l anguage for each member of any given language
community, then what we are expressing in these terms is a completely objective

Chap. 2]

Language, Speech, and Utterance


relationship. Whether th fact itself is correctly constitu ted, whether language

actually d oes appear only as a fixed and inert system of norms to the speaker's
consciousness-that is another question . For the time being we sha l l leave that
question open. But the point, in any case, is that a certain k ind of objective
relationsh ip can be established.
Now, how do representatives of abstract objectivism themselves regard th is
matter? Do they assert that language is a system of objective and incontestable
self-identical norms, or are they aware of the fact that th is is only the mode of
existence of the language for the subjective consciousness of a speaker of any
given l anguage?
No better answer can be given than the fol l owing: M ost representatives of
a bstract objectivism are inclined to assert the unmediated reality, the unmediated
objectivity of language as a system of normatively identical forms. I n the case of
these representatives of the second trend, abstract o bjectivism converts d irectly
into hypostasizing abstract objectivism. Other representatives of the tren d
( Meil l et, for instance) have a more critical attitude a n d do take account o f the
a bstract and conventional nature of the l i nguistic system. However, not a si ngle
representative of abstract objectivism has arrived at a clear and d istinct concep
tion of the kind of rea l ity that language as an o bjective system does possess. I n
t h e majority of cases, these representatives w a l k the tightrope between two
conceptions of the word "objective" as applied to the system of language : one
in quotation m ar ks, so to speak (from the standpoint of the speaker's su bjective
consciousness} , and one without quotation marks (from the objective standpoi nt) .
Th is, incidentally, is the way that Saussure, too, handles the question-he pro
vides no clear-cut solution.
Now we must ask: Does language really exist for th e speaker 's subjective
consciousness as an objective system of i ncontestable, normativel y identical
forms? Has abstract objectivism correctly u nderstood the point of view of the
speaker's su bjective consciousness? Or, to p u t it another way : I s the mode of
being of language in the subjective speecr consciousness really what abstract
objectivism says it is?
We must answer th is question in the negative. The speaker's su bjective con
sciousness does not in the least operate with language as a system of nor matively
i dentical forms. That system is merely an a bstraction arrived with a good deal of
trouble and with a definite cognitive and practical focus of attention. The sys
tem of l anguage is the product of del iberation on language, and d e l i beration of
a kind by no means carried out by the con sciousness of the native speake r
h imself a n d b y no means carried out for t h e immed iate purposes of speak i ng.
I n poin t of fact, the speaker's fo cus of attention is brought about in l i ne with
the particular, concrete utterance he is mak i ng. What matters to h i m is applying
a normatively identical form ( let us grant there is such a thi ng for the time being)
in some particular, concrete context. For h im , the center of gravi ty l ies not in


Marxist Philosophy of Language

(Part II

the identity of the form but in that new and concrete meaning it acquires in the
p articular context. What the speaker val ue s i s not that aspect of the form which
is invariably identical in al l instances of i ts usage, despite the nature of those
i nstances, b u t that aspect of the l i ngu istic form because of w hich it can figure
in the given, concrete contt(xt, because of wh ich it becomes a sign adequate to
the conditions of the given, concrete situatio n .
We can express i t this way : what is important for the speaker about a linguis
tic form is not that it is a stable and always self-equivalent signal, but that it is
an always changeable and adaptable sign. That i s the speaker's point of view.
But doesn't the speaker also have to take into account the point of view of
the l istener and understander? I sn 't it possible that here, exactly, i s where the
normative identi ty of a l i nguistic form comes i n to force?
This, too, is not quite so. The basic task of u nderstanding does not at all
amount to recognizing the l inguistic form used by the speaker as the fam iliar,
"that very same, " form, the way we d istinctly recognize, for i nsta11ce, a signal
that we have not quite become used to or a form in a l anguage that we do not
know very wel l . No, the task of u nderstand ing does not basical l y amoun t to
recognizing the form used, b u t rather to u nderstanding it in a particu l ar, con
crete context, to understanding its meaning in a particular u tterance, i .e . , i t
amounts to understanding i t s novel ty and not t o recognizing i ts identity.
I n other words, the u nderstander, belonging to the same language community,
a l so is attuned to the l ingu istic form not as a fixed, self-identical signal, but as a
changeable and adaptabl e sign .
The process of u nderstan d i ng i s on no account to be confused with the pro
cess of recognition. These are thoroughly d ifferent processes. Only a sign can b e
u nderstood ; what i s recogn ized is a signa l . A s ignal is an internally fixed, singu lar
thing that does not i n fact stand for anyth ing else, or reflect or refract anyth ing,
but is simply a technical means for indicating this or that object (some definite ,
fixed o bject) o r t h i s o r that action ( l ikewise defin ite a n d fixed ) . 1 U n der no
circu mstances does the signal relate to the d o main of the ideological ; it relates
to the world of technical devices, to i nstruments of production in th e broad
sense of the term . Even further removed from ideology are the signals with
wh ich reflexology is concerned. These signals, taken in relation to the organism
of the ani mal su bject, i.e., as signals for that subject, h ave no relation to techni
ques of production. I n this capacity they are not signals b u t sti m u l i of a special
k i n d . They become instru ments of p roduction only in the hands of the experi
menter. The grievous m isconceptions and ingrained habits of mechanistic
1 . For

interesting and ingenious distinctions between a signal or combinations of signals

( i n maritime usage, for instance ) and a linguistic form or combinations of lingu istic forms

in connection with the problem of syntax, see K. Buhler, "Yom Wesen der Syntax,"
pp. 6 1 -69.

Festschrift fur Karl Vossler,

Chap. 2]

Language, Speech, and Utterance


thought are alone responsible for the attempt to take these "signals" and very
nearly make of them the key to the understanding of language and of the hu man
psyche (inner word) .
Shou l d a l i nguistic form remain only a signal, recognized as such by the
understander, i t, then, does not exist for h i m as a l i nguistic form. Pure signality
is not evinced even in the early stages of language learning. I n this case, too, the
l i nguistic form is oriented in context; here, too, it is a sign, although the factor
of signal ity and its correlative, the factor of recognition, are operative.
Thu s the constituent factor for the lingu istic form, as for the sign, is not at
all its self-identity as signal but its specific variabili ty ; and the constituent factor
for understanding the l ingu istic form is not recognition of "the same thing," but
understanding. in the proper sense of the word, i .e., orientation i n the particu lar,
given context and i n the particular, given situation-orientation in the dynamic
process of becoming and not "orientation " in some inert state.2
I t d oes not, of course, fol l ow from all that has beeR said that the factors of
signal ization and its correlative, recognition, are absent from language. They
are present, but they are not constituents of l anguage as such. They are dialec
tically effaced by the new qual ity of the sign (i.e., of language as such ) . I n the
speaker's native language, i .e ., for the l i nguistic consciousness of a member of
a particular language community, signal-recognition is certainly d ialectically
effaced . I n the process of mastering a foreign l anguage, signal ity and recogn i
tion sti l l make themselves felt, so to speak, and sti l l remain to be surmounted, the
language not yet fu l l y having become language. The ideal of mastering a lan
guage i s absorption of signal i ty by pure semioticity and of recognition by pure
2 . We shall see later that precisely this kind of understanding in the proper sense, an
understanding of process, lies at the basis of response, i .e., at the basis of verbal interaction.
No sharp d ividing line can be drawn between understanding and response. Any act of under
standing is a response, i .e., it translates what is being understood i nto a new context from
which a response can be made.
3. The principle advanced here u nderlies the practice (though p roper theoretical aware
ness may be lacking) of all sensible methods of teaching l iving foreign languages. What is
cefltral to all these methods is that students become acquainted w ith each l i nguistic form
only in concrete contexts and -si tuations. So, for instance, students are acquainted with some
word only through the p resentation of a variety of contexts in which that word figures.
Thanks to this procedure, the factor of recognition of identical w ord is dialecticall y com
bined with and submerged under the factor of the word 's contextual changeability, diversity,
and capacity for new meanings. A word extracted from context, w ritten down in an exercise
book, and then memorized together w ith its Russian translation u n dergoes signalization, so
to speak. It becomes a particular h ard-and -fast thing, and the factor of recognition intensifies
in the p rocess of understanding it. To put it briefly, under a sound and sensible method of
practical i nstruction, a form should be assimilated n ot in its relation to the abstract system
of the language, i.e., as a self-identical form, but in the-concrete structure of utterance, i.e.,
as a mutable and pliable sign.


Marxist Philosophy of Language

{Part II

The l i ngu istic consciousness of the speaker and of the l istener-u nderstander,
in the practical business of l iv i ng speech, is not at al l concerned with the
a bstract system of nor m ati v ely identical forms of language, b u t w i th language
speech in the sense of the aggregate of possible contexts of u sage for a particu l ar
l i nguistic form. For a persqn speaking h i s native tongue, a word presents itself
not as an item of vocabulary but as a word that has been used i n a wide variety
of u tterances by co-speaker A, co-speaker B, co-speaker C and so on, and has
been variously u sed i n the speaker's own u tterances. A very special and specific
k i nd of orientation is necessary, if one is to go from there to the self-identical
word bel onging to the l exicological system of the language in question-the
dictionary word. For that reason, a member of a language comm u nity does
not normally feel h imself u nder the pressure of incontestable l ingu istic norms.
A l ingu istic form w i l l bring its normative significance to the fore o n ly i n
exceptional l y rare instances o f confl ict, instances that are n o t typical for
speech activity (and which for modern man are almost exclusively associated
with writing) .
One other extremely pertinent consideration needs to be added here. The
verbal consciousness of speakers has, by and large, nothi ng whatever to d o with
l i ngu istic form as such or with l anguage as such.
In point of fact, the l inguistic form, wh ich, as we have j u st shown, exists for
the speaker only in the context of specific u tterances, exists, consequently, only
in a specific ideological context. I n actual ity, we never say or h ear words, we
say and h ear what is true or fal se, good or bad, important or u n i mportant,
p leasant Gr u npleasant, and so on. Words are always filled with content and
meaning drawn from behavior or ideology. That is the way we u n d erstand
words, and we can respond only to words that e ngage us behaviorall y or ideo
l ogically.
Only i n abnormal an d special cases do we apply the criterion of com;ctness
to an u tterance (for instance, in language instruction ) . Normally, the criterion
of l i nguistic correctness is su bmerged by a purely ideological criterion : an
u tterance's correctness is ecl i p sed by its truthful ness or fal si ty, i ts poeticalness
or banal i ty , etc.4
Language, in the process of its practical implementation, is i n separable from
i ts i deological or behavioral impletion. Here, too, an orientation of an e n tirely
special kind-one u naffected by the aims of the speaker's consciousness-is
required if language is to be abstractly segregated from i ts ideological or behav
ioral i m p l etion.
4. On this basis, as we shall see l ater, one would have to disagree with Vossler i n his
postulating the existence of a separate and d istinct kind of linguistic taste that in each
i nstance would remain apart from some specific kind of ideol ogical "taste"-aesthetic,
cognitive, ethical, or other.

Chap. 2/

Language, Speech, and Utterance


If we advance this abstract segregation to the status of a principle, if we reify

linguistic form divorced from ideological impletion, as do certain represen tatives
of the second trend, then we end up deal ing wi th a signal and not with a sign of
The divorce of language from its ideological impletion is one of abstract
objectivism's most serious errors.
I n sum, then, for the conciousness of a speaker of a language, the real mode
of existence for that l anguage is not as a system of normatively identical forms.
From the viewpoint of the speaker's consciou sness and his real-life practice in
social intercourse, there is no direct access to the system of language envisioned
by abstract objectivis m .
What, then, i n such a case, is this system?
I t is clear from the start that- that system is obtained by way of abstraction,
that it is composed of e lements extracted in an abstract way from the real u nits
that make u p the stream of speech -from u tterances. Any abstraction, if i t is to
be legitimate, must be justified by some specific theoretical and practical goal .
An abstraction may be productive or not productive, or may be productive for
some goals and tasks and not productive for others.
What are the goals that u nderl ie the kind of l i nguistic abstraction that leads
to the synchronic system of language? And from what point of view may this
system be regarded p roductive and necessary?
At the basis of the modes of l i ngu istic thought that lead to the postu lation
of l anguage as a system of normatively identical forms l ies a practical and
theoretical focus of attention on the study of defunct, alien languages preserved
in written monuments.
This philological orientation has determined the whole course of lingu i stic
thinking in the European world to a very considerable degree, and we must
stress this point with all possible insistence. European lingu istic thought formed
and matured over concern with the cadavers of written languages; almost all its
basic categories, its basic approaches and tech niques were worked out in the
process of reviving these cadavers.
Philologism is the i nevitable distingu ish i ng mark of the whole of European
l i ngu istics as determined by the h istorical vicissitudes of its birth and devel op
ment. However far back we may go in tracing the history of l ingu istic categories
and methods, we find philologists everywhere. Not just the Alexandrians, but
the ancient Romans were p h i l ologists, as were the G reeks (Aristotle is a typ ical
philologist) . Also, the ancient Hindus were philologists.
We can state outrigh t : linguistics makes its appearance wherever and when
ever philological need has appeared. Philological need gave birth to lingu istics,
rocked its cradle, and l eft its philological flu te wrapped in i ts swadd l ing clothes.
That flute was supposed to be able to awaken the dead. But it lacked the range
necessary for mastering l iving speech as actually and continuously generated.


Marxist Philosophy of Language

/Part II

N. J a. Marr i s perfectly correct i n pointing out th is p h i lological essence i n

I ndo-European l ingu istic thought:
I ndo-European l inguistics, commanding an already established and a long since fully
formed object of investigation-the I ndo-European l anguages of the historical epochs
and taking its d eparture, moreover, al most exclusively from the petrified forms of
w ritten languages-dead l anguages foremost among them-is naturally itself i ncapable
of bringing to light the p rocess of the emergence of speech in general and the origina
tion of i ts species.'
Or in another passage :
The greatest o bstacle [ to the study of aboriginal speech-V. V. ] is caused not by the
difficulty of the research i tself, nor the lack of solid data, but by our scientific think
ing, which is l ocked into the traditional outlook of philol ogy or the history of culture
and has not been n urtured by ethnological and linguistic perception of living speech
in i ts l i mitlessl y free, creative ebb and flow.
Marr's words hold tru e not only, of course, for I nd o-European stu d ies, w h ic h
have s e t t h e ton e for al l contemporary l inguistics, but also for t h e whole o f l i n
guistics as w e k now it from h istory. Everywhere, as w e have sai d, l inguistics i s
the c h i l d o f p h i l ol ogy.
G u ided by philological n eed, l i nguistics has always taken as its point of
departure the fin i shed monologic utterance-the ancient written monUJ:nent,
considering i t the u l timate real i u m . A l l i ts methods and categories were elabo
rated in i ts work on this k i n d of defunct, monologic u tterance or, rather, on a
series of such utterances constitu ting a corpu s for l ingu istics by virtue of
common language alone.
But the monologic utterance is, after all, already an abstraction, though, to
be sure, an abstraction of a " natural " k i n d . Any monologic u tterance, the
written monument i nclu ded, is an inseverable element of verbal com m u nica
tion. Any utterance-the fin ished, written utterance not excepted-makes
response to somethi ng and is calculated to be responded to i n turn. I t is b u t
o n e link i n a continuous c h a i n o f speech performances. Each monument carries
o n the work of i ts predecessors, polemicizing with them, expecting active,
responsive u nderstanding, and anticipating such u nderstanding in return. Each
monument in actuality is an i n tegral part of science, l iterature, or politiCal l ife.
The monu ment, as any other monol ogic u tterance, is set toward being perceived
in the context of current scientific l ife or current l iterary affairs, i .e., i t is per
ceived in the generative process of that particular ideological domain of which
i t is an i ntegral part.
5. N. j a . Marr, Po etapam jafetskoj teorii
( 1 926). p. 269.
6 . /bid., pp. 9 4-95 .

[Through the Stages of the j aphetic Theory )

Chap. 2}

Language, Speech, and Utterance


The philologist-linguist tears the monument out of that real domain and
views it as if i t were a self-sufficient, isolated entity. H e brings to bear on it not
an active ideological understanding but a completely passive kind of understand
ing, in wh ich there is not a fl icker of response, as there wou l d be in any authen
tic kind of u nderstanding. The philologist takes the isolated monu ment as a
document of l anguage and places it in relation with other monu ments on the
general plane of the l anguage in question. All th e methods and categories of
l i nguistic thought were formed in th is process of comparing an d correlating
isolated monologic u tterances on the plane of language.
The dead language the l i ngu ist stu d ies is, of course, an al ien language. There
fore, the system of l i ngu istic categories is l east of all a product of cognitive
reflection on the part of the l i nguistic consciousness of a speaker of that l an
guage. Here reflection does not involve a native speaker's feel ing for his o wn
language. No, this kind of reflection is that of a mind striking out into, b reaking
trails through , the unfamil iar world of an alien language.
I nevitably, the philologist-l inguist's passive understand ing is projected onto
the very monu ment he i s studying from the l anguage poin t of view, as if that
monu ment were in fact calculated for just that kind of understanding, as if it
had, in fact, been written for the philologist.
The resu l t of all th is is a fundamen tal ly erroneous theory of understand ing
that u nderlies not only the methods of l ingu istic interpretation of texts b u t also
the whole of E uropean semasiology. I ts en tire position on word meaning and
theme is permeated through and through with the false notion of passive under
standing, the k ind of understanding of a word that excludes active response in
advance and on principle.
We shal l see later that th is kind of \.Jnderstanding, with bu ilt-in exclusion of
response, is not at al l in fact the kind of understand ing that applies in language
speech. The latter kind of understanding inextricabl y merges with an active
position taken apropos of what has been said and is being understood. The
characteristic feature of passive understanding is exactly a distin ct sense of the
i dentity factor in a l i ngu istic sign, i .e., perception of it as an artifact-signal and,
in correlation with th is, the predominance of the recognition factor.
Thus dead, written, alien language is the true description of the language with
which l i ngu istic thought has been concerned .
The isolated, finished, monologic utterance, divorced from its verbal and
actual context and standing open not to any possible sort of active respon se but
to passive u n derstand i ng on the part of a philologist-that is the u l timate
"donnee" and the starting point of l i nguistic thought.
Engendered in the process of mastering a dead, al ien language for purposes
of scientific investigation, l i ngu istic thought has also served another, not
investigatory, but instructional purpose : the purpose not of deciphering a
language but of teaching an al ready deciphered language. Monu ments were


Marxist Philosophy of Language

(Part II

made over from h euristic documents i n to a classical model of language for the
l ecture hal l .
This second basic task of l i nguistics-its creating the apparatus essential for
instruction i n a d eciphered language, for codify i ng it, so to speak, i n l ine with
the aims of l ecture-hall transm ission, made a su bstantial imprint on l ingu istic
thinking. Phonetics, grammar, lexicon-the three branches of the system of
l anguage, the three organizing centers for l ingu istic categories-took shape
with in the channel of these two major tasks of l ingu istics: the heuristic and
the pedagogical.
What is a philologist?
Despite the vast differences in cu l tural and h istorical l ineaments from the
ancient Hindu priests to the modern E u ropean scholar of language, the ph ilolo
gist has always and everywhere been a decipherer of al ien, " secret" scripts and
words, and a teacher, a d i sseminator, of that which has been deciphered and
handed down by tradition.
The first philologists and the first l i nguists were always and everywhere
priests. History k n ows no nation whose sacred writings or oral tradition were
not to some degree in a language foreign and incomprehensib l e to the profane.
To decipher the mystery of sacred words was the task meant to be carried out
by the priest-philologists.
It was on these grounds that ancient philosophy of language was engendered :
the Vedic teach ing about the word, the Logos of the ancient Greek thin kers ,
and the bibl ical philosophy of the word .
To understand these philosophemes properly, one must not forget for one
i nstant that they were philosophemes of the alien word. I f some nation had
k nown only its own native tongue ; if, for that nation, word had always
coincided with native word of that nation 's l ife; if no mysterious, alien word,
no word from a foreign tongue, h ad ever entered its purview, then such a nation
woul d never have created anything resembl ing these philosophemes.7 It is an
astonishing feature: from remotest antiquity to the present day, the philosophy
of word and l i nguistic thought have been built u pon specific sensibil ity to the
alien, foreign-language word and upon those tasks which precisely that kind of
word presents to the m i nd-deci phering and teaching what has been deciphere d .
T h e Vedic p r iest a n d t h e contemporary philologist-l ingu ist are spe l l bound
and held captive in their think i ng about language by one and the same phenom
enon-the phenomenon of alien, foreign-language word.
7. According to Ved ic religion, the sacred word-in that usage to which it is put by the
"gnostic" consecrated priest -becomes the sovereign of all Being, including both gods and
men . The priest-gnostic is d efined h ere as the one who Fom mands the word -therein l ies all
his power. The doctrine to this effect is contained already in the Rig Veda. The ancient
Greek philosopheme of Logos and the Alexandrian doctrine of Logos are well known.

Chap. 2]

Language, Speech, and Utterance


O n e is sensible of one's native word in a complete l y different way or, to be

more precise, one is ordinarily not sensible of one 's native word as a word
crammed with al l those categories that it has generated in l inguistic thought
and that it generated in the p h i losoph ical-rel igious thought of the ancients.
Native word is one's " kith and kin"; we feel about it a s we feel about our
habitual attire or, even better, about the atmosphere in which we habitual l y
live and breathe. I t contains no mystery; i t can become a mystery o n l y i n the
mouth of others, provided they are hierarchically alien to u s-in the mouth of
the ch ief, in the mouth of the priests. But in that case, it has already become
a word of a d ifferent kind, external ly changed o.nd removed from the routine
of l ife ( taboo for usage in ord inary l ife, or an archaism of speech ) ; that is, if it
had not al ready been from the start a foreign word i n the m outh of a conqueror
ch ief. Only at this point is the "Wor d " born, and only at this point-incipit
philosophia, incipit phi/alogia.
Orientation in l i nguistics and the philosophy of language toward the al ien,
foreign word is by no means an accidental occurrence or a whim on the part of
l inguistics and philosophy. N o, that orientation is the expression of the enor
mous historical role that the alien word has p layed in the formation of all the
historical cultures. It has played that role with respect to al l domains of i deo-
logical creativity without exception, from the sociopo l i tical order to the
behavioral code Of daily l ife. I ndeed, it was the alien, foreign-language word
that b rough t civil ization, cul ture, rel igion, and pol i tical organization ( e.g., the
role of the Su merians with respect to the Babylonian Semites, of the J aph ites
to the Hellenes, of Rome and of Christianity to the barbarian peoples, of
Byzantium, the "Varangians," the South SlaviC tribes to the Eastern Slavs, etc. ).
This grandiose organizing role of the al ien word, which al ways either entered
upon the scene with a l ien force of arms and organization or was fou nd on the
scene by the young conqueror-nation of an old and once mighty culture and
captivated, from its grave, so to speak, the ideological consciousness of the
newcomer-nation-th is role of the al ien word led to its coalescence in the depths
of the h istorical consciousness of nations with the idea of authority, the i dea of
power, the i dea of hol iness, the idea of tru th, and d ictated that notions about
the word be preeminently oriented toward the alien word.
However, the philosophy of language and l ingu istics never were, and are stil l
not today, objectively aware of the enormous h istori cal rol e played b y the
foreign word. No, l ingu istics is stil l enslaved by it; l inguistics represents, as i t
were, the last wave t o reach us o f t h e once-upon-a-tim e fru ctifying inu ndation
of alien speech, the last residue of i'ts d ictatorial and cu lture-creating role.
For this very reason, l ingu istics, i tself the product of foreign word, is far
from any proper understand ing of the role played by the foreign word in the
h istory of language and l ingu istic consciousness. O n the contrary, I ndo
European studies have fashioned categories of understan d i ng for the history


Marxist Philosophy o f Language

[Part II

of language of a k i nd that preclu d e proper evaluation of the role of al ien word .

M eanwhi l e, that role, to a l l appearances, i s enormous.
The i dea of linguistic "crossing " as the basic factor in the evolution of
languages has been definitively advanced by Marr. He also recognized l i nguistic
crossing to be the main facor in the solution of the problem of how language
originate d :
Crossing in general , a s a factor in the emergence o f different language species and
even types of language, being the source for the form ation of new species, has been
observed and traced throughout all the j aphetic languages, and this must be consid
ered one of the most momentous achievements of j aphetic linguistics . . . . The point
is that no pri migene of sound l anguage, no single-tribal language exists or, as we shal l
see, existed or could have existed. Language, the creation of sociality which had
arisen on the basis of intertribal communication brought about b y economi needs,
is the accumulation of precisely this kind of sociality, which is always m u l titribal ."
I n his article, "On the Origin of Language, " M arr has the fol lowing to say on
our topic:
In short, the approach to this or that language in terms of so-called national culture,
as the mass, native language of an entire population, is u nscientific and u nrealistic;
the ecu menical, classless national l anguage remains a fiction. But that is not the half
of it. J ust as castes in the early stages of d evel o p ment issue from tribes-or reall y
from tribal formations, that are also b y no means si mple in themselves-so by way of
crossing, d id concrete tribal languages and, even more so, national languages, come to
r?.present crossbred types of languages, crossbred from the combination of sim pie ele
ments through which, in one way or another, every l anguage is formed . Paleontologi
cal analysis of human speech goes no further than d efinition of these tribal elements,
but the japhetic theory accomodates these elements in such a decisive and d efinitive
way that the question of the origin of language is boiled down to the question of the
emergen ce of these elements, which are in fact noth ing more than tribal names!
H ere we can only take note of the significance of the al ien word for the pro
blem of the origin of language and its evolution. These problems exceed the
scope of our present study. For us the i mportance of the alien word consists in
its role as a factor determining philosophical l i nguistic thought and the catego
ries and approaches stemming from that though t.
We sha l l now disregard the particu larities of aboriginal thought about the
a l ien word10 and a lso the categories of the ancient p h i l osophemes of word men
tioned above. We shall attempt to note down here only those particular featu res
8. N . ] a. Marr, japhetic theory, p. 2 6 8 .
9 . /bid., pp. 3 1 5 -3 1 6 .
1 0. Thus to a significant degree it was the

alien word that d etermined prehistoric man's

magical perception of the w ord . We have i n mind in this connection ali the relevant pheno
mena in toto.

Chap. 2]

Language, Speech, and Utterance


in thought about the word that have l?ersisted through the centuries and h ave
had determi native effect on contemporary l inguistic thought. We may safely
assu me that these are precise l y the categories that have fou nd their most marked
and most clear-cut expression in the d octrine of abstract objectivism.
We shal l now attempt to reformulate, i n the fol lowing series of concise pre
mises, those features of cognizance of the a l i e n word that u nderlie abstract
objectivism . I n doing so, we shall also be summarizing our preceding exposition
and supplementing i t at crtain crucial points. 11
1 . The factor of stable self-identity in linguistic forms takes precedence over
their mutability.
2. The abstract takes precedence over the concrete.
3. A bstract systematization takes precedence over historical actuality.
4. The forms of elements take precedence over the form of the whole.
5 . Reification of the isolated linguistic element to the neglect of the dynam
ics of speech.
6, Singularization of word meaning and accent to the neglect of its living
multiplicity of meaning and accent.
7. The notion of language as a ready-made artifact handed down from one
generation to another.
8, Inability to conceptualize the inner generative process of a language.
Let us consider briefly each of these features of the system of thought domi
nated by the al ien word.
The first feature needs no further com mentary. We have already pointed .
out that understanding one's own language is focused not o n recognizing identi
cal elements of speech but on understanding their new, contextual meani ng. The
construction of a system of self-identical forms may then be said to be an i n dis
pensable and vital stage i n the processes of deciphering an alien language and
handing i t on.
The second point, too, is clear enough on the basis of what has al ready
been said. The finished monologic u tterance is an abstraction, in point of fact.
Concretization of a word is possible only by way of including that word i n to the
actual historical context of its original i mplementation. By propounding the

1 1 . One should not forget in this connection that abstract objectivism in its new forma
tion is an expression of the cond i tion that the alien word had reached when it had a l ready
lost its authoritativeness and produ ctivity to a significant degree. Moreover, specificity of
perception of the alien w ord has declined in abstract objectivism, owing to that fact that
the latter's basic categories of thought have been extended to perception of living and native
languages. Linguistics studies a l iving language as if it were a dead l anguage, and native lan
guage as if it were an alien tongue. That is why the postulations of abstract objectivism are
so d ifferent from the ancient philosophemes of alien word.


Marxist Philosophy of Language

[Part II

isol ated monologic u tterance, a l l those ties that bind an u tterance to the ful l
con creteness of h istorical generation are torn away.

Formalism and systematicity are the typical distinguishing marks of any
k i n d of thinking focused on a ready-made and , so to speak, arrested o bject.
This particular feature of thought has many d ifferent manifestations.
Characteristical ly, what u n dergoes systematization is u sual ly (if not exclusively)
someone e l se 's thought. True creators-the i n itiators of new ideological trends
are never formal istic systematizers. Systematization comes u pon the scene
during an age w h i ch feel s itself in command of a ready-made and han ded-down
body of authoritative thought. A creative age must first have passed ; then and
only then does the business of formalistic systematizing begin -an u ndertaking
typi ca l of h eifs and epigones who feel themselves in possession of someone else 's,
now voiceless word. Orientation in the dynamic flow of generative process can
never be of the formal, systematizing kind. Therefore, formal, systematizing
grammatical thought coul d h ave developed to i ts fu l l scope and power only on
the material of an alien, dead language, and only cou l d have done so provided
that that language had already, to a significant degree, l os t its affective potency
its sacrosanct and authoritative character. With respect to l iv i ng language,
systematic, grammati cal thought must inevitably adopt a conservative position ,
i.e., i t must interpret l iving language as if it were already perfected and ready
made and thus m u st l oo k u pon any sort of innovation in language with hostil ity.
Formal, systematic thought about language is incompati b l e with l iving, h istorical
understanding of l anguage. From the syste m 's point of vie w, h istory always
sems merely a series of accidental transgressions.

4. Linguistics, as we h ave seen, is oriented toward the i solated, m onologic

utterance. Lingui stic monuments comprise the material for study, and the
passively u nderstanding m ind of the p h i l ol ogist is brough t to bear on that mate
ria l . Thus a l l the work goes on within the bounds of some given u tterance. As
for the boundaries that demarcate the u tterance as a whole e n ti ty, they are per
ceived fai ntly or sometimes not at al l . Research is wholly taken u p in study of
i m manent connections on the inside territory of the u tterance. Considerations
of the utterance's external affairs, so to speak, remain beyond the fiel d of study.
Thus, all connections that exceed the bounds of the u tterance as a monologic
whole are ignored. One m ight wel l expect, then, that the very nature of an
utterance 's wholeness and the forms that that wholeness may take are l eft out
side of l i ngu i stic thought. And indeed, l i ngu istic thought goes no further than
the elements that make up the monologic u tteran ce. The structure of a comp lex
sentence (a period) -that is the furthest limit of l ingu istic reach . The structure
of a whole u tterance is something l ingu istics l eaves to the compete n ce of other .
discip l ines-to rhetoric and poetics. Linguistics lacks any approach to the com
positional forms of the whole. Therefore, there is no d irect transition between

Chap. 2]

Language, Speech, and Utterance


the l i nguistic forms of the elements of an u tterance. and the forms of i ts whole,
indeed, n o connection at al l ! Only by making a jump from syntax can we arrive
at problems of composition. This is absolute l y i nevitable, seeing that the forms
making up the whole of an u tterance can only be perceived and u nderstood
against the background of other whole u tterances belonging to a u nity of some
particular domain of i deology. Thu s, for i nstance, the form s of a l i terary u tter
ance-a l iterary work of art-can o n l y be u n derstood in the u ni ty of l i terary l ife,
i ndissolubly connected with other kinds of literary forms. When we relegate a
literary work to the h i story of language as a system, when we regard it o n l y as
a docu ment of language, we l ose access to i ts forms as the forms of a l i terary
whole. There is a world of d i fference between referring a work to the system of

language and referring work to the concrete u ni ty of iiterary l ife, and that
d ifference is i n surmou ntable on the grounds of abstract o bjectivism .
L i ngu istic form is merely an abstractly extractab l e factor o f the dynamic
whol e of speech performance-of the u tterance. Abstraction of that sort is, of
course, perfectly l egitimate with i n the range of the specific tasks l i nguistics sets
for itself. However, abstract objectiv ism su ppl ies the grou nds for the reification
of the l inguistic form, for its becoming an element supposedly extractable i n
actual ity a n d su pposedly capable o f a n i solated, historical existence of i t s own .
Th is is completely u n derstandable: after al l , the system as a whole cannot u nder
go historical development. The u tterance as a whole entity does not exist for
l i ngu istics. Consequently, the elements of the system, i.e., the separate l i nguistic
forms, are al l that is l eft. And so they must be what can u ndergo historical change.
History of language, then, amoun ts to the history of separate l i nguistic forms
( phonetic, morphological, or other) that u n dergo development despite the system
as a whole and apart from concrete utterances. 12
Vossler is perfectly right in what he says about the history of language as con
ceived by abstract objectivism :
Roug h ly speaki n g, the h istory of language, as it is given to us by h i storical grammar,
is the same sort of thing as a h istory of clothi n g wou l d be, which does not take the
concept of fash ion or the taste of the time as its point of departure, but provides a
chronologica l ly and geographically arranged l i st of buttons, clasps, stockings, hats,
and ribbons. In historical grammar, such buttons and ri bbons would h ave names l i ke
weak or strong


voiceless t, voiced d, and so on.13

The meaning of a word is determined entirely by i ts con text. I n fact,
there are as many meanings of a word as there are contexts of its usage. 14 At the

Utterance is merely a neu tral m edium for c(lange of l inguistic form.

1 3. See Vossler, "Grammatika i istorija jazyka, Logos, I (1 9 1 0 ) , p. 1 7 0 .
1 4. For the time being, we d isregard the distinction between m eaning and theme about
which we shall speak below (Chapter 4).
1 2.


Marxist Philosophy o f Language

[Part II

same time, h owever, the word d oes not cease to be a single e nti ty ; it does n ot,
so to speak, break apart into as many separate word s as there are contexts of its
u sage. The word's unity is ssured, of course, not only by the u n i ty of its
p h onetic composition but also by that factor of unity which is common to al l
i ts meanings. H ow can the fundamental polysemanticity of the word be recon
ciled with its u n i ty ? To pose th is question is to formulate, in a rough and
elementary way, the cardinal problem of semantics. It is a problem that can
only be solved dialectically. B u t h ow d oes abstract o bj ectivism go about it? For
a bstract o bj ectivism, the unity factor of a word sol idifies, as it were, and breaks
away from the fundamental m u l tiplicity of its meanings. This m u l tipl icity i s
perceived a s t h e occasional overtones o f a single h ard-and-fast meaning. The
focus of l inguistic attention is exactly opposite that of real-l ife u nd erstanding
o n the part of the speakers engaged i n a particular flow of speech . The p h i l ol o
gist-linguist, when comparing d iffere n t contexts in wh i ch a given word appears,
focuses h i s atte ntion on the identity factor in its usage, since to h i m what is
i mportant is to be able to remove the word from the contexts compared and to
give it defi n ition outside context, i.e., to create a d i ctionary word out of it. This
p rocess of isolating a word and fixing its meaning outside any context takes on
added force when comparing different languages, i.e., when trying to match a
word with an equivalent word in another language. I n the process of l i nguistic
treatment, meaning is constructed, as it were, on the border of at l east two
languages. These endeavors on the l i nguist's part are further com pl icated by the
fact that he creates the fiction of a single and actual object correspond ing to the
given word. This o bject, being single and self-identical , is just what ensures the
u n i ty of meani ng. The fiction of a word 's l i teral rea l ia promotes to an even
greater degree the reification of its mean ing. On these grounds, the dialectical
combination of the u nity of meaning with its multipl icity becomes impossible.
Another grave error on the part of abstract objectivism is to be seen i n the
fol l owing. The various contexts of u sage for any one particular word are con
ceived of as all l yi ng on the same plane. These contexts are though t of as form
i ng a series of circu m scribed, self-contained u tterances all pointed i n the same
direction. I n actual fact, th is is far from tru e : contexts of usage for one and the
same word often contrast with one another. The classical instance of such con
trasting contexts of usage for one and the same word is foun d in dialogue. I n
the alternating l ines of a dialogue, the same word may figure i n two m u tual l y
clashing contex ts. Of course, dialogue is o n l y t h e most graph i c a n d obvious
i nstance of varidirectional contexts. Actually, any real u tterance, in one way
or another or to one degree or anoth er, makes a statement of agreement with
or a negation of somethi ng. Contexts do not stand side by side in a row, as if
u naware of one another, but are in a state of constant tension, or i ncessant
interaction and confl ict. The change of a word 's eval uative accent. in d ifferent
contexts is tota l l y ignored by l i nguistics and has no reflection in its doctrine on

Chap. 2]

Language, Speech, and Utterance


t h e u nity o f meaning. This accent is least amenable t o reification, ye it i s pre

cisely a word 's mul tiaccentual i ty that makes it a living th ing. The problem of
m u ltiaccentuali ty ought to be closely associated with the problem of m u ltiplic
ity of meanings. Only provided that they are associated together can the two
problems be solved. B u t it is exactly this association that the basic princip l es of
a bstract objectivism u tterl y precl ude. Linguistics has thrown evaluative accent
overboard along with the u nique utterance (parole) _ I S
Accordi ng to the teaching of abstract objectivism, l anguage is handed
down as a ready-made product from generation to generation. Of course, the
representatives of the second trend u nderstand the transmi ssion of the language
l egacy, transmission of l anguage as an artifact, in metaphorical terms, but sti l l ,
i n their hands, such a com pari son is not mere l y a metaphor. I n reifying t h e
system o f language a n d in viewing l iving language as i f it were dead and a l ien,
abstract objectivism makes language someth ing external to the stream of verbal
communication . Thi's stream flows on, but language, l ike a bal l , is tossed from
generation to generation. In actual fact, however, l anguage moves together with
that stream and is inseparable from it. Language cannot properly be said to be
handed down-it endures, but it endures as a conti nuous process of beco m i ng.
I ndividuals do not receive a ready-made language at all , rather, they enter u pon
the stream of verbal com municatio n ; indeed, only i n this stream d oes their
consciousness first begin to operate. Only ir, learn i ng a foreign language does
a fu l l y prepared consciousness-fu l l y prepared thanks to one's native language
confront a fu l l y prepared l anguage which it need only accept. People do not
"accept" their native language-it is in their native l anguage that they first reach
Abstract objectivism, as we have seen, is incapabl e of ty ing together the
existence of language in its abstract, synchronic d imension with the evolution
of language. Language exists for the consciousness of the speaker as a system of
n ormatively identical forms, but only for the h istorian as a process of gen eration.
This excludes any possib i l ity for the speaker's consciousness to be activel y in
touch with the process of h istorical evolution. The dialectical coup ling of neces
sity with freedom and with, so to speak, l inguistic resp on sibility is, of course,
u tterly i m possible on these grounds. A purely mechanistic conception of l i nguis
tic necessity holds sway here. No doubt th is feature of abstract objectivism, too,
is connected with its subconscious fixation on dead and al ien language.

1 5 . We shall further amplify the points made here in the fourth chapter of this section of
our study.
1 6. The process of a child's assimilation of his native language is the proces of h is gradual
i m mersion into verbal communication. As that process of i mmersion proceeds, the child's
consciousness is formed and fil led with content.


Marxist Philosophy of Language

[Part II

All that remains is for u s to summarize our critical analysis of abstract

objectivism. The problem we p osed at the beginning of the first chapter-the
problem of the actual mode of being of l i ngu i stic phenomena as a specific and
u n i fied object of study-was i ncorrectly solved by a bstract objectivism. Lan
guage as a system of normat,ively identical forms is an abstraction j ustifiable i n
theory a n d practice only from t h e stand point of deciphering a n d teachi ng a
dead, al ien l anguage. Th is system cannot serve as a basis for u nderstand i ng and
explaining l i ngu istic facts as th ey really exist and come i n to being. On the con
trary, this system l eads us away from the l iving, dynamic real i ty of language
and i ts social functions, n otwithstand ing the fact that adh erents of abstract
o bj ectivism clai m sociological significance for their point of view. Underly i ng
the theory of abstract o bjectivism are presu ppositions of a rational istic and
mechanistic world outlook. These presuppositions are l east capable of furnish
ing the grounds for a proper u nderstand ing of h istory-and language, after al l,
is a purel y h istorical phenomenon.
Does it fol low from th i s that the basic positions of the first trend, the trend
of i ndividual isti c subjectivism, are the correct ones? Perhaps i ndividual istic
s u bj ectivism has succeeded i n grasping the true real ity of language-speech? Or
perhaps the truth l i es somewhere in the middle, representing a compromise
between the first and secon d trends, between the theses of i ndividualistic sub
jectivism and the anti th eses of abstract objectivism?
We bel ieve that i n th i s i nstance, as everywhere e l se, the truth i s not to be
foun d i n the gol den mean and is not a m atter of compromise between thesis
and antithesis, but l ies over an d -beyond them, consti tu ting a negation of both
thesis and antithesis alike, i .e., constituting a dialectical synthesis. The theses
of the first trend al so do not h ol d up u nder critical examination, as we shall see
i n the next chapter.
Let us at this point d i rect attention to the fol lowing: Abstract objectivism,
by taking the system of language and regard i ng it as the entire crux of l i nguistic
phenomena, rejected the speech act-the u tterance-as someth i ng ind ividual. As
we said once before, herein l ie s th e proton pseudos of abstract objectivism. For
individual istic subjectivism, the e n tire crux of the matter is just exactly the
speech act-the u tterance. However, ind ividual istic su bjectivism l ikewise defines
thi s act as someth i ng i n dividual and therefore endeavors to explain it i n term s
.of the individual psychi c l ife o f the speaker. H erein l ies its proton pseudos.
I n point of fact, the speech act or, m ore accurately, its product-the utter
ance, cannot u nder any c ircu m stances be considered an i nd ividual phenomenon
in the precise meaning of the word and cannot be explained in terms of the
i ndividual psychological or psychophysiol ogical conditions of the speaker. The
utterance is a social phenomenon.
I t shal l be our concern to substantiate this thesis in the next chapter.


Verba l Interaction

Individualistic subjectivism and its theory of expression. Criti

cism of the theory of expression. The sociological structure of
experience and expression. The problem of behavioral ideol
ogy. The utterance as the basic unit in the generative process of
speech. Approaches to the solution of the problem of the actual
mode of existence of language. The utterance as a whole entity
and its forms.
The second trend of thought in the philosophy of language was associated,
as we saw, with rational ism and neoclassicism. The first tre nd-individual istic
subjectivism-is associated with romanticism. Romanticism, to a considerable
degree, was a reaction against the alien word and the categories of thought pro
moted by the alien word. M ore particularly and more immed iately, romanticism
was a reaction against the last resurgences of the cul tural power of the alien
word-the epochs of the Renaissance and neoclassicism. The romanticists were
the first philologists of native language, the first to attempt a radical restruc
turing of l i ngu istic thought. Their restructuring was based on experience with
native language as the med i u m through which consciousness and i deas are gener
ated. True, the romanticists remained philologists in the strict sense of the word.
It was, of course, beyond their power to restructure a mode of thi n king about
language that had take n shape and had been sustained over the course of cen
turies. Nevertheless, new categories were i ntroduced into that th i n ki ng, and
these new categories were precisel y what gave the first tren d its specific charac
teristics. Symptomatical ly, even recent representatives of i n dividualistic subjec
tivism have been special ists in modern languages, chiefly the Romance l anguages
( Vossler, Leo Spitzer, Lorch, et a!. ) .



Marxist Philosophy of Language

[Part II

However, i n dividualistic subjectivism also too k the monologic u tterance as

the ultimate real ity and the point of departure for i ts thinking about l anguage.
To be sure, it d i d not approach the monologic utterance from the viewpoint of
the passively understandi ng philologist but, rather, approached it from within,
from the v iewpoint of the P.e rson speaking and expressing h imself.
What does the monologic u tterance amoun t to, then, in the view of i ndivid
ual istic su bjectivism? We have seen that it is a purely individual act, the expres
sion 'of an i ndividual consciousness, i ts ambitions, i ntentions, creative i m pu l ses,
tastes, and so on. The category of expression for individualistic subjectivism i s
t h e highest a n d broadest category under w h i c h the speech act-the utterance
may be subsumed.
But what i s expression?
I ts simplest, rough defin ition is: someth ing wh ich, having in some way taken
shape and defi nition in the psyche of an individual, is outwardly objectified for
others with the help of external s igns of some k i n d .
Thus there are two elements i n expression : that i nner something w h i c h i s
expressible, a n d its outward objectification for o thers ( o r possi bly for oneself) .
Any theory of expression, however complex or subtle a form i t may take,
inevita bly presu pposes these two elements-the whole event of expression is
played out between them, Consequently, any theory of expression i n evitabl y
presu pposes that t h e expressible i s somethi ng that can somehow take shape and
exist apart from expression; that it exists first i n one form and then switches to
another form. This would have to be the case ; otherwise, if the expressibl_e were
to exist from the. very start in the form of expression, with quantitative transi
tion between the two elements ( i n the sense of clarification, differentiation, and
the l i ke), the whole theory of expression wou l d col lapse. The theory of expres
sion inev i tably presupposes a certain dualism between the i nner and outer ele
ments and the explicit pri macy of the former, si nce each act of o bjectification
(expression) goes from i nside out. I ts sources are with i n . Not for noth ing were
idealistic and spiritual i stic grounds the only grounds on w h i ch the theory of
individual istic subjectivism and a l l theories of expression in general arose. Every
thing of real i m portance l ies w i th i n ; the outer element can take on real i mpor
tance only by becoming a vessel for the i nner, by becom i ng expression of spirit.
To be sure, by becom ing external, by expressing i tself outwardly, the i nner
element does u ndergo al teration. After al l, it must gai n control of outer material
that possesses a val idity of i ts own apart from th e i nner element. In this process
of gain i ng control , of mastering outer material and making it over i n to a com
pl iant mediu m of expression, the experiential, expressible e lement i tsel f under
goes al teration and is forced to make a certa i n compromise. Therefore, ideal istic
grounds, the grounds on which all theories of expression have been establ ished,
also contain provision for the rad i ca l negation of expression as something that

Chap. 3/

Verba/ Interaction


deform s the purity of the inner e l ement. 1 I n any case, all the creative and
organizing forces of "e xpression are within. Everyth ing outer is merely passive
material for manipulation by the inner element. Expression is formed basically
with i n and then merely shifts to the outside. The understanding, interpretation,
and explanation of an ideological phenomenon, it woul d fol low from this argu
ment, must also be d irected i n ward ; it must traverse a route the reverse of that
for expression. Starting from outward objectification, the explanation must
work down into its inner, orga nizing bases. That is how i n dividual istic su bjec
tivism u n derstands expression.
The theory of expression u nderly i ng the first trend of thought in philosophy
of language is fundamentally u ntenable.
The experiential, expressib l e element and its outward o bjectification are
created, as we know, out of one and the same material . After al l, there is n o
such thi ng a s experience outside o f embodiment in signs. Consequently, the
very notion of a fundamental; qual i tative d ifference between the inner and the
outer e lement is inval id to begin with . Furthermore, the l ocation of the organi
zing and formative center is not . with in ( i.e., not in the material of inner signs)
but outside. It is not experience that organ izes expression, but the other way
around expression organizes experience. Expression is what "irst gives experi
ence its form and specificity of d irection.
I ndeed, from whichever aspect we consider it, expression-utterance is
determined by the actual conditions of the given utterance-above all, by i ts
immediate social situation.
Utterance, as we know, is constru cted between two socially organ ized persons,
and in the absence of a real addressee, an addressee is p resupposed in the person,
so to s peak, of a normal representative of the social group to wh ich the speaker
belongs. The word is oriented toward an addressee, toward who that addressee
might be: a fel low-member or not of the same social grou p , of higher or l ower
standing (the addressee's hierarch ical status) , someone connected with the
speaker by close social ties (father, b rother, h usband, and so on) or not. There
can be no such thing as an abstract addressee, a man u nto h imself, so to speak.
With such a person, we woul d indeed have no language in common, l iteral ly and
figuratively. Even though we sometimes have pretensions to experiencing and
saying things urbi et orbi, actually, of course, we envision this "world at l arge"
through the prism of the concrete social m i l ieu surrounding u s. In the majority
of cases, we presuppose a certain typical and stabil ized social purview toward
which the i deological creativity of our own social group and time is oriented ,

1 . "Spoken thought is a lie" (Tjuteev); "Oh, if 9ne could speak from the soul without
words" ( Fet}. These statements are extremely typical of idealistic romanticism .


Marxist Philosophy of Language

[Part If

i.e., we assume as our addressee a contemporary of our l i terature, our science,

our m oral and legal codes.
Each person 's i nner worl d and thought has i ts stabil ized social audience that
com prises the environment in which reasons, motives, values, and so on are
fash ioned. The more culturd a person, the more closely h i s i nner aud ience wi l l
approximate the n ormal aud ience o f ideological creativity ; but, in a n y case,
specific class and specific era are limits that the ideal of addressee cannot go
beyond .
Orientation o f the word toward the addressee has a n extremely h igh signifi
cance. I n point of fact, word is a two-sided act. It is determ ined equally by
whose word it is and for whom it is meant. As word, it is precisely the product
of the reciprocal relationship between speaker and listener, addresser and
addressee. Each and every Word expresses the "one " i n relation to the "other. "
I give myself verbal shape from another 's poin t of view, u l ti mately, from the
point of view of the community to which I belong. A word is a bridge thrown
between myself and another. I f one end of the bridge depends on me, then the
other depends on my addressee. A word is territory shared by both addresser
and addressee, by the speaker and h i s interlocutor.
B u t what does being the speaker mean? Even if a word is not e n tirely h is,
constituting, as it were, the border zone between h i mself and h is addressee
stil l , it does in part belong to h i m .
There is one instance o f the situation wherein t h e speaker is the u ndoubted
possessor of the word and to which, in this instance, he has ful l rights. This in
stance is the physiological act of implemen.ti ng the word. B u t insofar as the act
is taken in purely physiological terms, the category of possession does not apply.
I f, i nstead of the physiological act of implementing sound, we take the
i mp l ementation of word as sign, then the question of proprietorsh i p b ecomes
extremely compl icate d . Aside from the fact that word as sign is a borrowing on
the speaker 's part from the social stock of available signs, the very ind ividual
manipulation of this social sign in a concrete u tterance is wholly determined
by social relations. The sty l i stic individual ization of an u tterance that the
Vosslerites speak about represents a reflection of social interrelationsh ips that
constitute the atmosphere in wh ich an utterance is formed. The immediate
social situation and the broader social milieu wholly determine--and determine
from within, so to speak-the structure of an utterance.
I ndeed, take whatever kind of utterance we w i l l , even the kind of u tterance
that is not a referential message ( com munication in the narrow sen se ) b u t the
verbal expression of some need-for instance, h unger-we may be certai n that it
is social l y oriented in i ts entirety. Above al l , it is determined i mmediately and
d irectly by the participants of the speech eve n t, both explicit and i m p l icit
participants, in connection with a specific situation. That situation shapes the
u tterance, dictating that it sound one way and not another-l ike a demand or

Chap. 3]

Verbal Interaction


request, insistence o n one's rights or a plea for mercy, in a style flowery or

plain, i n a confident or hesitant manner, and so on.
The immediate social situation and i ts immed iate social participants deter
mine the "occasional " form and sty l e of an utterance. The deeper layers of its
structure are determined by more sustained and more basic social con nections
with which the speaker is in contact.
Even if we were to take an utterance stil l in process of generation " i n the
soul," it wou l d not change the essence of the matter, since the structure of
experience is j u st as social as is the structure of i ts outward objectific;J.tio n . The
degree to which an experience is perceptib l e, d i stinct, and formulated is d irectly
proportional to the d egree to which it is social l y oriented .
I n fact, not even the simplest, dimmest apprehension of a fee l ing-say, the
feel ing of hunger not outwardly expressed-can dispense with some k i n d of
ideological form. Any apprehension, after all, must have i nner speech, i nner
intonation and the ru d i ments of i nner style: one can apprehend one's hu nger
apologetically, irritably, angrily, indignantly, etc. We have indicated, of course,
only the grosser, more egregious directions that i nner i ntonation may tak e ;
actual ly, there is a n extremely subtle a n d complex set of possibi l i ties for i n toning
an experience. Outwar d expression i n most cases only continues and makes more
distinct the direction al ready taken by inner s peech and the intonation a l ready
embedded in it.
Which way the inton ing of the inner sensatio n of hu nger will go depe n d s upon
the hungry person's general social standing as wel l as u pon the i mmediate
circumstances of the experience. These are, after al l , the circumstances that
determine i n what eval uative context, with i n what social purview, the exp erience of hunger will be apprehended. The i mmediate social context wi l l deter
mine possible addressees, friends or foes, toward whom the consciousness and
the experience of hunger wi l l be oriented: whether it will i nvolve dissatisfaction
with cruel Nature, with oneself, with society, with a specific group with i n society,
with a specific person, and so on. Of course, various degrees of perceptib i l i ty,
d istinctiveness, and differentiation i n the social orientation of an experience are
possible; but without some kind of evaluative social orientation there is n o
experience. Even the cry of a nursing infant i s " oriented" toward i ts mother.
There is the possibili ty that the experience of hunger may take on pol itical
coloring, i n which case its structure w i l l. be determined along the l ines of a
potential pol itical appeal or a reason for pol i tical agitation. I t may be appre
hended as a form of protest, and so on.
With regard to the potential ( and sometimes even distinctly sensed ) addressee,
a distinction can be made between two poles, two extremes between wh ich an
experience can be apprehended and ideological ly structured, ten d i ng now toward
the one, now toward the other. Let us label these two extremes the "!-experience "
and the "we-experience. "


Marxist Philosophy of Language

[Part II

The " ! -experience" actually tends toward extermination : the nearer i t

a pproaches its extreme l im i t, t h e more i t l oses i ts ideological structuredness
and, hence, i ts apprehe n sibl e qual ity, reverting to the physiological reaction of
the animal. In its course toward this extreme, the experience rel inquishes all its
potentia l ities, a l l outcropp i t;gs of social orientation, and, therefore, a l so loses
its verbal delineation. Single experiences or whole groups of experiences can
approach this extreme, rel inqu ish ing, in doing so, their ideological clarity and
structuredness and testifying to the inabil ity of the consciousness to stri ke
social roots.2
The "we-experience" is not by any means a nebulous herd experience; it is
differentiated. M oreover, i deological differentiation, the growth of conscious
ness, is in d irect p roportion to the firmness and rel iabili ty of the social orienta
tion. The stronger, the more orga nized, the n)ore differei1tiated the collective i n
wh ich an individual orients h imself, the more vivid a n d complex h i s i nner world
wil l be.
The "we-experience" al l o ws of d ifferent degrees and d ifferent types of
ideological structuring.
Let us suppose a case where h u nger is apprehended by one of a d isparate
set of h ungry persons whose h unger is a matter of chance (the man down on h i s
luck, t h e beggar, o r t h e like) . The experience o f such a declasse loner will b e
col ored in some specific way a n d wil l gravitate toward certain particular ideolog
ical forms with a range potential l y quite broad: humil ity, shame, enviousness,
and other evaluative tones w i l l color h i s experience. The ideological forms along
the l ines of wh ich the experience wou l d develop would be either the i ndividual
istic protest of a vagabond or repentant, mystical resignation.
Let us now suppose a case i n which the hu ngry person belongs to a collctive
where hunger is not haphazard and does bear a collective character-but the
col lective of these h ungry p eopl e is not itself tightly boun d togethe r b y material
ties, each of i ts members experiencing h unger on his own. This is the situation
most peasants are in. Hunger is experienced "at large, " but u nder con ditions of
material disparateness, in the absence of a u n ifyi ng economic coaliti o n, each
person suffers hunger in the smal l , enclosed world of h is own individual econ
omy. Such a collective lacks the u nit4ry material frame necessary for u nited
action. A resigned but u nashamed and u ndemeaning apprehension of one's
h unger wil l be the rule under such conditions-"everyone bears it, you must
bear it, too." H ere grounds are furnished for the development of the p h ilosophi
cal and rel igious systems of the nonresistor or fatal ist type (early Christianity,
Tolstoyan ism) .
2. On the possibility of a set of h u man sexual experiences fall ing out of social context
with concomitant loss of verbal cognizance, see our book, Frejdizm [ Freudianism] ( 1 92 7 ),
pp. 1 35-1 36.

Chap. 3]

Verba/ Interaction


A completely different experience of h unger applies to a member of an

o bjectivel y a n d materially aligned and united col lective (a regiment of solders;
workers in their association within the wal l s of a factory ; h ired hands on a large
scale, capita l i s t farm; finally, a whole class once it has matured to the point of
"class unto i tself" ) . The experience of h unger th is time w i l l be marked predom
inantly by overtones of active and self-confident protest with no basis for
humble and submissive intonation. These are the most favorable ground3 for an
experience to ach ieve i deol ogical clarity and structuredness.3
All these types of expression, each with its basic intonations, come rife with
corresponding terms and corresponding forms of possible u tterances. The social
situation in a l l cases determ ines which term, wh ich metaphor, and wh ich form
may develop in an utterance expressing h unger out of the particular i ntonational
bearings of the experience.
A special kind of character marks the individual istic self-experience. It does
not belong to the " ! -experie n ce " in the strict sense of the term as defined above.
The individual istic experience is ful l y d ifferentiated and stru ctured . I nd ividual
ism is a special i deological form of the "we-experience" of the bourgeois class
(there is also an analogous type of individual istic self-experience for the feu dal
aristocratic class) . The individual istic type of experience derives from a steadfast
and confident social orientatio n . I nd ividual istic confidence in oneself, one's
sense of personal value, is drawn not from within, not from the depths of one's
personal ity, but from the outside world. It is the ideological interpretation of
one's social recognizance and tenabi l i ty by rights, and of the objective security
and tenability provided by the whole social order, of one's individual l ivel ihood.
The structure of the conscious, individual personal ity is just as social a structure
as is the col lective type of experience. It is a particular kind of interpretation,
projected into the i nd ividual soul , of a complex and sustained socioeconomic
situation. But there resides in this type of individual istic " we-experience, " and
also in the very order to wh ich it corresponds, an inner contradication that
sooner or later wi l l demol ish i ts ideological structuredness.
An analogou s structure is presented in sol itary self-experience ( "the ability
and strength to stand alone in one's rectitude"), a type c u l tivated by Romain
Rol land and, to some extent, by Tol stoj. The pride involved in this sol itude also
depends upon "we." It is a variant of the "we-experience" characteristic of the
modern-day West European i n tell igen tsia. Tolstoj 's remarks abo u t there being d if
ferent kinds of th inking-"for oneself" and "for the publ ic"-merely j uxtapose
two different conceptions of "public." Tol stoj's "for oneself" actual l y s ign ifies
3. I n teresting material about expressions of h u nger can be found in Leo Spitzer's books,
and Die Umschreibungen des Begriffes Hunger. The basic
concern in these stud ies is the adaptability of word and image to the conditions of an excep
tional situation. The author does not, however, operate with a genuine sociological approach.
ltalienische Kriegsgefangenenbriefe


Marxist Philosophy o f Language

[Part II

only another social conception of addressee pecu l iar to h imself. There is no such
thing as thinking-outside orientation toward possible expression and , hence, out
side the social orientation of that expression and of the th i n king involved .
Thus the personality of the speaker, take n from within, so to speak, turns
out to be wholly a product of social i nterrelations. Not only its outward expres
sion but also its i n ner expe r ience are social territory . Consequently, the whole
route between i n ner experience (the "expressibl e ") and its outward o bjectifica
tio n (the "utterance") l ies e n tirely across social territory. When an experience
reaches the stage of actualization in a fu l l -fledged u tterance, its social orienta
tion acqu ires added com plexity by focusing on the immediate social circum
stances of d iscourse and, above all, u pon actual addressees.
Our analysis casts a new l ig h t u pon the problem of consciousness and i deol
ogy that we examined earl ier.
Outside objectification, outside embodiment in some particular material (the
material of gesture, inner word, outcry ) , consciousness is a fiction. It is an
improper ideological construct created by way of abstraction from the concrete
facts of social expression. But consciousness as organized, material expression
(in the ideological material of word, a sign, drawing, colors, musical sound, etc.)
consciousness, s o conceived, is an objective fact and a tremendous social force.
To be sure, this kind of consciousness i s not a su praexistehtial phenomenon and
cannot determine the constitution of existence. It i tself is part of existence and
one of its forces, and for that reason it possesses efficacy and p l ays a role in the
arena of existence. Consciousness, while stil l i nside a conscious person 's h ead as
i n ner-word embryo of expression, is as yet too tiny a piece of existence, and the
scope of i ts activity is also as yet too smal l . But once i t passes through all the
stages of social objectification and enters into the power system of science, art,
ethics, or law, it becomes a real force, capable even of exerting in turn an influ
ence on the economic bases of social l ife. To be sure, this force of consciousness
is incarnated in specific social organizations, geared into steadfast ideological
modes of expression (science, art, and so on), but even in the origi n ial, vague
form of g l i m mering thought and experience, i t had already constituted a social
event on a small scale and was not an inner act on the part of the individual.
From the very start experience is set toward ful ly actual ized outward expres
sion and, from the very start, tends in that direction . The expression of an
experience may be realized or it may be held back, inhibi ted. In the latter case,
the experience is inhibited expression (we shall not go into the extremely com
plex problem of the causes and condi tions of inh ibition ) . Real ized ex pression,
in its turn, exerts a powerfu l , reverse influence on experience: it begins to tie
i nner l ife together, giving it m ore definite and lasting expression.
This reverse influence by structured and stabi l ized expression on experience
( i .e., inner expression) has tremendous i mportance and must alway s be taken

Chap. 3}

Verbal Interaction


into account. The claim can be made that it is a matter not so much of expres
sion accomodating itself to our inner world but rather of our inner world
accomodating itself to the potentialities of our expression, its possible routes
and directions.
To d istinguish it from the establ i shed systems of ideology-the systems of
art, ethics, law, etc.-we shal l use the term behavioral ideology for the whole
aggregate of life experiences and the outward expressions d irectly con nected
with it. Behavioral ideology is that atmosphere of u nsystematized and u nfixed
i nner and outer speech wh ich endows our every instance of behavior and action
and our every "conscious" state with meaning. Considering the sociological
nature of the structure of exp ression and experience, we may say that behav
ioral ideology in our conception corresponds basica l l y to what is termed "social
psychology " in Marxist literature. I n the present context, we shoul d prefer to
avoid the word "psychology, " since we are concerned exclusive l y with the
content of the psyche and the consciousness. That content i s ideological
through and through, determ ined not by individual, organ ismic ( biological or
physiological) factors, but by factors of a purely sociological character. The
individual, organismic factor is completely irrelevant to an u nderstanding of
the basic creative and l iving l ineaments of the content of consciousness.
The establ ished ideological systems of social eth i cs, scien ce, art, and rel i gion
are crystal lizations of behavioral ideology, and these crysta l l izations, iri turn,
exert a powerful influence back upon behavioral ideology, n orma l l y setting its
tone. At the same time, however, these already formal ized ideological products
constantly maintain the most vital organic contact with behavioral ideology and
draw sustenance from it; otherwise, without that contact, they wou l d be dead,
just as any l i terary work or cognitive idea is dead without l iving, evaluative per
ception of it. N ow, this ideol ogical perception, for which alone any ideological
piece of work can and does exist, is carried out in the language of behavioral
ideology. Behavioral ideology draws the work into some particular social situa
tio n . The work combines with the whole content of the consciousness of those
who perceive it and derives its apperceptive values only in the context of that
con sciousness. I t is i nterpreted in the spirit of the particular content of con
sciousness (the consciousness of the perceiver) and is i l lu m i n ated by i t anew.
This is what constitutes the vi tality of an ideological production. I n each period
of its h istorical existence, a work must enter i n to close association with the
changing behavioral ideology, become permeated wi th it, and draw new susten
ance from it. Only to the degree that a work can enter i n to that kind of i n tegral ,
organic association with the behavioral ideology of a given period is i t viable
for that period (and of course, for a given social group) . Outside i ts connection
with behavioral ideol ogy it ceases to exist, since it ceases to be experienced as
somethi ng ideological l y mean i ngfu l .


Marxist Philosophy of Language

[Part 11

We must distinguish several d ifferent strata i n behavioral ideology. These strata

are defined by the social scale 6n which experience and expression are measured,
or by the social forces w i th respect to which they m ust d i rectly orient themselves.
The p u rview in which an experience or expression comes into being may, as
we know, vary in scope. The world of an experience may be narrow and d i m ;
i t s social orientation may b e haphazard a n d ephemeral a n d characteristic only
for some adventitious and loose coal ition of a smal l number of persons. Of
cou rse, even these erratic experiences are ideological and sociological, but their
position I ies on the borders of the normal and the pathological . Such an experi
e n ce will remain an isolated fact in the psycho l ogical life of the perso n exposed
to it. It w i l l not take firm root and w i l l not receive d ifferentiated and fu l l-fledged
expressio n ; i ndeed, if it l acks a social ly grou n"ded and stabl e audience, where
coul d it possibly find bases for i ts d i fferentiation and finalization? Even less
l ikely wou l d such an adventitious experience be set down, i n writing or even
m ore so in print. Experiences of that kind, experiences born of a momentary
and acci dental state of affairs, have, of course, no chance of further social i m pact
or efficacy.
The lowest, most flu i d, and qu ickly changi ng stratum of behavioral ideology
consists of experiences of that k i n d . To thi s stratu m, consequently, b e long al l
those vague and u ndeveloped experiences, thoughts, and idle, accidental words
that flash across our minds. They are al l of the m cases of miscarriages of social
orientations, novels w i thout heroes, performances without audiences. They lack
any sort of logic or u n i ty . The sociol ogical regulatedness in these ideological
scraps is extremely d ifficu l t to detect. In this lowest stratum of behav ioral ideol
ogy only statistical regularity i s detectable; given a h uge q uan tity of p roducts of
th i s sort, the ou tl ines of socioeconom i c regulated ness cou ld be revealed. Needless
to say, it would be a practical i mpossi b i l i ty to descry in any one such accidental
experience or expression its socioeconomic premises.
The u pper strata of behavioral ideology, the ones d i rectly l in ked w i th i deolog
ical systems, are more v i tal, more serious and bear a creative character. Compared
to an establ ished ideology, they are a great deal more mobile and sen s i tive: they
convey ch!lnges in the socioeconomic basis more q u ickly and more vividly. Here,
p recisely, is where those creative energies b u i l d u p through whose agency partial
or radical restructuring of i deological systems comes about. Newly emerging
social forces find ideological expression and take shape first in these u pper strata
of behavioral ideology before they can succeed i n dominating the arena of some
organized, official ideology. Of course, i n the process of th is struggle, i n the
p rocess of their gradual i nfiltration into ideological organ izations (the press,
l iterature, and science) , these new currents in behavioral i deology, no matter
h ow revolutionary they may be, u ndergo the i nfl uence of the establ ished i deo
l ogical systems and, to some extent, incorporate forms, ideological practices, and
approaches already in stock.

Chap. 3/

Verba/ Interaction


What usually is cal led "creative i n djvidual i ty " is nothing but the expression
of a particular person's basic, firmly grou n de d , and consistent I ine of social
orientation. This concerns primarily the uppermost, fu lly structured strata of
inner speech (behavioral ideol ogy), each of w hose terms and intonations have
gone through the stage of expression and have, so to speak, passed the test of
expression. Thus what is i nvolved here are words, i ntonations, and i n ner-word
gestures that have undergone the experience of outward expression on a more
or l ess ample social scale and h ave acqu ired, as it were, a h igh social polish and
lustre by the effect of reaction s and responses, resistance or support, on the
part of the social audience.
I n the lower strata of behavioral ideology, the biological-biographical factor
does, of course, p!ay a crucial role, but its i m portance constantly d i m i n ishes as
the utterance penetrates more deeply into an ideological system. Consequently,
whi l e bio-biograph ical explan ations are of some value i n the l ower strata of
experience and expression (utterance), their role i n the u pper strata is extremely
modest. Here the objective sociological meth od takes ful l command.
So, then, the theory of expression u nderly ing i n dividual istic su bjectivism
must be rejected. The organizing center of any utterance, of any experience, is
not within but outside-in the social milieu surrounding the individual being.
Only the i narticu late cry of an animal is rea l l y organ ized from inside the physiol ogical apparatus of an individual creature. S u ch a cry lacks any positive ideolog
ical factor vis-a-vis the physiological reacti o n . Yet, even the most pri mit:ve
human utterance produced by the i n dividual organism is, from the point of view
of i ts content, import, and meaning, organized outside the organism, in the
extraorganismic conditions of the social m i l i eu . Utterance as such is wholly a
product of social interaction, both of the i mmed iate sort as determined by the
circum stances of the d iscourse, and of the m ore general k i n d , as determ ined by
the whole aggregate of conditions u nder which any given commu n i ty of speakers
The individual utterance(parole) , despite the conte ntion s of abstract objectiv
ism, is by no means an individual fact not susceptib l e to sociological analysis by
virtue of its individuality. I nd eed, if this were so, neither the sum total of these
individual acts nor any abstract features common to all such individual acts (the
"normatively identical forms") coul d possibly engender a social product.
I nd ividual istic subjectivism is correct in that i ndividual utterances are what
constitute the actual, concrete real i ty of language, and in that they do have
creative value in language.
B u t individual istic su bjectivism is wrong i n ignoring and fail ing to u nderstand
the social nature of the utterance and i n attempting to derive the u tterance from
the speaker's i n ner world as an expression of that i nner worl d . The structure of
the utterance and of the very experience bei ng expressed is a social structure.
The stylistic shaping of an utterance i s shaping of a social k i nd, and th e very


Marxist Philosophy of Language

[Part II

verbal stream of u tterances, which is what the real i ty of language actually

amounts to, is a social stream. Each drop of that stream i s social and the entire
dynamics of its generation is' social.
I nd ividual istic subjectivism is a l so compl etely correct in that l i nguistic form
and its ideological i m pletion are not severable. Each and every word is ideolog
ical and each and every application of l anguage i nvolves ideological change. B u t
i n d ividual istic subjectivi sm is wrong i nsofar as i t also derives th is ideological
i mpletion of the word from the conditions of the individual psyche.
I nd ividual istic subjectivism is wrong in taking the monologic u tterance, just
as abstract objectivism does, as its basic point of departure. Certain Vosslerites,
it is true, have begu n to consider the problem of d ialogue and so to approach a
more correct u nderstandi ng of verba! i n teraction. H ighly symptomatic i n this
regard is one of Leo Spitzer's books we have already cited-- h i s ltalienische
Umgangssprache, a book that attempts to anlyze the forms of I talian conversa
tional l anguage in close connection with the con d ition s of d i scourse and above
all with the issue of the addressee.4 However, Leo Spitzer util izes a descriptive
psychological m ethod . H e does not draw from h i s analysis the fundamentally
sociological conclusions i t suggests. For the Vosslerites, therefore, the mono
logic u tterance stil l remains the basic reality;
The problem of verbal i n teraction has been posed clearly and disti n ctly by
Otto D ietrich.5 He proceeds by way of su bjecting to criticism the theory of
utteran ce as e x p r e s s i o n . For h im, the basic fu nction of language i s not expression
but communication {in t h e strict sense) , and t h i s l eads h i m t o consider the r o l e
oLthe addressee. The m i nimal con dition for a l inguistic manifestation is, accord
ing to D ietrich, twofold (speaker and l i stener) . H owever, D ietrich shares assump
tions of a genera! psychological type with i n dividual istic subjectivism. D ietrich 's
investigations l i kewise lack any d eterminate sociological basis.
Now we are i n a position to answer the question we posed at the end of the
first chapter of this section of our stu dy. The actual reality of language-speech
is not the abstract system of linguistic forms, not the isolated monologic utter
ance, and not the psychophysiological act of its implementation, but the social
event of verbal interaction implemented in an utterance or utterances.
Thus, verbal i nteraction is the basic real ity of language.

4 . I n this respect, the very organization of the book is symptomatic. The book divides
into fou r main chapters. Their titles are as follows: I . Eroffnungsformen des Gesprachs.
I I . Sprecher und Harer; A. HOflichkeit (R Dcksicht auf den Partner) . B. Sparsamkeit und
Verschwendung im A usdruck; C. In einandergreifen von Rede und Gegenrede. I l l . Sprecher
und Situation. IV. Oer A bschluss des Gesprachs. Spitzer's predecessor in the study of con
versational language under conditions of real-life disco u rse was Hermann Wunderlich. See
his book, Unsere Umgangssprache (1 8 94).
5. See Die Probleme der Sprachpsycho/ogie ( 1 9 1 4).

Chap. 3]

Verba/ Interaction


Dialogue, i n the narrow sen se of the word, is, of course, only one of the
forms-a very i mportant for m , to be sure-of verbal i n teraction. But dialogue
can also be understood in a broader sense, meaning not only direct, face-to-face,
vocalized verbal communication between persons, but also verbal communica
tion of any type whatsoever. A book, i.e., a verbal performance in print, is also
an elemen t of verbal commu n ication. It is something d iscussable in actual, real
l ife dialogue, but aside from that, it is calculated for active perception, involving
attentive reading and i nner responsiveness, and for organized, printed reaction
in the various forms devised by the particu lar sphere of verbal communication
i n question ( book reviews, critical surveys, defin ing i nfluence on su bsequent
works, and so on). Moreover, a verbal performance of this k i nd also inevitably
orients i tself with respect to previous .performances i n the same sphere, both
those by the same author and those by other authors. It inevitably takes its
point of departure from some particular state of affairs involving a scientific
problem or a l iterary style. Thus the printed verbal performance engages, as it
were, in ideological col loquy of l arge scale: it responds to somethi ng, objects to
somethi ng, affirms somethi ng, anticipates possible responses and objections,
seeks support, and so on.
Any utterance, no matter how weighty and complete i n and of itself, is only
a moment in the continuous process of verbal communication. But that continu
ous verbal communication is, i n tur n , itself only a moment in the continuous,
all-inclusive, generative process of a given social col l ective. An i mportant prob
lem arises i n th is regard: the study of the con nection between concrete verbal
interaction and the extraverbal situation-both the immediate situation and,
through i t, the broader situation. The forms this connection takes are different,
and different factors i n a situ ation may, i n association with this or that form ,
take on different meanings (for instance, these connections differ with the
different factors of situation in l i terary or in scientific communication). Verbal
communication can never be understood and explained outside of this connec
tion with a concrete situation. Verbal i n tercourse is inextricably interwoven with
communication of other types, all stemming from the common ground of pro
duction communication. It goes without say i ng that word cannot be divorced
from this eternally gen erative, unified process of communication. In its con
crete connection with a situation, verbal commu nication is always accompanied
by social acts of a nonverbal character (the performance of labor, the symbolic
acts of a ritual, a ceremony, etc. ) , and is often only an accessory to these acts,
merely carry i ng out an auxil iary role. Language acquires life and historically
evolves precisely here, in concrete verbal communication, and not in the abstract
linguistic system of language forms, nor in the individual psyche of speakers.
From what has been establ ished, it fol l ows that the methodologically based
order of study of language ought to be: ( 1 ) the forms and types of verbal i n ter
action in connection with their concrete conditions; (2) forms of particu lar


Marxist Philosophy o f Language

[Part II

utte_rances, of particular speech performances, as elements of a closely l inked

interaction-i.e., the genres of speech performance i n human behavior and i deo
l ogical creativity as determ i ed by verbal interaction ; ( 3) a reexamination, on
th is new basis, of language forms in their usual l ingu istic presentation.
Th is is the order that th<t actual generative process of language fol l ows: social
intercourse is generated ( ste mming from the basis) ; in it verbal communication
and interaction are generated; and in the latter, forms of speech performances
are-generated; finally, this generative process is reflected in the change of lan
guage forms.
One thing that e merges from all that has been sai d is the extreme importance
of the problem of the forms of an utterance as a whole. We have a l ready pointed
out that contemporary l i nguistics lacks any approach to the u tterance i tself_ i ts
analysis goes no further than the elements that consti tute an u tterance. Mean
wh ile, utteran ces are the real u nits that make u p the stream of language-speec h .
What is necessary i n order t o study t h e forms of th is real u n i t is precisely that
it not be isolated from the h istorical stream of u tterances. As a whole entity, the
u tterance is implemented o n ly in the stream of verbal intercourse. The whole is,
after all, defined by its bou ndaries, and these boundaries ru n along th e line o f
con tact between a given u tterance and t h e ex traverbal a n d verbal ( i .e., made u p
o f other u tterances ) m i l ie u .
The first a n d last words, t h e begin ning and e n d points of real-l ife u tterance
that is what already constitutes the problem of the wh ole. The process of speech,
broadly understood as the process of inner and outer verbal l ife, goes on contin
uously. I t know.s neither beginning nor end. The outwardl y actual ized u tteran ce
is an island rising from the boundless sea of inner speech ; the d i mensions and
forms of this island are determ ined by the particular situation of the u tterance
and i ts audience. Situation and aud ience make inner speech u ndergo actual iza
tion into some kind of specific outer expression that is directl y included into an
u nverbal ized behavioral context and in that context is ampl ified by actions,
behavior, or verbal responses of other participants of the utterance. The ful l
fledged q uestion, exclamation, command, request-these are th e most typical
forms of wholes in behavioral utterances. Al l of the m ( especia l l y the command
and request) requ i re an extraverbal complement and, i ndeed, an extra verbal
commencement. The very type of structure these l i ttle behavioral genres wi l l
achi eve i s determi ned by the effect of i t s com i ng u p against the extraverbal m i l ieu
and against a n other word (i .e., the words of other people). Thus, the form a com
mand wi l l take is determ i ned by the obstacles i t m ay encounter, the degree of sub
m i ssiveness expected, and so on. The structure of the gen re in these i n stances w i l l
b e i n accord w i th the accidental a n d u n ique features o f behavioral situations. O n l y
when social custom and c i rcum stances have fixed and stabi l ized certa i n



Chap. 3]

Verba/ Interaction


behavioral i nterch ange to some appreciable degree, can one speak of specific types
of structure in gen res of behavioral speech. So, for i n stan ce, an entirely special type
of structure has been worked out fo r the genre of the l i ght and casual causerie of
the d rawing room where everyone "feel s at home" and where the basic d i fferenti
ation within the gathering (the audience) is that between men and wome n . Here
we find devised special fo rms of i n s i n u ation, half-sayi ngs, a l l usions to l ittle tales of
an i ntention a l l y nonserious character, and so on. A d i fferent type of structure i s
worked o u t i n the case o f conversation between husband and wife, b rothe r and

In the case where a random assortment of people gath ers -wh i l e

waiting in a line or conducting some business-statements and exchanges of
words wi l l start and fi nish and be constructed in another, compl etely different
way. Village sewing circles, u rban carouses, workers' lu nchtime chats, etc., w i l l
a l l have their own types. Each situation, fixed and sustained b y social cu stom,
commands a particular kind of organization of au dien ce and, hence, a particular
repertoi re of I ittle behavioral genres. The behavioral genre fits everyWhere i nto
the channel of social intercourse assigned to it and functions as an ideological
reflection of its type, structure, goal, and social composition . The behavioral
genre is a fact of the social m il ieu : of hol iday, leisure time, and of social contact
in the parlor, the workshop, etc. It meshes with that m i l ieu and is delimited an d
defi ned by i t in al l its internal aspects.
The production processes of labor and the processes of commerce know
d ifferent forms for constructing utterances.
As for the forms of ideological intercourse in the strict sense of the term
forms for poli tical speeches, political acts, laws, regu lations, manifestos, and so
forth ; and forms for poetic u tterances, scientific treatises, etc.-these have been
the object of special investigation in rhetoric and poetics, b u t, as we have seen,
these i nvestigations have been completely divorced from the problem of lan
guage on the one hand, and from the problem of social intercourse on the
o the r 6 Productive analysis of the forms of the whole of u tterances as the real
u n its in the stream of speech is possible only on a basis that regards th e individ
ual utterance as a purely sociological phenomenon. Marxist philosophy of lan
guage should and must stand squarely on the utterance as the real phenomenon
of language-speech and as a socioideol ogical structure.
Now that we have outlined the sociological structure of the u tterance, l et u s
return to the two trends in p h i l osoph ical l i nguistic thought and make a final
su m m i ng u p .

s i ster, etc.

6. On the topic o f disjuncture o f a literary work of art with conditions o f artistic com
munication and the resul ting i nertness of the work, see our study, "Siovo v zizni i slovo v
poezii" [ Word in Life and Word in Poetry ] , Zvezda, 6 ( 1 926).


Marxist Philosophy of Language


[Part II

R. S or, a M oscow l ingu i st and an adherent of the second trend of thought i n

p h i l osophy o f language, en d s a brief sketch of the contemporary state of linguis
tics with the fol lowing words:
" Language is not an artifact (ergon ) but a natural and congenital activity of mankind"
so claimed the romanticist l inguistics of the 1 9th century . Theoretical l inguistics of
mod ern times clai ms otherwise: " Language is not individual activity (energiea) but a
cultural-historical legacy of mankind (ergon ) . 7
This conclusion is amaz i ng i n i ts bias and one-sideness. On the factual side, it
is com pletely u ntrue. Modern theoretical l ingui stics i n cludes, after all , the
Vossler'school, one of G ermany's most powerfu l movements in contemporary
l inguistic thought. I t is i mpermissible to identify modern l inguistics with only
one of its trends.
From the theoretical point of view, both the thesis and the antithesis made
up by Sor must equal ly be rejected, since they are equal ly i nadequate to the
real nature of l anguage.
Let us concl u de the argument with an attempt to formulate our own point
of view i n the fol lowing set of propositions:
1 . Language as a stable system of normatively identical forms is merely a
scientific abstraction, productive only i n con nection with certa i n particu lar
practical and theoretical goals. Th is abstraction is not adequate to the concrete
real ity of language.
2. Language is a continuous generative process implemented in the social
verbal interaction of speakers.
3 . The laws of the generative process of language are not at all the laws of
, individual psychology, but neither can they be divorced from the activity of
speakers. The laws of language generation are sociological laws .
4. Linguistic creativity does n o t coincide with artistic creativity nor with any
other type of specialized ideological creativity. But, at the same time, linguistic
creativity cannot be understood apart from the ideological meanings and values
that fill it. The generative p rocess of l anguage, as i s true of any historical genera
tive p rocess, can be perceived as b l ind mechanical necessity, but it can also
become "free necessity " once it has reached the position of a conscious and
desired necessity.
5 . The structure of the utterance is a purely sociological structure. The u tter
ance, as such , o btains between speakers. The i n d ividual speech act ( i n the strict
sense of the word "individual ") is contradictio in adjecto.
7. R. S or, " Krizis sovremennoj l invistik i " [ The Crisis in Contemporary Linguistics ] ,
V ( 1 927 ) , p . 7 1 .

jofeticeskij sbornik,


lbeme and Meaning in Language

Theme and meaning. The problem of active perception. Evalu

ation and meaning. The dialectics of meaning.
The problem of meani ng is one of the most d ifficu l t problems of l i nguistics.
Efforts toward solving this problem have revealed the one-sided monologism of
l i nguistic science i n particu larly strong rel ief. The theory of passive understand
i ng precludes any possibil ity of engaging the m ost fundamental and crucial
features of meaning i n language.
The scope of th e present study compel s us to l i mit ourselvs to a very brief
and perfunctory examination of this issue. We shall attempt only to map out
the main l ines of its productive treatment.
A defi nite and unitary meaning, a unitary significance, i s a property belong
ing to any utterance as a whole. Let us cal l the significance of a whole utterance
its theme. 1 The theme must be unitary, otherwise we wou l d have no basis for
tal king about any one utterance. The theme of an utterance itself i s ind ividual
and unreproducible, just as the utterance i tself is individual and u n reproducible.
The theme is the expression of the concrete, h istori cal si tuation that engendered
the utterance. The utterance "What time is it? " has a different meaning each
time it is used, and hence, in accordance with .our termi nol ogy, has a different
theme, depending on the concrete historical situation ( " h i storical " here i n
microscopic d i mensions) during which i t is enunciated and of wh i ch , i n essence,
it is a part.
1 . The term is, of course, a provisional one. in our sense embraces its i mplemen
tation as well ; therefore, ou r concept must not be confused with that of a theme in a literary
work. The concept of "thematic unity" would be closer to what we mean.


1 00

Marxist Philosophy of Language

{Part II

I t fol l ows, then, that the theme of an u tterance is determined not only by
the l i nguistic forms that comprise i t-words, morphologicaf and syntactic struc
tures, sounds, and i n tonation-but al so by extraverbal factors of the situation.
Should we m iss these situational factors, we woul d be as l ittle able to u nder
stand an u tterance as if we were to m i ss its m ost i m portant words. The theme
of an u tteran ce is concrete _:as concrete as the h i storical instant to which the
u tterance belongs. Only an utterance taken in its full, concrete scope as an his
torical phenomenon possesses a theme. That is what i s meant by the theme of
an u tterance.
However, if we were to restrict ourselves to the h istorical u n reproducibil ity
and unitariness of each concrete u tterance and its theme, we woul d be poor d ia
lecticians. Together w i th theme or, rather, within the theme, there is also the
meaning that belongs to an utterance. By meaning, as d istinguished from theme,
we u nderstand all those aspects of the u tterance that are reproducible and
self-identical i n al l instances of repetition. Of course, these aspects are abstract:
they have no concrete, autonomous existence in an artificial l y isolated form,
but, at the same time, they do constitu te an essen tial and i nseparabl e part of the
u tterance. The theme of an utterance is, in essence, indivisible. The meaning of
an u tterance, on the con trary, d oes b reak down into a set of mean ings belonging
to each of the various l i nguistic elements of w h i ch the utterance consists. The
u n reprod u cible theme of the u tterance "What time is it?" taken in its ind issolu
ble connection with the concrete h i storical situation, cannot be d ivided i n to
elements. The mean ing of the u tterance "What time is it? "-a mean ing that, of
course, remains the same in al l h istorical instances of i ts enunciation-is made
up of the mean i ngs of the words, forms of morphological and syntactic u nion,
interrogative i n tonations, etc., that form the construction of the u tterance.
Theme is a complex, dynamic system of signs that attempts to be adequate
to a given instant of generative process. Theme is reaction by the consciousness
in its generative process to the generative process of existence. Meaning i s the
technical apparatus for the implementation of theme. Of course, no absolute,
mechan istic boundary can be drawn between theme and meaning. There is no
theme without meaning and no mean ing without theme . M o reover, it is even
i m possib l e to convey the meaning of a particu lar word (say, in the course of
teach ing another person a foreign language ) w i thout having made it an e l ement
of theme, i .e., without having constructed an "examp l e " u tterance. O n the other
hand, a theme must base i tself on some k i nd of fix i ty of mean ing; otherwise i t
loses i ts connection with what came before a n d what comes after-i.e., it
altogether l oses its sign ificance.
The study of the languages of prehistoric peoples and modern semantic
paleontology have reached a conclusion abou t the so-called "complex-ness" of
prehistoric thi n king. Prehistoric man used one word to denote a wide variety of
phenomena that, from our modern point of view, are i n no way related to one

Chap. 4]

Theme and Meaning

1 01

another. What is more, the same word coul d be used to. denote diametrical ly
opposite notions-top and bottom, earth and sky, good and bad, and so on.
Declares Marr:
Suffice it to say that contemporary paleontological study of language has given us
the possibility of reaching, through its investigations, back to an age when a tribe
had only one word at its disposal for usage in all the meanings of which mankind
was aware.'
"But was such an al l-meaning word i n fact a word?" we might be asked. Yes,
precisel y a word. I f, on the contrary, a certain sou n d com plex had only one
single, i nert, and i nvariable meaning, then such a complex wou l d not be a word,
not a sign, but only a signal .3 Multiplicity of meanings is the constitutive feature
of word. As regards the al l-meaning word of which Marr speaks, we can say the
fol lowing: such a word, in essence, has virtually no meaning; it is all theme. I ts
meani11g is inseparable from the concrete situation of its implementation. This
meaning is different each time, j u st as the situation is different each time. Thus
the theme, in this case, subsumed meani ng u n de r i tself and d issolved i t before
meaning had any chance to consol idate and congeal. B u t as language developed
further, as its stock of sound complexes expanded, meaning began to congeal
along l ines that were basic and m ost frequent in the l i fe of the community for
the thematic application of th is or that word .
Theme, as we have said, is an attribute of a whole u tterance o n l y ; i t can
belong to a separate word only i nasmu ch as that word operates i n the capacity
of a whole utterance. So, for i nstance, Marr's a l l -mean ing word always operates
in the capacity of a whole (and has no fixed meanings precisely for that reason) .
Meaning, on the other hand, b e longs to an element or aggregate of elements in
their relation to the whole. Of course, if we entirely disregard th is relation to
the whole ( i .e., to the utterance) , we shall entirely forfeit meaning. That is the
reason why a sharp boundary between theme and meaning can not be drawn.
The most accurate way of formu lating the i n terrelationship between theme
and mean ing is in the fol lowin g terms. Theme is the upper, actual limit of lin
guistic significance," i n essence, only theme means something definite. Meaning
is the lower limit of l inguistic sign ificance. M eaning, in essence, means noth i ng;
it only possesses potentiality-the possib i lity of having a meani ng within a con
crete theme. I nvestigation of the meaning of one or another l inguistic element
2. N. ja. Marr, }aphetic Theory, ( 1 926), p . 2?8.
3. It is clear that even that earliest of all words, about which Marr speaks, is not in any
way l i ke a signal (to which a number of investigators endeavor to reduce language). After
all, a signal that meant everything would be minima'l ly capable of carrying out the function
of a signal. The capacity of a signal to adapt to the changing conditions of a situation is
very low. By and l arge, change in a signal means replacement of one signal by another.

1 02

Marxist Philosophy of Language

(Part II

can proceed, i n terms of our defi n i tion, in one of two d irections: eith er i n the
d irection of the u pper l i mit, toward theme, in w hich case i t woul d be investiga
tion of the contextual m ean ing of a given word with i n the conditions of a con
crete u tterance; or investigation can aim toward the l o wer l i m it, the l i m i t of
meaning, i n wh ich case i t wqu l d be i nvestigation of the meaning of a word in
the system of language or, in other words, investigation of a d ictionary word.
A d istinction between theme and meaning and a proper u nderstand ing of
their interrelationship are vital steps i n constructing a genuine science of mean
ings. Total fail ure to comprehend their importance has persisted to th e present
day. S uch discrim inations as those between a word's usual and occasional
meanings, between its central and lateral meanings, between i ts denotation and
connotation, etc., are fu ndamentally unsatisfactory. Th e basic tendency u nder
lying all such discri m inations-the tendency to ascribe greater val u e to the
cen tral , usual aspect of mean ing, presupposing tha t that aspect real l y d oes exist
and is stable-is completely fal l acious. M oreover, it would leave theme u nac
counted for, since theme, of course, can by no means be reduced to the status
of the occasional or lateral meaning of words.
The distinction between theme and meaning acquires particul ar clarity i n
con nection with t h e problem of understanding, which w e shall n o w briefly
touch upon.
We have already had occasion to speak of the philological type of passive
u nderstandi ng, which exclu des response in advance. Any genuine kind of u nder
standing will be active and w i l l constitute the germ of a response. O n l y active
u nderstanding can grasp theme-a generative process can be grasped o n l y with
the aid of another generative process.
To u n derstan d another person 's utterance means to orient o neself with
respect to it, to fin d the proper p l ace for it in the correspond i ng context. For
each word of the u tterance that we are i n process of u nderstanding, we, as it
were, lay down a set of our own answering words. The greater their n um ber and
weight, the deeper and m ore su bstantial our u n derstanding will be.
Thus each of the d istinguish ab le sign ificative eleme n ts of an utterance and
the entire utterance as a whole entity are translated in our m inds into another,
active and responsive, context. Any true understanding is dialogic in nature.
U nderstanding is to u tterance as one l i n e of a d ialogue is to the next. U nder
standing strives to match the speaker's word with a counter word. O n l y in
u nderstand i ng a word in a foreign tongue is the attempt made to match it with
the "same" word i n one's own language.
Therefore, there is no reason for saying that meaning belongs to a word as
such. I n essence, meaning belongs to a word i n i ts position between spea kers;
that is, mean ing is real ized only in the process of active, responsive u n derstand
ing. M eaning does not reside i n the word or i n the sou l of the speaker or i n the
soul of the l istener. M ean ing is the effect of interaction between speaker and

Chap. 4}

Theme and Meaning


listener produced via the material o f a particular sound complex. I t is l ike an

electric spark that occurs only when two different terminals are h ooked together.
Those who ignore theme (which is accessib l e only to active, responsive u nder
standing) and who, i n attempting to define the meaning of a word, approach its
l ower, stable, self-identical l i m it, W'!nt, in effect, to turn on a l ight bulb after
having switched off the current. Only the current of verbal intercourse endows
a word with the l ight of meaning.
Let us now move on to one of the m ost important problems in the science
of meanings, the problem of the interrelationship between meaning and evalu
Any word used in actual speech possesses not only theme and mean ing i n
t h e referential, o r content, sense of these words, but also value judgment: i .e.,
a l l referential contents produced in l iving speech are said or written in conj u nc
tion with a specific evaluative accent. There is no such th ing as word without
evaluative accent.
What is the nature of th is accent, and how does it relate to the referential
side of meaning?
The most o bvious, but, at the same ti me, the most superficial aspect of social
value j udgement incorporated in the word is that wh ich is conveyed with the
help ofexpressive intonation. In most cases, intonation is determined by the
immediate situation and often by its most ephemeral circumstances. To be sure,
intonation of a more substantial kind is also possible. Here is a classic instance
of such a use of i ntonation in real-l ife speech . Dostoevskij , in Diary of a Writer,
relates the fol l owing story.
One Sunday night, already getting on to the small hours, I chanced to find myself
walking alongside a band of six tipsy artisans for a d ozen paces or so, and there and
then I became convinced that all thoughts, all feelings, and even whole trains of rea
soning could be expressed merely by using a certain noun, a noun, moreover, of
utmost simplicity in itself [ Dostoevskij h as in mind here a certain widely used ob
scenity.- V. V. ] . Here is what h appened. First, one of these fellows voices this noun
shrilly and emphatically by way of expressing his utterly d isdainful denial of some
point that had been in general contention just prior. A second fel l ow repeats this
very same noun in response to the first fel l ow, but n ow in an altogether d ifferent
tone and sense-to wit, in the sense that h e fully doubted the veracity of the first
fellow's denial. A third fellow waxes indignant at the first one, sharply and heatedl y
sallying into the conversation and shouting a t h i m that very same noun, b u t now i n
a pejorative, abusive sense. The second fel low, indignant a t the third for being offen
sive, h imself sallies back in and cuts the latter short to the effect: "What the hell d o
you think you're doing, b u tting in like that?! M e a n d Fil'ka were. havi ng a nice q uiet
talk and just like that you come along and start cussing him out!" And in fact, this
whole train of thought h e conveyed by emitting just that very same time-honored
word, that same extremely laconic designation of a certain item, and noth ing more,
save only that he also raised his h and and grabbed the second fellow by the shoulder.
Thereupon, all of a sudden a fourth fellow, the you ngest in the crowd , who had

1 04

Marxist Philosophy o f Language

[Part II

remained silent all this while, _apparently having just struck upon the sol ution to the
problem that had originally occasioned the dispute, in a tone of rapture, with one
arm half-raised, shouts---Whafd o you think: " Eureka ! " ? "I found it, I found i t ! " ?
No, nothing a t a l l l ike "Eure ka," nothing l i ke " I found it." He merely repeats that
very same u npri ntable noun, just that one single word, just that one word alone, but
with rapture, with a squeal of ecstacy, and apparently somewhat excessively so, be
cause the sixth fellow, a su rly character and the oldest in the bunch, didn't think i t
seemly and in a trice stops the young fel l ow's rapture cold b y turning o n him and
repeating in a gruff and expostulatory bass--yes, that very same noun whose usage
is forbidden in the company of ladies, which, however, in this case clearly and pre
cisely d enoted : "What the hell are you shouting for, you'll burst a blood vesse l ! "
And s o , without having uttered one other word , they repeated just this one, but
obviously beloved , little word of theirs six times in a row, one after the o ther, and
they understood one another perfectly. 4
A l l six "speech performances" by the artisans are different, despite the fact
that they all consisted of one and the same word . That word, in this i n stance,
was essential l y o n l y a vehicle for intonation. The conversation was conducted i n
i ntonations expressing the val ue j udgments of the speakers. These val u e j udg"
ments and their corresponding i n tonations were wholly determ ined by the
immed iate social situation of the tal k and therefore d i d not requ i re any refer
ential support. I n l iving speech, i ntonation often does have a meaning quite
independent of the semantic composition of speech . I n tonational material pent
u p i nside us often does find outlet i n l i nguistic constructions completely inap
propriate to the particular k i n d of intonation i nvolved. I n such a case, into na
tion does not impinge upon the i n tel lectual, concrete, referen tial sign ificance of
the constructio n . We have a habit of expressing our fee l i ngs by i m parting expres
sive and meaningfu l i ntonation to some word that crops up in our m i n d by
chance, often a vacuous interjection or adverb . Al most every body h as his favor
i te interjection or adverb or sometimes even a semantical l y ful l-fledged word
that he customarily uses for p u re l y intonational resolution of certain trivial (and
sometimes not so trivial) situations and moods that occur in the ordi nary b usi
ness of l ife. There are certain expressions l ike "so-so," "yes-yes, " "now-now,"
"we l l-we l l " and so on that commonly serve as "safety valves" of that sort. The
dou b l i ng usual i n such expressions is sym ptomatic; i .e., it represents an artificial
prolongation of the sound i mage for the purpose of a l l owing the pent u p in tona
tion to expire ful ly. Any one such favorite l ittle expression may, of course, be
pronounced i n an e normou s variety of i ntonations in keeping with the wide
d iversity of situations and moods that occur i n l ife.
I n a l l these i nstances, theme, which is a property of each u tterance (each of
the utterances of the six artisans had a theme proper to it) , is implemented en4. Polnoe sobranie so cinenij F. M. Dostoe vskogo [The Complete Works of F. M.
Dostoevskij ] , Vol . IX, pp. 274-2 7 5 , 1 906 .

Chap. 4]

Theme and Meaning

1 05

tirely and exclusively by the power of_ expressive intonation without the aid of
word meaning or grammatical coord ination. This sort of value j udgment and its
corresponding intonation cannot exceed the narrow confines of the immediate
situation and the small , intimate social world in wh ich it occurs. L inguistic
evaluation of this sort may righ tly be cal led an accompani ment, an accessory
phenomenon, to meaning in language.
However, not a l l l i ngu istic value j udgments are l ike that. We may take any
utterance whatsoever, say, an utterance that encompasses the broadest possible
semantic spectrum and assumes the widest possible social audience, and we shal l
stil l see that, in it, a n enormous i mportance belongs to eval uation . Naturally,
value judgment fn this case w i l l not al low of even minimal l y adequate expression
by intonation , but it w i l l be the determinative factor in the choice and deploy
ment of the basic elements that bear the meaning of the u tterance. No utterance
can be put together without value judgment. Every utterance is above a l l an
evaluative orientation. Therefore, each element in a l iving utterance not only
has a meaning but also has a value. Only the abstract element, perceived within
the system of l anguage and not with i n the structure of an u tterance, appears
devoid of val ue judgment. Focusing their attention on the abstract system of
l anguage is what led most l i nguists to d ivorce evaluation from meaning and to
consider evaluation an accessory factor of meaning, the expression of a speaker's
individual attitude toward the subject matter of his discourse.5
In Russian scholarship, G. 5pett has spoken of eval uation as the connotation
of a word . Characteristically, he operates with a strict division between referen
tial denotation and eval uative connotation, locating this division in various
spheres of rea l i ty . This sort of disjuncture between referential meaning and eval
uation is tota l l y inadmissible. It stems from failure to note the more profou nd
functions of evaluation in speech . Referential meaning is molded by evaluation;
it is evaluation, after all, which determ ines that a particu l ar referential meaning
may enter the purview of speakers-both the i mmediate purview and the broader
social purview of the particu lar social group. Furthermore, with respect to
changes of meaning, it is precisely eval uation that plays the creative role. A
change i n meaning is, essentiall y, always a reevaluation: the transposition of
some particular word from one evaluative context to another. A word is either
advanced to a h igher rank or demoted to a lower one. The separation of word
meaning from eval uation inevitably deprives meaning of i ts place in the l iving
social process ( where meaning is always permeated with value j u dgment) , to its
being ontologized and transformed i nto ideal Being divorced from the h istorical
process of Beco ming.
5. That is how Anton Marty defines evaluation, and it is Marty who gives the most acute
and detailed analysis of word meanings; see his Untersuchungen zur Grund!egung der
a//gemeinen Grammatik und Sprachphilosophie ( Hal le, 1 908 ) .

1 06

Marxist Philosophy of Language

(Part II

Precisely in order to u n derstan d the h istorical process of generation of theme

and of the mea ni ngs i mplementing theme, it is essential to take socia eval uation
into account. The generative' process of sign ification i n language is al ways associ
ated with the generation of the evaluative purview of a particular social group,
and the generation of an evaluative p u rview-in the sen se of the totality of a l l
those things that h ave meani'ng and i mportance for t h e particular grou p-is e n
tire l y determined by expansion o f t h e economic basis. A s t h e econom ic basis
expands, it promotes a n actual expansion i n the scope of existence wh ich is
accessible, comprehensible, and vita l to man. The prehistoric h erdsman was
virtually i n terested in nothing, and virtually noth ing h ad any bear i ng on h i m.
Man at the end of the epoch of capital ism i s d i rectly concerned about every
th ing, h is interests reaching the remotest corners of the earth and ev.en the most
distant stars. This expansion of evaluative purview comes about dialectica l l y .
New aspects o f existence, once they a r e drawn i nto t h e sphere o f social i nterest,
once they make con tact with the h u ma n word and h u man emotion, do not
coexist peaceful l y with other elements of existence previously drawn i n, but
engage them i n a struggle, reevaluate them, and bring about a change i n their
position with i n the u n i ty of the evaluative purview. This dialectical generative
process is reflected in the generation of seman tic properties in language. A new
significance emanates from a n old one, a nd does so with its help, but this
happens so that the new significance can e nter into contrad iction w ith the old
one and restructure it.
The outcome is a constant struggle of accents in each semantic sector of ex
i..:;tence. There is nothing in the structure of signification that coul d be said to
tran scend the generative process, to be independent of the d ia lectica l expansion
of social purview. Society in process of generation expands its perception of the
generative process of existence. There is nothi ng in this that cou l d be said to be
a bsolutely fixed. And that is how it happens that meaning-an abstract, self
identical element-is subsumed u nder theme and torn apart by theme's l iving
contradictions so as to return i n the shape of a new meaning with a fixity and
self-identity only for the wh ile, j ust as it had before.




(Study in the Application of the

Sociological Method to Problems of Syntax)

C H A P T E R 1

Theory of Utterance
and Problems of Syntax

The significance 6f problems of syntax. Syntactic categories

and utterance as a whole. The problem of paragraphs. Forms
of reported speech.
Traditional princi ples and methods in l inguistics do not provide grounds for
a productive approach to pro blems of syntax. T his is particularly true of abstract
objectivism where the traditional methods and principles have found their most
distinct and most consistent e xpression. A l l the fundamenta l categories of mo
dern l inguistic thought, with their development stemming primaril y from I ndo
European comparative l i nguisti cs, are thoroughly phonetic and morphological
categories. As the product of comparative phonetics and morphology, such
thought is i ncapable of viewing other phenomena of language except through
the spectacles of phonetic and morphological form s. I t attempts to view syntax
in the same way, and this has led to the morphologization of syntactic problems. 1
I n consequence, the study of syntax is in a very bad state, a fact that even the
majority of representatives of the I ndo-Euro pean school openly adm it.
This is perfectly u nderstandable once we recal l the basic features character
izing perception of a dead and a l ien language-perception governed by the over
riding needs to decipher such a language and i nstruct others in it. 2
1 . A s a consequence of this covert tendency to morphologize syntactic form , the study
of syntax is dominated by scholastic thin king to a degree u nmatched in any other branch
of I i ngu is tics.
2. Added to this are the special aims of comparative linguistics: the establishment of a
family of l anguages, of their genetic order, and 'of a protolanguage. T hese aims further rein
force the primacy of phonetics in l inguistic thought. The problem of comparative linguistics,
a very important one in contemporary philosophy of language owing to the massive position
it occupies in modern l inguistics, u nfortunately had to be left u ntouched within the scope of
our study. I t is a problem of great complexity, and even su perficial treatment of it would
have necessitated enlarging ou r book considerably.

1 09

1 10

Forms of Utterance

[Part Ill

M eanwhi le, problems of syntax have imme n se i mportance for the proper
u nd erstanding of language and its generative process. I n point of fact, of al l the
form s of language, the syntactic forms are the ones closest to the concrete forms
of utterance, to forms of con crete speech performances. A l l syntactic anal y se s
o f speech entail analyzing t h e l iv i ng b o d y o f an utterance and, therefore, power
ful l y resist relegation to the a bstract system of l anguage. Syntactic forms are
more concrete than morphological or p ho netic forms and are m ore closely asso
ciated with the real cond itions of d i scourse. T herefore, our point of v iew, w h ich
deals with the livi ng phenomena of language, m u st give preceden ce to syntactic
forms over morphol ogical and phonetic ones. B u t, as we have a l so m ade clear,
productive study of .syntactic forms is o n ly possib l e on the grounds of a ful ly
e laborated theory of utterance. A s long as the u tterance, i n its wholeness, re
mains terra incognita for the l inguist, it is out of the q uestio n to speak of a gen
u ine, concrete, and not scholastic kind of u nderstanding of syntactic forms.
We have a lready indicated that the i ssue of whole utterances is a m atter very
poor l y off in l ingu istics. We can go so far as to say that linguistic thinking has
hopelessly lost any sense of the verbal whole. A l inguist feel s most s u re of h i m
self w h e n operating a t t h e center o f a p hrase u n it. T he further he app roache s
the peripheries of speech a n d t h u s t h e pro b le m o f the utteran ce as a whole, the
more i n secure his position becomes. H e has n o way at all of coping with the
whole. Not a single o n e of the categories of l inguistics is of any val ue for de
fin i ng a whole l inguistic entity .
T h e fact of the matter is that a l l l inguistic categories, per se, are a p p l icab l e
only o n t h e inside territory o f an utterance. A l l morphological categories, for
instance, are of value exclusively as regards the constituents of an utterance and
cease being serviceable when it comes to defin ing the whole. The same is true of
syntactic categories, the category of "sentence," for exam p l e : the category of
sentence is merely a definition of the sentence as a u nit-element with i n an utter
ance, and not by any means as a whole entity.
For proof of this "elementar i ness" i n principle of all linguistic categories, o n e
need o n l y take any finished uttera nce {relativel y speaki ng, of course, since any
utterance is part of a verbal process) consisting of a single word. I f we apply a l l
the categories u sed by l ingu istics t o t h i s word, it w i l l i mmed iately become ap
parent that these categories define the word exclusively in terms of a potential
element of speech and that none encompasses the w ho le utterance, That extra
someth ing that converts this w ord into a whole utterance remains o utside the
scope of the e ntire set of l ingu istic categories and definitions, Were w e to d e
velop th is word i nto a ful l-fledged sentence b y fil l ing i n a l l the basic con stituents
(fo l lowing the prescription : " n ot stated, but u nderstood"), we would obta i n a
simple sentence and not at a l l an utterance. No matter which of the l inguistic
categories we woul d try to apply to th is sentence, we would never fi nd just w hat
it is that converts it into a whole utterance. Thus if we remain within the con-

Chap. 7 j

Theory of Utterance


fines of the grammatical .categories with which contemporary l inguistics suppl ies
u s, the verbal whole w i l l be forever e l usive and beyond our grasp. The effect of
these l inguistic categories is to draw u s relentlessly away fro m the utterance and
its concrete structure into the abstract system of language.
This fai l u re of l inguistic defi n ition appl ies not only to the utterance as a whole
entity, but even to u nits w ithi n a monologic u tterance that have some claim to
being regarded as complete u nits. A case in point invo lves u n its set off from one
another i n writing by i ndentation that we cal l paragraphs. The syntactic compo
sition of paragraphs is extremely diverse. Paragraphs may contain anyth ing from
a single word to a whole array of complex sentences. To say that a paragraph is
supposed to consist of a complete thought amounts to saying absol utely noth ing.
What is needed, after a l l , is defi n ition from the standpoint of language, and under
no circum stances can the notion of "complete thought" be regarded a l inguistic
definition. Even if it is true, as w e believe, that l ingu istic d efinitions cannot be
completely divorced from ideologica l definitions, stil l , neither can they be u sed
to substitute for one another .
Were we to probe deeper i nto the l inguistic nature of paragrap h s, we would
surely find that in certain crucial respects paragraphs are analogous to exchanges
in dialogue. The paragraph is something l i ke a vitiated dialogue worked into the
body of a mono!ogic utterance. Behind the device of partitioning speech in units,
which are termed paragraph s in their written form, lie orientation toward l is
tener or reader and calcu lation of the latter' s possible reactions. The weaker this
orientation and calcu lation are, the l ess organized, as regards paragraphs, our
speech w i l l be. The classic types of paragraphs are: q uestion and answer (where
q u estion is posed and answer given by the same author) ; supplementation; anti
cipation of possible objections; exposition of seeming discrepancies or i l logica l i
ties in one's own argument, and so forth.3 Very commonly, we m ake our own
speech or some part of it (for example, the preceding paragraph) the object of
discussion. I n such a case, a sh ift occurs in the speaker's attention from the re
ferent of his speech to the speech itself (reflection over one's own words) . B ut
even this sh ift i n verbal intentions is conditioned by the addressee's interest. If
we cou ld imag i ne speech that absolutely ignored the addressee (an imr;wssible
kind of speech, of course), we wou ld have a case of speech w ith organic partition
reduced to the minimum. N eed less to say, we are not thinking here of certain
special types of partition shaped by the particu lar aims and purpo ses of specific
ideological fields-for instance, the strophic partition of speech in verse or the
3, We, of course, merely sketch out the problem of paragraphs here. The assertions we
make must soun d dogmatic, since we present them without proof and appropriate support
ing material. Moreover, we have simplified the problem, Widely different ways of partition
ing monologic speech may be conveyed by the written form of paragraphs. Here we mention
only one of the more i mportant of such types-a type of partitioning that takes the addressee
and his active understanding into decisive account.


Forms of Utterance

[Part Ill

purely logical partition of s peech of the type: premi se, conclusion; thesis, anti
thesis, and the l i ke.
Our study of the forins of verbal com m u n ication and the correspond ing forms
of whole utterances can shed l ight o n the system of paragraphing and a l l analo
gous problems. As long as l ingu istics continue s to orient itse lf toward the i so
lated, m0nologic utterance, I t w i l l remain devoid of any organic a pproach to a l l
these q uestions. Even treatment of the more elementary pro b le ms o f syntax i s
possible only o n t h e grounds of verbal com m un ication. A I I t h e basic categories
of l ingu i stics should be closely reexamined along these l ines. The i nterest i n in
tonation that has a risen recently i n syntactic studies and the atte mpts, i n con
j unction with that i nterest, to revise defi nitions of syntacti c wholes v ia a more
subtle and d iffe rentiated consideration of intonation, do not strike us as very
productive. T h ey can become productive o n l y if they are combined w ith a p ro
per u nderstand i ng of the bases of verbal com m u nication.
We sha l l now devote the remaining chapters of our study to one of the s pecial
problems of syntax.
It is someti mes extremely important to expose som e fam i liar and see m i ngly
already well-studied p henomenon to fresh i l l u mi nation by reformulating it as a
problem, i .e., to i l l u mi nate new aspects of it with the a i d of a set of q ue stions
that have a special bearing u po n it. I t i s particularly i m porta n t to d o so i n those
fiel d s where research has become bogged down i n m asses of meticulous and de
tai led-b ut utterly pointless-descriptions and classifications. In the course of
such a reform ulation of a problem, it may turn out that what had a ppeared to be
a l i m ited and secondary phenomenon actually has meaning of fundamental im
portance for the whole fiel d of study. An apt posing of a problem can make the
phenomenon u nder scrutiny reveal the methodological potentialities embedded
i n it.
We believe that one such h igh ly productive, "pivotal " p henomenon i s that of
so-cal led reported speech, i .e., the syntactic patterns (direct d isco urse, i n d i rect
d iscourse, quasi-direct d iscourse), the modifications of those patterns and the
variants of those mod ifications, which we find i n a language for the reporting of
other persons' utterances a nd for incorporating those utterances, a s t h e utterances
of others, into a bound, monologic context. The extraordinary methodologica l
i nterest i n herent i n these p h enomena has gone totally unappreciated to the pres
ent day. No one was able to d iscern i n this i ssue of syntax, i n what superficial
examination held to be a secondary matter, problems of enormous general l in
guistic and theoretica l significance.4 It i s precisely when e m placed in sociologi
cal l y oriented scientific concern with language that the whole signifi cance, the
whole hermeneutic power of th is phenomenon is d isclosed.
4. For example, in A . M . Peskovskij's study of syntax, this phenomenon has a mere four
pages d evoted to it. S ee his R usskij sintaksis v naucnom osvescenii [ Ru ssian Syntax in a
S cientific Light) ( 2 n d ed., Moscow, 1 920), pp. 465 -468; (3rd ed., 1 928, pp. 5 52-5 5 5 ) .

Chap. 7 j

Theory of Utterance


To take the phenomenon of reported speech and postulate it as a problem

from a sociological orienta tion that is the task we undertake in the remainder
of our study. On the material of this problem we shall attem pt to map out the
sociological method in l inguistics. We do not presume to establ ish major, posi
tive conclusions of a specifica l l y historical kind. The very nature of the material
we have chosen, while adequate for purposes of expositing the prob lem and
making evident the necessity of treating it along sociological lines, i s far from
adequate for drawing broad h i storical generalizations. Such h istorical generali
zations as do occur are of merel y a provisional and hypothetical order.

C H A P T E R 2

Exposition of the
Problem of Reported Speech

Definition of reported speech. The problem of active reception

of reported speech in connection with the problem of dialogue.
The dynamics of the interrelationship of authorial context and
reported speech. The "linear style " of reporting speech. The
"pictorial style " of reporting speech.
Reported speech is speech within speech, u tterance with in utterance, and at
the same time also speech about speech, utterance about utterance.
Whatever we tal k about is only the content of speech, the the m es of our
words. Such a theme-and i t is only a theme-might be, for i n stance, " n a ture,"
"man," or "su bordinate clause " ( one of the themes of syn tax) . A reported
u tterance, however, is not j u st a theme of speech: it has the capacity of entering
on its own, so to speak, into speech, into i ts syntactic makeup, as an i ntegral
unit of the construction. In so doing, it retains its own constructional and seman
tic autonomy while l eaving the speech texture of the context incorporating it
perfectly in tact.
What is more, a reported u tterance treated solely as a theme of spee<;h may
be characterized only superficial ly at best. If i ts con tent is to be had to the ful l ,
i t must be made part of a speech construction. When l i m i ted to the treatment
of reported speech in thematic terms, one can answer questions as to " h ow" and
"about what" so-and-so spoke, but "what" he said cou ld be disclosed only by
way of reporti ng his words, if only in the form of indirect discou rse .
However, once it becomes a constructional u n i t in the author's speech, into
which it has entered on its own, the reported u tterance concurrently becomes a
theme of that s peech . I t enters i n to the latter's thematic d esign precisel y as
reported, an u tterance with i ts own autonomous theme: the au tonomous theme
thus becomes a theme of a theme.


Forms of Utterance

[Part Ill

Reported speech is regarded by the speaker as an u tterance belonging to

someone else, an u tterance that was originally totally indepe ndent, complete i n
its constru ction, and lying outside the given context. N ow , i t i s from this inde
pendent existence that reported speech is transposed i n to an au thorial context
wh ile retaining its own referential content and at l east the rudiments of i ts own
l inguistic i n tegrity, its origi n al constructional i n dependence. The author's u tter
ance, in i n corporating the other u tterance, brings i n to p l ay syn tactic, styl istic,
and compositional norms for i ts partial assimilation-that is, i ts adaptation to
the syntactic, compositional, and sty l istic design of the author's u tterance, whi l e
preserving ( i f only i n rudi m entary form) t h e i nitial autonomy ( i n syntactic, com
posi tional., and sty l istic terms) of the reported u tterance, which otherwise could
not be grasped i n ful L
Certain m odifications of i n di rect d iscourse and, i n particular, of quasi-d i rect
discourse in modern languages evince a disposition to transpose the reported
utterance from the sphere of speech construction to the thematic l evel -the
sphere of content. However, even i n these instances, the d i ssolu tion of the
reported u tterance i n the authorial context is not-nor can it be-carried out to
the end. H ere, too, aside from i n dications of a semantic n ature, the re ported
utterance perseveres as a construction-the body of the reported speech remains
detectable as a self-sufficient u nit.
Thus, what i s expressed in the forms employed for reporting speech i s an
active relation of one message to another, and i t i s expressed, m oreover, not on
the level of the theme but i n the stabil ized constructional patterns of the lan
guage itself.
We are deali ng here w i th words reacting on words. H owever, this p henomenon
is d istinctly and fu ndamental l y d i fferent from d ialogue. In dialogue, the l ines of
the individual participants are grammati cal ly d i sconnected; they are not i n te
grated i n to one unified context. I ndeed, h ow coul d they be? There are no syn
. tactic forms with which to build a unity of dialogue. I f, on the other hand, a d ia
logue is presented as embedded i n an authorial context, then we h ave a case of
d irect d iscourse, one of the variants of the phenomenon with which we are deal
ing i n this i n qu i ry.
The attention of l i nguists nowadays i s drawn more and more to the problem
of dialogue ; i ndeed, it someti mes becomes the i r central concern.1 This makes
1. In Russian scholarship, only one study devoted to the p roblem of d ialogue from the
l inguistic point of view h as appeared : L. P. j ak u bi nskij, "0 dialogiceskoj reci" (On D ia logic
Speech ] , R usskaja rec' ( Petrograd , 1 923 ). I n teresting commen ts of a semilingu istic nature
on the problem of dialogue ae contained in V. Vinogradov, Poez1ja A nny A xmato voj [The
Poetry of Anna Axmatova] ( Leningrad , 1 925 ) ; see the chapter "Grimasy dialoga" [ Dialogue
Gesticu lations] . In German scholarsh ip, the problem is currently under intensive treatment
by the Vossler school. See, especially, Gertraud Lerch, "Die u neigentliche d i rekte Rede,
Festschrift fiJr Karl Vossler ( 1 922 ).

Chap. 2}

Problem of Reported Speech


perfectly good sense, for, as we now know, the real unit of language that is
implemented in speech (Sprache a/s Rede ) i s not the individual, i solated mono
l ogic u tterance, but the i nteraction of at least two utterances-in a word, dialogue.
The productive study of dialogue presupposes, h owever, a more profound inves
tigation of the forms u sed in reported speech, since these forms reflect basic and
constant tendencies in the active reception of other speakers ' speech, and it is
this reception, after al l , that i s fundamental al so for d ialogue.
How, in fact, i s another speaker's speech received ? What is the mode of
existence of another's utterance in the actual, in ner-speech consciousness of the
recipient? How is it manipulated there, and what process of orientation w i l l the
subseguent speech of the recipient h i mself have u ndergone in regard to it?
What we have in the forms of reported speech is precisely an objective docu
ment of thi s reception . Once we have l earned to decipher i t, this docu ment pro
vides us with information, not abou t accidental and mercurial su bjective psycho
l ogical processes in the "sou l " of the recipient, but abou t steadfast social tenden
cies in an active reception of other speakers' speech, tendencies that have
crysta l l ized into l anguage forms. The mechanism of th i s process is located, not
in the individual soul , but in society. It is the fu nction of society to select and to
make grammatical (adapt to the grammatical structure of its language ) j u st those
factors in the active and evaluative reception of u tterances that are social l y vital
and constant and, hence, that are grounded in the economic existence of the
particular commun ity of speakers.
There are, of course, essential differences between the active receptio n of
another's speech and its transmission in a bound context. These differences
shou l d not be overlooked . Any type of transmission-the cod ified variety in par
ticu lar-pursues special aims, appropriate to a story, legal proceed ings, a scholarly
polemic, or the l ike. Furthermore, transmission takes i n to account a third per
son-th e person to whom the reported utterances are being transmitted. This pro
vision for a third person is especially important in that it strengthens the impact
of organized social forces on speech reception. When we e ngage in a live dialogue
with someone, in the very act of deal ing with the speech received from our part
ner, we usually omit those words to which we are answeri ng. We repeat them only
in special and exceptional circu mstances, when we want to check the correctness
of our u nderstanding, or trip our partner up with h i s words, or the like. Al l these
specific factors, wh ich may affect transmission, m u st be taken i n to account. But
the essence of the matter is not changed thereby. The circumstances under which
transmi ssion occurs and the aims it pursues merely contri bute to the implementa
tion of what is already l odged in the tendencies of active reception by one's inner
speech consciousness. And these tendencies, for their part, can only d evelop
within the framework of the forms u sed to report speech in a given language.
We are far from claiming that syntactic forms-for instance those of indirect
or direct d iscourse-directly and unequ ivocal l y express the tendencies and forms


Forms of Utterance

(Part Ill

of an active, evaluative reception of another's u tterance. Our speech reception

does not, of course, o perate directly i n the forms of i n di rect and d i rect d i s
course. These forms are only standardized patterns for reporting speech . B u t,
on the one hand, these patterns and their mod ifications coul d have arisen and
taken shape only i n accordance
with the governing tendencies of speech recep
tion ; on the other hand, on ce these patterns have assumed shape and function
in the l anguage, they in turn exert an influence, regul ating or i n h i b iting in their
development, on the tendencies of an evaluative reception that operate within
the channel prescr i be d by the existing forms.
Langu age reflects, not subjective, psychological vacil lations, but stabl e social
i n terrelationships among speakers. Various l ingu istic form s of these i n terrela
tionshi ps, and various modifications of these forms, prevail in different languages
at d ifferent periods of time with i n d ifferent social groups and u nd er the effect of
different contextual a ims. What thi s attests to is the relative strength or weakness
of those tendencies in the social i n terorientation of a com munity of speakers, of
which the given l i nguistic forms themselves are stabi l ized and age-old crysta l liza
tions. Shou l d it happen that circu mstances conspi re to disparage some particu l ar
form ( for example, certain modifications of i n di rect d i scourse, such as the
"dogmatic-rationa l i stic" type i n the modern Russian novel) , then this may be
taken as evidence that the dominant tendencies in u nderstand i ng and eval uating
the messages to be reported are not properly manifested by that particular form
that i t i s too unaccommodati ng, too hampering.
Everything vital i n the eval uative reception of another's u tterance, everyth ing
of any ideological value, is expressed in the material of i nner speech. After all, it
is not a mute, wordless creature that receives such an u tterance, but a h u man
being ful l of inner words . A l l his experiences-hi s so-cal led apperceptive back
ground-exist encoded in h is inner speech, and only to that extent do they come
into contact with speech received from outside. Word comes i n to contact with
word. The context of th is i nner speech is the l ocale i n which another's u tterance
is received, comprehended, and evaluated ; it is where the speaker's active orien
tation takes place. This active i nner-speech reception proceeds i n two d i rections:
first, the received u tterance i s framed w i th in a context of factual com mentary
(coinciding in part with what is cal led the a pperceptive backgroun d of the words ) ,
the visual signs of expression, and so o n ; second, a reply (Gegenrede) i s prepared.
Both the preparation of the reply (internal retort) and the factual commentary2
are organi ca l l y fused in the u n i ty of active reception, and these can be isolated
only in abstract terms. Both l i nes of reception fi nd the i r expression, are objecti
fied, in the au thoria l " context su rrou nding the reported speech . Regard less of
the fu nctional orientation of the given con text-whether it i s a work of fiction, a
polemical articl e, a defense attorney's summation, or the l ike-we clearly d iscern
2. The term is borrowed from L. P. ) ak u binskij (see the article cited above).

Problem of Reported Speech

Chap. 2}


these two tendencies i n it: that of commenting and that of retorting. Usually
one of them is dominant. Between the reported speech and the reporting context,
dynamic relations of h igh comp l exity and tension are in force. A failure to take
these into account makes it i mpossible to understand any form of reported
Earl ier investigators of the forms of reported speech committed the funda
mental error of virtually divorcing the reported speech from the reportin g con
text. That explains why their treatment of these forms is so static and i nert (a
characterization applicable to the whole field of syntactic study in general ) .
Meanwh ile, the true object of inquiry ought to b e precisely the dynamic i n ter
relationship of these two factors, the speech being reported ( the other person's
speech) and the speech doing the reporting (the. author's speech ) . After a l l , the
two actually do exist, function, and take shape only in their interrelation, and
not on their own, the one apart from the other. The reported speech and the
reporting context are but the terms of a dynamic interrelationsh ip. This dyna
mism reflects the dynamism of social interorientation in verbal i deological
communication between people (within, of course, the vital and steadfast ten
dencies of that communication ) .
I n what direction may the dynamism o f the interrelationsh i p between the
authorial and the reported speech move?
We see it moving in two basic directions.
In the first p lace, the basic tendency in reacting to reported speech may be
to maintain its integrity and authenticity ; a language may strive to forge h ard
and fast boundaries for reported speech . I n such a case, the patterns and their
modifications serve to demarcate the reported speech as clearly as possible, to
screen it from penetration by the author's intonations, and to condense and
enhance its individual l ingu istic characteristics.
Such is the first direction. With i n i ts scope we must rigorously defi ne to what
extent a given l anguage commun ity differentiates the social reception of the
speech to be reported and to what exte n t the expressiveness, the stylistic qual ities
of speech, its lexical coloration, and so forth, are fel t as distinct and soci a l l y
i mportant values. I t m a y be that another's speech is received a s one w h o l e b lock
of social behavior, as the speaker's indivisible, conceptual posi tion-in wh ich case
only the "what" of speech is taken in and the "how" is l eft outside rece p tion.
This content conceptual izing, and (in a l i nguistic sense) depersonal izing way of
receiving and reporting speech predominates in Old and M iddle French ( i n the
l atter with a considerable deve lopment of the depersonal izing mod ifications of
indirect discourse) .3 The same type is found in the l iterary monuments of Old
3. See below concern ing special features o f Old

French i n this connection. O n reported

speech in Middle French, see Gertraud Lerch, "Die. uneigentliche d i rekte Rede;' in Festschrift
fur Karl Vossler

(1922), pp. 112ff,



and, also,

K. Vossler,

Frankreichs Kultur im Spiegel seiner

1 20

Forms of Utterance

(Part Ill

R u ssian-though h ere the pattern of i nd i rect d iscourse is almost completely

lacki ng. The dominant type i n th is case was that of the depersonal ized ( i n the
l in gu i stic sense) d irect d i sc u rse.4
Within the scope covered by the first d i rection; we must also d efine the. degree
of authoritarian rece ption qf an utterance and the degree of its ideo l ogica l assur
ance-its d ogmatism. The more dogmatic an u tterance, the less leeway permitted
between truth and fal sehood or good and bad in its reception by those w h o com pre
hend and evaluate, the greater w i l l be the depersonalization that the for m s of re
ported speech will u ndergo. I n point of fact, given the situation in w h ich all social
val u e j udgments are d ivided into wholesale, clearcut a l ternatives, we have simply
no room for a positive and observant attitude toward all t hose factors which give
another speaker's u tterance i ts i nd iv i dual character. Authoritarian dogmatis m of
that type characterizes M i d d l e French and O l d Russian writings. The 1 7th cen
tury in France and the 1 8th centu ry in Russia were characterized by a rational
istic type of dogmatism that l i kewise tended to curb the individual ization of
reported speech , though in d ifferent ways. I n the sphere of rational istic dogma
tism, the dominant forms were the content-analyzing modifications of i n d i rect
discourse and the rhetorical modifications of direct d iscourse.5 Here the explici t
ness and i nv iolabi l i ty of the boundaries between authorial and reported speech
reach the u tmost l i mits.
We may cal l thi s first d i rection in which the dynami sm of the i nterorien tation
between reporting and reported speech moves the linear style (der lineare stil)
of speech reporting ( borrowi n g the term from Wolffl in's study of art) . The basic
tendency of the l i near sty l e is to construct clear-cu t, external contou r s for
reported speech, whose own i nternal individuality is minimized. Wherever the
entire context displays a complete sty listic homogeneity (in which the author
and his characters all speak exactly the same l anguage), the grammatical and com
positional man i p u l ation of reported speech achieves a maximal compactness and
plastic rel ief.
The processes we observe i n the second d irection in which the dynamism of
the interorientation between reporting and reported speech moves are exactly
opposite in nature. Language devises means for infiltrating reported speech
with authorial retort and commentary in deft and subtle ways. The reporting
context strives to b reak down the self-contained compactness of the reported
speech , to resolve it, to obl i terate i ts boundaries. We m ay cal l this styl e of speech
reporting pictorial. I ts tend e n cy is to obliterate the precise, external con tours of
4. For instance, in 5/ovo o po/ku !goreve [ The Lay of I gor's Campaign] , there is not a
single i nstance of indirect d iscourse despite the abundance of other speakers' words i n this
monument. I nd irect d iscourse in the Old Russian chronicles is extremely rare. Reported
speech is i ncorporated everywhere as a compact, i m permeable block with little or no indi
5 . I ndirect d iscourse is virtually nonexistent in R ussian neoclassicism.

Chap. 2]

Problem of Reported Speech


reported speec h ; a t the same time, th e reported speech i s i n d i vidual ized to a .

m u c h greater d egree-the tang i b i l i ty of the various facets of a n u tteran ce may
be subtly d ifferentiate d . T h i s time the recep tion i n cl udes not o n l y th e refer
e n ti al mean i ng of the u tterance, the statement it makes, b u t also al l t h e l i n
gu i stic pecu l i ar i ties of i ts verbal i m p l ementatio n .
A n u m ber o f d iverse types m a y be p l aced w i t h i n t h e scope o f th i s second
d i recti o n . The i m petus for weake n i ng the per i p h eries of the u tterance may
origi nate i n the author's c o n text, in w h i ch case that con text p ermeates the
reported speech w i th i ts own i n tonation-hu mor, i rony, l ove or h ate, e n th u
siasm or scorn. T h i s type c haracterizes th e Renai ssance ( especi a l l y i n t h e
French l anguage) , t h e end o f t h e 1 8 th century, and v i rtua l l y the e n tire 1 9th
century. I t i nv o l ves a severe d eb i i i tation of both the authoritarian and the
ratio n a l i stic dogmatism of u tterance. S ocial value j udgments were the n ruled
by a relativism s u p p l y i n g e x treme l y favorable grou n d s for a p o s i tive a n d
sen s i tive recep t i o n o f a l l i n d i vi d u a l i zed verbal n u ances o f though t, bel i ef,
feel i ng. T h e se grou n d s eve n e ncouraged the growth of a "decora tive" tren d i n
treat i n g reported speech, l e ad i ng sometimes to a neglect of th e mean i n g o f a n
u tterance i n favor of i ts " c o l o r"-for exam ple, i n the R u ssian " natu ral schoo l : "
I ndeed, i n Gogo ! ' ' s case, characters' speech sometimes l oses a l m ost a l l i t s refer
e n tial mea n i ng'and becomes d ecor i nstead , on a par w i th cloth i ng, a p p earance,
fur n i s h i ngs, e tc.
A rather d i fferent typ e i s a l so poss i b l e : the verbal d o m i n a n t may sh ift to
the reported speech, wh ich i n that case becomes more forcefu l and m ore
active than t h e authorial context fra m i ng it. T h i s time the reported speech
beg i n s to resolve, as i t were, th e reporting con text, in stead of the oth e r way
aro u n d . The au thorial conte x t l oses th e greater object i v i ty it norma l l y com
mands in com p arison w i th reported speec h . I t begins to perceive i ts e l f- and
even recogn izes i tself-as su bj ective, "other person 's" speech . I n works of
fiction, t h is i s often exp ressed compositiona l l y by th e appearan ce of a narra
tor w h o repl aces the author ( i n the usual sense of the word) . T h e narrator's
speech i s j ust as i nd iv i d u a l ized, col orfu l , and nonauthoritative as is the speech
of the characters. The narrator ' s position is fl u i d , and in the m aj o r i ty of cases
he uses the l a n guage of the p e i)D n ages d e p icted in the work. He ca n n o t bring
to bear agai n s t their su bjective position a more authori tative and objective
worl d . S u ch is th e nature of n arrat i o n in Dostoevsk ij, And rej B e l y j , R e m i zov,
Sologub, and m ore recen t R u ssian w r i ters of prose.6

6.. There is a fairly large literatu re on the role of the narrator in the novel. The basic
work up to the present has been : K. Fried mann, Die Rolle des Erzdhlers in der Epik ( 1 91 0 ) .
I n Russia it was t h e "formalists" who aroused interest in the problem of t h e narrator. V . V .
Vinogradov defines narrator's speech in Gogo!' as "zigzagging from the author to t h e char
acters." (see his Gogo/' i natural'naja skola [ Gogo! ' and the Natural School ] ). According
to Vinogradov, the language styl e of Dostoevskij 's narrator in Dvojnik [ The Double] occu-

1 22

Forms of Utterance

[Part Ill

While the incursion of an authorial context into reported speech is typical of

speech reception in the moderate variety of both idealism and col l ectivism, the
d i ssolution of the authoria l context testifies to a relativistic individual ism in
speech reception. I n the l atter, the subj ective reported utterance stand s in o ppo
s i tion to a commenting a n ? retorting authorial context that recogn izes itself to
be equal ly s u bj ective.
The entire second d i rection is characterized by an exceptional development
of mixed forms of speech reporti ng, including quasi indirect d i scourse and, in
particular, q uasi d irect d i scourse, in which the boundaries of the message
reported are maximal l y weakened . Also, among mod ifications of indirect and
d irect d iscourse, the predominant ones are those wh ich show the greatest flexi
b i l ity and are the most susceptible to permeation by authorial tendencies ( for
example, d isseminated d irect d iscourse, texture-a nalyzing forms of i ndirect
d iscourse, and others) .
I nquiry i nto a l l these tendencies shown i n the actively responsive reception
of speech m ust take i nto account every pecu l iarity of the l i nguistic phenomena
u nder scrutiny. The teleology of the authorial context is especially im porta n t.
I n this respect, it is verbal art that most keenly implements al l the permutations
in sociol ingual interorientation. As d i stinct from verbal art, rhetoric, owing
simply to its teleology, is less free in i ts hand l ing of other speakers' utterances.
Rhetoric req u i res a d isti nct cognizance of the boundar ies of reported speech. I t
i s marked b y an acute awareness o f property rights to words and b y a fastidious
ness in matters of authenticity.
pies a like position with respect to the style of the hero, Goljad kin. See Vinogradov's " S ti l '
peterburgskoj poemy,Dvojnik " [The style of t h e Petersburg epic, The Double] , Dostoevskij,
edited by Dolinin , l , 1 923, pp. 2 39, 241 (the resem blance between the language of the narra
tor and the l anguage of the hero had al ready been noted by Belinskij). B. M. Engel 'gardt
poin ts out q u i te correctly that "one cannot find any so-called objective d escription of the
external world in Dostoevskij . . . . Owing to this fact there arose in the literary work of art
a m u ltistratification of reali ty that has led to a u ni q ue d issolu tion of being in the case of
Dostoevskij's successors." E ngel'gardt sees evidence of this "dissolution of being" in
Sologub's Melkij bes [Petty D emon] and A. Belyj 's Petersburg. See B. M . E ngel'gardt ,
" l deologiceskij roman Dostoevskogo" [ Dostoevskij's Ideological Novel ] , Dostoevskij,
edited by Dolinin, I I, 1 92 5 , p. 94. Cf. Bally's d escription of Zola's style:
Personne plus que Zola n'a use e t abuse du procede qui consiste a faire passer
taus Jes evenements par le cerveau de ses personnages, a ne d ecrir Jes paysages
que par leurs yeux, a n'enoncer d es idees personelles q u e par leur bouche. Dans
ses derniers romans, ce n 'est plus u ne maniere: c'est u n tic, c'est une obsession.
Dans Rome, pas u n coin d e Ia ville eternelle, pas une scene q u 'il ne voie par les
yeux d e son abbe, pas une idee sur Ia religion qu'il ne formule par son inter
mediare [ quoted from E. Lorek, Die "Er!ebte Rede, " p. 64] .
An interesting article d evoted to the p roblem of the narrator is l l 'ja Gruzdev's "0 prie
max xudozestvennogo povestvovani ja" [On Devices of Narration in Literary Art] , Zapiski
Peredvfznogo Teatra (Petrograd , 1 922 ), Nos. 40, 4 1 , 42. Nowhere, however, is the l i nguis
tic problem of reported speech formulated i n these stud ies.

------ - - -------------- - - ----- - - - - - -

Chap. 2]

Problem of Reported Speech

1 23

J ud icial language intrinsical ly assu mes a clear-cut discrepancy between the

verbal subjectivism of the parties to a case and the objectivity of the court
between a ruling from the bench and the entire apparatus of judicial-i nterpreta
tive and investigative commentary. Political rhetoric presents an analogous case.
I t is i mportant to determ ine the specific gravity of rhetorical speech, j u dicial or
political, in the l i ngui stic consciousness of the given social group at a given time.
M oreover, the position that a specimen of speech to be reported occupies on the
social h i erarchy of val ues m ust a l so be taken i n to account. The stronger the
feel ing of hierarchical eminence in another's u tterance, the more sharply defined
w i l l its boundaries be, and the less accessib le w i l l it be to p enetration by retort
ing and commenting tendencies from outside. So, for instance, it was possible
within the neoclassical sphere for the low genres to disp l ay strik i ng deviations
from the rationalistic, dogmatic, l inear style of speech reporting. I t is sympto
matic that quasi-d irect discourse achieved its first powerfu l development pre
cisel y t here-in the fables and tales of L a Fontaine.
I n summarizing all we h ave said of the various possible tendencies in the
dynamic interrelationsh ip of reported and reporting speech , we may mark out
the fol lowing chronolog'i cal sequence:
1 . Authoritarian dogmatism, characterized by the l i near, impersonal, monu
mental style of reported speech transmission in the M iddle Ages;
2. Rationalistic dogmatism, with its even more pronou nced l inear sty l e in
the 1 7th and 1 8 th centuries;
3. Realistic and critical individualism, with its p ictorial style and its tendency
to permeate reported speech with authorial retort and commentary (end
of the 1 8th century and early 1 9th century) ; and finally
4 . Relativistic individualism, with its decomposition of the auth orial context
( the present period ) .
Language exists not in and o f itself b u t only in conj u . :ction with the i nd ivid
ual structure of a concrete u tterance. I t is solely through the utterance that lan
guage m akes contact with comm u nication, is imbued with its vital power, and
becomes a real ity. The cond itions of verbal communication, its forms, and its
methods of d ifferentiation are d ictated by the social and economic prerequisites
of a given period. These changing sociolingual cond i tions are what in fact deter
mines those changes in the forms of reported speech b roug h t out in our analysis.
We woul d even venture to say that in the forms by which language registers the
i mpressions of received speech and of the speaker the h istory of the changing
types of socioideological commun ication stands out in particularly bold rel ief.

C HA P T E R 3

Indirect Discourse, Direct Discourse,

and 'fileir Modifications

Patterns and modifications; grammar and stylistics. The general

nature of speech reporting in Russian. The pattern of indirect
discourse. The referential-analytical modification of indirect
discourse. The impressionistic modification of indirect discoUrse.
The pattern of direct discourse. Preset direct discourse. Particu
larized direct discourse. A nticipated, disseminated, and con
cealed direct discourse. The phenomenon of speech interference.
Rhetorical questions and exclamations. Substituted direct dis
course. Quasi-direct discourse.
We have now outlined the basic d i rections of the dynamism character izing
the interorientation of the author's and another person's speech. This d y namism
finds i ts concrete l inguistic expression in the patterns of reported speech and in
the modifications of those patterns-which may be sai d to be the ind ices of the
balance between re porting and reported messages ach ieved at any given time in
the development of a language.
Let us now turn to a brief characterization of these patterns and their prin
cipal modifications from the standpoint of the tendencies already poi n ted out .
First, a few words must be sai d about the relation of the modifications to the
pattern. This relation is analogou s to the relation of the actuality of rhythm to
the abstraction of meter. A pattern may be i m plemented only in t he form of its
specifi c modification. Changes with i n mod ifications b u i l d u p over periods of
time, whether centuries or decades, and new habits of active orientation toward
the speech to be reported take hold-to crysta l l ize later as r egu lar l i nguistic for
mations i n syntactic patterns. The position of the modifications is on the border
l ine between grammar and styl istics. From time to time, d isputes arise as to
whether a given form of speech transmission is a pattern or a modification, a
1 25

1 26

Forms of Utterance

{Part Ill

matter of grammar or a matter of style. An example of such a dispute was the

one waged over the question of q uasi-d irect d iscourse in French and G erman,
w i th Bal l y taking one side an d Kalepky and Lorek the other. Bally refused to
recogn ize a l egitimate syntactic pattern in q uasi-d irect d i scourse and regarded it
as noth ing more than a sty l istic modification. The same argument might be ap
pl ied to quasi i nd i rect d isc o u rse in F rench. F rom our point of v iew, the demar
cation of a strict borderl ine between gram mar and style, between a grammatical
pattern and i ts sty listic modification, is methodologically u nprodu ctive and in
fact i mposs i ble. T h is borderl i n e is fluid becau se of the very mode of existence
of language, in which, simu ltaneously, som e forms are u ndergoing grammaticiza
tion while others are u n dergoing degrammaticization. It is precise l y these ambigu
ous, borderline forms that are of the greatest interest to the l inguist: this is pre
cise!y where the developmenta l tendencies of a .language may be d iscerned.1
We shall keep our brief characterization of the pattern s of direct and indirect
discourse confi ned to the standard R u ssian l iterary language, and even so, with
no i n te n tion of covering all their possible modifications. We are h ere concerned
exclus ively with the methodological aspect of the problem.
In R ussian, as is well known, the syntactic patterns for reporting speech are
very poorl y developed. A side from quasi-d i rect discou rse (which in R u ssian lacks
clear-cut syntactic markers, as is a l so true of German) , we have two patterns:
direct and ind irect d i scourse. But these two patterns are not so strictly d e l i m ited
from one another as in other l anguages. The hall marks of indirect disco u rse are
weak, and in colloquial language they easily comb i n e with those of d i rect d is
A lack of consecutio temporum and the subju nctive mood deprives indirect
discourse in Ru ssian of any d i stinctive character of its own. Thus there is no

1. One very frequently hears V ossler and the Vosslerites accused of concerning them
selves more with styl istics than with l i nguistics i n the strict sense. A ctually, the Vossler
school d irects its i nterest io issues on the border between the two, in fu l l realization of the
methodological and heuristic significance of such issues; and therein lie the great advantages
of this school, as we see it. Regrettab ly, the Vosslerites, as we know, focus primary attention
on subject ive psychological factors and on individual intentions in their exp lanations of these
phenomena. Due to this fact, language does at times become a mere plaything of individual
2. I n many other languages, indirect discourse has d istinct syntactic differentiation
from d irect d iscourse (special usage of tenses, moods, conju n ctions, personal forms) , re
suiting in a special, complex pattern for the indirect reporting of speech. I n R ussia n ,
however, even those few d istingu ishing marks we have j ust mentioned very often lose
their effect, so that indirect d iscourse mixes with d irect d iscourse. For insta nce, in Gogol"s
Revizor [The I nspector G e nera l ] , Osip says: "T he i nnkeeper said that I won't give you any
thing to eat u ntil you pay for what you've had. ( Example take n from Peskovskij, R ussian
Syntax ( 3rd ed), p. 5 53, w i th Peskovskij's italics).

Chap. 3j

Indirect and Direct Discourse

1 27

favorable ground for the wide development of certain modifications that are par
ticularly i m portant and i n teresting from our poi n t of view. On the whole, one
m u st acknowledge the u nqualified primacy of d i rect discourse i n Russian. The
history of the Russian language k nows no Cartesian, rational istic period, d uring
wh ich an objective " authorial context, " self-confident in its power of reason, had
analyzed and d issected the referential structure of the speech to be reported and
created complex and remarkable devices for the i n direct transmission of speech.
All these pecu l iarities of the R ussian language create a n extremely favorable
situation for the p ictorial styl e of speech reporting-though, granted, of a some
what loose and flaccid kind, that is, without that sense of b oundaries forced and
resistance overcome that one feels in other languages. An extraordinary ease of
i nteraction and interpenetration between reporting and reported speech is the
rule. This is a circumstance con nected with t h e negligible role ( i n the history of
the Russian l i terary l anguage) played by rhetoric, with its clear-cut l inear style of
handling u tterances to be reported and its wholesale, but d i stinct and single
m inded, i n tonation.
Let us first of all descri be the characteristics of i ndirect d i scourse, the pattern
least elaborated i n Russian. And let u s begin with a brief criticism of the claims
made by the grammarian, A . M . Peskovskij. After noti ng that forms of i n d i rect
d iscourse in Russian are u nderdeveloped, Peskovskij makes the fol lowing exceed
ingly pecul iar d eclaration : 3
T o convince oneself that t h e R ussian language i s naturally uncongenial t o reporting
indirect speech, one need only try rendering any piece of d irect d iscourse, even j u st
slightly exceeding a simple statement, into indirect d iscourse. For example: The A ss,
bowing his head to the ground, says to the N ightingale that not bad, that no kidding,
it's nice listening to him sing, but that what a shame he doesn 't know their Rooster,
that he could sharpen up his singing quite a bit, if h e 'd take some lessons from him.

If Peskovskij had performed the same experiment of mechan ica l ly tran sposing
direct discourse into indirect discourse, u si ng the F rench language and observing
only the grammatical ru les, he wou l d have had to come to exactl y the sam e con
clusions. I f, for instance, he had a ttempted translating into forms of indirect d is
course La Fontaine's u se of d i rect d i scou rse or even of quasi-d ire ct discou r se in
h i s fables (in which i nstances of the latter form are very common} , the resu lts
o btained woul d have been j ust as grammatically correct and styl i stically inad
m issible as in the example given. A n d this would have happened despite the fact
3. 1bid., p, 5 5 4. [The " piece of d irect d iscourse" Peskovskij uses for his example is from
the well-k nown fable by Ivan K rylov, The A ss and the Nightingale, I n the fable, the A ss says
to the N ightingale, after the latter's demonstration of h is art: "Not bad! No kidding, it's n ice
l istening to you sing. B ut what a shame you d on't k now our Rooster!
You could sharpen up
your singing quite a bit if you'd take some lessons from him." Peskovskij makes a p urely me
chanical rendition of this statement in indirect d iscourse. The result is awkward; indeed, im
possible. The English translation aims at mirroring this result. Trans/o tors ]

1 28

Forms of Utterance

(Part Ill

that q uasi-direct d iscourse in F rench is extremely close to i n d irect d iscourse (the

same shift of tenses and persons occurs in both) . T here are whole sets of words,
i dioms, and turns of speech appropriate in d i rect and quasi-d i rect d iscourse that
wou ld sou n d weird if transposed into an i nd i rect d iscourse construction.
Peskovskij makes a typical gra mmarian 's error. H is mechanica l , purely gram
matical mode of translating reported speech from one pattern into another, with
out the appropriate styl i stic reshaping, is nothing but a bogus and high ly objec
tionable way of manufacturing classroom exercises in grammar. T h i s sort of im
plementation of the patterns of speech reporting has nothing even remotely to
d o with their real existence in a language. T h e patterns express some ten dency
i n one person's active reception of another's speech. Each pattern- treats the mes
sage to b e reported i n its own creative fashion, fol l owing the specific d irection
proper to that pattern alone. i f, at some given stage in its development, a lan
guage habitual l y perceives another's utterance as a compact, indiv i sib le, fixed,
i mpenetrable whole, then that language w i l l command no other pattern than that
of prim itive, i nert d irect d i scourse (the monumental style). It is exactl y this con
ception of the immutabil ity of an u tterance and the abso lute l i teral ness of its
transm ission that Peskovskij asserts i n his experiment; yet, at the same time, he
tries to apply the pattern of indirect d iscourse. The resul ts of that experiment do
not by any means prove that the R u ssian language is nat u ra l ly u ncongenial to
reporting indirect speech. O n the contrary, they prove that, however weak l y
developed its pattern, indirect d i scourse in R ussian has enough character o f its
own so that not every case of direct discou rse lends itself to l iteral translation.4
This singu lar experiment of Peskovsk ij's makes evident h i s comp l ete fai lure
to recognize the l inguistic essence of indirect discourse. T hat essence consists in
the analytica l transm ission of someone's speech. A n anal ysis simu l taneous with
and inseparable from transmission constitutes the obl igatory hall mark of all mod
ifications of indirect discourse whatever. They may differ only with respect to
the degree and direction of the analysis.
The analytical tendency of indirect discourse is manifested by the fact that
a l l the emotive-affective features of speech, in so far as they are expressed not
in the content but in the form of a message, do not pass intact into ind irect d is
course. They are translated from form into content, and only in that shape do
they enter into the construction of indirect discourse, or are sh ifted to the main
clause as a com mentary modifying the verbum dicendi.
Thus, for exam ple, the direct utterance, "Well d one! What an ach ievement!"
cannot be registered in indirect d iscourse as, "He said that wel l done and what
an ach ievement." Rather, we expect: "He said that that h ad been done very well
and was a real ach ievement." Or: "He said, delightedly, that that had been done
4. This error of Peskovskij's which we have been examining once again testifies to the
methodological perniciousness of d ivorcing gram mar and styl istics.

Chap. 3]

Indirect and Direct Discourse

1 29

wel l and was a real achievement." A l l the various e l lipses, omissions, and so on,
possible in direct d iscou rse on emotive-affective grounds, are not tolerated by
the analyzing ten dencies of indirect discourse and can enter indirect d iscourse
on ly if developed and fi l led out. The A ss's exclamation, " Not bad ! " in Pekov
skij's example cannot be mechanically registered in indirect discourse as: " H e
says that not bad . . . . " but only a s " H e says that i t was not bad . . . . " or even
"He says that the nighti ngale sang not badly."
Neither can the " no k i dd ing" be mechanically registered in ind irect d i scourse,
nor can "What a shame you don't know . . . " be rendered as, "but that what a
shame he doesn ' t know . . . "
I t is o bvious that the same i m possibility of a mechanical transposition from
d i rect i nto ind i rect d i scourse a l so- applies to the original form of any com posi
tional or compositional-inflectional means that the speaker being reported u sed
in order to convey his i ntention . Thus the compositional and i nflectional p ecu
l iarities of interrogative, exclam atory, and imperative sentences are relinqu ished
in indirect d iscou rse, and their identification depends solely on the conten t.
I nd i rect discourse " h ears" a message differently; it actively receives and bri ngs
to bear in transmission d ifferent factors, different aspects of the message than do
the other patterns. T hat is what makes a mechanical, l iteral transpositio n of
utterances from other patterns i nto indirect discourse impossible. It is possible
only in instances in which the direct utterance i tself was somewhat analytica l ly
constructed-insofar as d irect d iscourse w i l l tolerate such anal ysis. A nalysis i s
the heart and sou l o f i n d i rect discourse.
A closer scrutiny of Peskov-skij 's "ex periment" reveals that the lex ica l tint of
expressions such as "not bad" and " sharpen up" d oes not fu lly harmonize with
the analytical spirit of indirect discourse. Such expressions are too co lorfu l ; they
not only convey the exact meaning of what was said but they also suggest the
manner of speech (whether i ndividual or typological) of the Ass as protagon ist.
One wou ld l ike to replace them with a synonym (such as "good" or "we l l " and
" perfect/his singing/") or, if these "catchy" terms are to be retai ned i n i n d i rect
discou rse, at least to enclose them w ith i n quotation marks. If we were to read
the resulting case of ind irect d i scourse aloud, we would speak the expressions
with in quotation marks somewh at d ifferently, as if to give notice through our
intonation that they are taken d i rectly from another perso n 's speech and t h at
we want to keep our distance.
Here we come up against the necessity of distinguishing between the two d i
rections which the analyzing tendency of indirect discourse can take, and, ac
cordingly, the necessity of distinguish i ng its two basic modifications.
The analysis involved i n a construction of indirect discourse may i ndeed go
i n two d i rections or, more precisely, it may fQcus attention on two fu ndamenta l l y
different objects. A n utterance may b e received as a certain particu lar ideational
position of the speaker. I n that case, its exact referential makeu p (what the

1 30

Forms of Utterance

[Part Iff

speaker said ) is transm itted analytica l ly by the agency of the indirect discourse
construction. Thus in th example we have been using, it is possib l e to transmit
precisely the referential meani ng of the A ss's eval u ation of the N ightingale's
s i nging. O n the other hand, a n utterance m ay be received and analytica l l y tran s
m i tted as an expression chiJ.racterizing not only the referent but a l so, or even
more so, the speaker h i m se lf-his manner of speech ( individual, or typological,
o r both ) ; h i s state of mind as expressed not i n the content but i n the for m s of
h is speech (d isconnectedness, pauses between words, expressive i ntonation, and
the l i ke ) ; h i s abil ity or lack of ability to express himself, and so on.
These two o bjects of analysis by the transmission of indirect d i scourse are
profoundly and fundamenta l l y different. I n the one case, meaning is d issected
i n to its constitu tent, ideationa l, referential u nits, w h i l e in the other the utterance
per se i s broken down i n to the various sty l istic strands that compose its verbal
texture. The second tendency, carried to i ts l ogical extreme, woul d amount to
a technical l ingu istic anal ysis of style. However, simultaneously w i th what woul d
appear t o be styl istic analysis, a referential analysis o f the speech to be repo rted
also takes p lace i n this type of indirect discourse, w ith a resulting d issection of
the referential meaning and of i ts impleme ntation by the verbal envelope.
Let us term the first modification of the pattern of indirect discourse as the
referent-analyzing modification, and the second, the texture-analyzing modifica
tion. The referent-analyzing modification receives an utteran ce on the pure l y
thematic l evel and s i m p l y d oes n o t "hear" or take i n whatever there is i n that
utterance that is without thematic significance. Those aspects of the formal
verbal design which do have thematic significance-wh ich are essential to a n un
derstanding of the speaker ' s ideational position-may be transmitted thematica l l y
by this variant o r may be inco rporated into the authorial context a s cha racteri
zation on the author 's part.
The referent-analyzing modification provides a wide o pportunity for the re
torting and commenting tendencies of authorial speech, while at the same ti me
maintaining a strict and clear-cut separation between report i ng and reported
utterance. For that reason, it makes an exce l lent m eans for the li near style of
speech reporting. I t u nq uestionably has a bu ilt-in tendency to thematicize an
other speaker's utterance, and th u s it preserves the cohesiveness and autonomy
of the utterance, not so m u ch i n constructional terms as in terms of m eaning (we
have seen how an expressive construction in a message to be reported can be
rendered thematica l ly ) . These results are achi eved, however, only at the price of
a certain depersonal ization of the reported speech .
The d evelopment o f t h e referen t-analyzing modification t o a n y appreciab le
extent occurs only w ith i n an authorial context that is somewhat rational istic
and dogmatic i n nature-on e at any rate i n which the focus of attention is strong
ly ideational and in wh ich the author shows through his words that he himself,
in h i s own right, occupies a particu lar ideational position. W here this does not

Chap. 3]

Indirect and Direct Discourse


hold true, where either the author's language i s itself colorful and particularized,
or where the conduct of speech is d i rectly handed over to some narrator of the
appropriate type, this modification wi l l have o n ly a very secondary and occa
sional significance (as it does, for instance, in Gogo ! ', Dostoevsk ij, and others) .
On the whole, this modification is only weakly developed in R ussian. I t is
found primaril y in discursive or rhetorical contexts (of a scientific, philosophica l ,
political, o r sim i lar nature), in which the author m ust dea l with t h e prob lem of
explaining, comparing, and putting into perspective the opinions of other people
on the topic being d i scussed. I ts occurrence in verbal art is rare. It takes o n a
certain stature only in works by writers who are not loath to have their own say
with i ts special ideational aim and weight, such as T u rgenev, for i n stance, or
more especially, Tolstoj. Even in these cases, however, we do not find this modi
fication in that richness and d iversity of variation we observe in F rench or Ger
man. ,
Let u s now turn to the texture-analyzing modification. I t ineorporates into
i ndirect discour se words and locutions that characterize the subjective and styl is
tic physiognom y of the message viewed as ex pression. These words and l ocutions
are incorporated in such a way that their specificity, their subjectivity, their
typica li ty are d istinctly felt; more often than not they are enclosed in q uotation
marks. H ere are four examples:
About the deceased, Grigorij remarked, mak ing the sign of the cross, that he was a
good hand at a thing or two, but was thick-headed and scourged by his sickness, and
a disbeliever to boot, and that it was Fedor Pavlovi c and the eldest son who had taught
him his disbelief [Dostoevskij , The Brothers Karamazov; italics added ] .
The same thing happened with the Poles: they appeared with a show of pride a nd in
dependence. T hey loudly testified that, in the first place, they were both "in the ser
vice of the Crown " and that "Pan Mitja " had offered to buy their honor for 3000,
and that they themselves had seen large sums of money in his hands (ibid. ) .
Krasotkin proudl y parried the accusation, giving t o understand that i t would indeed
have been shameful "in our day and age " to play make-believe w ith h is contem po
raries, other 1 3 year-olds, but that he did it for the "chubbies" because he w as fond
of them, and no one had any b usiness calling him to account for his feel ings (ib id. ) .
He found Nastas'ja F ilippovna in a state similar to utter derangement: she continu
ally cried out, trembled, shouted that Rogozin was hidden in the garde n , in their very
house, that she had j ust seen him, that he would murder her . . . cut her throat!
[Dostoevskij, The Idiot. Here the ind irect-discourse construction retains the expres
sive intonation of the original message. I talics added ] .
The words and ex pressions, incorporated i nto i nd irect d i scou r se with their
own specificity detectable (especial ly when they are enclosed in q uotation marks) ,
are being "made strange," to u se the language of the Formalists, and made strange
precise l y in the d i rection that suits the author's needs: they are particu larized,
their coloration is heightened, but at the same time they are made to accommo
date shadings of the author's attitude-his irony, h umor, and so o n .

1 32

Forms of Utterance

(Part Ill

I t is advi sable to keep th is modification separate from cases of unbroken

transition fro m ind irect to direct discourse, although both types have virtually
identical fu nctions. In the latter, when direct discou rse continues ind irect d is
course, the subjectivity of speech acqu ires a heightened d efinition and m oves in
the d i rection that suits the author's needs. For example:
Try as he might to be evasive, nevertheless, Trifon Borisovic, once the peasants had
been interrogated about the thousand ruble note, made his confession, adding only
that right then and there he had scrupulously returned and remitted everything to
Dmitrij Fedorovic "out of the strictest sense of honor, " and that "only, you see, the
gentleman himself, having been at the time dead drunk, cannot, recall it " [ Dostoevskij,
The Brothers Karamazo v, italics added ] .
Though filled with the profou ndest respect for the memory o f his ex-master, h e never
theless, among other things, declared that he had been negligent toward Mitja.ahd had
"brought the children up wrong. The little child without me would have been eaten
alive by lice, " he added, recounting episodes from M itja's earliest years [ ibid.; italics

added] .
Such an instance, in wh ich direct d iscourse i s prepared for by indirect d is
course and emerges as if from inside it-like those scu l ptures of Rodin 's, in wh ich
the figure i s left only partially emerged from stone-is one of the innum erab le
modifications of d irect d iscou rse treated pictorially.
Such i s the natu re of the textu re-analyzing mod ification of the indirect dis
course construction. I t creates h ighly origi nal pictorial effects in reported speech
transmission . I t is a mod ification that presupposes the presence in the l i nguistic
consciousness of a h igh degree of ind ividualization of other speakers' utterances
and an ability to perceive d ifferentially the verbal e nvelope of an utterance and
its referential meaning. None of that is congenial either to the authoritarian or
the rationa l i stic type of reception of other speakers' utterances. As a viable sty
l istic device, it can take root in a language only on the gro u n d s of critical and
real istic individual i sm, whereas the referent-analyzing modification is character
istic of the rational istic kind of individualism. In the h istory of the R u ssian l it
erary language, the latter period hardly existed. And that explains the abso lute
preeminence of the texture-analyzing modification over t h e referent-analyzing
modification in Russian. A lso, the development of the texture-analyzing modifi
cation benefited to a h igh degree from the lack of consecutio temporum in R u s
We see, therefore, that our two modifications, d espite their l iaison th rough
the common analytical tendency of the pattern, express profoundly d ifferent
l ingu istic conceptions of the reported addresser's words and the spea ker ' s ind ivid
uality. For the first modification, the speaker's i nd ividua l i ty is a factor only as it
occupies some specific i deational position ( epistemological, ethical, existential,
or behavioral) , and beyond that position (wh ich is transm itted in strictly refer
ential terms) it has no ex istence for the reporter. T here is no wherew ithal h ere
for the speaker's individual ity to congeal i n to an image.

Chap. 3}

Indirect and Direct Discourse

1 33

The opposite is true of the second m od ification, i n which the speaker's i n

dividuality is presented as subjective manner ( individual r typological ) , as man
ner of th i n king and speaking, i nvolvi ng the author's evaluation of that man ner
as wel l . H ere the speaker's ind ividuality congeals to the point of form ing an image.
Sti l l a third and not inconsiderable modification of the i ndirect discourse
construction in R u ssian may be pointed out. It is u sed mainly for reporting the
internal speech, thoughts, and experiences of a character. I t treats the speech to
be reported very freely; it abbreviates i t, often only high! ighting its themes and
dominants, and therefore it may be termed the impression i stic modification.
Authorial i n tonation easi ly and freely ripples over its flu i d structure. Here is a
classic example of the i mpressionistic modification from Puskin's Bronze Horse
What were the thoughts he pondered then? That he was poor; that he perforce m ust
labor tb achieve respect, security; that God j ust might have granted him more brains
and money. That goodness knows, there are those idle lucky d ogs with l ittle brains,
those loungers, for whom life is just a lark! That he had been i n service in all two
years; h is thoughts remarked as well that the weather wasn't calming down; that the
river k ept on rising; that the bridges over the N eva were all most l ikely up and that
he would be two days or three cut off' from h is Parasa. Thus went h is pondering
[ italics added] .
j u dging from th is example, we note that the i m pressionistic modification of
ind irect d i scourse l ies somewhere m i dway between the referent-analyzing and
the texture-analyzing modifications. I n this or that instance, a referential a nal
ysis has q uite defi nitely taken place. Certai n words and l ocutions h ave clearly
originated from the m ind of the hero, Evgenij (though no emphasis is put on
their specificity ) . What comes through most is the author's irony, his accentua
tion, h i s hand in ordering and abbreviating the material.
Let u s now turn to the pattern of direct discourse, w h ich is extremely well
worked out in the Russian literary language and commands an i mmense assort
ment of distinctively different mod ifications. From the cumbersome, inert, and
indivisible blocks of direct discourse in O ld R u ssian l i terary monuments to the
modern, elastic, and often ambiguous modes of i ts incorporation i n to the au
thorial context stretches the long and i nstructive path of its h istorica l develop
ment. B u t here we must refrai n from examin ing that h istorical development; nor
can we i nventory the ex isting mod ifications of d i rect d iscourse in the l iterary
language. We shal l l im it ourselves only to those modifications which d isplay a
m utual exchange of i ntonation s, a sort of reciprocal infectiousness between the
reporting context and the reported speech . F urthermore, within those l i m i ts, our
concern I ies not so much with those i nstances i n w h ich the author's speech ad
vances u pon the reported message and penetrates i t with its own intonations, but
rather with instances i n which, on the contrary, e l ements of the reported mes
sage creep into and are d ispersed throughout the entire authorial context, making

1 34

Forms of Utterance

[Part Ill

it flu i d and ambiguous. I t is true, however, that a sharp d ividing l ine cannot al
ways be drawn between these two types of i n stances: often it is indeed a matter
of a reciprocity of effect.
The first direction of the d ynamic interrelat ionship, character ized by the
author's " im position, " may be termed preset direct disco urse. 5
T h e case of d irect d isco urse emerging out of indirect d iscourse (with w h i ch
we are already fam i liar) belongs in this category. A particularly i nteresti n g and
widespread i nstance of th is modification is the emergence of d irect d i scourse o ut
of q uasi-d irect d iscou rse. Since the nature of the latter d i scourse i s half narration
and half reported speech, it presets the apperception of the direct d i scourse. The
basic themes of the i mpend ing direct d i scourse are anticipated b y the context
and are colored by the author's intonatio n s. Under t h i s tyr,e of treatm ent, the
boundaries of the reported utterance become extremely weak. A classic example
of th is modification is the portrayal of Prince Myski n 's state of m ind on the verge
of an epi leptic fit, w h ich takes up almost the entire fifth chapter of Part I I of
Dostoevskij's Idiot ( magnificent specimens of q uasi-direct d i scourse are a l so to
be fou nd there} . I n this chapter, Prince Myki n's d irectly reported speech re
sounds w ith in h i s self-enclosed world, since the author narrates Within the con
fines of h i s, Prince Myski n's, purview. Half the apperceptive backgrou n d created
for the "other speaker's" utterance here belongs to that other speaker (the hero) ,
and half to the author. H owever, it is made perfectl y clear to u s that a deep pen
etration of authorial i ntonations into d irect d iscourse is almost always accom
panied by a weakeni ng of o bj ectivity in the authorial context.
A nother mod ification in the same d irection may be termed particularized
direct discourse. The authorial context h ere i s so constructed that the traits the
author u sed to define a character cast heavy shadows on h is d irectly reported
speech. T h e value j u dgments and attitudes in which the character's portrayal i s
steeped carry over into the words he utters. T h e referential weight o f t h e re
ported utterances declines in this modificatio n b ut, in exchange, their c haracter
ological significance, their p icturesqueness, or their time-and-place ty picality,
grows more intense. S i m ilarly, once we recognize a com i c character on stage by
h i s style of makeup, his costume, and h i s general b earing, we are ready to laugh
even before we catch the m eaning of h i s words. S uch is the way d irect d i scourse
is usuall y handled by Gogo ! ' and by representatives of the so-called " natural
schoo l." A s a matter of fact, Dostoevskij tried to reani mate this particularized
treatment of reported utterances in his first work, Poor Folk.
5. We shall d isregard the more primitive devices for authorial retort and com mentary i n
direct d iscourse, e.g., t h e author's use o f italics i n d irect d iscourse ( shift o f accent) , interpo
lation of parenthetical remarks of various k inds, or simply of exclamation or q uestion marks
or such conventional notations as ( sic! ) , etc. Of crucial significance in overcoming the inert
ness of d irect discourse are the various possible positionings of the reporting verb in conj unc
tion with commentary and retort.

Chap. 3]

Indirect and Direct Discourse

1 35

The presetting of the reported speech and the anticipatio.n of its theme i n the
narrative, its judgments, and accents may so subjectivize and color the author's
context i n the tints of h is h ero that that context w i l l begin to sound like "re
ported speech," though a kind of reported speech with its authorial intonations
stil l intact. To conduct the narrative exclusively within the purview of the h ero
h imself, not only with i n its dimensions of time and space but also iti its system
of val u es and i ntonations, creates an extremely original k i n d of apperceptive
background for reported utterances. It gives us the r ight to speak of a special
modification: anticipated and disseminated reported speech concealed in the
authorial context and, as it were, b reaking into rea l , d i rect utterances by the
This modification is very widespread in contemporary prose, especia l l y that
of Andrej Belyj and the writers u nder his influence (for i nstance, in Ere n b u rg's
Nikolaj Kurbov) . However, the classical specimens must be sought in Dostoev
skij's work of h is first and second periods (in his last period, this mod ification
is encountered less often) . Let us look at h i s Skvernyj anekdot [A Nasty Story].
One might enclose the whole narrative in q uotation marks as narratio n by a
"narrator," though n o such narrator is denoted, either thematically or com posi
tionally. However, the situation within the narrative is such that almost every
epithet, or definition, or value j u dgment m ight also be enclosed in quotation
marks as originating in the mind of o ne or another character.
Let us quote a short passage from the begin n i ng of the story:
Once in winter, on a cold and frosty evening-very late evening, rather, it being already
the twelfth hour-three extremely distinguished gentlemen were sitting in a comfor
table, even su mptuously appointed, room inside a handsome two-story house o n
Petersburg I sland and were occupied in weighty a n d superlative talk on an extremely
rmarkable topic. All three gentlemen were officials of the rank of general. They w ere
seated around a small table, each in a handsome u pholstered chair, and during pauses
in the conversation they comfortably sipped champagne [italics added ] .
If we disregarded the remarkab l e and complex p lay of i ntonations in this
passage, it wou ld have to be judged as styl istically wretched and banal. W ithin
the few lines of print, the epithets "handsome" and "comfortab le" are u sed
twice, and others are "sum ptuously," "weighty," "superlative," and "extremely
d istinguished "!
Such style would n ot escape our severest verdict if we took it seriously as
description emanatin g from the author (as we would in the case of Turgenev or
Tol stoj) or even as a narrator's d escription, provided the narrator be of t h e
monolithic /ch-Erziihlung variety.
However, it is impossible to take this passage in t hat way. Each of these color
less, banal, insipid epithets is an arena in which two intonations, two poi nts of
view, two speech acts converge and clash.

1 36

Forms of Utterance

fPart Ill

Let us look at a few more excerpts from the passage characterizing the master
of the house, Privy Counc i l or N i kiforov:
A few words about him: he had begun his career as a m inor official, had conte ntedly
fiddle-faddled his way t h rough the next 45 years or so
H e particularly despised
u ntidiness and excitability., consi dering the latter moral u ntidiness, and toward the
end of his l ife he submerged himself completely in a state of sweet and relaxed com
fort and systematic solitude
H is appearance was that o f an extremely respectable
and well-shaven man who seemed younger than his years, was well preserved , showed
promise of l iving for a long time to come, and abided b y the most exalted gentle
manly code. H is position was a quite comfortable one: he was the head of someth i ng
and put h is signature on something from time to time. In short, he was considered to
be a most excellent man. H e had only one passion or, rather, one ardent w ish : to own
his own house--one, moreover, built along manorial , not tenement, lines. H is w ish at
last came true [ italics adde d] .

. . .

Now we see clearly where the first passage derived its banal and monotonous
e p ithets (b u t with their banal monotony pointedly sustained) . T hey origi nated
not in the author's mind b ut in the mind of the general savoring h i s comfort, h is
very own house, his situation in l ife, h is rank-the m i n d of Privy Councilor
N ikiforov, a man who has "come up in the world." T hose words m ight be en
closed in q u otation marks as "another's speech," the reported speech of N iki
forov. B u t they belong not only to him. After all, the story is being tol d by a
narrator, w h o would seem to be in solidarity with the "general s," w h o fawns
u po n them, adopts their attitude in all t h i ngs, speaks their language, b ut no,ne
theless provocatively overdoes it and thus thoroughly exposes a l l their real and
potential utterances"to the author's irony and mockery. B y each of th ese banal
e p ithets, the author, through his narrator, makes his hero ironic and r idiculous.
This is what creates the com plex play of intonations in the passage cited-a play
of intonations virtually u n prod ucible if read aloud.
The remaini ng portion of the story i s constructed entirely within t he purview
of another main character, Pra l inskij. T h is portion, too, is studded with the
e p ithets and value j udgments of the hero (h is h i dden speech) , and aga inst that
background, steeped in the author's irony, his actual, properly punctuated, in
ternal and external d irect speech arises.
Thus a lmost every word in the narrative (as concerns its expressivity, its
e m otiona l coloring, its accentual position in the phrase) figures sim u l taneously
in two intersecting contexts, two speech acts: in the speech of the author-narra
tor (iron ic and mocking) and the speech of the hero (who is far removed from
i ro ny). This simultaneous participation of two speech acts, each d ifferently
oriented in its expressivity, a l so explains the curious sentence structure, the
twists and turns of syntax, the h ighl y original style, of the story. If o n ly o ne of
the two speech acts had been u sed, the sentences wou ld have been structured
otherwise, the style wou l d have been different. We have here a classic instance

Chap. 3}

Indirect and Direct Discourse

1 37

of a l inguistic phenomenon almost never studied _:_the phenomenon of speech

I n Russian, this phenomenon of speech i n terference may take place to a cer
tain extent in the texture-analyzing modification of indirect discourse, i n those
comparatively rare i n stances i n which the reported clause contains not o n ly som e
of the origi nal words and expression s b u t also t h e expressive structure o f t h e mes
sage reported. We have seen an example of this above, one in w h ich i n d i rect dis
course i ncorporated the exclamatory structure-granted, it was somewhat toned
down-of the original message. What resulted was a certai n cou nterpoi n t between
the calm, b u sinessl ike, narrational i ntonation of the author's analytical trans
mission and the emotional, hysterical i ntonation of h i s half-crazed heroi ne. This
also accounts for t h e pecul iar d isfigurement of the syntactic physiognomy of t h e
clause-a clause serving two masters, participating simultaneously i n two speech
acts. I nd irect d i scourse, however, does not su pply the grounds for anyth i ng l i ke
a disti nctive and d urable sty l i stic -expression for this phenomenon of speech in
The most i mportant and, in French at least, the most syntactical ly standard
ized case of an i nterferential merging of two differently oriented speech acts i s
quasi-direct discourse. I n view of its extraordinary importance, w e shall devote
the entire next chapter to the q uestion of q uasi-direct discourse. T here we sha l l
also examine h o w t h e question has been treated i n Romance a n d G ermanic lin
guistics. The controversy over quasi-di rect discourse and the various stands ta ken
on the i ssue, especially by members of the Vossler school, com pr i se material of
considerable methodological i n terest and, therefore, ought to be subjected to o u r
critical analysis.
Within the scope of the present chapter, we shall be co ncerned with examin
ing a few other phenomena related to quasi-d irect d iscourse, wh ich probab ly, i n
Russian, are t o b e identified as the basis for i ts i nception and formation.
In our exclusive concern with dual istic, d u plex modifications of d irect dis
course i n its pictorial treatmen t, we have neglected one of the most im portant
of the linear modifications of direct d iscourse: rhetorical direct discourse. This
" persuasive" modification with its several variants has great sociological signifi
cance. We cannot dwel l on these form s but shal l focus some attention on certai n
phenomena associated with rhetoric.
T here i s i n social intercourse what i s cal led the rhetorical question, o r the
rhetorical exclamation. Certain i nstances of this phenomenon are especially in
teresti ng becau se of the probl em of their localization i n context. T hey w ou l d
seem t o be situated on t h e very bou ndary between authorial and reported speech
( usually, i n ternal speech ) and often they slide d i rectly into one or the other.
Thus they may be i n terpreted as a q uestion or exclamation on the part of the
author or, equal ly, as a question or exclamation on the part of the hero, addressed
to h i m self.

1 38

{Part !//

Forms of Utterance

Here is an example of such a q u estio n :

But w h o is approaching, stealthy footed, by moonl it path, a m i d d ee pest stillness? The
Russian suddenly comes to. Before him stands, with tender, wordless greeting, the
Circassian maid. He gazes at her silentl y and thinks; this is some lying d ream, the
hollow play of flagging feel i ngs [ Puskin, The Captive of the Caucasus ] .

The hero's concluding ( i nternal ) words seem to respond to the rhetorical ques
tion posed by the author, and that rhetori cal question may be interpreted as
part of the h ero's own i nternal speech.
Here is an example of rhetorical exclamati on:
All, all, the d readfu l sound betrayed. The w orld of nature d i mmed before him. F are
well, b l essed freedom! H e is a slave! [ibid. ] .
A particu larly frequent occurrence i n prose i s the case i n wh ich some su ch
q uestion as "What is to be done now ? " introduces the hero's inner deliberations
o r the recount i ng of h i s actions-the question being equally the author 's and also
one the hero poses to hi mself i n a predicament.
I t will surely be claimed that in these and sim ilar questions and exclamations
the author's initiative takes the u pper hand, and that that is why they n ever
appear enclosed in quotation marks. I n these particular i nstances, it is t h e author
who steps forward, b u t he does so on h i s hero's behalf-h e seem s to speak for him.
Here is an i nteresting example of this type:

The Cossacks, leaning on their pikes, gaze over the rushing water of the river, while
u nnoticed by them, blurred in fog, a villain and his weapon float past. W hat are
you thi nking, Cossack? A re you recalling battles of bygone years?
free frontier villages, paternal home, the quiet Don, and war, and pretty girls. The
u nseen enemy has reached the bank, an arrow leaves the qu iver-takes flight-and
down the Cossack falls from the b loodied rampart [ ib id. ] .

. . .

H ere the author stand s i n for his hero, says in h i s stead what the hero m ight
or should have said, says w ha t the given occasion calls for. Pukin b i d s farewell
to the Cossack's homeland for him ( naturally, something the Cossack h i m self
could not have done) .
This tal k i ng in another's stead comes very close to quasi-d irect d isco urse. Let
u s term this case substituted direct discourse. S u ch a substitution presupposes a
parallelism of intonations, the i ntonations of the author's speech and the sub
stituted speech of the hero (what he m ight or should have said ) , b oth r u n ning
in the same direction. T herefore, no i nterference takes place here.
When a complete sol i darity in values and i n tonations exists between the author
and his hero with i n the framework of a rhetorically constructed context, the
author's rhetoric and that of the hero begin to overlap : their voice s m erge; and
we get protracted passages that belong simultaneously to the author's narrative
and to the h ero's i nternal ( though sometimes also external) speech. The result

Chap. 3]

Indirect and Direct Discourse

1 39

obtained is almost indistinguishable from quasi-direct discourse; only interfer

ence is m issing. I t was on the gro unds of the you ng Puk i n ' s Byronic rhetoric that
quasi-direct discourse ( presumably for the first time) took shape in R u ssian. I n
The Captive of the Caucasus, the author shares a com plete solidarity in values
and intonations with his hero. The narrative i s forged in the hero's tones, and
the hero's u tterances i n the al:l thor's tones. We find the fol lowing, for i n stance:
There, mountain peaks, each one alike, stretch out in l ine; a lonely track among them
winds and fades in gloom;
Oppressive thoughts beset the captive youth's tormented
breast. . . . The distant track leads back to Russia, land where h is ardent youth began,
so proud, so free of care: where he knew early j oy, where he foun d so much to l ove,
where he embraced dire suffering, where he destroyed delight, desire, and hope in
stormy life. . , . The world and its ways he fathomed, and he knew the price of a faith
less life. In people's hearts he found betrayal, in d reams of love, a mad i llusion. . .
Freedom! For you alone he kept the quest in th is sublu nar world
I t came to pass
N ow he sees nothing in the world on which to set his hopes, and even you, his
last fon d dream, you, too, are gone from him. He is a slave ( ibid. ; italics addeq] .
. .

. . .

. .

H ere, clearly, it is the captive's own "oppressive t houghts" that are being
transm itted. It i s his speech, but i t i s being formally delivered by the author. I f
the personal pronoun "he" were changed everywhere t o " I ," and if t h e verb
forms were adjusted accord i ngly, no dissonance or incongru ity, whether in style
or otherwise, would resu lt. Symptomatically enough, this speech contain s apos
trophes in the second person (to "freedom," to "dreams") , which a l l the more
u nderscore the author's identification with h is hero. This i nstance of the hero 's
speech d oes not d iffer in style or ideas from the rhetorical d irect discourse re
ported as delivered by the h ero in the second part of the poem:
" Forget me! I am u nworthy of your Jove, your heart's d el ight.
Bereft of rapture,
empty of desire, I wither, passion's victim
0 why did not my eyes behold you
long ago, in days when still I laid my trust in hope and rapturous dreams! B u t now
it is too late ! To happiness I am no more alive, the phantom H ope has flown away . . . . "

. . .

[ibid. ] .

A l l writers o n quasi-d irect discourse ( perhaps with the si ngle exception of

Bally) would acknowledge the passage in question a perfectly gen uine specimen.
We, however, are i nclined to regard it as a case of substituted d i rect d i scourse.
True, only one step is needed to turn it i n to q uasi-d irect d i scourse. A nd P uskin
took that step when he succeeded in standing apart from his heroes and brought
to bear the contrast of a more objective authorial context w ith its own values
and i ntonations. The example cited above sti l l lacks any interference between
the author's speech and the character's speech. Consequently, it a l so lacks the
grammatical and styl istic features that such interference generates and wh ich
characterize quasi-d irect d iscourse, d ifferentiating i t from the surround ing
authorial context. The fact is that in our example we recogn ize the speech of the

Forms of Utterance

1 40

{Part Ill

" captive" o n l y b y p u re l y semantic i n d i cations. We do not sense here the merg i n g

of two differently oriented s p e e c h acts; we do not sense the integrity and re"
sistance of the reported me ssage b e h i nd th e author's transm ission .
F i na l l y , t o d e m on strate w h at we regard as real q uasi,d irect d i scourse, we re

produce below a remarka le specimen from Puk i n 's Poltava. With this w e w i l l
e n d t h i s c h a p ter.

But his rage for action Kocu bej h id deep within his heart. " H is thoughts h ad now, all
woebegone, addressed themselves to death. No ill-w i l l did he bear Mazeppa-his daugh
ter w as alone to blame. But h e forgave his daughter, too: Let her answer to G od , now
that she had plunged her family i n to shame, had Heaven and the laws of m an forgot. . . "
But meanwhile h e scanned h is h ousehold with an eagle eye, seeking for h imself bold,
u nswerving, incorru ptible companions..


Quasi-Direct Discourse in
French , German , and Russian

Quasi-direct discourse in French: Tobler; Ka!epky; Bally. Crit

icism of Bally 's hypostasizing abstract o bjectivism. Bally and
the Vosslerites. Quasi-direct discourse in German. Eugen Lerch 's
conception. Lorek conception. Lorek 's theory concerning the
role of fantasy in language. Gertraud Lerch conception. Re
ported speech in Old French. Reported speech in Middle French.
The Renaissance. Quasi-direct disco urse in La Fon taine and La
Bruyere. Quasi-direct discourse in Flaubert. The emergence of
quasi-direct discourse in German. Criticism of the hypostasizlng
individualistic subjectivism of the Vosslerites.
Various writers have proposed various nomenclatu res for the p henomenon of
quasi-d irect discourse in F rench and German. Each of the writers on the subject
has, in effect, proposed his or her own term. We have been u sing and shal l con
tinue to u se Gertraud Lerch's term, " u neigentliche direkte Rede," [q uasi-d irect
discourse ] as the most neutral of a l l the ter m s proposed and the one entail i ng the
least amount of theory. A s regards Russian and G erman, t h e term is beyond re
proach; with respect to French, however, its usage may arouse some m isgivings. 1
1 . Here are some examples of quasi-di rect discourse in French:
1 . II prbtesta: Son ptre fa haisait!
I n direct discou rse that woul d be:
II protesta et s'ecria: "Man pere te ha; t!"
I n indirect discourse:
II protesta et s'tkria que son pere Ia h aissait.
I n quasi-ind irect discourse:
II protesta: "son pere, s'ecria+il, Ia haisait!"
( Exam ple from Balzac as cited by G . Lerch.)
(Continued on next page )

1 41

1 42

Forms of Utterance

/Part Ill

The first mention of quasi-direct d i scourse as a special form for reportj ng an

u tterance, on a par w i th direct and ind irect discourse, was made by Tobler in
1 88 7 (Zeitschrift fur romanische Phi!o!ogie, XI, 437) .
Tobler defined quasi-d irect d iscourse as a "pecul iar m ixture of direct and i n
direct d iscourse" [eigen tiJmliche Mischung direkter und indirekter Rede ] . This
m ixed form, accordi ng to Tobler, derives i ts tone and word order from d irect
discourse and its verbal tenses and persons from indirect d i scourse.
As p u re description, this defi nition may be considered acceptable. I nd eed,
from the superficial v iewpoint of the comparative description of features, Tobler
has accurately ind icated the resemblances and d ifferences between the form in
question and d irect and indirect d iscourse.
But the word "mixture" in the d efi nition is completel y u nacceptable, since
it entai ls a genetic exp lanation-"formed from a m ixture of"-w hich can hard l y
b e proved. And even i n its purely descriptive way, the definition i s fau lty inas
much as w hat we have i n _q uasi-direct d i scourse is not a s i m p le mechanical mix
ture or arithmetical sum of two form s but a comp letely new, positive tendency
i n active reception of another perso n 's u tterance, a special direction i n w hich the
d ynam ics of the i n terrelationship between reporting and reported speech moves.
But Tobl er is deaf to dynamics and registers only the abstract features of patterns.
So m u ch for Tobler's definition. Now, how does he explain the emergence of
the form?
A speaker, relating past events, cites another perso n ' s u tterance in an auton
omous form j u st as it sounded in the past. In the process, the speaker changes
the present tense of the original u tterance to the imperfect in order to show that
the u tterance is contemporaneou s w ith the past events being related. He then
makes some add i tional changes ( persons of the verbs and pronou n s) so t hat the
u tterance not be m istaken for the relator's own.
Tobler's explanation is b u i l t on a fau l ty but old and very widespread l i nguistic
way of arguing: if the speaker had consciously and premeditatedly planned to
i ntroduce the new form, w hat would his reasoning and m otivation have been?
(Footnote 7 -Continued)

2. Tout le jour, il avait l'oeil au guet; et Ia nuit, si quelque chat faisait du bruit, le
chat prenait / 'argent [La Fontaine] .
3. E n vain il [le colonel) parla d e Ia sauvagerie du pays et de Ia d ifficulte pour une
fem me d'y voyager: elle (M iss Lyd ia) ne craignait rien; el/e aimait par-dessus tout a voyager
a cheval; elle se faisait une fete de coucher au b ivac; elle menaait d 'a/ler en A sie M ineure.
Bref, elle avait nlponse a tout, car jamais A nglaise n 'ovait ete en Corse; done e!le de vait y
oiler [ P. M erimee, Colombo ] .
4. Reste' seu l dans !'embrasure de Ia fentre, le cardinal s'y tint immob ile, u n instant
encore . . . . Et ses bras fremissants se tendirent, en un geste d'imploration: "0 Dieu! puisque
ce medecin s'en a/fait ainsi, hereux de sauver l'embarras de son impuissance, o Dieu! que ne
faisiez-vous un miracle, pour montrer ! 'eclat de votre pouvoir sans barnes! Un miracle, un
miracle! II le deman dait du fond de son a me de croyant [ Zola, R om e ] .
( Examples. three and four are cited and discussed by Kalepk y , Bally, and Lorek.)

Chap. 4]

Quasi-Direct Discourse

1 43

Even if such a way of arriv i ng at expla nations were adm issible, sti ll, t h e mo
tives of Tobler's " speaker" are not q uite convincing or clea r : If he wants to pre
serve the autonomy of the utteran ce as it actually sounded in the past, would it
not be better to report it in d i rect d iscourse? I ts belonging to t h e past a n d to the
reported, not the reporting, addresser wou l d the n be beyond any possible doubt.
Or, if the imperfect and the third person are what is at stake, wou l d n 't it be
easier simply to u se i nd i rect disco u r se? T h e troub l e is that w hat is basic to our
form -that entirely new interelationship between reporting and reported speech
which it achieves-is j ust exactly what Tobler's motives fai l to express. For
Tobler, it is simply a matter of two old form s out of which he wants to paste
together a new form.
in our opinion, what can at best be exp lained by this t y pe of a rgument about
speakers' motives is merely the use in one or another concrete i nstance of an
already available form, but u nder no circu mstances will it do to explain the com
posing of a new form in langu age. The i ndivid ual motives a n d intentions of a
speaker can take meaningful effect only within l i m its imposed by current gram
matical possibili ties o n the one hand, and within the limi ts of the conditions of
socioverbal intercourse that predomi nate in h is gro u p on t h e other. These possi
b i l ities a n d these conditions are given q uantities -they are w hat circumscribe the
speaker's l i nguistic purview. It is beyond the speaker's i nd ividual power to force
that purview open.
No m atter what the i n tentions the speaker means to carry out, no matter what
errors he may commit, no matter how he analyzes forms o r mixes them or com
b ines them, he w i l l not create a new pattern i n language and he w i l l not create a
new tendency i n socioverbal i ntercourse. H is subjective i n tentions will bear a
creative character only to the extent that there is someth i ng i n them that coin
cides with tendencies in the socioverbal intercourse of speakers that are in pro
cess of formation, of generation; and these tendencies are dependent upon socio
economic factors. Some d i sp lacement, some shift had to have occurred within
socioverba: l intercourse and with regard to the mutual orientation of utterances
in order for that essentiall y new manner of perceiv i ng another person's words,
w hich fou nd expression in the form of quasi-direct discourse, to have been estab
l ished. As it too k shape, th is new form began penetrating i nto that fiel d of l in
gu istic possibilities only with i n the confines of w h ich can the individual verbal
i n tentions of speakers find defi nition, motivation, and productive implementa
The next writer on the subject of q uasi-d i rect d iscourse was T h . Kalepky
(Zeitschrift fiir romanische Philologie, XIII, 1 89 9 , 49 1 -5 1 3). He recogn ized in
quasi-d irect discourse a comp l etely a utonomous th ird form of reported speech
and defined it as concealed or veiled d iscourse ( verschleierte Rede ) . The sty listic
point of the form consisted in the n ecessity of guessing who the speaker is. And
indeed, there is a puzzle: from t h e stan dpoint of abstract grammar, it is the

1 44

Forms of Utterance

(Part Ill

author w ho speaks; from the standpoint of the actual sen se of the whole context,
it is a character w h o speaks.
Kalepky's analysis contains a n u ndoubted step forward in i nvestigatio n of the
question con cerning us. I nstead of mechanically coup l i ng the abstract features
of two pattern s, Kalepky. attempts to descry the new, positive styl isti c bearing
of the form. I n add ition , h e correctly u nderstood the double-faced natu re of
quasi-d irect d i scourse. H owever, he i ncorrectly defined it. Under no conditions
can we agree w ith Kalepky that quasi-d i rect discourse is " masked" d i scourse a nd
that the point of the device consists i n guessing who the speaker is. N o one, after
all, starts off t h e process of understanding with abstract grammatical considera
tions. Therefore, it is clear to everyone from the very start that, in terr11s of the
sense of what is said, i t i s the character speak i ng. D ifficul ties arise o n ly for gram
marians. Furthermore, our form does not at a l l conta i n a n "eith er/o r " d ilemma;
its specificum i s precisely a matter of both author and character speak ing at the
same time, a m atter of a single l i nguistic construction within w hich t h e accents
of two d ifferently oriented voices are mainta i ned. We have a l ready seen that the
phenomenon of gen u inely concealed reported speech does take p lace in language.
We have seen how the insidious effect of another person ' s speech secreted in the
author's co ntext can cause that context to manifest special grammati ca l and
styl i stic features. But that is one of the modifications of direct d i scourse. Quasi
direct d iscourse, however, is an overt type of d isco urse, n otwithstanding the fact
that it is doub le-faced, l ike J anus.
The ch ief m ethodological deficiency in Kalepky's approach i s his interpreti ng
a l inguistic phenomenon with i n the framework of the individual consciousness,
h i s attempting to d iscover its psych ic roots and subjective-aesthetic effects. We
shall return to a fundamental criticism of this approach when we exa m i ne the
views of the Vosslerites ( Lorek, E . Lerch, and G . Lerch ) .
Bal l y spok e o u t o n o u r topic i n 1 91 2 (Germanisch-romanische Monatsschrift,
I V , 549 ff, 5 9 7 ff) . l n 1 9 1 4, i n respon se to Kalepky's polemic, he returned once
again to the q uestion with an article on its fundamenta l s entitled " F igures d e
pen see et formes l ingui stiques" (Germanisch-romanische Monatsschrift, V I , 1 9 1 4,
4D5 ff, 45 6 ff) .
The gist of Bally's views amounts to the fol lowing: he considers quasi-d irect .
discourse a new, later variant of the classical form of i n d i rect d isco u rse. He traces
its formation through the series: il d isait q u'il etait malade > il d isa it: il eta it
malade > il eta it malade (disait-il ) ? The dropping of the conju nction que is ex
plained, accor d i ng to Bally, by a more recent tendency i nherent in language to
prefer paratactic coordi nation of clauses to hypotactic subord i natio n . B a l ly
points out, furthermore, that th is variant of ind irect d iscourse-w h ich he appro
priatdy e nough terms style indirect fibre i s not an i nert form but a form in

2. The intermediate ( transitional) form is, of course, a lingu istic fiction.

Chap. 4}

Quasi-Direct Discourse

1 45

motion, moving toward d irect discourse as its furthest extreme. I n particu larly
intensive cases, Bally claims, it is someti mes difficult to say where style indirect
fibre leaves off and style direct begins. That is how, incidently, he regards the
passage from Zola quoted in our fourth example [ see footnote 1 , pp. 1 41 -1 42) .
The d ifficulty arises precisely at the point where the card inal addresses God : "C
D ieu! que ne faisiez-vous u n m iracle ! , " wh ich apostrophe contains simu ltaneous
ly a feature of ind irect d iscourse (the imperfect) and the use of the second per
son as in di rect discourse. B a l l y considers as analogous to F rench style indirect
fibre that form of German ind irect discourse which omits the conjunction and
keeps the word order as in direct discourse (the second type in Bal ly's analy sis) .
Bally makes a strict d istinction between linguistic forms ("formes linguis
tiques") and figures of thought ("figures de pen see"). H e u nderstands by the
latter devices of expression which are i l logical fro m the standpoint of language
and in which the normal interrelationsh ip between the l ingu istic sign and its
usual mean ing is violated . F igures of cannot be acknow ledged l ingu istic
p henomena in the strict sense: indeed, there are no specific, stable l i ngu istic fea
tures which might express them. On the contrary, the l i nguistic features i nvolved
have a meaning in language which is pointedly other than the mea ning i m posed
upon them by figures of thought. To figures of thought Bally relegates q u asi
direct discourse in its pure forms. After a l l , from a strictly grammatical point of
view, it is the author's speech, whereas according to the sense of it, it is the char
acter's speech. B u t this "sense of it" is not represented by any special l i ngui stic
sign. Consequently, what we are deal ing w ith is, according to Bal ly, an extra
l i nguistic phenomenon.
Such is Bally's conception in basic outl ine. He is the linguist who at the pres
ent time most outstand ingly represents l inguistic abstract objectivism. B a l l y
hypostasizes and vivifies forms of language obtained by way of abstraction from
concrete speech performances (speech performances in the spheres of practical
l ife, literature, science, etc.) . This process of abstraction has been carried out by
l i nguists, as we have already i nd icated, for purposes of deciphering a dead, a l ien
l anguage and for the practical purposes of teach i ng it. And now Bally com e s
along a n d endows these abstractions with l ife and momentum: a modification o f
ind irect discou rse begins t o pursue a course toward the pattern o f d i rect d i s
course, and on {he way q uasi-direct discourse is formed. A creative role in the
composition of the new form is ascribed to the dropping of the conjunction que
and the reporting verb. I n actual fact, however, the abstract system of language,
where Bally's formes lingufstiques are to be fou nd, is devoid of any movement,
any life, any achievement. Life begi ns only at the point where utterance crosses
utterance, i .e., where verbal interaction begins, be it not even "face-to-face "
verbal interaction, b u t t h e mediated, l i terary .variety. 3
3. On mediated and unmed iated forms of verbal interaction, see the already cited study
by L. P. ] akubinskij .

1 46

Forms of Utterance

[Part Ill

I t is not a matter of o n e abstract form moving toward another , b u t a matter

of the m utual orientation of two utterances changing on the basis of a change i n
t h e active perception by t h e l ingu istic consciousness o f the "speaking perso n
a l ity,'' o f its ideational, ideological autonomy, o f i t s verbal i n d ividual ity . T he
dropping of the conj u ncti o n que brings together, not two abstract for ms, b u t
two utterances i n a l l the i r i deational ful l ness. T h e d i ke ruptures, as it were, and
authorial intonations freely stream into the reported speech.
A methodological d ivorce between l inguistic for m s a nd figures of tho ught,
between "langue" and " parole," also resul ts from this kind of h ypostasizing o b
j ectivism. I n point of fact, the l inguistic forms Bal ly has i n m i n d exist only i n
grammar books a n d d ictionaries (where, t o b e sure, their existence i s perfectly
legitimate), b u t i n the l iving rea l i ty of language they are i mmersed deeply i n
what, fro m the abstract grammatical point of view, is t h e irrational e lement of
"figures de pensee."
Bal l y is a l so wrong in taking the G erman ind irect d iscourse construction of his
second type to be analogous to French quasi-direct d iscourse.4 It is a n extrem ely
symptomatic m istake. B a l l y 's analogy is irreproachable from the standpoint of
abstract grammar, but from the standpoint of socioverbal tendency, the com par
ison can n ot hold up u nder criticism. After a l l , one and the same social-verbal
ten dency ( dictated by identical socioeconomic con ditions} in d ifferent languages
may, in accordan ce with the grammatica l structures of those languages, a ppear
with d ifferent outer features. I n any particular language, what begins to u ndergo
modification in a certain specific direction is precisely t hat pattern wh ich turns
out to be the m ost adaptable i n the necessary regard. In F rench it was the pattern
of ind irect discou rse, in G erman and Russian--d irect d i scou rse.
Let us now turn to an exam ination of the point of view of the Vosslerite s.
These linguists shift the dominant i n their investigations from grammar to sty l is
tics and psychology, fro m " la nguage forms" to "figures of thought." T heir d is
agreements with Bally are, as we already know, fundamental a n d far reaching.
Lorek i n his criticism of the Geneva l inguist contrasts, i n Humboldtian terms,
Bally's outlook o n language as ergon with his outlook o n language as energeia.
T h u s, the basic prem ises of individual istic subjectivism are brough t d i rectly to
bear against Bal ly 's point of view on the particu lar q uestion at hand. What n ow
enter the l ists a s factors to exp la i n q uasi-d irect d iscourse are: affect i n language,
fantasy in language, emp athy, l inguistic taste, and the l i ke.5
4. Kalepky pointed out this mistake to Bally, who, in his second stu d y, does partially
correct it.
5. Before proceeding to an analysis of the Vosslerites' view, we shall supply three exam
ples of quasi-d irect d iscourse in German:
1. Der Konsul ging, die Hande auf dem Rucke n , u m her und bewegte nervos die
Schul tern.

Er hatte keine Zeit. Er war bei Gott uberhauft. Sie sol/te sich gedu/den und sich
gef(il!igst noch filn fzlg mal besinnen/ [Thomas Mann, Buddenbrooks}.

Chap. 4]

Quasi-Direct Discourse

1 47

A lso i n 1 91 4-the year of the Kalepky-Bally polem ics-Eugen Lerch came

forward with h is assessment of q uasi-direct discourse (G-r. M., V I , 470 ) . H is defi
n ition of quasi-d irect d iscourse was "speech as fact" (Rede a/s Tatsache). Re
ported speech is transmitted by th is form in such a way as if its content were a
fact that the author h im self is comm u nicating. Contrasting direct, ind irect, and
quasi-d irect d iscourse in terms of the degrees of real ness i nherent in the content
of each, Lerch came to the concl usion that the most real of them is q uasi-d irect
discourse. He also evinced a styl i stic preference for quasi-d irect d i scourse over
indirect discourse in regard to the vividness and concreten ess of t h e impression
produced. That is what Lerch 's d efinition amounts to.
A d etailed study of q uasi-direct discourse was furnished by E . Lorek i n 1 92 1
i n a small vol u m e under t h e title Die "Er!ebte Rede. " T h e b ook w a s ded icated
to Vossler. I n it, Lorek dwe l l s at some l ength on the history of the i ssue in ques
Lorek defined quasi-d irect discourse as "experienced speech " (er!ebte Rede)
in contradistinction to direct discourse, d efined as "repeated speech" (gespro
chene Rede), and i n direct d iscourse-"com m u nicated speech" (berichtete Rede ) .
Lorek expo u n d s h i s defin ition i n the fol l owing way. L e t us s u ppose F au st o n
stage speaking h i s monologue : "Habe n u n, ach! Philosoph ie, J uristerei . . . d ur
chaus studiert m i t heissem Bemuhn . . . " W hat the hero utters in the first person ,
a member of the audience experiences i n t h e third perso n . A nd this transposi
tion, occurring in the very depths of the experience of reception, stylistical ly
al igns the experienced discourse with narrative.
Now, if the l i stener should want to transmit the speech of Faust, which he
had heard and experienced, to another, a third person, he w i l l either quote it i n
d irect form or i n i n direct form. B ut i f he should desire t o s u m m o n up for h im
self in h i s own m i nd the living i m pressio n of the scene experienced, he w i l l reca l l
it a s : " Faust h a t n u n , ach! Philosophie . . " or, i nasmuch as i t i s a case o f i m pres
sions in the past, " Faust hatte nun, ach ! . . . "
Thus, according to Lorek, q uasi-d irect discourse is a form for the d irect de
p iction of the experiencing of another's speech, a form for summoning u p a living
2. Herrn Gosch ging es schlecht: mit einer schiinen und grossen Armbewegung wies
er d ie A n nahme zuriick , er kiinne zu den G luckl ichen gehiiren. Das beschwerliche Greisen

alter nahte heran, es war da, wie gesagt, seine Grube war geschaufelt. Er konnte abends kaum
noch sein Glas Grog zum Munde fiihren, ohne die Hiilfte zu verschutten, so machte der
Teufel seinen A rm zittern. Da nutzte kein Fluchen . . . Der Wille triumphierte nicht mehr
[ Ibid. ] .

3. N u n kreutzte Doktor Mantelsack im Stehen die Beine u n d blatterte in seinem

N otizbuch. Hanna B uddenbrook sah vornuber gebeugt und rang u n ter dem T isch die Hande.

Das B, der Buchstabe 8 war an der Reihe! Gleich wiirde sein Name ertonen, und er wurde
einen Skandal geben, eine laute, schreckliche Katastrophe, so guter Laune der Ordinarius
ouch sein mochte. , . Die Sekunden dehnten sich martervoll. "Buddenbrook. ". . . J etzt sagte
er "Buddenbrook. ". . .
" Edgar" sagte Doktor Mantelsack . . . [ Ibid. ] .

1 48

Forms of Utterance

[Part Ill

impression of that speech and, on that accou nt, of l ittle u se for conveying that
speech to a third person. I ndeed, if q uasi-d i rect discourse were u sed for that pur
pose, the reporting aCt wou id l ose its communicative character and woul d make
i t appear as if the person were talking to h imself or hal l ucinating. Hence, as one
woul d expect, quasi-direct discourse is u nu sable in conversational language and
meant only to serve aims of artistic depiction. There, in its proper fu nction,
quasi-d irect d iscourse has enormous sty l istic s ignificance.
I ndeed, for an artist in process of creation, the figures of h i s fantasies are the
realest of rea l ities; he not only sees them, he hears them, as wel l . He does not
make them speak (as in d i rect d i scourse) , he hears them s peaki ng. And this living
impressio n of voices heard as if i n a dream can be d irectl y expressed o n l y i n the
form of q uasi-d i rect discourse. It is fantasy's own form . A nd that explains why it
was in the fable wor l d of La Fontaine that the form was first given tongue.and
why it is the favorite device of such artists as Balzac and especial l y F la ubert,
artists w ho l l y able to immerse a n d lose themselves in the created wor l d. of their
own fantasies.
A nd the artist, when he uses this form, a l so addresses h i mself o n ly to the
reader's fantasy. It is not his aim to commu n icate facts or the content of thought
with i ts help; he desires o n l y to convey h is impressions directly, to arou se in the
reader's m i nd living figures and representations. He addresses h im self not to the
reader's i ntellect, but to h is imagination. Only the reasoning and analyzing in
tel l ect can take the position that the author is speaking i n quasi-d irect d iscourse;
for the l iving fantasy, it is the hero who speaks. Fantasy is the mother of the
Lorek's basic idea, an i dea he expatiates upon i n other works of h is,6 amounts
to the poi n t that the creative role in language belongs not to the intellect but to
fantasy. O n l y forms that fantasy has a l ready created and that a re fin ished, inert
products abandoned by its l iving spirit come u nder the command of the intel lect.
The i ntel l ect itself creates nothi ng.
Language, in Lorek's v iew, is not ready-made being (ergon ) but eternal be
com ing and l iv ing occurrence (energeia ) . Language is not a mean s or an instru
ment for achieving extra l i nguistic goal s but a l iving orga n ism with its own goa l ,
which it bears within itself a n d wh ich it realizes a l so within itself. And t h i s crea
tive self-sufficiency of language is imp lemented by l inguistic fantasy. I n l anguage,
fantasy feel s itself at home, in its v ital native el ement. Language, for fantasy, i s
not a means, but flesh o f i t s flesh and b l ood o f its blood. The p lay of language
for the sake of play sufficies for fantasy. Wri ters such as Bal ly approach language
from the angle of the i n tel lect and, therefore, are incapable of u nderstanding
those for m s which are stil l a live in l anguage, in which the pulse of becoming sti l l
6. Passe defini, imparfait, passe indefini. E ine grammatischpsychologische S tud ie von E.

Chap. 4}

Quasi-Direct Discourse

1 49

beats and which have not yet been transformed into a means for i ntel lectual use.
That is why Bally fai led to grasp the u n iqueness of quasi-direct discourse and,
discovering no logical coherence i n it, excluded i t from language.
Lorek attempts to understand and interpret the form of the imperfect tense
in quasi-d i rect d iscourse from the point of view of fantasy. He d istinguishes
"Defini-Denkakte" and " l mparfait-Denkakte." The distinction between th ese
acts runs not along l ines oftheir conceptua l content, but along l ines of the very
form of their effectuation. With the Detini, our view projects outward i n to the
wor l d of conceived artifacts and contents; with the lmparfait our view p l unges
inward-into the world of thought i n process of generation and formation.
"Defini-Denkakten " bear a character of factual ascertainment; " l m parfait
Den kakten"-that of felt experience, impression. Through them, fantasy itself
recreates the living past.
Lorek analyzes the fol lowing example:
L'lrlande poussa u n grand cri de soulagement, mais Ia Chambre des lords, six jours
plus tard, repoussait le bill: G ladstone tombait [Revue des deux Mondes, 1 900, Mai,
p. 1 5 9 ] .
I f, h e says, the two cases of the i mperfect were to be replaced by the definite
past, we wou l d be very sensible of a difference. Gladstone tombait is colored i n
an emotive tone, whereas Gladstone tomba wou l d have the sou nd of a d r y busi
nesslike communique. I n the first case, thought l ingers, as it were, over its object
and over itself. But what fills the con sciousness here is not the idea of G lad stone's
fal l" but a sense of the momentousness of what has happened. "La Chambre des
lords repoussait le b i l l " is a d ifferent matter. H ere a sort of anxious suspense
about the consequences of the event is establ ished : the i mperfect i n "repoussait"
expresses tense expectation. O ne need only utter the whole senten ce aloud to
detect these special features i n the p sychic orientation of the speaker. T he last
syllable of "repoussait" is pronoun ced with h igh pitch expressing tension and
expectation. This tension finds reso l ution and release, as it were, i n "G lad stone
tombait. " The imperfect in both i nstances is emotively colored and permeated
with fantasy; it does not so m uch establish the fact of, b u t rather l ingeri ngly
experiences and recreates, the action denoted. Herein consists the sign ificance
of the imperfect for q uasi-d irect discourse. I n the atmosphere created by the
form , the definite past would have been impossible.
Such i s Lorek 's conception ; he himself cal l s h i s analysis i nvestigation i n the
fiel d of the l inguistic psyche (Sprachseele ) . This field ( "das Gebiet der Sprach
see!enforschung") was, accord ing to Lorek, opened up by Karl Vossler. A nd it
was i n Vossler's footsteps that Lorek fol lowed in his study.
Lorek exam ined the question i n its static, psychological dimensions. G ertraud
Lerch, in an . article publ ished in 1 922, u si ng the same Vosslerite grounds, en
deavors to establish its broad h i storical perspectives. H er study contains a number

1 50

Forms of Utterance

[Part Iff

of extremely valuable o bservations, and we shall, therefore, stop to consider i t

- i n some detail.
The role assigned to fantasy i n Lorek 's conception is p layed b y empathy
(Einfiih!ung} in L erch 's. It is empathy that fi nds adequate expression in q uasi
d irect discourse. A repori ng verb { "said," "thought," and the l i ke) is a prere
qu isite in d i rect and indirect discourse. I n this way, the a u thor places the respon
sib i l ity for what is said o n h is character. Than.ks to the fact that such a verb is
omitted i n quasi-d ire ct discourse, the author is able to prese nt the utterances of
h is characters in a way suggesti ng that he h i m se lf takes them seriously, and that
what is at stake is not m erely something that was said or thought, b u t actual
facts. T h i s is possible, Lerch claims, only on the basis of the poet's empathy w ith
the creations of his own fantasy, o n the basis of h is identifying h im self w ith them.
How d i d thi s form come about h istorically? W hat were the essential h i storical
features u nderlying i ts development?
In Old F rench, psychological and grammatical constr u ctions were far from
being as sharply distinguished as they are now. Paratactic and h ypotactic com
ponents could stil l be m ixed together i n a great many different ways. Punctua
tion was stil l in its embryonic stage. Therefore, no c learl y marked boundaries
between direct d iscourse and i ndirect discourse existed then. The Old F rench
storyteller was as yet u nable to separate the figures of h i s fantasy from h i s own
" I . " He participated in their words and action s from with in, operating a s their
i n tercessor and advocate. He had not as yet learned to transmit a nother person's
words i n their l i teral, outward shape, eschew i ng personal i nvolvement and inter
ference. The O ld F rench temperament sti l l stood far removed from d ispassionate,
cogitative observation and objective judgment. H owever, this d i ssolving of narra
tor into h i s characters in O ld F rench was not o n l y the resu lt of the storyte l ler's
free choice, but also came about of necessity : firm logical and syntactic forms
for distinct, mutual demarcatio n were lacking. A nd so, q uasi-d irect d iscourse
first appears in O l d F re nch on the basis of this grammatical deficiency and not
as a free styl istic d evice. Quasi-direct discourse in th is i n stan ce is the result of
the simple grammatical i n capacity of the author to separate h i s own point of
view, h i s own position, from that of h i s characters. 7
7. H ere is a curious passage from Canticle to St. Eula/ie (second half of the 9 th century):
Ell'ent adunet lo suon e lement;
melz sostendreiet les empedementz
qu 'e/le perdesse sa Virginitet.

Poros furer morte a grand honestet.

("She gathers her strength: better that she undergo tortures than lose her virginity. Thus
she died w i th great honor.")
H ere, Lerch asserts, the saint's staunch, u nshakable decision chimes with ("klingt zusam
men"), the author's passionate stand on her behalf.

Chap. 4]

Quasi-Direct Discourse


I n the M iddle French of the late M iddle Ages, th is immersion o f oneself i n the
m inds and feel i ngs of others no longer holds true. I n the h istorical writings of the
time, very rarely is the praesens historicum encou ntered, and the standpoint of
the narrator is kept d i stinctly apart from the standpoints of the persons depicted.
E motion gives way to the intel lect; R eported speech becomes impersonal and
colorless, and the narrator's voice is now heard more distinctly in it than the
vo ice of the reported speaker.
After th is depersonaliz:ing period comes the heavily marked individualism of
the Renaissance. R eported speech once again endeavors to become intuitive. The
storytel ler once aga i n tries to align h i m self with his character, to take a m ore
i ntimate stand i n his regard. Characteristic of Renaissance style is the free, fluc
tuati ng, psychologically colored, capricious concatenation of gram matical tenses
and moods.
I n the 1 7th century, the linguistic irrationalism of the Renaissance was cou n
teracted by the i n itiation of firm ru les govern i ng tense and mood in ind irect dis
course (thanks especially to O u d i n, 1 632) . A harmonious balance was established
between the objective and subjective sides of thought, between referential anal
ysis and expression of personal att i tudes. A l l this d i d not come about without
pressure on the part of the A cademy.
The appearance of q uasi-t:l irect d iscourse as a free, con sciously used sty l i stic
device was possible only after a backgrou nd had been created, thanks to the es
tabl ishment of consecutio temporum, against wh ich it could be d i stinctly per
ceived. As such, it first appears in La Fontai ne and maintains, in the form i n
wh ich h e used it, a n equilibriu m between the objective and the subjective, a s was
characteristic for the age of neoclassicism.
The omission of the reporting verb indicates the identification of the narrator
with his character and the u se of the imperfect ( i n contrast to the present tense
of direct discourse) and the choice of pronouns appropriate to indirect d iscourse
ind icate that the narrator maintains his own independent position, that he does
not utterly dissolve into his character's experiences.
The device of q uasi-d irect d iscourse, which so neatly surmounted the d ualism
of abstract analysis and unmed iated impression, bringing them i nto harmo n ious
consonance, proved very su ita b le for the fabu l ist La Fontaine. I nd irect d iscourse
was too analytical and i nert. D irect discourse, though able to recreate another
person's utterance dramatically, was i ncapab le of creating, at the same ti me, a
stage for that utterance, a mental and emotional m ilieu for its perception .
While the device served La Fontaine's purpose o f congen ial empath izing, La
B ruyere was able to extract from it acute satirical effects. H e depicted h i s char
acters neither in the land of fable nor with mild-mannered humor-he invested
q u asi-direct discourse w ith h is animosity toward them, his superiority over them.
e recoils from the creatures he depicts. A l l of La Bruyere's figures come out
ironically refracted through the med ium of h is mock objectivism.

1 52

Forms of Utterance

(Part /!!

I n F la ubert's case, the device reveal s an even more com plex nature. F laubert
u nfli nchingly fixes his regard u pon precisely those th i ngs w hich d i sgust and repel
him. B ut even then he is able to empathize, to identify h i m self with the hatefu l
and despicable t h i ngs he portrays. Quasi-d irect discourse i n F la ubert b ecomes
j u st as a mbivalent and j u_st as turb u lent as his own sta n d point vis-a-vis h i s crea
tions: his i nner position osc i l l ates between admiration and revu lsion. Quasi-d irect
discou rse, with its capacity for conveying simultaneou sly identification with a nd
i n dependence, d i stance from one's creatio ns, was a n extremely suitab l e mea n s for
embodying this l ove-hate relation F laubert maintained t oward h i s characters.
Such are Gertraud Lerch 's i nteresting deliberations on our topic. To her h is
torical sketch of t h e development of quasi-d irect d isco urse in French, let us a d d
the i nformation supplied b y E ugen Lerch about the time o f the appeara nce of
this device in G erman. Q uasi-d i rect discourse is an extremely late development
i n German. As a del iberate and ful l -fledged device, it i s u sed for the first time by
Thomas Mann i n his novel Buddenbropks (1 901) , apparently u nder the d irect
i nfluence of Zola. This "fami l y epic" is narrated by the writer in emotional tones
suggesting one of the u n assum ing members of the B u d d e n brook clan who rem
inisces about, and i n rem i n i scing vividly reexperiences, the whole h istory of the
fam ily. To this we may add our own remark that in h i s latest n ovel , Der Zauber
berg (1 924}, T homas Mann provides us with a sti l l subtler and more p rofound
uti l ization of the device.
To our knowledge, n ot h i ng new and nothing e lse of any weight has been said
on the i ssue u nder i nvestigation here. L et us now turn to a critica l analysis of the
views expressed by Lorek and Lerch .
I n the studies of both Lorek and Lerch, a consistent and emphatic i ndivid
u a listic subjectivism i s p i tted aga inst Bal ly's hypostasizing objectivism . T he in
d ividual, subjective critical awareness of speakers u nd erl ies the notion of l ingui s
tic psyche. Language i n a l l its manifestations becomes expression of i nd ividual
psych ic forces and individual i deational i n tentions, The generation of l anguage
turns out to be the process of generation of mind a nd sou l in ind ivid u a l speakers.
The Yosslerites' individual istic subjectivism in ex p lanation of our concrete
phenomenon is just as u nacceptable as Bal ly's abstract objectivism. T h e fact is,
after a l l, that the speaking personal ity, its subjective d esigns a n d i ntentions, and
its conscious styl i stic stratagems do not exist outside their material objectifica
tion in language. Without a way of revealing itself in language, be it o n l y in i nner
speech , personal ity does n ot exist either for itself or for others; it can i l l um i nate
and take cognizance i n itself of only that for wh ich there is objective, i l l u m i nat
ing material, the m aterial ized light of consciousness i n the form of estab lished
words, value judgments, and accents. The i n ner subjective personal ity w i th its
own self-awareness does not ex ist as a material fact, usab l e as a basis for causa l
explanation, b u t it exists a s an ideologeme. T h e i nner personal ity, w i t h a l l its
subjective intentions and a l l its i n ner depths, is noth i ng but a n i deologeme-an

Chap. 4j

Quasi-Direct Discourse

1 53

ideologeme that _is vague and flu id i n character u ntil it achieves d efinition i n the
more stable and more e laborated products of ideological creativity. Therefore,
it is nonsense to try to explain ideo l ogical phenomena and forms with the aid
of subjective psychic factors and i ntentions: that woul d mean explaining an ideo
l ogeme of greater c larity and precision with another ideologeme of a vaguer,
more muddled character. Language l ights up the i n ner personality and its con
sciouness; language creates them and endows them with intricacy and profun
dity-and it does not work the other way. Personal ity is itself generated through
language, not so m uch, to be sure, in the abstract forms of language, but rather
in the ideol ogical themes of language. Personality, from the standpoint of its
inner, subjective content, is a theme of language, and this theme u ndergoes de
velopment and variation within the channel of the more stable co n structions of
language. Consequently, a word is not an expression of inner personality; rather,
inner personality is an expressed or inwardly impelled word. A n d the word is an
expression of social intercourse, of the social interaction of material personalities,
of producers. The conditions of that thoroughly material i ntercourse are what
determine and condition the kind of thematic and structural shape that the inner
personality w i l l receive at any given time and in any given environment; the ways
in which it w i l l come to sel f-awareness; the degree of richness and surety this
self-awareness wil l ach ieve; and how it will motivate and evaluate its actions. The
generation of the inner consciousness will depend u pon the generative process
of language, in terms, of course, of language's grammatical and concrete ideolog
ical structure. The inner personal ity is generated along with language, in the com
prehensive and concrete sense of the word, as one of its most importa nt and
most profo u nd themes. The generation of language, meanwhile, is a factor in the
generative process of social com m u n ication, a factor inseparable from that com
m u nication and its material base. The material base determines differentiation
in a society, its sociopolitical order; it organizes society hierarchically and de,
p loys persons interacting within it. Thereby are the place, time, conditions, forms,
and means of verbal com m u nication determined and, by the same token, the
vicissitudes of the individual utterance in any given period in the development of
language, the degree of its i nviola bility, the degree of differentiality in percep
tion of its various aspects, the nature of its ideational and verbal i ndividual iza
tion. A nd this fi nds expression above all in stable constructions of language, i n
language pattern s a n d their modifications. Here the speaking personality exists
not as an amorphous theme but as a more stable constructio n ( to be sure, con
cretely this theme is i nextricably bound up with the specific thematic content
appropriate to it) . H ere, in the forms of reported speech, language itself reacts
to personal ity as the bearer of the word.
B ut what do the Vosslerites do? They provide explanations that mere ly put
the comparatively stable structural reflection of speaking personality into loose
thematic terms that translate events of social generation, events of history, into

1 54

Forms of Utterance

{Part Ill

the language of individual motivations, extremely subtle and genuine though

they may be. They provide an ideology of ideology. H owever, the objective,
material factors in these ideologies-both in forms of language and in t h e subjec
tive motivations for their u sage-remain outside their fiel d of i nvestigation. We
do not contend that the endeavor to ideologize ideology is complete l y worthless.
On the contrary, sometimes it is very i mportant to thematicize a formal con
struction in order to gai n access to its o bjective roots-those roots, after al l , are
common to both aspects. T he keen and a nimated interest in ideology that the
idealist Vosslerites have i n trodu ced into l ingu istics does help e lu cidate certain
aspects of language that had turned i nert and opaque i n the hands of abstract
objectivism. A n d we owe them gratitude for that. They teased and worried the
ideological nerve in language when language had at times, i n the hands of certai n
linguists, begu n t o rese m b l e i nani mate nature. However, they d i d not find their
way to a real, objective exp lanation of language. They came close to the l ife of
h istory, but not to an explanation of h istory; they approached the ever-seething,
ever-moving surface of h istory, b ut not i ts deep, u nderlying motive forces. It i s
symptomatic that Lorek, i n a letter to E ugen Lerch that i s appended to h i s book,
goes so far as to make the fol lowing somewhat surprising statement. A fter hav i ng
described the i nertness and intellectual ist sclerosis of French, he adds the com
ment: "There is o n l y o n e possib i l i ty for its rejuvenatio n : the proletariat must
take over command of the word from the bourgeoisie (Fur sie gibt es n u r e i ne
Mogl ichkeit der Verj u ngung: anstelle des Bourgeoi s m uss der Proletarier zu Worte
How is this to be con nected with the overridi ng, creative role of fantasy i n
language? I s a member o f the proletariat such a fantasizer, then?
Surely Lorek had something else in mind. He probably means that the pro le
tariat will bri ng with it n ew forms of socioverbal intercourse, new forms of verbal
interaction of speakers, and a whole new world of social i ntonations a n d accents.
It will also bring with it a new l ingu i stic truth . Probably that or so meth i ng like it
was what Lorek had i n m in d when he made h is assertion. B ut there is no reflec
tion of this in h i s theory. As for fantasizing, a bourgeois is no worse a hand at it
than a proletarian, and has more spare time for it, to boot.
Lorek 's i ndividualistic subjectivism in appl ication to our concrete q uestion
makes itself fel t in the incapacity of his conception to reflect the dynam ics of
the interrelationship between reporting and reported speech. By no m eans does
quasi-d irect discourse express a passive impression received from another's utter
ance. It expresses, instead, an active orientation, and n ot one that merely amounts
to a shift of perso n from first to third, but one that i mposes u po n the reported
utterance i ts own accents, which col lide and i nterfere with the accents in the
reported utterance. Nor can we agree with Lorek in his contention that q uasi
d irect discourse is the form of reported speech closest to direct recepti o n and
experience of another person's speech. Each form of reported speech perceives

Chap. 4]

Quasi-Direct Discourse

1 55

the speech to be reported i n its own particular way. G ertraud Lerch seem s to
have some grasp of the dynam ics i nvolved, but she expresses it i n terms of sub
j ective psychology. B oth writers, therefore, attempt to flatten out a three-d imen
sional phenomenon, as i t were. I n the objective l inguistic phenomenon of q uasi
d i rect discourse, we have a combination not of empathy and distancing within
the confi nes of an individual psyche, but of the character's accents (empathy)
and the author's accents (distancing) with i n the confines of one a n d t he same
linguistic construction.
Both Lorek and Lerch al ike fail to take i nto accou nt o n e factor of extreme
i m portance for the u nderstand i ng of our phenomenon: t h e val ue j udgment in
herent in every l iv i ng word and brought out by the accentuation and expressive
intonatio n of an u tterance. M essage in speech does not exist outside its l iv i ng
and concrete accentuation and i ntonation. I n quasi-direct d i scourse, we recog
nize another person 's utterance n ot so much in term s of its message, abstractly
con sidered, but above all i n terms of the reported character 's accentuation and
intonation, in terms of the evaluative orientation of h i s speech.
We perceive the author's accents and i ntonations being i nterrupted by these
value j udgments of another person. A nd that is the way, as we know, in wh ich
q uasi-d irect d iscourse differs from substituted discourse, w here n o new accents
vis-a-vis the surrounding authorial context appear.
Let us now return to examples of quasi-direct discourse from R u ssian l iterature.
Here is a sample of an extremely characteristic type in th is regard, again from
P ukin's Po/tava :
Pretending grief, Mazeppa raises loud his humble voice u nto the Tsar. "God knows .
and all the world can see, he, hapless hetman, twenty years has served the Tsar with
loyal heart; bestrewn with boundless favours and most wondrously advanced. . . .
What blindness, what folly animosity would be! Is it thinkable that he, who stands
upon the threshold to the tomb, would now commence to school himself in treason
and becloud his honest nam e ? A nd did not he indignantly refuse his aid to Stanislaw;
appalled, reject the Ukrainian crown and send the Tsar the pact and letters of the
plot, as was his duty ? Did not he turn a deaf ear unto the blandishments of Khan and
Tsargrad Sultan ? A flame with zeal, he gladly plied his mind and sword in contests
with the White Tsar's foes, he spared no pains nor life itself, and now a vicious enemy
his old grey hairs has covered all in shame. A nd who ? Iskra and Kocub ej! Who were
so long his friends! " And with b loodthirsty tears, in icy insolence, the villain de

mands their punishment. . , Whose punishment? I mplacable old man! W hose daughter
is in his embrace? But the murmurings of his heart he coldly stills. . . [ italics added ] .

Syntax and style i n this passage, o n the one hand , are d etermined by the eval
uative tones of Mazeppa's h u m i l ity and tearful plea and, o n the other hand, this
"tearful p lea" is subjected to the evaluative orientation of the author's context,
h i s narrative accents which, in the given instance, are colored in tones of indigna
tion that eventually erupts in the rhetorical q uesti o n : "Whose p u nishment? I m
p lacable old man! Whose daughter is i n h is embrace?"

1 56

Forms of Utterance

[Part Ill

It would be entire l y possible to recite this passage aloud and convey the
double intonation of each of its words, i.e., indignantly reveal the hypocrisy of
Mazeppa's plea through the very read ing of it. W hat we have here is a fairly sim
ple case with i ts rhetorical, somewhat primitive and sharply etched i n tonations.
I n most cases, however, and e specia l l y in that area where q uasi-direct di scourse
has become a massivel y u sed device-the area of m odern prose fiction-transm is
sion by voice of evaluative interference would be impossible. F urthermore, the
very k i n d of development q uasi-d i rect discourse has u ndergone is bou n d up w ith
the tra n sposition of the larger prose genres i n to a s ilent register, i .e., for silent
reading. Only this "silencing" of prose cou l d have made possible t he m u ltileveled
ness and voice-defying complexity of intonational structures that are so char
acteristic for modem l i terature.
An example of thi s k i n d of interference of two speech acts wh ich can not b e
conveyed adequately by voice is the fol lowing passage from Dostoevskij's The
And why did he [Prince Mysk i n ] avoid going straight u p to h i m and turn away as if
he d id n't notice anything, although their eyes had met. ( Yes, their eyes had m et! A nd
they had looked at one a nother.) D idn't he h imself, after all, want not long ago to
take him by the arm and go with him there ? D idn't he h imse lf, after all, want to go
to him tomorrow and say that he had been to see her? D id n't he himself, after all,
renounce his demon o n his way there, in mid-course, w hen suddenly joy flooded h is
sou l ? Or was there indeed something or other in Rogozin , that is, in today 's w hole
image of the man, in the su m total of his words, gestures, behavior, looks, that m ight
justify the prince's terrible forebodings and the infuriating insinuations of his demon?
Something or other of the sort that makes itself felt but is d ifficu lt to analyze and
relate, something impossible to pin down with sufficient reasons. B ut somet hing
nevertheless that produces, despite all the difficu lty and the i mpossib ility, a perfectly
cogent and irresistible impression that u nw ittingly turns into the most absol ute con
viction. Conviction that what? ( Oh, how the prince was tormented by the m onstros
ity, the "baseness" of that conviction, of "that vile foreboding," and how he re
proached himself! ) .
Let u s now devote a few words to a consideration of the very i mportant and
i n teresting problem of the phonic embodiment of reported speech displayed by
the author's context.
The difficu l ty of eval uative, expressive i ntonatio n consists here in the con stant
shifting from the eva luative purview of the auth or to that of the character and
back aga i n.
I n what cases and to what l i mits can an author act out h is character? The ab
solute of acting out we u nderstand to be not only a change of expressive intona
tion-a change equally possible with in the confines of a single Voice, a single con
sciousness--but also a change of voice in terms of the whole set of features in
dividua lizing that voice, a change of persona ( " mask" ) in terms of a whole set of
individualizing traits of facial expression and gesticulation, and, fina l ly, the com-


Chap. 4}

Quasi-Direct Discourse


plete self-consistency of this voice and persona t h roughout the entire acting out
of the role. After a l l , i nto that self-enclosed, individual wor l d there can no longer
be any i nfusion or spillover of the author's i ntonations. As a resu l t of the self
consistency of the other voice and persona, there i s no possib i lity for gradation
in shifting from the author's context to reported speech and from reported
speech to author's context. The reported speech wi l l begin to soun d as if it were
in a p lay where there is no embrac i ng context and where the character's l ines
confront other l i ne s by other characters w i thout any grammatical concatenation.
Thus relations between reported speech and authorial context, via abso lute act
ing out, take a shape analogous to the relations between alternating l i nes i n dia
l ogue. Thereby the author is put on a level w ith his character, and their relation
sh ip is d ialogized. From a l l th is, it necessari l y fo l lows that the abso l ute acting
out of reported speech, where a wor k of fiction i s read aloud, is admissi b le only
in the rarest cases. Otherwise an i nevitable confl ict arises with the basic aesthetic
design of the co ntext. It goes without sayi n g that these exceedingly rare cases
can involve only l inear and moderately picturesq ue modifications of the d irect
discourse construction. I f the author's retorting remarks i ntersect the direct dis
course or if too dense a shadow from the author's eval uative context fal l s u pon
it, absolute acti ng out i s impossible.
However, another possib i lity is partial acti ng out (without transformation),
which perm its making gradual intonational transitions between authorial context
and reported speech and, in some cases, given double-faced modifications, per
m its accomodatin g a l l intonations w ith i n one voice. To be sure, such a possibil ity
is viable on ly in cases <fnalogous to the ones we have cited. Rhetorical q u estions
and exclamations often carry out the functi o n of switch ing from one to ne to
It remains only for us to sum up our analysis of quasi-d i rect d i scourse and,
at the same time, to sum up the whole th ird section of our study. We sha l l be
brief: the substance of the matter i s i n the argu ment itself, and we shall refrain
from rehashing it.
We have conducted an inqu iry i nto the chief forms of reported speech . We
were not concerned with providing abstract grammatical descriptions; we en
deavored instead t o find in those forms a document of how language at this or
that period of its development has perceived the words and personal ity of another
addresser. T he poi nt we had in m i n d throughout was that the vicissitudes of
utterance and speaking personality in language reflect the social vicissitudes of
verbal interaction, of verbal-ideo logical com m u nication, in their m ost vital ten
The word as the ideological phenomenon par exce llence exists in continuous
generation and change; it sensitively reflects a l l social shifts and a lterations. I n
the vicissitudes of the word are the vicissitudes of the society of word-u sers. But
the dialectical gen eration of the word is susceptible of investigation by various

1 58

Forms of Utterance

(Part Ill

routes. O ne can study the generation of ideas, that is, the h istory of ideology i n
the exact sense-the history of knowledge, a s the h i story o f the generation of
truth {si nce truth i s eternal o n l y as eternall y generated truth ) ; the history of
literature, as the generation of artistic veracity. That is o n e route. Another, in
timatel y connected and i n c lose collaboration with the first, is the stu d y of the
generation of language itself, as ideological material, as the medium for ideolog
ical reflection of existence, since the reflection of the refraction of existence i n
the h uman consciousness comes about o n l y i n and through the word. The gen
eration of language cannot be stud i ed, of cou rse, in com plete d isregard of the
social existence refracted in it and of the refracting powers of the socioeconomic
conditions. The generation of the word cannot be stud ied i n disregard of the
generation of trut h and artistic veracity i n the word and of the huma n societ>'
for whom that truth and veracity exist. Thus these two routes, i n their constan t
i n teraction with o n e another, study the reflection and refraction o f the genera
tion of nature and history in the generation of the word.
But there is sti l l another route: the reflection of the social generation of word
in word itself, w i th its two branches: the history of the philosophy o f the word
and the history of word in word. I t is precisely i n this latter direction that our
own study l ies. W e are perfectl y wel l aware of the shortcomings of our study and
can only hope that the very posing of the problem of the word in word has cru
cial i mportance. The history o f truth, t h e h i story of artistic veracity, and the
h i story of language can benefit considerabl y from a stud y of the refractions of
their basic phenomenon-the concrete utterance-in constru ctions of language
And n ow a few additional words in conclwsion about quasi-direct d iscourse
and the social tendency it expresses.
The emergence and d evelopment of q\.fasi-d irect discourse m ust be studied i n
close associatio n w i th the development of other p icturesque modifications of
direct d iscourse and indirect discourse. W e sha l l then be i n a position to see that
quasi-d irect d iscourse l ies on the m(lin road of developm e n t of the mo dern E uro
pean languages, that it signal izes some crucial turni ng point i n t h e social vicissi
tudes of the utterance. The victory of extreme form s of the picturesqu e style i n
reported speech i s not, of course, to be explained i n ter m s either of p sychological
factors or the artist's own individual styl i stic purposes, b u t is explainabl e in terms
of the general, far-reaching subjectivization of the ideological word-utterance. No
longer i s i t a monument, nor even a document, of a substantive ideational posi
tion ; it m akes itself fel t only as expressio n of an adventitious, subjective state.
Typifying and i n d ividualizing coatings of the utterance have reached such an i n
tense degree of d ifferentiation i n the l ingui stic consciousness that they have com
p letely overshadowed and relativized an u tterance's ideational core, the respon
sibl e social position implemented i n it. T h e utteran ce h a s virtual l y ceased to be
an object for serio u s i deational consideratio n . The categorical word, t he word

Chap. 4}

Quasi-Direct Discourse

1 59

"from orie's own mouth," the declaratory word remains al ive only in scien tific
writi ngs. I n all other fields of verbal-ideological creativity, w hat predominates
is not the "outright" but the "co ntrived" word. A l l verbal activity in these cases
amounts to piecing together "other persons' words" and "words seemingly from
other persons." Even the h u manities have developed a tendency to supplant
responsible statements about an issue w ith a depiction of the issue's contempo
rary state of affairs, i ncluding com putatio n and inductive adducing of "the pre
vai ling point of view at the presen t time," which is someti mes even taken as the
most sol i d kind of "solution" to t h e issue. A l l this bespeaks an alarm ing i n stabil
ity and uncertainty of ideological word. Verbal expression i n literature, rhetoric,
philosophy, and h umanistic stud ies has become the realm of "opi n ions," of out
and out opinions, and even the paramou nt feature of these opinions is not what
actual l y is "opined" i n them b u t how-i n w hat individual or typical way-the
"opining" is d one. This stage in the vicissitudes of the wor d in present-day
bourgeois E urope and here in the S oviet U nion ( i n our case, up to very recent
times) can be characterized as the stage of transformation of the word into a
thing, the stage of depression in the thematic value of the word. T he ideologues
of this process, both here and in Western E urope, are the formalistic movements
in poetics, l i nguistics, and philosoph y of language. O ne hardly need mention here
what the underlying social factors expla i n i ng this process are, and one hardly
need repeat Lorek 's wel l-fou nded assertion as to the only ways whereby a re
vival of the i deological word can come about-the word with its theme i n tact,
the word permeated with confident and categorical social value j udgment, the
word that really means and takes responsibil iy for what it says.


On the First Russian Prolegomena

to Sem iotics
Ladislav Matejka

1 . Modern p h i losophica l specu lation about the nature of signs and about
their role i n social communication has a tradition in G raeco-Roman civi l i zation
going back to remote antiqu ity. This trad ition embraces both Platonic and Aris
totel ian reasoning on the relationship between l anguage sou nds and the h u man
mind. It i nvolves the Stoics and their d ialectical approach to the opposition be
tween the signify i ng and the sign ified, and, furthermore, it maintains a vital con
nection with the medieval semiotics, which regarded signs as something material
standing for something spiritual and considered h u man words as the most im
portant signs among signs.
I n Russia, the modern inqu iry into the nature of verbal signs was sti mu lated
by the brilliant l i nguists of the Kazan school, particularly by Baudouin de
Courtenay, whose phenomenologica l observations about the systematic connec
tion between sound and mean ing found many talented fol l owers in the major
Russian academic centers at the begi nning of the 20th centu ry . M oreover, the
Russian science of signs was given a solid base by the scholarly, as well as peda
gogical, contributions of the prominent Moscow professor, F . F. Fortunatov, for
whom the notion that h uman language is a system of signs was one of the most
fundamental concepts of l i ngu istics. A l so the classic E nglish empiricist, j o h n
Locke, whose doctrine o n signs subsequently influenced A m erican semiotics, has
to be considered a powerfu l intel lectual source in prerevolutionary Russia, w here
the A nglo-Saxon p h i l osophers fou n d many attentive students among both M arx
ists and non-Marx ists. However, the most decisive im pact on modern Russian
semiotics was, no doubt, produced by Ferd i nand de Saussure, the spiritual found
er of the Geneva school of l i nguistics.
Young Russian l i nguists in the years just prior to the revolution became ac
quainted with Saussure not only through his posthu mous Cours de finguistique
generate [ Course in General Linguistics] , b ut also through the i nterpretation of

1 61

Ladis/av Matejka

1 62

Saussurian teachi ng by Sergej Karcevskij, who eturned to R u ssia i n 1 91 7 after

several years of study i n Geneva. As Roman J akobson recol lects in h i s Selected
I t was in t hose years that students of psychology and linguistics in our u niversity were
passionately d iscussin g the philosophers' newest attempts toward a p henom enology of
language and of signs i n general; we learned to sense the delicate d istinction between
the signatum ( the signified ) and the denotatum (the referred-to) ; hence to assign an
intrinsically linguistic position, first to the signatum and then, by inference, to its in
alienable counterpart as well-that is, to the signans. 1


I .

Russian l i ngu istics i n the early 1 920s clearl y reflects the i mpact of various as
pects of Saussure's Course, References to Saussure and to h i s i nfluence appear,
critica!iy filtered, in J akobson's book on Czech versification p u b l i shed in 1 923.
The same year, referen ce s to Saussure and his G eneva school were made repeat
edly in Russkaja rc ' [ Ru ssian language] , a compen d i u m of studies b y several
- young R u ssian l ingui sts mutually associated (as the editor of the vol u me, Lev
cerba, suggests i n his i n troductory footnote) by their common dependence o n
the l inguistic teaching of Baudouin de Courtenay.2 Moreover, in 1 92 3 , the young
syntactician, M. N . P eterson, publ ished a l ucid outline of Saussure's f u ndamental
concepts in the journal Pecot ' i revo!jucija [The press and the revo l u tio n J .3 During
the 1 920s, the i mpact of Saussure, particu larl y o n the students, and t he stu d e nts
of the students, of Baudouin de Courtenay, dominated to such an extent that
V. N. Vo loi nov was a pparently very close to the truth when he stated: " I t can
be claimed that the majority of R u ssian th i n kers i n l ingu i stics are u nd er the de
terminative i nfluence of Saussure and h is disciples, Bal ly arid Sechehaye."
I n Saussure's Course, as we know, the concept of sign is v iewed a s the very
pivot of verbal com m u nication and of any comm u nicatio n of meani n g in general.
" Language, " h e says, "is a system of s igns that express ideas."4 A lthough Saus
sure d i stinguishes various sign systems, h u man l anguage i s for h i m the most im
portant of them all. I n h is i n terpretation, the semiotic nature of h u m an language
necessari ly i m p l ies its social character. Language as a system is a soci a l institu
tion. A s Saussure puts it, " I t exists o n l y by virtue of a sort of contract signed by
the members of a comm u nity ; the i n dividual m u st always serve an a pprentice
ship in order to learn the fu nctioning of language; a child ass i m i lates it o n l y grad
ually. "5 S ince language is o n l y one among several sem iotic systems, Sau ssure
considers I i ngu istics a branch of the general science of signs. 6 Using G reek
" Retrospect," Selected Writings, I. p. 6 3 1 . 's-Gravenhage: Mouton, 1 9 62.
Edited by L. v . Scerba , R usskaja rec' ( Petrograd, 1 92 3 ) , p, 1 1 .
3. M . N. Peterson, "Obscaja lmgu istika," Pecat' i revo/jucija, 6, ( 1 923), pp. 26-32.
4. F erdinand de Sau ssure, Course in General L inguistics, translated by Wade Bask i n ,
p . 1 6. M cG raw-H ill, N e w York, 1 95 9 .

5 . Ibid.,

6. Ibid.,


1 4.

p. 77.

Appendix 7

Prolegomena to Semiotics

1 63

semefon {sign) as h i s derivational base, he cal l s the envisaged science of signs

semiology, as distinct from J oh n Locke's term semiotic, subsequently adapted
and ingeniously developed by Charles Sanders Peirce.
T h ere can hardly be any doubt that Saussure's emphasis on the sem iotic na
ture of human language and on its intrinsically social character fou nd, in Val
enti n Voloinov, a m ightily impressed albeit critical reader. As a matter of fact,
the essential part of Voloinov's Marxism and the Philosophy of Language cou ld
be considered the first extensive Russian prolegomenon to sem iotics, enthusias
tical ly e laborating the binary concept of sign and the notion of the social basis
of sem iotics in general. "Everyth i ng ideological _possesses meani ng," claims
Voloinov in the opening chapter of his book. " I t represen ts, d e picts, or stand s
for something lying outside itself; i n other words, i t is a sign ; without signs, there
is n o i deology." Con sequently, the study of signs is for Voloinov a stud y of
ideology, and the p h ilosophy of language is a philo sophy of sign .
Developing Saussure's observations about the origin o f language i n the com- .
m u nity of speakers {"masse parlante"), Voloinov i nsists that signs can arise only
on an i n teri ndividual territory. "It i s e ssential," he says, "that they [the i ndi
viduals] compose a group {a social u nit) ; only then can the med i u m of s igns
take shape between them." In sharp d i stinction from Saussure, however, he
does not consider signs as being basica l l y psychological i n nature. While for
Saussure language " i s a system of signs i n which the only essential thing is the
u n ion of meaning and sound images, and i n which both parts of the sign are
psychologica1,"7 for Voloinov "a sign is a phenomenon of the external world."
In his view, the local ization of signs i n the psyche woul d change semiotic into
the study of consciousness and its laws. H e is unwi l l i ng to neglect the physical
properties of the sign and to treat them as if they w ere " m erely techn ical means
for the real ization of the inner effect, which is u nd erstanding." W h i le Saussure
regards his sem iology as "a part of social psychology and consequently of gen
eral psychology,"8 for Voloinov the study of signs "does not depend on psy
chology to any extent and need not be grounded in it." O n the contrary, he is
convinced that objective psychology has to be grou nded i n the study of signs.
I n h is d ialectical approach, the binary character of each sign implies that the
physical and m ean ingfu l aspects are inseparable and can not be studied in isola
tion from one another, precisely because the u nity of the binary o pposition is
the basis of semioticity.
Ferdinand de Saussure, faithfu l l y fol lowing the spirit of Cartesian d ualism,
emphatically i n sists on a clear-cut separation between the actual speech act and
the abstract system of norms i nternal ized by the l ingu istic com petence of the
speakers. " I n separating language from speaking," he says, "we are at the same
time separating {1 ) w hat is social from what is individual, and (2) what is essen7. /bid., p. 1 5 .
p . 1 6.

8 . Ibid.,


1 64

Ladislav Matejka

tial from what is accessory and more or less accidenta l."9 The epistemological
i m plicatio n s of such an analytic divorce of language system (Ia langue) from
speech act (fa parole) became a major chal lenge for the R ussian students of
Saussure. Not a l l of them were w i l l ing to embrace the methodologica l conse
quences of the two routes that resulted from Saussure's d ivorcing language from
speaking. I n obvious opposition to Saussure's i nsistence that "we must choose
between two routes that cannot be fo l lowed simu ltaneously."10 J urij Tynjanov
and Roman J akobson in 1 928 proposed that the principle relating the se two cate
gories (i.e., Ia langue and Ia parole) m u st be elaborated.U A l so Voloinov, apply
ing his d ialectical approach, regarded the speech act and the language system as
an indivisible cou pl ing that cannot be stud ied by isolating one pole fro m the
other. Throughout his ent ire book he makes it clear that the concrete utterance
cannot be adequately handled without simultaneously tak i ng i nto acco u nt the
system of language. And conversely, the language system, in his opinion, cannot
be analytically grasped without the simultaneous consideration of concrete utter
ances. Or, as he puts it, "the actual rea l i ty of language-speech is not the abstract
system of l ingu istic forms, not the isolated monologic utterance, and n ot the
psychophysiological act of its implementation, but the social event of verbal i n
teraction implemented i n an utterance or utterances." Thus linguistic i nquiry is
p laced by Voloinov into a sociological framework where not o n ly the o p posi
tion between language and speech has to be taken i nto account, b ut a l so the
opposition between speaker and hearer. Within such a complex analytic model ,
neither t h e speaker's nor the hearer's role is favored; they have to b e considered
complementary and mutua l l y dependent in the process w hereby the a b stract
language system is deployed to execute the concrete u tterance. While Saussure 's
dualism b reaks the complex ity of the sem iotic operation apart i n order to fac i l i
tate its analysis, Volo"S i nov's d ialectical predilection is to try to supersede the
i n ner duality by a single u n ifying structure. I n explicit o p position to Saussure's
d ivorce between system and utteran ce, Voloinov i nsists t hat:
1 . I d eo logy may not be d ivorced from the material reality of sign (i.e., by
locating i t in the "co nsciousness" or other vague and e lusive region s) .
2 . Sign may n ot be d ivorced from the concrete forms o f social i ntercourse
{seeing that sign is part of organ ized social i ntercourse and can n ot exist, as
such, outside it, reverting to a mere physical artifact) .
3. Communication and the forms of communication may not be d ivorced
from their material basis.
9. Ibid., p. 1 4.
1 0. Ibid., p. 1 9.
1 1 . Cf., j u rij Tynjanov and Roman j akobson, " Problemy izucenija l i teratury i jazyka;'
Novyj Lef, 1 2 (1 928), p. 36 ["Problems in the Study of L iterature and Language," R eadings
in Russian Poetics, edited by L. Matejka and K . Pomorska, p. 7 9 . M IT Press, Cam bridge,

Appendix 7

Prolegomena to Semiotics

1 65

Saussure's systematic langu\lge versus speech bifurcation virtual ly implied the

necessity of imposing strict boundaries between the synchronic aspect of a lan
guage system and the h i story of the language. "The opposition between the two
viewpoints, the synchronic and d iachronic," he says, " i s abso lute and a l l ows no
compromise."12 Accord ingly, the study of language is divided by Sau ssure into
two d i stinct parts, defined i n the Course as fol lows :
will be concerned with the logical and psychological relations
that bind together coexisting terms and form a system in the collective mind of speak
Diachronic linguistics, on the contrary, will study relations that b ind together succes
sive ter!Jls not perceived by the collective mind but subst ituted for each other w ithout
forming a system.13

Synchronic linguistics

I t was precisely th is separation of synchronic and d iachronic l ingu i st i cs that

became a major topic of methodological controversy in R ussia in the 1 920s. I n
1 922, Sergej Karcevskij applied the Saussurian synchronic approach to the de
scription of the Russian verbal system and u sed as the epigraph to his article
Saussure's d ictum : " La langue est un systeme dont toutes les parties peuvent et
doivent etre considerees dans leur so l idarite synchronique."14 The fo llowing year,
in 1 923, V. V. Vinogradov, acknowledging the methodo logical stimulus of
Saussure, Baudoui n de Courtenay, and Karcevskij, proposed the application of
a rigorous synchronic method to the analysis of style in verbal art. I n h i s pro
posal, the primary task of every styl istic analysis is to inquire i nto the specific
system of l ingu istic means and their organization as u sed by a given writer; such
a task categorically requ ires, according to Vinogradov, a classification of elements
and an exhaustive description of the styl i stic forms and their functions.15 Hence,
the very center of Vinogradov's attention is a l iterary text that is viewed as a
concrete corpus of data representing a certain linguistic type and characterizing
a special social group (a dialect) . T h e proposed description and classification are,
as Vinogradov admits, i nevitably static. From this position, which strictly ad
heres to Saussure's d ichotomy of synchrony and d iachrony, Vinogradov attacked
those fol l owers of the so-called formal method who were u nwil l ing to embrace
Saussure's d ual istic separation and had insisted that a true explanatory approach
had " to overcome statics and d iscard the absolute."16
Among the responses to Saussure's d ualistic fal lacy and i ts Russian applica
tion, the most outspoken rejection appeared in 1 927 i n a set of polemic theses,
1 2. Course, p . 8 3 .
1 3. I bid., p . 9 9 - 1 00.
1 4. S. Karcevsk ij, " E tudes sur le systeme verbal du russe contem porain," S/avia, 1 , ( 1 9 22 ) ,
p. 242.
1 5 . Cf., V. V. Vinogradov,O zadacax stilistiki "Russkaja ree, " ( Petrograd, 1 92 3 ) , p. 286.
1 6. Roman ) akobson, " Futurizm," lskusstvo, A ug. 2, 1 9 1 9 ; c f. h is Selected Writings, I ,
p. 65 1 ( 1 962).

Ladis!av Matejka

1 66

signed by J urij Tynjanov and Roman J akobson. "Pure synchro n ism now proves
to be an i l lusion," the authors assert. " Every synchron ic system has its past and
its future as inseparable structural elements of the system." While Saussure
claims that "everything that relates to the static side of our sci e nce is synchronic
and everything that has to do w i th evolution is d iachron ic/>17 Tynjanov and
J akobson proclaim :

The opposition between synchrony and d iachrony was an opposition between the con
cept of system and the concept of evolution; it loses its importance in principle as
soon as we recognize that every system necessarily exists as evolution, w hereas, on the
other hand, evolution is inescapably of. a systematic nature.'"
For J akobson, the rejection of Saussure's fal lacy became one of the recurrent
themes of h i s scholarly career. l n 1 928, he renewed his attack on Saussure's
fal lacious dual ism by stating:
F. d e S aussure and h is school broke a new trail in static l inguistics, b u t as to the field
of language h istory, they remained in the neogrammarian rut.. S aussure's teach i ng that
sound c hanges are destructive factors, fortuitous and blind, l im its the active role of the
speech community to sensing each given stage of deviations from the customary lin
guistic pattern as an orderly system. This antinomy between synchronic and d iachronic
linguistic stu dies should be overcome by a transformation of h istorical phonetics into
the history of the phonemic system."19
The tenor of this argument reappears, essentially unchanged, 40 years later
in j akobson's " Retrospect" to the secon d volume of h is Selected Writings ( 1 971 ) .
A ccording to S aussure's Cours, the inner duality of synchrony and d iachrony threatens
lingu istics with particu lar d ifficulties and cal l s for a complete separation of the two
facets: w hat can be investigated is eith er the coexistent relations within the l i n gu istic
system "d 'ou tout intervention du temps est exclue" or single successive changes with
out any reference to the system. I n other words, Saussure anticipated and a n nounced
a new, structural approach to l inguistic synchrony but followed the old, atomizing,
neogram m arian d ogma in historical linguistics. H is fallacious identification of two op
positions-synchrony versus diachrony, and statics versus dynamics-was refuted by.
post-Saussurian l ingu istics!0
It must be said that not all post-Saussurian l inguistics has rejected Saussure's
d i chotomy of synchrony and diachrony and statics versus dynam ics. It certainly
preva i l s i n the present revival of Saussurian semiotics i n F rance, particularly i n
t h e school o f Claude Levi-Strauss, who himse lf embraces Saussurian synchrony
w i thout reservations. A l so, in the Un ited States, Saussure ' s synchronic approach
1 7. Course, p. 8 1 .
1 8. Readings in Russian Poetics, p.80.
1 9. Casopis pro modern! filologii, XIV (Prague, 1 92 8 ) ; cf. "The concept of the sound
and the teleological criterion," Selected Writings, 1 , p. 1 -2 .
2 0. " Retrospect," Selected Writings, I I , p. 7 2 1 , The H ague, 1 9 7 1 .



Prolegomena to Semiotics

1 67

sti l l dominates l inguistic structuralism whether post-BJoomfieldia n or neo-Saus

surian. On the other hand, the rejection of Saussure ' s dual ism by representatives
of the Russian school of formalism was fu l ly adopted by the Prague school of
structuralism and became a characteristic trait of their sem i otic studies. T h e re
jection of Saussure's d ualism a l so became typical for Voloi nov 's philosophy of
language and for Baxtin's Leningrad school in genera l .
Wh ile Saussure suggests that t h e synchronic system ex ists in t h e collective
mind of speakers, for Voloinov a synchronic system is not a real entity at all.
" F rom an objective point of view," he asserts, "no such system exists at a n y real
instant of h istorical t ime. " A synchronic system is in his opinion nothing m ore
than a descript ive construct of an analyst wh ich is handy for the bookkee p i ng of
his observations:
"That system is merely an abstraction arrived at with a good deal of trouble and w ith
a definite cognitive and practical focus of attention; the system of language is the pro
duct of deliberation on language, and deliberation by no means of the k ind carried
out by the consciousness of the native speaker and hy no means of the kind carried
out for the i m mediate purpose of speak ing."

The static nature of Saussure's synchronic model and i ts artificial separation

from the ceaslessly changing cont i n u u m of the creative flow of language was
correctly interpreted by Voloinov as the revival of the Cartesian spirit in the
area of l i nguistic i nvestigation. As a d ialectician, he objected to the segregating
ten dency of Cartesian d ualism and tried to see evolutionary forces and systema
tization as a continuous i nteraction wh ich is i nd ivisible, albeit antithetic. A t the
same time, however, Voloinov was fu lly aware of the impact of Saussure's
Cartesian ism on h i s contemporaries. "Saussure's views on h i story," he read ily
admits, "are extremely characteristic for the spirit of rationalism that co ntinues
to hold sway in the p h ilosophy of language a nd that regards history as an irra
tional force d istorting the logical purity of the language system."
2. The static nature of an abstract system of norms, featured i n the formal
ism of Cartesian l i ngu istics, fou n d a persuasive critic i n Wilhelm von H u m boldt,
for whom language was a continuou s, incessantly changing generative process.
While the tradition of Cartesian l i nguistics tended to consider every language as
a c losed, stable system of ru les, as a ready-made normative i n strument inherited
from preceding generations, H um boldt saw it as a natural creative activity of
mankind. Although various aspects of H umboldt's observations about lan
guage are not fu lly d iscernible i n the twi light of his grandiose generalizations,
nevertheless he was often regarded as a coryphaeus of the Romantic reaction
against the era of rationalism, which dominated 1 7th- and 1 8thcentury l ingu is
tics.21 I n Russia, the tradition of H umboldtian l ingu i stics was commonly v i ewed
2 1 . A diametrically opposite i n terpretation of von Hum boldt appears in Noam Chomsky's
H arper and Row, N ew York, 1 966. S ee, for example, p. 1 9: "The
Cartesian emphasis on the creative aspect of language use, as the essential and defi n i n g char
Cartesian Linguistics.

1 68

Ladislav Matejka

as an o p position to the tradition of Cartesian l i nguistics. Characteristica l ly, the

most outspoken fol l ower of t h e H umboldtian trend i n the h i story of Russian l in
gu istics was the syntactician A lexander Potebnja, the leadi ng theorist of the R u s
sian symbolic movement a n d the principal target of the generation inspired by
Ferdinand de Sau ssure. I n the 1 920s, the tradition of H umboldtian l i nguistics
was viewed i n d irect con trast to the modern trends i n l ingui stics a s pointed out
by the M oscow l i ngu ist, R . 5or, who i n 1 927 i n "Crisis in contemporary linguis
tics" arrived at the following conclusio n :
"language i s not an artifact (ergon ) b u t a natural a n d congenital activity of mankind"
so claimed the romanticist linguistics of the 1 9th century. Theoretical linguistics of
modern times claims otherwise: " language is not individual activity (ehergeia) but a
cultural-historica l legacy of mankind (ergon ) ."22
Thus the H u mboldtian emphasis o n the creative aspect of h u ma n l anguage was
identified as a typical expression of romanticism in d irect opposition to modern
lingu i stics. For Volosinov, l ikewise, von H umboldt was an antithesis to Descartes
and, in effect, the most promi nent antipode of abstract o bj ectivism in E uropean
p h ilosophy of language. In d i st inction from R. S or, however, Volosinov did not
consider the H umboldtian focus on the creative aspect of h u ma n language as
som et h i ng i rrel evant to l ingui stic investigation; o n the contrary, he conceived i t
as o n e o f t h e m ost important concepts o f h is o w n phi losophy of language.
I n contradistinction to the tradition of the Cartesian l ingu istics, the H u mbold
tian l i ngu istics encompasses, according to Volosino v, the need for the true ex
planation of l ingu istic phenomena, while descriptive and classifying p rocedure s
are viewed as prel i m i nary a t best. T h e H u mboldtian emphasis o n t h e creative
aspect as the fundamental characteristic of human language is, as Vol osinov sees
it, in d irect contradiction to i n terest in the i nner logic of the system of sign it
self, taken as in algebra without adequate relation to the actual real ity or to the
participants of the communication. The systematic presentation of t h e grammar,
lex icon, and phonetics is for Volosinov nothi ng more than deliberation on lan
guage and speculative exercises i n logic, segmentation, classification, abstracting,
and algebraization.
Thus, the primary target of l ingu istic i nvestigation should be exactl y that
wh ich reveals the creative aspect of h u man language; a n d such a task, in Volo
si nov's view, can not be fulfi l led without adeq uate stu d y of utterances, that is to
22. R. or, " Krizis sovremennoj l ingvistik i," jafeticeskij sbornik, V ( 1 927} p. 71 (as
quoted by V. N. Volosinov) .
acteristic of h uman language, finds its most forcefu l expression in H umboldt's attempt to
develop a comprehensive theory of general lingu istics." A lso see Chomsky's note 36 (p. 8 6 ) :
"Considered against t h e background that we are surveying here, it [ H umboldt's treatise]
seems to mark the terminal point of the development of Cartesian lingu istics rather than the
beginn ing of a new era of l inguistic thought."

Appendix 7

Prolegomena to Semiotics

1 69

say, w ithout accounting for the creative aspect of h uman language i n its social
function. A s Vo loino v says,
The task of identifying the real object of study in the philosophy of language is by no
means an easy one; with each attempt to deli m it the object of investigation, to redu ce
it to a com pact subject-matter complex of definitive and i nspectable dimensions, we
forfeit the very essence of the thing w e are studying-its semiotic and ideological na
The semiotic nature of human com m u nication cannot be grasped, as Voloi nov
sees i t, if the n ovelty of the speech act and its relevance are d isregarded as su per
ficial phenomena, as " merely fortuitous refraction and variations or p lain and
simple distortions of normatively identical forms." ln Cartesian l ingu istics and
in the sch oo l of abstract objectivism i n general, according to Voloinov, the
factor of stable self-identity in l ingu istic forms takes precedence over theirmuta
b i l ity, the abstract over the co ncrete, systematicity over historicity, the forms
of iso lated components over the property of the entire structure. I n Voloi nov's
view, Cartesian l i ngu istics and its continuation in abstract objectivism rejected
the speech act and the resu lting utterance as something individual because the
abstract system of rules and n orms was promoted to the exc l usive object of lin
guistic investigation.
O n the other hand, H umboldtian l i nguistics and its contin uation in ideal istic
subjectivism rejected the static, normative system of rules as artificial delibera
tion on language and promoted the creative novelty, the styl i stic variabi l ity of
the speech act, to the primary focus of attention. A lthough Voloi nov agrees
with the fol lowers of the H umboldtian trend that the study of utterance de
serves the fu l l attention of l inguistic investigation, he disagrees with the em
phasis on the i ndividual character of the utterance a nd with the attempts to ex
plain the creative aspect of h u man l anguage in terms of the i ndividual psych i c
life o f t h e speaker. And precisely for that reason, he rejects certai n fo l lowers of
the H u mboldtian trad ition, parti cu larly the Vossler schoo l :
I n point o f fact, the speech act, o r more accurately, its product-the utterance, cannot
under any circumstances be considered an individual phenomenon in the precise mean
ing of the word, and cannot be explained in terms of the ind ividual psychological or
psychoph'y siological conditions of the speaker.
Thus neither Cartesian l i ngu istics nor H umboldtian l i ngu istics and their fol
l owers are fu l ly embraced by Voloinov. In h i s attempt to operate as a dialec
tician, he sees individualistic subjectivism and abstract objectivism as thesis and
antithesis and proposes a dialectical synthesis beyond these opposing tren d s, a
synthesis that wou ld constitute a negation of both thesis and antithesis a l i ke.
The true center of l ingu istic reality for Voloinov is the meaningfu l speech act,
viewed as a social structure in a l l its aspects vital for semiotic operation.

1 70

Ladislav Matejka

Dialogue i n a broader sense is for Volo"Sinov an exemplary case of verbal in

teraction display ing, a s it does, the most essential features of semiotic o peration:
not only the speech event w ith its p hysica l and semantic aspects i n relation to
another speech event but a l so the oppo s ition of the participants of the speech
event and the conditions of their verbal contact in a given context.
3 . A l though Volo"Sin o v had many harsh comments to make a bout the Voss
l er school , he certainly s hared with the Vosslerites some of their basic v iews,
including the notion of i mportance of dialogue as an approach to a more correct
u nderstanding of verbal interaction. He particularly singled out Leo S pitzer's
book on the I tal ian conversational language, appreciating its emphasis on the
role of speaker a n d l i stener in actual conversation.23 A l so M ixail M. Baxtin,
w hose inte l l ectual bond with Voloinov i n the !ate 1 920s was strikingly c lose,
highly prized S pitzer' s observations on the essential role of the participants of
the speech even t in the structure of the utterance. I n h i s study of d iscourse
typology, Baxt i n quotes Spitzer:
When we reprodu ce in our own speech a portion of w hat our conversational p artner
said, a change of tone inevitably occurs if for no other reason than that the addressers
have been shifted around: the words of the "other" in our mouths always sound l i ke
something foreign, very often with a mocking, exaggerated , and d erisive intonation . . .
I n this connection I should like to make a special point of the funny or shar p l y ironic
repetition of the verb of our p artner's question in our subsequent reply. In such a sit
uation it may be seen that we often resort, not only to grammaticall y incorrect, but
even to very daring, sometimes completely impossible constructions for the sole pur
pose of somehow repeating a part of our partner's speech and giving it an ironic
The framework of dia logue naturally brought forward the crucial role of i n
tonation for semantics a n d t h e i nadequacy o f grammatica l analysis confined w ith
in the boundaries of a single, comp lete and so-cal led wel l-formed sente n ce. The
focus on the binary character of a verbal exchange i m p l ied an u rgent need for
taking i nto accou n t syntactic u n its that were either more comprehensive or less
comprehensiv e than a single complete sentence. The prob lem of correctness and
incorrectness of sentence formation was shown in a new l ight. The inco m plete
ness of sentences, the dependence on the antecedent, and the concept of utter
ance as a whole appeared as stimulating chal lenges for syntactic inquiry. At the
same time, it became apparent that morphologized syntax was a poor tool for
handling an utterance as a whole, the syntactic i nterdependence of utterance
structure and, i n genera l , the multifarious manifestations of verbal interaction.
In R u ssian l inguistic scholarsh ip, the theoretical importance of the d ia logue
framework was outlined i n modern term s as earl y a s 1 91 5 by Baudouin d e
2 3. ,Leo S pitzer, /talienische Umgangssprache ( L eipzig, 1 922).
2 4. M. M. Baxtin, " D iscourse Typology in P rose," Readings i n Russian Poetics, edited by
L. M atejka and K. Pomorska, p p. 1 86-1 8 7 . M IT Press, Cambridge, 1 97 1 .

A ppendix 7

Prolegomena to Semiotics


Courtenay's student, Lev Scerba, i n h is study o n East-Lusatian d ia lects. Develop

ing Scerba's observations about the natura l ness of d ialogue and the artificiality
of monologue, Lev J akubinskij, a prominent theoretician of the R ussian school
of Formalism, devoted a com p rehensive study to the problem of d ialogue which
was published in S erba's Russkaja rec' [ Russian Language] in 1 923.
I n j akubinskij's view, d ialogue provides a natural framework for l i nguistic
inquiry i n to verbal interaction, which is for him one of the most fundamenta l
lingu istic concepts. T h e study o f dialogue implies the necessity o f considering
verbal communication i n i ts social setting. The relationsh i p of the opposing part
ners in the verbal interchange is shown by J akubinskij as a basis for an adeq uate
i nterpretation of utterances in semantic terms as well as for the study of i ncom
p lete sentences and their dependence on various types of antecedents. J akubin
skij's observations about " speech by h i nts" d ramatically revealed the i nsufficien
cies of syntactic procedures original ly developed o n l y for the analysis of isolated,
monological sentences. Phonological and morphological criteria, however sophis
ticated, proved to be i nadequate points of departure for analysis of the semantic
consequences of verbal i n teraction displayed in a dialogue.
I nquiry into verbal interaction sh ifted focus of attention to the crucial im
portance of intonation or, as J akubinskij puts it, to "the communicative role
p layed by the relationship of the dynamic, i n tonational, and timbre systems i n
t h e perception of speech." To i llustrate the meaningful function of i ntonation,
j ak ubinskij quotes the famous passage from Dostoevskij's Diary ofa Writer about
the "u nprintable noun" of the drunkards who suddenly made the writer real ize "that all thoughts, a! I feel ings, and even whole trains of reaso ni ng" can be
expressed by means of i ntonational variants i n pronouncing a single obscenity.
S ubsequently, the same passage from Dostoevskij was quoted by Voloinov i n
his d iscussion of t h e i nterrelationsh i p between i ntonation a n d meaning; curiously
enough, it was also used in Lev Vygotskij's Mys!enie i ret ' [ Thought and lan
guage ] ( 1 934) , a suggestive R ussian contribution to psychology that i n many
respects brings tq mind not only J akubinskij 's study of d ia l ogue but also Volo
i nov's philosophy of language. I n general, it appears that the formal ist, Lev
J akubi nskij, more than any other investigators of d ialogue and the speech act,
exercised an important impact on the Russian i ntel lectual elite in the 1 920s and
earl y 1 930s, shortly before the Marxist mechanists and reflexologists began to
d o m i nate i ntel lectual l ife in the Soviet U nion.
The study of dialogue not only provided a new a pproach to the structural
characteristics of an u tterance but, for both Voloinov and Vygotskij , became
a b asis from which to venture i nto the mysteries of i n ner speech and its relation
shi p to human thoughts. "On l y by ascertaining the forms of whol e utterances
and, especially, the forms of dialogue speech," Volosinov argues, "can l ight be
shed on the forms of i nner speech and on the pecu l iar logic of their concatena
tion in the stream of i n ner speech." Lev Vygotskij's o bservations d isplay the
same d isposition of mind:

1 72

Ladis/av Matejka

O u r experiments convinced us that inner speech must be regarded, not as speech m inus
sound, but as an entirely separate speech function: I ts main d istinguishing trait is its
pecul iar syntax. Compared with external speech, inner speech appears d iscon nected
and incomplete.25
Voloi no v came to the . conclusion that i nner speech was profound l y d ifferent
from its i m plementation i n utteran ces. " I t i s clear from the outset," h e claims,
"that without exception a l l categories wor ked out by l ingui stics for the analysis
of the forms of external language-speech (the lexico logica l , the grammatica l , the
phonetic) are inapplicable to the analysis of i nner speech, or if applicab le, are
applicable only in thoro ughly and radica l l y revised versions. " A nd Vygotsk ij i n
obvious agreement with Voloinov says:

A l l our observations indicate that inner speech is an autonomous speech function. We

can confidently regard i t as a d istinct plane of verbal thought. I t is evident that the
transition from inner to external speech is not a simple translation from one language
into another. It cannot be achieved by m erely voca l izing silent speech. I t is a complex,
dynamic process involving the transformation of the p redicative, idiomatic structure
of inner speech into syntactically articulated speech intelligible to others!6

Utterance and d ialogue also played a fundamental rol e in the sem iotic anal
yses of M. M. Baxtin, who obviously held many views on verbal comm u nication
i n common w i th V. N . Voloinov and was capable of e laborati n g some of them
w i th admi rable lucidity. In his b ook o n the verbal .art of Dostoevskij (Problemy
t vortestva Dostoevskogo, Leningrad, 1 929), Baxtin demo n strated that the vari
ous types of relationship of one speech act with another were of p ivotal i m por
tance for the u nderstand ing of verbal art-prose fiction i n particu lar. I n the i n
troduction to the theoretical part of his book, Baxtin writes:
A set of certai n verbal d evices used i.n l iterary art has recently attracted the special at
tention of investigators. This set comprises sty l ization, parody, skaz (in its strict sense,
the oral narration of a n arrator) , and d ialogue. D espite the fundamental d ifferences
among them, all these devices have one feature in common: in all of them d iscourse
maintains a double focus, aimed at the referential object of speech, as in ordinary d is
course, and simultaneously at a second context of d iscourse, a second speech act by
another addresser. I f we remain ignorant of this second context, if we accept styliza
tion or parody as we accept ordinary speech with its single focus on its referential ob
j ect, then we shall fail to grasp these devices for what they really are: we shalt take
stylization for straight style and read parody as poor w riting.27
The role of dialogue, of verbal interaction, and of doubly oriented d i scourse
continued to be a productive standpoint for Baxtin after several decades of bru
tally enforced si lence. I n his b ook, Tvorcestvo 1 Fransua. Roble, [ Rabe/ais and his
25 . Lev Semenovich Vygotskij, Thought and L anguage, translated by
G. Vakar, p. 1 38. M IT P ress, Cambridge, 1 962.
26. Ibid., p. 1 48.
27. R eadings in Russian Poetics, p. 1 76.


Hanfmann and


Prolegomena to Semiotics

1 73

world] 28 published first in 1 965, Baxtin employed the ana lytic framework of
dialogue and verba l interaction to i l l u m inate Rabelais' inge n ious creativity, sti l l
convinced, as he h a d a lways been, that t h e analysis of verbal art offered t h e best
opportun ity for i l l u strating the creative aspect of language usage and, impl icitly,
the most fundamental characteristics of verbal sem iotic.
4. A l th ough Voloinov i n his book, Marxism and the Philosophy of Language,
used lengthy references to N . J a. M arr's thoughts about language a n d anthro
pology, he was in a pparent disagreement w ith the Marristic d ogma a bout the
class character of l anguage and about the causal relationship between language
and class struggle. I n h i s book, Voloinov argues that "cl ass does n ot coi ncide
with sign community " that "various d ifferent classes will use one and the same
language" and that "the word is neutral with respect to a specific ideological func
tion . " I n contradistinction, N . ) a. M arr, i n h i s d i scussion of Marxi sm and j aphetic
theory i n 1 930, apodictica l ly repeats that h u man language has been a class lan
guage from its very origin and that there is no human language which is classless.
And, as a matter of fact, one cou l d speculate that the discrepancy between Marr's
Marxism and Volo'Si nov's Marxism m ight h ave b een one of the reasons for
Volosinov's downfa l l .
T h e mechanists, reflexologists, a n d Marrists, who i n the 1 930s gained a bsol ute
control over al l aspects or humanistic studies in the Soviet U n ion, were hardly
flattered by Volosi nov 's assertion that l i nguistics remained "at a stage of pre
d ia l ectical , mechanistic material ism, one expression of which is the continued
hegemony of mechanistic causal i ty in all domains of ideological stud ies." The
powerful guardians of official M arxi sm were obviously not ready to accept with
equanim ity Vol oinov's d ictum , "The range of appl ication for the categories of
mechanical causal ity is extremely narrow, and even within the natural sciences
themselves it grows constantly narrower, the further and more deeply d ialectics
takes hold i n the basic princi p les of these sciences. " I t is apparent that Volosinov
was u nable to persuade his powerful opponents about the true Marx ist nature of
his dialectical synthesis which, like a rainbow, arched over the polar opposition
of Cartesian and H u mboldtian l i nguistics. H is comb i nation of the b inary concept
of sign with the i n cessant, immanent flow of the generative process of language
became a suspicious concept i n principle. Volosi nov 's special emphasis o n the
social character of sign, on the socia l character of l anguage, on the social char
acter of the individual consciousness, and on the social character of i nner speech
and h u man thi nking in general were a l l to no avail. I n the 1 930s in the Soviet
U n ion, the binary nature of the sign and the incessant generative process of lan
guage creativity became subjects too dangerous to tackle if one wan ted to sur
vive. A lthough the details are o bscure and w i l l probably remain obscure forever,
it is c lear that Volosinov did not survive. He d i sappeared in the 1 930s and,
28. M i k ha i l B ax t i n , Rabelais and His World, tra n s l a t e d b y H. l sw o lsky. M I T Press,
Camb ridge,

1 968.

1 74

Ladislav Matejka

together w ith him, h i s Marxism and the Philosophy of Lqnguage1 as wel l as h is

Freudianism1 were doomed to sink into o b l ivion. The prolegomena to semiotics
became a prolegomenon to an intel lectual tragedy. For decades, the concept of
the sign was taboo. I n the 1 950s1 when it became a p parent that the tech nologica l
advances of data processing devices were i ntrinsica l l y related t o the ach ieveme nts
of modern semiotics l inguistics, logic, and applied algebra, the conservative guard
ians of M arxist "Truth" loosened their gri p to a llow the Soviet Union to catch
up w i th the West in the application of sophisticated data processing to i ndus
trial ization, to the exploration of t h e u n iverse, and , of course, to modern war
fare. Sti l l, in 1 959, in a programmatic article publ ished by several authors in the
lzvestija Akademii Nauk U.S.S.R., the official p u b lication of the Soviet Academy
of Sciences, the l i nguist V. V. Vinogradov openly stated that scientists contin u ed
to be a pprehensive of semiotics?9 As a matter of fact, V . V . V inogradov was the
first (or perhaps one of the first) w h o subsequently dared to give any credit to
Y. N . Vo.loinov. Until n ow, references to Voloinov's contribution h ave been
rare. Even authors who approached the problems of semiotics as, for example,
did A. G . Vol kov i n his Language as a System of Signs (jazyk kak sistema znakov) ,
published by the Moscow U niversity Press i n 1 966, d i d n ot have the courage to
mention Voloinov's name. This is a l so general l y tru e about the majority of re
cent stud ies on semiotic in Voprosy Filosofii [ Problems of Philoso p h y ] , an
official j ournal of the Soviet Academy of Sciences. A l so, the First International
Conference on Sign and the System of Language, w h ich took place i n Germany in
1 959, fu l l y avoided mentioning Voloinov's name, although many R u ssian schol
ars and many Marxist and non-Marxist sem ioticians took part i n the d i scussions.
Voloinov's name was even avoided in V. Zvegincev's paper, "Man and S ign"
( Ce!ovek i znak ) , published in 1 967 in the " Festschrift," To Honor Roman
jakobson (The H ague : Mouto n ) , although V. Zvegincev, a well-infor m ed editor
of Soviet Russian surveys of modern l ingu istics, m u st have b een aware of the
honorable credit Roman J akobsen had given to Voloinov's contribution to
semiotics. Thusthe daring, penetrating views of Valentin Voloinov have been
only sem i resurrected, and h i s Marxism and the Philosophy of Language continues
to be a controversial b oo k-wh ich, i ndeed, it is. I t is a controversial book but, at
the same time, it i s a book of bri l l iant observations about the para m o u nt impor
tance of sign for human comm u nity, for h uman consciousness, and for that
which makes people h u man; it is a boo k about the miracle of language w hich,
being a generative process, "can only be grasped with aid of another generative

29. See R . A . Budagov, V. V. V inogradov, B . V. Gornung, M . M . D esnick aja, and B. A .

Serebrenikov, "Teoreticeskie voprosy j azykoznanij a," lzvestija A . N., XV I I , (1 9 5 9 ) , p . 2 1 6.



The Formal Method and the Sociological Method

(M.M. Baxtin, P.N. Medvedev, V.N. Volosinov)
in Russian Theory and Study of Literature
I. R. Titunik

During the 1 920s, especially the latter half of the decade, massive attention
i n the world of Russian l i terary studies was focused on the work of the so-cal led
formal method or formalist school. The contingent of bri l l iant young scholars of
language and l i terature who came to be know n as the formalists had begun
operating about 1 9 1 6, as Opojaz, 1 their primary u nifying concern having been
the establishment of an autonomous science of l i terature based on "concrete
poetics," that is, o n the specific, intrinsic characteristics of verbal art . U n ques
tionably, formalism was the most scientifically advanced, the most dynamic and
i nfluential movement in Russian l iterary thought of the time. N eutrality toward
the challenge of the new school was a practical impossibil ity.
The situation that supervened around 1 925 was, however, far from a simple
marshaling of pro and con forces. The formal ists had by t hat time attracted to
their work h osts of d isciples, partisans, and fel low travelers of various k i nds and
degrees. But among the new adherents were many "epigones" and "ecclectics"
w hose schol arship betrayed misconception of what the m ovement's scientific
orientation was, and who created spurious brands of forma l i sm from wh ich the
Opojazists, though repeated l y a n d outspokenly critical, found it d ifficult to dis
associate themselves. 2
1 . Opojaz is the acronym for Obscestvo izucenija poeticeskogo jazyka [ Society for the
Study of Poetic Language ] . It was one of the two groups comprising the formalist move
ment; the other group, the Moscow L i nguistic Circle, ceased functioning as such in the early
1 920s. A d etailed account of the " history and doctrine" of Russian formalism, plus b ibliog
raphy, is given in V. E rlich, Russian Formalism (The Hague, 1 95 5 ) . The anthology, Readings
in Russian Poetics (Formalist and Structuralist Views) [hereafter R eadings ] , edited by L.
M atejka and K. Pomorska. M IT Press, Cam bridge, Massachusetts, 1 97 1 , presents E nglish
translations of many of the most i mportant stu d ies in l iterary theory and analysis.
The book also includes essays on R ussian formal ism by the editors.
2. See B. E jxenbaum, "The Theory of the Formal Method" in R eadings, pp. 5 and 1 8.
1 75

I. R. Titunik

1 76

O n the other side were the movement's nu merous opponents, no l e ss m ixed

in character. Some opponents were uncomprom ising foes, out to discred it and
demolish formalism at a l l costs, who d i d n ot hesitate to feature in their argu
ments against it the "formalism" espoused by the movement's m isgu ided n ew
enthusiasts. At the same time, there were many other critics of formalism who,
w h i l e disagreeing on major principles, evinced admiratio n for certain aspects of
the formalists' work and even a will ingness to come to terms with them. I n both
these variants of o pponent, Marxists of various stamps and standings were rep
As the decade of the 1 920s ended and that of the 1 930s began, t h e formal ist
movement and the controversy in which it was embroiled came more and more
u nder the effect of changes occurring in the pol itical and governmental l ife of
the Soviet Union. The i n terests of argu ment, of free-wheeling debate and polem
ics, were being gradually supplanted by the demand s of dogma. I n creasingly,
formalism was put i n the position of a " heresy," but the more sinister results of
thi s tren d were to become real ities of Soviet l ife only somewhat later. I n the
interim, though loyalty to the stand taken by dogma was a prereq uisite, it was
sti l l possi ble to contend wi th formal ism in rational terms. During this period
the late 1 920s and early '30s-a certain group of young, self-avowed M arxists
(whose M arxism, h owever, was to prove other than the regulation kind, and who
were to suffer dire consequences despite, or more l i ke l y on account of, their
M arxism) were carry i ng out i nvestigations in the theory of l anguage and l itera
ture or, more broadly and accurately, in the fie l d of sem iology with particu lar
em phasis on langu age and l iterature. The principal of this group was, apparently,
M. M. Baxti n; the membership included P. N . Medvedev and V. N. Volosinov. 3
W hat exactly the relationsh i p of the Baxtin group with the formal ists was is
a q uestion that al lows of no easy answer, and perhaps can never be a n swered in
ful l as regards the actual, h i storical situation. True, all three of the scholars
named d id, to one degree or a nother, articulate antiforma l ist positions, and did

I t w a s not u n t i l f a i r l y rec e n t l y that t h e very existe n c e o f t h i s group b e ca m e matter

o f p u b l ished i nfo r m at i o n . B r ief m e n t io n s of a B ax t i n " gr o u p , " " c ircle," " s c h oo l " a p peared
i n two books on p s y c ho l i ng u i st i cs by
p p . 8 6 -8 8 ; a n d jazyk,

A. A.

L e o n t'ev

rec', recevaja dejatel'nost',


L e n i ngra d , 1 9 6 7 ,

M oscow, 1 9 6 9 , p . 7 9 ) . C u r i o u s l y e n o u g h ,

a l l q u otations represe n t i n g the B ax t i n p o i n t o f v i ew i n L e o n t ' e v ' s books are fro m V o l osi n o v ' s

Marksizm i filosofija jazyka.

T he f u l lest acco u n t of t h e Baxtin g r o u p to date is t h e report o f

a m e e t i n g h e l d at M o scow U n iversity i n h o n o r o f M . M . B a x t i n ' s 7 5 th b i rt h d a y , p u b l ished


Voprosy jazy!wznanija,

2 , 1 9 7 1 , p p. 1 60 - 1 6 2 . The report s u m marizes t h e c o n t e n t s of

fou r speeches given a t t h at meet i n g. I nc l ud e d in t h e r e m a r k s o f t h e sec o n d spea k e r was t h e

fol l o w i n g i de n tification of t h e B a x t i n grou p : " M .

M . B ax ti n 's i m med iate entou rage consisted

of such people as his s tu d e n t, fo l lo w er, and c o l l a b orator, V .

ars P.

N . M e dvedev a n d


V o l os i n ov , the l i terary sch o l

L. V. P u m pj a nskij , the i n d o l ogist M . I . T u bj a nsk ij , the b io l ogist

1 . 1.

K a n aev, t h e w riter K . V ag i n ov , t h e m u s i c o logist I . I . S o l ler t i n sk ij ." T he r e l a t i o n o f B a x t i n

to t h e


i s a l s o b r iefly d iscussed there.

A ppendix 2

Formal and Socio!og!ca! Methods

1 77

so purportedl y as Marxist opponents of formalism for whom no compromise was

possible. At the same time, com pletely defensible claims to a nother effect can
be made: that the Baxtin group and the formal ists shared a number of crucial
concerns in common; that formalist theories had nurtured and stim ulated the
thinking of the Baxtin group-and not only by way of reaction; that in certain
respects, specifically and concretely w ithin the domain of poetics, the Baxtin
group was operati ng with concepts very close to ones that were stil l being for
m u lated, qual ified, and further developed by the formal method as it continued
to evolve; final l y, that the two l i nes were bound to converge, and d i d in fact con
verge, but only elsewhere and u nder different auspices-in the structuralism of
the Prague School and e specia l l y in the work of j an M ukarovsk y.
However, the conclusion that the B axtin group were really formal i sts or neo
formalists operating u nd er cover of Marxism and antiformal ism for the sak e of
professional survival would not only be an exaggeration and distortion of t h e
facts, b u t woul d also obscure t h e real main issue. Clearly, what the Baxtin group
wanted was a fresh start on new pre m i ses-the premise s of a Marx ist semiology
or, as they termed i t, a Marxist study of ideologies (nauka ob ideo!ogijax). I n
their view, only on the basis of such a study and with in its overal l context could
a proper theory and study of l iterature be constructed. In contradistinction to
the formal method, they declared theirs to be the sociological method. Ack nowl
edgment of overlapping and paral lel ism between the two methods was neither
circumstantial l y expedient nor real l y to the point. The point was contradiction:
contradiction i n basic outlook and orientation with a l l the consequences that
i ssued therefrom. Thus the util ity and necessity of contending with formal ism
arose, not as a matter of demolishing formalism, but of using it to set perspec
tives in which the "right" prem i ses would be shown in concrete contradiction
w ith the "wrong" ones.
This task-specifica l l y, the adumbration of a Marx ist theory and study of
l iterature via critical analysis of formalism-was carried out by P. N. Medvedev.
I n 1 928 he produced a study u nder the title Formal'nyj metod v literaturovedenli
(The formal method in l i terary scholarsh ip ] , symptomatically subtitled Kriti
ceskoe vvedenie v socio!ogiceskuju poetiku [A critical introduction to socio l og
ical poetics ] .4 The b ook was issued by the I nstitute for Comparative History of
Occidental and Oriental Languages a n d Literatures in its series, "Problems of
4. A pparently this study did not sit too well with the authorities. A second version was
published in 1 93 4 under the new title, Forma/izm i formalisty [Formalism and the formal
ists ] . It is essentially the same study, but sandwiched in between virulently worded, o utright
condemnations of formalism. It did not, however, save Medvedev from being, as the Krat
koja literaturnaja encik/opedija [Concise L i terary E ncyclopedia] (Vol. 4, M oscow, 1 9 67,
p. 723) p uts it, " i llegally repressed" soon thereafter. In the present essay, all q uotations are
from the 1 928 version. For the sake of convenience, page numbers referring to that ed ition
a ppear in brackets after quotations.

1 78

I. R. Titunik

M ethodology and Theory of Language and L iterature," the very same series in .
w hich, the next year, V. N . Volosinov's Marxism and the Philosophy of Language
appeared. The two book s significantly complement each other, share complete
i dentity of assum ptions and outlook, concepts and term inology, and even closely
coincide i n the very wordi, ng of the argument in a n u m ber of passages. T h e na
ture and scope of conce r n with formalism was, of course, qu ite different. For
Volosinov, criticism of the epistem logical and methodological bases of formal
ism in'general, w hat h e termed "abstract objectivism," comprised one part of a
twofold critical analysis out of which a new Marxist conception of language as
the medium of ideological creativity par exce llence was supposed to take shape.
In Medvedev's case, the R u ssian formal method was the primary material whose
treatment was meant to serve the purpose of del i neating, by contrastive analysis,
a Marx ist sociological poetics, conceived, in ful l accord with Volosinov, as one of
the branches of that vast, overa l l "study of i deologies. . .w hich encompasses, on
the basis of u n i tary princi p l e in conception of object of study and u n itary meth
o d of study, all the domains of mankind's ideological creativity [p. 1 1 ] . "
The key problem, both i n the general study of i deologies and i n t h e particu lar
study of l iterature, was what Medvedev called the "problem of specification."
As he saw it, the very bases for the study of ideologies and all i ts branches were
a lready firmly gro u nded i n the u nitary, monistic phil osophy of Marx i sm , w h ic h
endowed all domains o f ideology definitive mean ing, function, a n d relationship
i n h uman society and h i story and, h ence, constituted no problem. The problem
lay instead in the specific properties of each of the domains, i n the e l ucidation
of that w hich d i stinguished one from the others. The u rgency of this pro b lem
was attested to by the fact that between hol istic (Marxist) theory and concrete
a nalysis a perilous d isju ncture had occurred and, as a resu lt, any o bject under
i nvestigation inevitabl y either was divested of its specificity or had its specificity
i solated from a l l social connections and treated as a value on its own. A way o ut
of this d ilemma was precisely what Medvedev sought:
W hat is lacking is a properly worked out sociological stud y of the specific prop erties
of the material, forms and goals belonging to each of the domains of ideological ere
Each of them, after all, commands its own "language," with its own forms and opera
tions, and its own specific laws for the refraction of the u n itary reality of existence.
T he specificity of art, science, ethics, and religion must not, of course, obscure their
ideological u nity as superstructures over the one, common basis, each of them i nfused
with u nitary socioeconomic coherency; but neither ought their specificity be effaced
for the sake of general formulations of that coherency [ pp. 1 1 -1 2 ] .
I n the fiel d of l i terary study, the problem of specification became the vital
point of contradiction between the formal and the sociological metho d s precisel y
because here d ifferent sets o f premises confronted one another i n pursuit o f t h e
sa m e aims. T he formalists, who, a s Medvedev w i l l i ngly declares, h a d "come for-

Appendix 2

Formal and Sociological Methods

1 79

ward preciely as specifiers" and had "succeeded i n imparting to the problem of

specification in l iterary science considerable acu ity and theoretica l beari ng
[p. 5 4) ," represented a challenge w h ich the Marxist sociological method could
not afford either to i gnore or dismiss. T he accomplish ments and/or pretensions
of the formal i sts in "specification" had created an arena for vital, produ ctive
contradiction over one and the same o bject, an arena which afforded the Marx
ists the proving grounds for their own conceptions:
M arxist study of l iterature makes contact with the formal method and comes into con
flict with it on the grounds of the paramount and most u rgent problem common to
both-the problem of specification. Therefore, criticism of formalism can and should
be " immanent" in the best sense of the word. Each of the forma lists' arguments should
be examined and d isproved on its own p roper grounds-the grounds of the d istinctive
characteristics of lite rary fact. The very obj ect of study itself-literature in all its
uniqueness-m ust abrogate and cast off the defin itions of the formalists as defin itions
inadequate to it and i ts uniqueness ( p . 55 ] .
Or, as Medvedev asseverates i n the final words of h is study (an extraordi nary
and courageous tribute under the circumstances) :
We believe that Marxist science ought to be gratefu l to the formalists, grateful because
the formalists' theory can stand it in good stead as an o bject for serious criticism in
the process of which the bases for Marxist literary scholarship can be elucidated and
should come out all the stronger.
Every young science-and Marxist literary scholarship is very young-must m uch more
highl y prize a good foe than a poor ally ( p . 2 32 ] .
What, i n the M edvedev-Vol osinov Marxist view, made literature amenable to
objective study, and what made that study necessari l y sociological was, of course,
literature's inalienabl e social quality. Social q uality was pred icated over the
whole of ideological creativity. A s Volosinov asserts, everything ideological is
semiotic, and every sign, as sign, is a social phenomenon. I t was precisely the
social quality of all ideological product s that other approaches and m ethod s
positivistic, formalist, subjective-psychological, ideal i stic-had failed, ind eed were
u nequi p ped, to appreciate, w ith the result that they i nevitably m i srepresented
and m i sconstrued the objects of their study.
At the same, however, the social nature of l iterature was open to m isinterpre
tation even from a sociological v iew. T hat is, l iterature could be seen merely in
terms of social content and relationship, as a direct reflectio n of social l ife or as
an agency for register i ng the effects of other i deological systems. S uch i nd eed
had been the point of view and practice of."social-minded" l iterary criticism
and scholarship in R u ssia from the m i d-1 9th century on. The consequences of
this b ra n d of " l iterary sociology" were a naive identification of l i terature w i th
"real l ife" and a comp lete loss of contact with the specific, d istinctive properties

1 80

I. R. Titunik

of l i terature itself. Even u nder Marxism this notion had survived in t h e doctr i ne
that l i terature d erives d irectly from the socioeconomic basis.5
L iterature, Medvedev argued, not only participates in the social process, it i s
i n and of itself a special social entity :
Literture enters into the m ilieu of ideological activity as one of its autonomous
branches, occupying a special place in it as a set of d istinctively organized verbal pro
d uctions with structure of a k ind specific and peculiar to such productions alone. T h is
structu re, as any other i deological structure, refracts the generative process of socio
economic existence, and does so in its own particular way . . . . I n its content, literature
reflects the ideological purview, i.e., other, nonartistic (ethical, cognitive, etc.) ideolog
ical formations. But in reflecting these other signs, literature itself creates new forms,
new signs of ideological communication; and these signs-works of literature-become
a functioning part of the ;;urrou.n ding social reality. At the same time as reflecting
something outside of themselves, works of literature constitute in and of themselves
phenomena of the ideological m i lieu w ith autonomous value and d istinctive character.
Their functionality d oes not amount merely to the auxilliary-technical role of reflect
ing other ideologies. They have an autonomous ideological role and a type of refrac
tion of socioeconomic existence entirely their own ( pp. 27-29] .
E ssentially, w hat Medvedev propou nds is a n e laborate and dynamic " system
of systems" (to borrow a term from a context that w i l l be brought i n to the dis
cussion l ater on) wherein each ideological domain i s a n autonomous system of
a specific kind in a com p l ex (mediated) interrelationship a n d interaction with
a l l other systems and i n a n equal l y com plex, u ltimate dependence on the one
common " socioeconomic basis." Literature is to be regarded as j u st such a mem
ber-system. It is com posed of works of literature-ideol ogical productions with
a structure pecu l iar and distinctive to themselves-operating with i n the i mme
d iate m i l ieu of l i terary culture at some particular stage in the develop ment
(generative process) of some particular l i terature, the m i l ieu of which is only one
of a whole atmosph ere of m i l ieus, so to speak, governed by the u nitary socio
economic basis, l i kewise in process of generation, w hich " kn ows how to speak
the language of literature j ust as it k nows how to speak a l l other i deological lan
guages [ p. 43 ] ." Thus this "system of systems" is permeated through and through
with social qual ity, and a l l of it, from the smal l est techn ical details to the most
elaborate nexus of interrelationships, fal l s under the com petence of sociological
What is needed for the con struction of a proper science of literatu re is, accord
ing to M edvedev, a sociological poetics w hose. concern w i l l be precisely to con
tend with the prob lem of specification in literature, to find the solution to such
questions as:
What is a l iterary work, and what is its structure? W hat are the elements of t hat struc
ture, and w hat are the artistic functions of those elements? W hat is genre, style, plot,

See Volosinov's criticism of this doctrine, p. 1 8 of this book.

Appendix 2

Formal and Sociological Methods


theme, motif, hero, meter, rhythm, m elodies, etc.? How i s the ideological p urview
reflected in the content of a work, and what functions does that reflection have in the
whole of the work's artistic structure [ p. 45 ] ?
And coupled with sociological poetics, indeed, in n ecessary rel iance o n and
d ialectical relationshi p with it, is a sociological history qf literature that stud ies:
the concrete l ife of a work of art in the unity of the developing l i terary milieu; the
literary milieu within the process of generation of the ideological milieu with which it
is encompassed; and, finally, the ideological milieu in the process of generation of the
socioeconomic milieu with which it is permeated [ p. 42 ] .
S u ch is the general scheme for th e construction of a theo ry and study of
literature presented by Medvedev.
Natura l l y, the contradictio n between the formalist and sociological points of
view had to be expressed in categori cal terms. There was no room for com pro
mise in M edvedev's argument. The formalists' premiss w ere either right or
wrong, and everything else depended on premises. A lt hough the formalists them
sel ves never propounded a unified " school theory" and i ndeed deliberately es
chewed doing so, some fundamental position had to be postu lated for them-and
not merely postulated but fixed and "galvan ized ."6 The formalists' position was
declared to be basicall y that l iterature was an extrasocial phenomenon, or rather,
that that which constitu ted the " l iterariness" of l iterature-its specificity-was
somethi ng self-valuable, self-contained, and self-perpetuating that should and
must be isolated from the social surrou ndings in which it ex isted in order to be
made an object of knowledge ; that wh i le social forces and events cou ld, and did,
sometimes even drastical ly, affect literature from the outside, the rea l , intrinsic
nature of literature remained immune, exclusively and forever true to itself
alone; that, therefore, proper and prod uctive study of l i terature is possible only
in "im manent" terms.
This was held to be, of course, the basis for a program of l iterary specifica
tion, b u t a basis which hypostasized the problem, thereby contrasting and con
fl ictin g with the basic outlook of the sociological method on the same prob lem :
6. T he problem was that the formal method was not a " methodology" or "doctrine"
properly speaking, as B. Ejxenbaum cogently explains in "The Theory of the F ormal
Method." In order for the Marxist sociological doctrine to conflict with a formalist "doc
trine," the latter had to be spelled out as such. To this end, M edvedev d id not hesitate to
construe formalist working hypotheses as invariable principles and formalist focuses of at
ten tion as value j udgments. Thus the h istory of the formal method was viewed, not in evo
lutionary terms, as Ejxenbaum had insisted it should be, but as the systematic filling in of a
preconceived program. A nything in formalist writings not consistent with this "program"
was taken as evidence of " betrayal" of their own doctrine on the part of this or that for
malist. The picture of the formal method obtained by this procedure does not reflect the
way the formalists actually operated. They d id, of course, have a general theory; only it was
a general theory .i n (to crib a phrase) a continuous process of generation.

1 82

I. R. Titunik

The specificating trends of our formalists are diametrically opposite M arxist trends.
The formalists conceive specification to be a matter of isolating a particular ideolog
ical domain and sealing it off from all the other forces and energies of ideological and
social l ife. They conceive of specificity, of uniq u eness, as a static force u nto itself,
hostile to everything else; i.e., they conceive u niqueness in nondialectical terms and,
therefore, are i ncapab le o( incorporating it with the vital processes of interaction oc
curring in the concrete u nity of social, h istorical l ife [ p. 5 4 ] .
Such, i n Medvedev's presentation, was t h e nature of t h e essential contradic
tion between the basic stand of the formal method and that of the sociological
method. T h e implications and consequences of the formalists' basic stand were
a l ready concretely represented by an e laborate set of theories and analyses pro
d uced over a period of a dozen years or so and covering v irtual l y the e ntire range
of i ssues withi n the domain ofpoetics. I f those theories and analyses were to be
subjected to criticism from the sociological point of view, it would presumably
be possible to refute the formalist interpretation of the issues and, at the same
time, to hammer out their sociological interpretation, i .e., construct a sociolog
ical poetics. And exactl y that was the task M ed vedev u ndertook to carry out via
long, complex, deta i led, point by point argument. To summarize that argument
i n the same manner wou l d be a form idabl e task i tself and a far greater b u rden
than the present essay is designed to suppo rt . At the risk of depriving the argu
ment of much of its real substance, attention w i l l be focused here only o n certain
o f its aspects-aspects w hich correlate w ith concepts advanced by V. N. Volosinov
in Marxism and the Philosophy of Language, and w hich m ay be identified under
the terms "utterance," "form of the whole" and "generative process."
The formalists, M edvedev argues, while correct in wanting1o d isclose the
specificity of literature, made a fundamental error at the very outset of their in
vestigations by see king that specificity in the notion of "poetic language."
[ H encefo rth, without further indication, this summary i s p resented from Med- .
vedev's point of view . ] T h e error stem med from the formalists.. reliance on l in
guistics and its categories ( p ho netics, morphology, syntax) and their adopting
the tendency of l i nguistics to divorce form and meaning, appropriating the for
mer as the proper object of study and relegating the latter to other d i sciplines.
M eanw h i l e, the fact i s that no such thing as poetic language rea l l y exists, e ither
in the dialectological sense or as a matter of the opposition, postulated by the
formalists, between " poetic language" and " practical language . " Language cannot
be said to break down i n to poetic and nonpoetic languages but can o n l y be sai d
t o carry o u t d ifferent functions, the poetic function among them. What deter
m ines the poetic function of language is p oetic context-works of l iterature:
"Poetic properties are acqu ired by language o nly in concrete poetic constructions.
These p roperties belong not to language in its linguistic capacity but precisely to the
construction, whatever k ind of construction that m ight be [p. 1 1 7 ] ."

Appendix 2

Formal and Sociological Methods


Therefore, the proper point of depa rture for i nvestigation into the specificity of
l i terature is not poetic language ( a fiction in any case) but poetic context, poetic
construction-literary works of art themselves.
Once this is establ ished, then the entire l i nguistic apparatus that the formalists
appl ied to their study of literature is revealed to be irrelevant. The basic verbal
components of poetic constructions cannot be, and a re not, the u n its of I inguis
tic analysis (phoneme, morpheme, syntagma) but m u st be, and are, the rea l units
of speech-utterances. The l iterary work of art is a special k ind of whole utter
ance or organization of utterances. A n d since the u tterance by i ts very nature is
ideological, the problem of meaning, i n stead of being relegated elsewhere, is
made a central factor of tJoetic constru ction; and a wholly d ifferent conception
of poetic construction than that hel d by the formal ists is required .
The proper approach to the problem of poetic construction lies not i n defi n i
tion of its exclusivity (i.e., in terms of the poetic versus the ideological) , but in
disclosure of its integration:
of that element in a poetic work which wou ld be integral both with the material actu
ality of word and w ith word signification, w hich, as a medium, would unite depth and
commonalty of meaning with the given actuality of uttered sound, [and therefore
would] make possible coherent and consistent transition from the peripheries of a
work to its inner meaning, from outer form to i n ner ideological significance [ p. 1 62 ] .
A n d that medium is "social evaluation," the h i storica l l y generated, assumed,
common code that defines the mental ity and outlook, the choice, range, and
h ierarchy of interests, i .e., the ideological purview, of a given social grou.p at
some particular time i n i ts existence. I t is social eval uation that mediates between
form and performance; it is social evaluation that endows every particular speech
act-each and every utterance-with its rea l , h ere and now meaning, "defining its
individual, class and e pochal physiognomy [ p. 1 65 ] . "
The special character of t h e poetic utteran ce consists i n the fact that, where:
as utterances in a l l other ideological domains are organ ized for purposes lying
outside verbal expression, in l i terature "social evaluation is whol ly rea l ized,
achieves finalized structure, i n the utterance itself. . . . The entity of the utter
ance here is not meant to serve any other entity. Social evaluation here is molded
and fu lly structured in pure expression [ p . 1 72 ] . "
O n t h i s basis arises the problem of t h e "form o f the whole," in w hich card inal
i mportance belongs to the concept of genre. The formalists had come to the
problem of genre only after having worked out the components of l iterary con
struction on the grounds of poetic l anguage and without reference to any notion
of genre. I nevitably, they construed gen re as a mechanical assemb lage of devices

-a fixed set of devices w ith some part icular dominant. Thus the formalists entirely missed the real significance of genre.


I. R. Titunik

Genre is not that which is determ ined and defined by the components of a
l i terary work or b y sets of l iterary works, but that which , in effect ; d eterm ines
and defines them. Genre Is "an archetypal form of the whole of a n utterance,
the whole of a work. A work rea l ly exists only in the for m of some p articu l ar
gen re. The constructional value of each and every element of a work can be u n
derstood only i n connecti o n with genre [ p. 1 75 ] ." I t is genre t hat gives shape
and meani ng to a work of l iterature, as a whole entity, a n d to a l l the e lemen ts
of wh ich that entity is comprised. G enre i s that area w here construction and
theme meet and fuse together, the area precisely w h ere social eval uation gene
rates forms of that fin a lized structured ness [zaversenie, zaver5imost'} w hich is
the very differentia specifica of art.
Genres are d efinable in terms of specific combinations of features stemming
fro m the doub le orientation i n l ife, in reality, w hich each type of arti stic "form
of the whole" commands-an orientation at once from outside i n a n d from in
side out. What is at stake in the first instance is the actual status of a work as a
social fact: its defi n ition i n real time and space; its means and mode of perfor
mance; the kind of audience presupposed and the relationship between author
and aud ience establ ished; its association with social i n stitutions, socia l mores,
and other ideo l ogica l spheres; in short-its ful l " situationa l " defin itio n .
O n t h e other side, what is involved is t h e work's thematic orientation, its
thematic u nity. Each genre has the capacity to deal with only certai n aspects of
real ity; to each belong certain principles of selection, certain manners of envision
ing and conceptual izing real ity; each operates w ith i n a certain sca l e of depth and
range of treatment. These two k inds of orientation are i n separably l i n ked and
i n terdependent. Such a concept of genre offers a dynam i c, creative principle for
the interpretation and i n tegration of a l l components of constructio n , including
a l l those components which the formalists had featured i n t heir stud ies but w h ich
they had deprived of a l l contentual meaning and had redu ced to ready-made en
tities with fixed functions capab le of operati ng only wit h i n a conventional set of
r u l es, thereby making l i terature, in effect, whol ly analogous to a game of chess.
The formal ist doctrine o n the evol u tion of l iterature, o n literary h istory, suf
fered from the same deficiency as their genre theory; indeed, that deficiency was
in their very conception of l iterature and it man ifested itself at every level of
analysis. Thus the stages i n the formation of their doctrine o n l iterary h i story
cou l d be summarized in the fol lowing way : on the basis of i nvestigation of poetic
language the formalists arrived at the notion of the device as the basic component
of literature ; l i terary works were defined as assemblages of dev ices; specific types
of such assemblages defined literary genres, schools, movements; the h istory of
l i terature was, then, the h i story of the a ssembling, disassemb l i ng, and reassem
b l i ng of devices (the same devices! ) .
T o explain how th is process of h i storical change came about, t h e formal ists
brought to bear their principles of "automatizatio n " a nd " percept i b i l ity. " These

Appendix 2

Formal and Sociological Methods

1 85

principles, despite the formal ists' avowed intent to study l iterature as an "entity
external to consciousness," amounted in fact to a crude sort of techno-psycho
logistic notion of artistic perception. I nstead of d i spensing w ith the subjective
consciousness, the formalists constructed a theory that presu pposed a subjective
consciousness w hich "feels" artistic effect and loss of effect. Moreover, by ne
cessity, this "feel ing" occurs w ith i n the confines of one individual consciousness
or, at best, the i ndividual consciousnesses of one and the same generation of
persons, for "there can be absolute l y no connection between automatization and
perceptib i lity spread over two individuals fol lowing one another in time, j ust as
there can be no connection between one man's nausea and another man's glut
tony [ p. 203 ) . " Furthermore, the formalists' scheme of l i terary evo l u tion, wh ich
i ssued from these principles and w h i ch was represented by them as a dialectical
process, amounted to nothing more than the play of two forces that alternate as
"ju nior" and "senior" l ines, and m u st go on doing so ad infin itum. Thus it was not
psychologism the formalists had rid themselves of, but history and ideology.
The real, objective solution of the problem of l iterary h istory l ies in viewing
literature as it really i s i n actual existence: a dynamic, generative process of a
special k i n d with i n the dynamic, generative process of social interaction or com
munication. That is, the so l ution of the problem of l iterary history is to be sought
in the " d ialectics of the 'intrinsic' a nd the 'extrinsi c ' " :
T h e generative process of social comm u n ication conditions all aspects o f literature and
every single literary work w ith respect to its creation and reception. On the other hand,
the generative process of communication is also conditioned by the generative process
of l i terature, which is one of its. factors. I n generative process, it is not at a l l a matter
of combinations of elements of a work changing, while the elements remain self-iden
tical, but a matter of the elements themselves changing, and of their combinations
together changing as well-of the whole configuration changing.
The generation of literature and of an individ ual work can be understood o n ly within
the whole framework of the ideological purview. The further we remove a work from
that context, the more certain the work will turn inert and l ifeless with in itself.
The ideological purvie w , as we know, is incessantly in the process of generat ion. A nd
this process of generation, j ust as any other such process, is d ialectical in nature.
Therefore, at any given moment of that process, we shall d iscover confl icts and inner
contradictions within the ideological p urview.
I nto those conflicts and contradictions the literary work of art, too, is d rawn. The
work a bsorbs and makes intrinsic to itself some elements of the i deological milieu,
while rejecting other elements as extrinsic. Therefore the " intrinsic" and the "extrin
sic" in the process of history d ialectically change p laces, w ithout, needless to say, re
maining a bsolutely identical all the w hile. What appears today a fact extrinsic to liter
ature-a piece of extraliterary reality-may tomorrow enter l iterature as one of its in
trinsic structural factors. And conversely, wh'at was literary today may become a p iece
of extraliterary reality tomorrow [ p. 206] . . . . The dialectical conception of the
"extrinsic" and the "intrinsic" of l iterature and of extraliterary reality ( ideological
and other) is the conditio sine qua non for the construction of a genuine M a rxist h is
tory of literature [ p. 208 ] .

1 86

I. R. Titunik

Such, i n brief out l i n e and w ith reference only to certai n key points, i s M ed
vedev's argument. I n its own terms a n d for its own purposes, it declares the u lti
mate, total irreconcilability of the formal and sociological m ethods. H owever,
from another perspective, this conclusion proves not altogether to be the case.
To begin with , the formali sts actua l l y n ever did deny that l iterature was a
social fact, though, of co rse, they insi sted that it was a social fact sui generis, 7
one with specificity and coherency peculiar to itself-a position identical w ith
that of M edvedev's sociological poetics. H owever, it was not the problem of liter
ature in its ful l social di mensions that interested the formal ists at the outset.
Their initial motivation was to redirect attention from what had been the main
concerns of literary stu d y-:-literature's cau se and effect, its creators, its social
associations, and functions, its philosophical or metaphysical significance-to
that which had been obscured, minimized or totally n eglected by those concern s :
t h e real, proper object of study-the l i terary material itself. The formalists oper
ated, as Boris Ej xenbaum states in his l ucid summation of the formal method i n
1 925, with "theoretical principles drawn from the study of the concrete material
with its s pecific characteristics" and adh ered to those principles " to the extent
they are proved tenable by the material . If the material requ ires their further
elaboration or a lteration, we go ahead and elaborate or alter the m . "8
What this amounted to was not a doctrine or even a " methodology," b u t a
process of stu d y describable as beg i n n i ng from the beginn i ng w ith working hy
potheses and proceedi ng step by step-a process wherein each successive step
requires the qualificatio n and reassessment of the preceding ones, w h i l e the co n
text o f study itself becomes constantly more complex and com prehensive. There
in precisely consisted the "factor of evolution " in the formal method wh ich
Ejxenbaum j ustly u nderscored time and time and time again.
In contrast, M edvedev's sociological method may be described a s a process of
beginning from the e nd, wh ich process requires a predetermine d general theory
that sets everything in its appointed p lace beforehand and whose overal l, govern
i ng mode of operation m u st inevitably be eclecticism. A n d i nd eed , M ed vedev
does open l y and explicitly declare eclecticism to be the way for the M arxist; it is
M arxism itself, he claims, that guarantees success [p. 42 ] . The formal ists were a
great deal more cautious i n this respect; they worked on the assum ption, again i n
Ejxenbaum's words, "that there is a difference between theory a n d conviction ."9
Thus the con tradiction between sociological poetics and formal ism can be
stated in somewhat d ifferent terms that do not preclude a connection between
7. See "The Theory of the Formal Method," R eadings, p. 3 3. Curiously enough, the most
extreme and explicit separation between l iterature and society was made by the M arxist so
ciologist of l iterature, P. N. Sakulin, out of somewhat m isguided admiration for formalist
vieWs. See Medvedev, Formal'nyj Metod pp. 48 -5 0 .
8. "The Theory of The F ormal Method," pp. 3-4.
9. Ibid., p. 4.

A ppendix 2

Formal and Sociological Methods

1 87

the m : while sociological poetics, as conceived by M edvedev, must i mplement the

social nature (as determi ne d by Marxist concepts) of l iterary fact from the very
start of investigation and on a l l levels of anal ysis, formalism maintained the posi
tion that l i terary fact had first to be studied as such before its ful l social nature
cou ld be understood pro perly. From this point of v iew, the evo l ution of the
formal method can be sai d in fact to have b een working, via the prob I em of
specification, toward, if not sociological poetics strictly speaking, certai n ly to
ward a conception of l iterature in its dynamic relationsh ip with social l ife.
I n 1 928, Roman J akobson and J urij Tynjanov, u ndoubtedly the two most
profo u nd thinkers associated with the formalist m ovement, produced a series of
"theses" under the title "Problemy izucenija l iteratury i jazyka" [ Problems in the
Study of L iterature and Language] w h ich spelled out a program stri kingly simi
lar in crucial respects to Medvedev's, but without commitment to Marxist pre
suppositions. These "theses" represented not, of course, w hat the formalists had
begun w ith and had already accomplished, but what a l l of that, under new qual. ification and reassessment, was leading to. I n the interests of demonstrating the
coincidences b etween M edvedev's sociological poetics and the stage that the for
mal m ethod had reached by 1 928, the liberty will be taken here of stringing to
gether a set of excerpts from the document composed by J akobson and Tyn
j anov:
The h istory of l iterature . . . being simu ltaneous with other historical series, is character
ized, as is each of those series, by an involved complex of specific structu ral laws. W ith
out the elucidation of those laws, it is impossible to establish in a scientific manner the
correlation between the lite rary series and other historical series. . . .
The literary and extraliterary material used in l i terature m ay be introduced into the
orbit of scientific investigation only when it .is considered from a functional point of
view . . . .
The opposition between synch rony and diachrony was an opposition between the con
cept of system and the concept of evolution; thus it loses its importance in principle as
soon as we recognize that every system necessarily exists as an evolution while, on the
other hand, evolu tion is inescapably of a systemic nature . . . .
An indifferent cataloging of coexisting phenomena is not sufficient; what is im portant
is their hierarchical significance for the given epoch
A n analysis of the structural laws of language and literatu re and their evol ution in
evitably leads to the establishment of a limited series of actually existing structural
types ( types of structural evolution).
A d isclosure of the immanent laws of the history of l iterature allows us to determ ine
the character of each specific change in l iterary systems. However, these laws do not
allow us to explain the tempo of evolution or the chosen path of evolution when sev
eral theoretically possible evolutionary paths are given. This is owing to the fact that
the immanent laws of literary evolution form an indeterminate equation ; although
they admit only a limited n umber of possible solutions, they do not necessarily spec
ify a u nique solution. The question of a specific choice of path, or at least of the dom
inant, can be solved only by means of an analysis of the correlation between the liter
ary series and other h istorical series. This correlation (a system of systems) has its own
. . .

1 88


R. Titunik

structu1 al laws, which m ust be submitted to investigation. I t wou ld be methodolog

ically fatal to consider the correlation of systems w ithout taking into account the im
manent laws of each _syste_m. 10
As evidenced by the j akobson-Tynjanov theses, certa i n concepts, coinciding
w i th points in M edvedev' program, were a lready i n process of form ulation and
development by the formal method. The idea of "function" with regard to po
etic language had been advanced as ear l y a s 1 923 by j akobson. The functional
role of meaning, i .e., the meaning of words i n poetic contexts, was subjected to
systematic i nvestigation in J u rij Tynjanov's first major work , Problema stixo
tvornogo jazyka [The Problem of Verse Language] (Leningrad , 1 924) _ 1 1 I nd eed,
functionality became a key q ualification, wh ich obliged the formalist s to con
vert gradually all static concepts of device, composition, genre, and l iteratre it
self into dyna m ic ones. The u nderly ing principle had been clearly e n u nciated b y
Tynjanov :
The unity of a work [ of literature] i s not a c losed symmetrical whole, but an unfold
ing dynamic integrity; between its elements stand , not the static sign of equation and
addition, but always the dynam ic sign of correlation and integration. The form of a
literary work must be perceived as a dynamic entity.12
And along w ith the concepts of "function " and "dynamiC integrity, " the
essential h istoricity ( diachronism) of l i terature was posited. I n another article of
1 924, Tynjanov had writte n :
I t is exclusively in terms of its evolution that we s h a l l be able to arrive at a n analytical
definition" of literature. Once we take that position, we discover that the properties
of literature w hich seemed the basic, primary ones constantly change and d o not c har
acterize literature as such. To this category belong the concepts of "aesthetic quality,"
in the sense of " the beautiful."
What remains stable turns out to be w h at had always been taken for granted : litera
ture is a verbal construction which makes itself felt precisely as a construction, i.e.,
literature is a dynamic verbal construction.
The requirement of i ncessant dynamism is w hat brings evolution about, seeing that
every dynamic system necessarily becomes automatize d and a constructional princi
ple of an opposite kind dialectical ly comes into play.13

This train of reasoning requ ired the consideration of issues del i be rately de
ferred at earlier stages i n the development of the formal method. T heoretical
pp. 79-8 1 .
1 1 . Two chapters from this book are translated in R eadings: " Rhythm as t h e Construc
tive Factor of Verse," pp. 1 26-1 35 , and "The M eaning of the Word in Verse," p p. 1 36-1 45 .
The latter chapter shows certain remarkable resemb lances with points advanced by V. N .
Volosinov in Marxism and the Philosophy o f Language.
1 2. Ibid., p. 1 28.
1 3. " Literatu rnyi fakt" {Literary F act] , A rxaisty i Novatory ( reprinted in M unich, 1 9 6 7 )
pp. 1 4- 1 5 .
1 0. R eadings,

Appendix 2

Formal and Sociological Methods

1 89

cognizance of the dynamic, evol utive nature of l iteratue necessari l y posed the
problem of the relationship between l iterature and extraliterary factors, or what
in Medvedev's program would be the "dialectic of the 'intrinsic' a n d the 'ex
Such posing of new problems not o n ly advanced and expanded the formalists'
context of study, but a l so, in the way h igh l y characteristic of the formal method,
requ ired reconsideration and reeval uation of their theoretical apparatus. Having
begun their wor k with a sharp opposition between " poetic" and " p ractical" lan
guages, the formal i sts gradual l y reordered their perspectives until it became clear
that language was i tself the nexus of the relationship between l iterature and so
ciety, t hat l anguage p rovided the way of access to the stud y of l iterature in its
ful l socia l d imensions. The new perspectives were s ketched out in Tynjanov's
1 927 article, 0 literaturnoj evoljucii [On l iterary evo l utio n ] , from which the
l iberty once again w i l l be taken of presenting a series of excerpts:
In order to be able to investigate the basic problem [of l iterary evolutio n ] , one must
agree i n advance that a l iterary work is a system and that literature is a system. O nly
once this basic u nderstanding is accepted can a literary science be constructed which
d oes not review a chaos of manifold phenomena and orders of phenomena, but stud
ies them. The issue involving the role of orders of phenomena contiguous w ith litera
ture in literary evolution is by this very fact not cast aside but, on the contrary,
posed . . . .
Is the so-called "immanent" study of a work as a system possible outside its correla
tion with the system of literature? Such an isolated study of a l iterary work would
be an abstraction no less than the abstraction of isolating elements and examining
them outside the work in which they appear. A b stracting of that sort is constantly
and effectively applied by literary criticism to contemporary works, since the corre
lation of a contemporary work with contemporary literature is a fact already assumed
and merely not expressed . . . But even with respect to contemporary l iterature the
procedure of isolated study is not really possible.
The very existence of a fact as a literary fact depends on its d ifferential q uality, that
is, on its correlation either with the literary or w ith an extraliterary order, in other
words-on its function. What in one e poch is a l i terary fact would in another be a
matter of general social communication, and vice versa, depending on the whole l it
erary system within which the given fact operates. . . .
The system of the literary order is first and foremost a system of the functions of the
literary order in incessant correlation with other orders. Orders change with respect
to their constitution, but the d ifferentiatedness of h uman activities remains. . . .
W hat constitutes the correlation of l i terature with contiguous orders? Moreover,
'what are the contiguous orders? We all have the answer ready at hand: social conven
tions [byt ] .
B u t in order to solve the problem of the correlation of l iterature with social conven
tions we must ask: how and in what respects are social conventions correlated with
literature? A fter all, social conventions are constitutively many-sided, m ultifaceted,
w ith only the function of all their aspects being, specific. Social conventions correlate
with literature first of all through their verbal aspect. Exactly the same correlation

1 90

I. R. Titunik

appl ies from literature to social conve ntions. The correlation of the l iterary order
with the order of social conventions is realized a long verbal l ines; literature has a
verbal function with respect to social conventions.14
Thus the formalists pointed the way to the stud y of a "system within a sys
tem" without recourse tci .t he eclecticism upon which Medvedev is o b l iged to rely.
As for Medvedev's accusatory ascription of crude "techno-psychologistic"
notions to the forma l i sts' concept of literary evo l u tion, it is a flagrant case of
failure (or refusal) on his part to see his own p rinciples in o peration . "Automati
zation" and "perceptibility" belong, of course, to the rea l m of social experience
and not to private "feel i ng"; they are not subjective, but " intersubjective re
What i s i nvolved here is the i mmensely important problem of norms. It was
the problem of norms, as suggested in the j akobson-Tynjanov theses, that held
the key to productive, comprehensive study of l i te rary structure, to types of
l iterary structures (genres), and to l i terary evolution. J akobson had d evoted an
early article, "0 x udozestvennom realizme" [On Realism in Art] , 16 e ssentially
to the topic of norms, d rawing into h i s discussion the com m u n icative processes
of verbal art and the participants in those processes. T h u s the foundations were
laid for the bridge from the formal method to the sem io l ogical meth o d of Czech
structural ism. It was a lso in the work of the Prague school , wh ich pro m inently
featured, to borrow the title of one of j an M ukarovsky's major stud ies, "aesthetic
function, norm, and value as social facts,"17 that the formal and sociological
methods may be sai d to have achieved their logical, inevitable synthesis.
1 4. R eadings, pp. 67, 68-69, 72, 7 3 (translation somewhat reworded). The term byt ( here
rendered as "social conventions") defies p recise translation into E nglish ; the closest to it is
"culture" or " mores" as used in the field of anthropology. D ifferent renderings of byt in
E nglish u nfortunately tend to obscure the relatedness of the concept in d ifferent contexts.
So, for instance, u nder Tynjanov's direct i nspiration, Ejxenbaum began i nvestigation of what
they jointly called literaturnyj byt; this was rendered as " literary environment" i n Readings
( pp. 5 6-65 ), since that seemed the most suitable term for the particu lar context. Tynj anov's
concept of byt, moreover, comes very close to what Volos inov, in Marxism and the Philoso
phy of L anguage, calls "behavioral" or "I ife ideology" (ziznennaja ideo/ogija) . For instance,
in " Literaturnyj fakt" (A rxaisty i Novatory, p. 1 9) , Tynjanov writes: "Byt teems with the
rudiments of various i ntel lectua l activities. By its very makeup, byt is rudimentary science,
rudimentary art and technology. It differs from fully developed science, art, a n d technology
by its mode of operation."
1 5. See V. Erl ich, Russian Formalism (The H ague, 1 95 5 ) , p. 1 52.
1 6, Translated i n Readings, pp. 38-46. A s L. Matejka a n d K . Pomorska n ote (ibid., p. vii) ,
this article appeared i n 1 92 1 in Czech and probably did not come to the attention of J akob
son's R ussian colleagues until around 1 927.
1 7 . J an M u karovsky, Estetickd funkce, norma a hodnota jako socialnl fakty (Prague,
1 936). The work is available in E nglish translation: No. 3 in M ichigan S l avic Contributions,
A n n Arb or, 1 970. On Russian formalism and the P rague school, see the chapter " Formalism
Redefined" in V. Erlich, Russian Formalism, pp. 1 28-1 36.

Appendix 2

Formal and Sociological Methods

1 91

The precedi ng s ketch of the relationship between the formal and sociological
methods was meant to provide a gen eral basis for the contention that the Baxtin
group, w h i l e operating with new and d ifferent premises and hence not deriving
from the formalist school, nevertheless did share crucial concerns i n common
with the formalists and employed con cepts of literature that significantly paral
leled and overlapped with formalist concepts, thus making possible the eventual
convergence of the two "methods."
In the meantime, however, there were certain particular areas of study where,
with considerable justification, the claim can be made (and has been made) that
members of the Baxtin group, especially M . M . Baxtin h i m self and V. N. Volo
sinov, were d irectly i n spired by formalist investigations and did function as "fol
lowers" of the formal method ("fo l l owers" in the best spirit of the formal meth
od i tsel f, i .e., qualifiers, reassessors, d evelopers) . I t was also precisely in these
areas that Baxtin and Volosinov may be sai d to have made their most sub stanc
tive concrete contributions to l iterary study. The general scope of the areas of
study i n question can be identified v ia Volosinov's defi n ition of " reported
speech" : 18 " speech within speech, u tterance wi th i n utterance, and at the same
time speech about speech, utterance a bout utterance."
As early as 1 91 8, the formalists had entered on the agenda of literary study
the prob lems of parody, stylization, and skaz. 19 Consideration of these problems
held promise of opening access to investigation of the vital styl istic operations
of verbal art and the role of those operations in the construction of l i terary
works and in l iterary evolution, particu larl y as regarded prose fiction. S uch prob
lems were in fa-ct handled as counterparts to the problems of sound texture and
rhythm in verse that were the formalists' primary concern. This was especially
the case with skaz where i ntonation, tones of vo ice, verbal gestures, and panto
mime were said to play crucial roles.
A further d imension of study was establ ished via the concept of d ialogue,
thanks, i n large measure, to L. J akubin skij 's 1 92 3 article, "0 d ialogiceskoj reci
[On D ialogic S peech] ," i n which the primacy of dialogue as the most " natural"
form of speech (in both the senses of man's b iological and social "nature") was
posited.20 To problems of monologue, viewed against the backgrou nd of d ialogue,
1 8. The Russian term cuzaja rec' means both "reported speech" in the technical sense
and, literally, " another's," or "other," or "alieh speech." Thus, the Russian term itself in
cludes the double frame of reference so v ital to Volos inov and Baxtin's theories. That double
reference could not be reproduced in E nglish with any single term and had to be shared out
between "reported speech" and "another's speech."
1 9. The Russian term skaz, as a techn ical literary term, has no E nglish equivalent. Gen
erally associated with oral speech or, rather, the illusion of oral speech in the narrative of a
literary work, it perhaps can best be described as narration with marked speech event fea
tures. The Russian term is retained here and throug h out.
20. j akubinskij's article has not, to my k nowledge, been translated into English. The
Russian original appeared i n Russkaja rec ', I (Petrograd, 1 923).

1 92

I. R. Titunik

as well as_ to the problems of parody, styl ization, and skaz, V. V. Vinogradov
devoted a whole series of i l l u m inating theoretical and l iterary h istorical investi
gations, beginn i ng in 1 92 3?1 A l l these pioneering, sem inal stu d ie s on the for
mal ists' part fai led, however, to arrive at a comprehensive principle u nd er which
the interrelationship of th various issues involved cou l d be fu l ly recognized and
made the basis for a u n ified fie l d of i nvestigation.
In 1 926, V. N . Volosinov p u b l ished an article entitled "S iovo v zizn i i slovo
v poezii" (Word i n Life and Word in Poetry] .22 While its main, immed iate pur
pose was to ske tch the preliminary theory for the construction of sociological
poetics ( i n w hich capacity it is-an important foreru nner to Med vedev's book), it
had the effect, in the course of its argument, of crysta l l izing a conceptual center
for a l l q u estions involving monologue, dialogue, stylization, parody, skaz, and,
i n the strict sense, reported speech. In this way, it set the stage for Volosinov's
own fundamental study of reported speech and Baxtin ' s magnum o p u s on
" polyphonic structure."
Tak ing as h is point of departure the idea that every instance of verbal inter
course operates with in a system of assu med value j u dg ments (the code of " social
evaluation"), Volosi nov d escribes the work of poetry as a " powerfu l condenser
of u narticulated social val u e j u dgements" in w h ich the vital rol es are played by
the three participants in the event of d i scourse, termed "author," " l i stener,"
and "hero":
First and foremost, value j udgements determine the author's selection of w ords and
the reception of that selection ( co-selection) by the listener. The poet, after all,
selects words not from the dictionary but from the context of life, w here words have
been steeping in and become permeated with value j udgements. Thus he selects the
value judgements associated with the words, and does so, moreover, from the stand
poi n t of the i ncarnated bearers of those value judgements. I t can be said that the poet
works constantly in conjunction w ith his l istener's sympathy or antipathy, agreement
or d isagreement. F urthermore, evaluation is operative also with regard to the o bject
of utterance-the hero. The simple selection of an epithet or metaphor is a lready an
active evaluative act with orientation in both those d irections: toward the l istener
and toward the hero. L istener and hero are constant participants in the creative event
which does not for a single instant cease to be an event of l iving comm u n ication in
volving all three."
2 1 . N one of the stud ies by Vinogradov relevant here has, to my k nowledge, b een trans
lated into E nglish. Their titles are included in the b ibliography to V. Erlich, R ussian formal
ism, p. 2 5 8 .
2 2 . Zvezda, 6 ( 1 92 6 ) , pp. 2 442 6 7 . Volo sinov is also the aut h or of a lengthy, three-part
essay entitled "5 tilistika xudo zestvennoj re ci" (The Stylistics of Verbal Art] , Literaturnaja
uceba, 2 ( 1 929), pp. 46-66; 3 pp. 65 -8 7 ; 5 pp. 43-5 7. This essay essentially rehearses the
basic ideas of Marxism and the Philosophy of Language for the particular p urpose of instruct
ing and guiding novice w riters.
23. Zvezda, 6 ( 1 9 2 6 ) , p. 258.

Appendix 2

Formal and Sociological Methods

1 93

I n effect, the principle of dialogue has been predicated over a l l d iscourse, with
particu lar and special m eaning for verbal art. By "author," " l istener," and "hero"
with reference to verbal art, Volosin ov clearly and explicitly means factors within
the artistic structure of a l iterary work and not the actual, real-l ife writer, refer
ence and reading p u b l ic, which are factors of a d ifferent order. "Author,"
" l istener," and " hero" are rather "the essential constitutive factors of a work of
literature. . . the vital forces that shape form and style and are comp lete l y d e
tectable by any competent scrutinizer. "24
Each of the participants represents a context of discourse in active, d y namic
relationship with the other two. The author's speech context is "dom inant" in
the sense that i t coincides with the message as a whole, encompassing the other
contexts and incorporating them with i n itself. B ut at the same time as presenting
the context of hero, the author establishes a relationship with that context
through which he affects that context In some way or by wh ich h is own, a utho. rial, context i s affected. Likew ise, at the same time as positing a l i stener, t h e
author enters i nto a relationsh ip with t h e latter's assumed or anticipated context
of response whereby effects on the h ero's context ( l istener-hero relationship) and/
or on the author's own (author-listener relationship) are produced. T hus, the
comm u nicative triad of the addresser of the message (speaker, author, sender,
encoder, etc.) ; addressee (listener, reader, receiver, decoder, etc.) , to whom the
message is directed; and the message content (referent, object, " h ero"), whom
or what the message i s about is registered as the prime orga n izing center o f l iter
ary structure. The three are bound together by a complex network of h ig h l y
variable eva luative i nterrelationships; and that network becomes a u n ifying focus
of investigation for a very broad range of literary prob I ems.
I n the third, final, section of h is Marxism and the Philosophy of Language,
Volosinov focused att ention o n the fundamental principles govern i ng the p he
nomena of reported speech. H is concern was not strictly with verbal art, b u t it
was i n verbal art that Volosin ov saw the fullest and most i ntricate expression of
those principles in operation. Thus while presented as a study of a special,
"pivotal " prob lem i n syntax, Volosinov's i nvestigation into the dynamic i nterre
lationship of reporting and reported messages has definite beari ngs on l iterary
problems as wel l. I ndeed, Vol osinov vivid l y demonstrates the vital i ntercon nected
ness of the stu dies of language and l i terature.
The l iterary implications of Volosinov's analysis have reference to at least two
crucial areas, two dimensions, of l iterary study. F irst of all, the correlatio n be
tween forms of reported speech (patterns and modifications) and the socio ideo
logical generation of language has direct bearing on l iterary h istory. I n Volosinov's
view: " I t is the function of society to select and make grammatical (adapt to the
the grammatical structure of i ts language) j ust those factors in the active a n d
24. Ibid.,



1 94

I. R. Titunik

evaluative reception of u tterances that are socially v ital and constant and, hen ce,
are grounded i n the economic being of the particular community of speakers
[ page 1 1 7 in this boo k ] . " T he forms of reported speech, therefore, a re important
not as abstract grammatical categories but as language processes in dynamic i n ter
relation with other social P,rocesses:
We are far from claiming that syntactic forms-for instance, those of direct and in
direct discourse-:directly and u nequivocally express the tendencies and forms of an
active, evaluative reception of another' s u tterance. Our speech reception d oes not,
of course, operate directly i n the forms of indirect and d irect d iscourse. These forms
are only standardized patterns for reporting speech. B u t, on the one hand, t hese pat
terns and their modifications could have arisen and taken shape only in accordance
with the governing tendencies of speech reception; on the other hand, once these pat
terns h ave assumed shape and function in the language, they in turn exert an i nflu
ence, regulating or inhibiting in their development, on the tendencies of evaluative
reception that operate w ithin the channel prescribed by the existing forms ( pages
1 1 7-1 1 8 in this book ] .
Therefore, the concrete implementations of reported speech form s (the m od
ifications and variants of pattern s) m u st be registered not o n ly among the pri
mary d istingu i sh i n g characteristics that mark the epochal sh ifts i n overa l l ideo
l ogical development, and, hence, also the epochs of literary h i story, b ut also m ust
figure among the primary d istingu ishi ng characteristics of al l l i terary school s,
trends, movements; i.e., they m u st be regarded as fundamental const i tu ent fea
tures of the very process of l i terary evolution as such.
The ess ntial point i s that the patterns of reported speech change h istorical ly
with respect to the weight, value, and the hierarchical statu s of reporting and
reported messages i n thei r i nterrelationship. D irect discourse in medieval l itera
ture is not the sam e as d i rect discourse in, say, the l iterature of the Renai ssance
or that of the second half of the 1 9th century. Furthermore, u nder the impact
of developing l i terary and extral i terary tendencies, certain modifications and
variants are advanced to a commanding, structure-orga n izing position. S uch, for
i n stance, is the rol e of forms of q uasi-q u oted speech i n modern prose fiction,
form s that u nderlie such th ings commonly referred to as "interior monologue"
or " stream of consciousness." At the same time, such hard to define l iterary
real ities as c lassicism, romanticism, rea lism, symbolism, etc., are a l so susceptible
to definition i n terms of coordinates of the h istorical variables i n the interre la
tionship of reporting and reported contexts. This possibil ity, firml y e stabl ished
in Volosinov's analysis of reported speech, has hard l y even yet been recognized
in l iterary scholarship.
With its distinction between the " linear" and " pi ctorial" tendencies in the
dynamism of the reporting-reported interrelationship, its exposition of opposed
" referent-" and "texture-analyzing" orientations in i nd i rect discou rse, and its
presentation of a whole system of modifications and variants of d irect discourse,

Appendix 2

Formal and Sociological Methods

1 95

includi ng, importan tly, quasi-direct d iscourse, Volosinov's treatmer)t of reported

speech also p rovides focal poin ts for the concrete sty I istic analysis of texts, pri
marily, but of course not exclusively, texts i n the narro.tive gen res. Every text
represents a selection and concatenation of reporting-reported procedures: Anal
ysis of the specific organization of these procedures in a l i terary work reveals its
styl istic structure, not of course i n the sense of an i nventory of its stylistic i ngre
dients, but precisely ofi ts value-charged styl i stic mode of operation. Thus, for
instance, i n connection with what he termed "anticipated and d issem inated direct
discourse," Volosinov took a story by Dostoevskij, Skvernyj anekdot [A N asty
Story ] , " and from analysis of it concluded :
. . . almost every word in the narrative (as concerns its expressivity, its emotional
coloring, i ts accentu al position in the ph rase) figures simul taneously in two intersect
ing contexts, two speech acts: in the speech of the author-narrator (ironic and mock
ing) and the speech of the hero (who is far removed from i rony). This simu ltaneous
participation of two speech acts, each d ifferently oriented in its expressivity, also ex
plains the curious e n tence structu re, the twists and turns of syntax, the h ighly orig
inal style of the story. I f only one of the speech acts h ad been used, the sen tences
would have been structu red otherwise; the style would h ave been different ( page 1 36
in this boo k ] .
The range of procedu res ex tends from the relatively straightforward, sharply
and m u tual l y del i m i ted rel ations 1of reporting and reported contexts to extremely
comp l ex, even highly ambiguous, " m ixed" forms i n which the key role i s played
by the phenomenon of "speech inte rference . " Needless to say, a l l procedures
i nvolve evaluative processes, the simpler forms no less than the complex ones.
Every l i terary work operates i n one or more registers of th i s ran ge ; many l i terary
works, modern novels especially, are characterized by systems of registers with
varied and often subtly nuanced transi tions from one to another. To fai l to take
account of thi s i nterrelation and i nterplay of reporting and rep orted contexts,
as do many d i scussions about "showing and tel l i ng," the dramatic or objective
mode of narration, point-of-view narration, " reliable" and " un rel iable" authors
and narrators, "stream of consciousness" technique and other, s i m ilar topics, is
to miss the central i n tegrity of the text.25
Volosi nov' s ideas regarding reported speech (indee d, the ideas of the B axtin group in
general) h ave found fresh and vital reintroduction into Russian l i te rary scholarship via the
semiotic studies of the extraordinary, recently developing "Tartu" or " L otman" school. (On
this school, see the E ngl ish introdu ction to the Brown U niversity reprint of j u. M. Lotman,
Lektsii po struktural'noj po'etike [ Lectures on S tructural P oetics] , Providence, Rhode Island,
1 968, pp. vii-x. ) A concrete case i n point is B. A. U spenskij, Poetika kompozicii [The Poetics
of Composition] (Moscow, 1 9 70). Uspenskij no't only applies Volosinov's theories through
out h is study, but also, virtually for the first time in Russian literary scholarship, gives Volo
sinov full credit for them. S ymptomatically enough, the new Russian semiotics of art makes
explicit its debt not only to the B axtin group but also to formalist theorists, especially
Tynjanov, ) akobson, and V inogradov.

1 96

I. R. Titunik

I n his preface to Marxism and the Philosophy of Language, Volosinov himself

noted that the objec t of study in Part I l l of the book
" the problem of u tterance within u tterance, has a broad significance extending be
yond the confines of syntax. The fact is that a n umber of paramount l iterary phe
nomena-character speech (the construction of character i n general), skaz, styl iza
tion, and p arody-are nothing else than different varieties of refraction of 'another's
speech.' An u n derstand ing of this kind of speech and i ts soci ological governance is
an essential condition for the p roductive treatment of all the literary phenomena
mentioned [Marksizm i fi/osof1ja iazyka, Leningrad, 1 930, pp. 1 1 -1 2 ] .
However, V ol osinov's own efforts did not, and cou l d not (considering that
syntax was the pri m ary focus of his attention), include fu l l treatment of the im
p lications of his theory for the study of l i terature. I ndeed, styl ization, parody,
and skaz are not dea l t with at all. I t was not Volosinov but rather M. M. Baxtin
who fu l ly and systematical ly elaborated the l i terary theory and analysis of
" another's speech." Treatment of this topic forms the theoretical basis for Bax
tin ' s extraordinary treatise on the art of the polyphonic novel as exem plified by
the works of i ts great creator, Fedor Dostoevskij. 26
Baxtin argues that recognition of duplexity i n such phenomena as styl ization,
parody, skaz, and any one utterance in a dialogic exchange, i.e., recognition that
" i n a l l of them d iscourse maintains a double focus, aimed at the refere n tial ob
ject of speech, as in o rdinary discou rse, and simultaneously at a second context
of discourse, a second speech act by another ad dresser [ p. 1 76] ," alre ady reveals
the inadequacy of traditional styl istics, with its excl usive " monologic" frame of
reference, and cal l s for an entirel y new approach which takes the prin ciple of
duplexity i n to fu ndamental account.
The n ew approach is established through a system of analysis based on the
inte rrelation of the contexts of " author's speech" and "another's speech."
Auth or' s speech is defined as speech having d irect and im mediate reference to
its object and ex pressing the " u l timate conceptual authority." I t i s
" h andled stylistical l y as speech aimed a t i ts direct referential denotation: it m ust be
adequate to its objec t (of whatever n ature, poetic or other) ; it must be expressive,
forceful, pithy, elegant and so forth, from the point of view of i ts d i rect referential
m ission-to denote, express, convey, or depict something; and its stylistic treatment
is oriented toward the concurring comprehension of its referent [ p. 1 78 ] .''
26. Problemy tvorcestva Dostoevskogo [ P roblems of D ostoevskij's C reative A rt] (Lenin
grad, 1 929). I n 1 96 3, after B axtin was " rehabilitated," a new, expanded ed ition of this book
came out u nder the title Problemy poe tiki Dostoevskogo [ P roblems of D ostoevskij' s P oetics] .
To my knowledge, n o transl ation of the ful l text of either edition h as yet appea red in E n
glish. One chapter, h aving to do with Notes from Underground, w as translated for the Cro
well Criti cal L ibrary edition of Notes from Underground, edited by R. G. D u rgy, p p. 2032 1 6 (Crowell, New York, 1 69). The basic, theoretical chapter, also from the 1 929 edition,
" Discourse Typology in P rose," appears in R eadings. P age n umbers in brackets ;1fter q uota
tions in the present essay refer to Readings.

Appendix 2

Formal and Sociological Methods

1 97

To just such a con text of speech Baxtin assigns the term "monologue." The
d i rect speech of another-the speech of the heroes, the characters in a work
while also having d i rect, referential meaning, occupies a different position, " l ie s
o n a different plane," than t h e author's d i rect speech. I t is i n fact i ncluded in
and subordinated to the auth o r's context and is therefore su bject to d ifferent
stylistic treatment:
The hero's u tterance is handled precisely as the words of an-othe r addresser--as words
belonging to a personage of a certain specific individuality or type, that is, it is h an
dled as an object of the author's intentions, and not at all in terms of i ts own referen
tial aim ( p. 1 78 ] .
This type of u tterance Baxtin cal ls "represented" or " objectified" u tterance.
M onologic u tterance (author's d i rect speech) and o bjectified utterance (char
acter's d i rect speech) are the first two degrees of distinction in Bax tin's theory
of speech forms. They are both, in h i s classification, "single-voiced" utterances:
The unmediated, intentional u t terance is focused on i ts referential object, and it con
stitutes the ultimate conceptual authority within the given context. The objectified
u tterance is l i kewise focused only on i ts referential object, but at the same time it is
i tself the object of another, the au thor's, intention, Still, this other intention does
not penetrate the objectified u tterance; it takes that u tterance as a whole and, w i th
out al tering i ts meaning or tone, su bordinates it to its own purposes. It does not im
pose u pon the objectified u tterance a different referential meaning. A n u tterance
w h ich becomes objectified does so, as it were, w ith out knowing i t, l i ke a man w ho
goes about h is business unaware that he is being watched. An objectified u tterance
sounds just as if it were a direct, i n ten ti_o nal u tterance. Utterances both of the first
and the second type of discou rse each have one intention, each one voice: they are
single-voiced utterances [ p. 1 8 0 ] .
F rom these basic "single-voiced" u tterances, Bax tin proceeds t o "dou ble
voiced" u tterances :
A n author may u tilize the speech act of another i n pursui t of his own aims and in
such a way as to impose a new intention on the u tterance, which nevertheless retains
i ts own proper referential inten tion. U nder these circu mstances and in keeping with
the au thor's purpose, such an u tterance must be recognized as originating from another
addresser. Thus, within a single u tterance, there may occur two i n tentions, two
voices ( p. 1 8 0] .
A mong such double-voiced utterances are included sty l ization, parody and
Between stylization and parody, a crucial d ifference in double-voicedness
occurs. "Styl ization p resupposes style; it presupposes that the set of sty l istic de
vices it reproduces h ad at one time a direct and immediate i ntentionality and
expressed the ultimate conceptual authority [ p. 1 8 1 ) ." T h e effect of styl ization
is to "conventionali ze" any such style. Therefore, styl ization i m p l ies a certain
concurrence, an agreement between the two voices involve d : "The author's

1 98

I. R. Titunik

i n tention, having penetrated the oter speech act and having become e m bedded
in it, does not clash with the other i n tention; it fol lows that i ntention in the
latter's own direction, n l y making that d irection conventional [ p. 1 85 ] ." Such
a double-voiced u tterance is at the same time " u ni d i rectional ." Parody, in con
trast, involves the p resence .w ithi n one u tterance of two not only different but
opposed, clashing i n tentions: "The second voice, having lodged i n the other
speech, clashes antagonist icall y w ith the original, host voice and forces it to serve
d i rectly opposite aims. Speech becomes a battlefield for opposing i ntentions
[ p. 1 85 ] . " Baxtin designates such a double-voiced u tterance "varidirectional."
Skaz, identified simply as " narrator's n arration," occupies the same range as both
stylization and parody ; it is either u n i d i rectional (styl ized skaz) or varidirectional
(parodic skaz).
What u n i tes the u n i d i rectional and varid irectional variants of thi s third, d ou ble
voiced type of discourse is the passivity of the " other voice" : " . . . in stylization,
n arrator's narration and parody the other speech act is com pletely passive in the
hands of the author who avail s h i mself of i t. He, so to speak, takes someone
else's speech act, which is defenceless and submissive, and i m p l an ts h i s own i n
tentions i n i t, making i t serve his new aims [ p. 1 90 ] ." I n this respect, they con
trast w i th another set of variants of the same th ird type where the relationship
between the two speech acts is active. H ere are fou nd such forms as h idden po
lemic and h i dden dialogue, indeed the forms of dialogue itself and a l l forms of
speech affected by " awareness of another speech act." I n these variants, " the
other speech act remains outside the bounds of the author's speech, b u t is i m
plied or allu ded to i n that speech. The other speech act i s not reprodu ced w i th a
new i ntention, but shapes the author's speech w h i l e remain i ng outside its bound
aries [ p. 1 87 ] ." These active variants of the third type of d iscourse p l ay partic
u l arl y i mportant roles in creating polyphonic structure.
Polyphonic structure takes i ts special shape and meaning against t h e back
ground of, and in contrast to, " h om op honic" structu re. They contrast precisel y
as monologic a n d dialogic structures in t h e sense the terms " monologue" and
"dialogue" acqu ire i n Bax tin's system of analysis. In h omophonic structure,
"whatever the types of discourse employed by the author-monologist and what
ever their compositional deployment, the author's i ntentions m u st dominate and
must constitute a compact, u nequ ivocal whole."27 The author's voice, as the
bearer of the u l ti mate conceptual authority, constantly regu lates and u l timatel y
resolves any interplay o f other voices i n the text ; i ndeed, i t i s from its u ni tary
position that all othe r voices are meant to be perceived and j udged (T oistoj can
be c i ted as a particu larly egregious case). I n polyphonic structure, the other
voices in the text come i nto their own, as it were; they acqu ire the statu s of fu l l
fledged verbal and conceptual centers whose relationship, both among themse lves
27. Problemy tvorcestva Dostoevskogo,


1 34.

Appendix 2

Formal and Sociological Methods

1 99

and with the author's voice, becomes i ntensely dialogic and not susceptib l e to
subordination to " th e verbal-conceptual dictatorship of monologic u n ity of style
and tone." 28
The theory of d i scourse and system of anal ysis elaborated by Baxtin h ave a
meaning far broader, of course, than that as i nstruments for the exposition of
Dostoevskij's polyphonic art (alth ou gh Baxtin's i mmense ach ievement i n that
regard ought n ot be overlooked}. Together with Volosinov, Baxtin fu n d amentally
reoriented the whole field of sty l istic i nquiry from componential, taxonomic
description to systematic d isclosure of speech formations i n the dynamic terms
of " speech within speech and speech about speech," for only in those terms can
the actual structure of such formatio n s be grasped. Therein, too, of course, con
sists the essential sociological dimension to the study. As Baxti n states i t :
The problem of the orientation of speech toward another utterance h as a sociological
significance of the highest order. The speech act by its nature is social. The word is
not a tangible object, but an always shifting, always changing means of social commu
nication. I t never rests with one consciousness, one voice. I ts dynamism consists in
movement from speaker to speaker, from one context to another, from one generation
to another. Through it all, the word does not forget its path of transfer and cannot
com pletely free i tself from the power of those concrete contexts i nto which i t h as
entered. By n o means does each mem ber of the community apprehend the word as
a neutral medium of the language system, free from intentions and u ntenanted by the
voices of i ts p revious users. I nstead, he receives the word from another voice, a w ord
ful l of that other voice. The word ente rs his context from another context, permeated
with the intentions of other speakers. H is own i ntention finds the word al ready occu
pied. Thus the orientation of word among words, the various perceptions of other
speech acts, and the various means of reacting to them are perhaps the most crucial
problems in the sociol ogy of l anguage usage, any kind of language usage, including
the artistic [ p. 1 95 ] .
Baxtin called h i s study of polyphon ic structure an "i mmanent-sociol ogical
analysis," the i mmanent-sociological character of l i teratur e residing, as i ndicated,
in langu age usage. U n m istakably, this point of v iew and the point of v iew, men
tioned above, arrived at by j u rij Tynjanov fundamentally coincide. F u rthermore,
nothing even remotel y suggesting the n ecessity for eclecticism appears in Baxtin's
argu ment. While admi tting that his study does not even begin to constitu te a
sociol ogical explanation of the l iterary phenomenon in question, Baxtin i nsisted
that it is an indispensable prerequisite for such an explanatio n :
"The very material to b e made the su bject o f sociological explanation must first b e
identified and elucidated a s a n intrinsic social p h enomenon, for only in that case can
sociological explanation be in accord with the structure of the fact it attempts to ex
28. Ibid.
29. Ibid., p. 2 1 3.


I. R. Titunik

With i ts symptomatic difference i n termi nology, i ndicating a difference not

so much of basic principles as of basic emphases, this statement of Baxtin's fu l l y
correlates w i th the J akobson-Tynjanov theses a n d further substantiates t h e claim
that the sociological poetics of the Baxtin group (minus M edvedev's eclecticism ;
that is, minus M arxist presu,Ppositions) and the formal met h od, both of them en
rou te to complex, comprehensive study of l i terature as a system of signs with i n
a system o f signs, represented paral lel, overlapp ing, interdependent, and u lti
mately completely reconci lable methods.

Abstract objectivism, 48, 5 2-61 , 65-6 7 , 7 1 ,
77, 79, 80-82, 1 09, 1 45 , 1 5 2, 1 78
Addressee, 85-8 7 , 90, 1 93 , see also
Listener/reader, Audience
Addresser, 86, 1 43 , 1 93 , see also S peaker,
Aesthetics, 3 1 , 5 1 -5 2
A lien word, 7 1 -7 7
A ntipsychologism , 3 1 -3 2
Audience, 86, 96, 1 05
inner, 86
Author, 1 05 , 1 1 5 , 1 1 8, 1 30-1 3 2 , 1 38,
1 43-144, 1 93 , 1 96
Authorial context, 1 05 , 1 1 8 , 1 22, 1 27 ,
1 5 7 , 1 93 , 1 97
Authoritarian dogmatism , 1 20, 1 2 1 , 1 23
Bally, Ch., 5 8 , 1 22, 1 44-1 46, 1 47 , 1 4 8 ,
1 52 , 1 62
B audoui n de Cou rtenay, ) ., 1 6 1 , 1 62
Baxtin, M . M., 1 67 , 1 70, 1 72, 1 77 , 1 9 1 ,
1 97-1 99
Behavioral communication, 1 4
Behavioral ideology, 83, 9 1 -93
Behavioral genres, 20-21 , 96-97
Belyj, A., 1 21 , 1 22, 1 35
B iological principle, 25
B loomfield, L., 1
Bogatyrev, P., 5
B rentano, F., 29, 3 1
B rugmann, K . , 62
Buhler, K., 68

Cartesianism, 2
Cartesian l i nguistics, 5 7 , 1 07 , 1 27 , 1 63 ,
1 67-1 69

Cassirer, E., 1 1 , 47
Class struggle, 23
Cohen, H., 28
Communication, 3 , 1 3-1 4, 2 1 , 23, 47, 86,
95, 1 1 2 , 1 85
verbal, 1 9, 20, 2 1 , 8 1 , 95-96, 1 1 2, 1 23
Concrete poetics, 1 7 5
Conditioned reflex, 29
Connotation, 1 02, 1 05
Consciousness, 1 1 -1 5 , 20-22, 28, 3 1 , 33,
81, 88, 90-91
individual/subjective, 9 , 1 2, 1 4, 22, 3 1 ,
34, 54, 56-5 7 , 61 , 65-67, 84, 1 44
linguistic/verbal , 70-7 1 , 75, 1 46
Creative individuality, 93
Creativity versus formalism, 78
Critical individualism , 1 23
Croce, B., 5 2
Czech structu ralism, 1 90 , see also P rague
Delbruck, B., 62
Denotarum, 1 02, 1 62
Descartes, R., 5 7
Dialectical materia l ism, 3 , 1 7, 27, 40
Dialectics, 1 7, 2 1 , 23, 24, 39, 4 1 , 69, 80,
82, 99, 1 06
of the "intrinsic" and the "extrinsic,"
1 85 , 1 89
Dialogue, 4, 38, 80, 95, 1 02, 1 1 1 , 1 1 6-1 1 7,
1 70-1 7 3 , 1 98-1 99
D ietrich, 0., 62, 94
Dilthey, W., 26-28 , 3 0
Direct discourse, 1 26 , 1 33-1 40, 1 45 , 1 46 ,
1 4 7 , 1 5 1 , 1 5 7 , 1 94
anticipated , 1 35
concealed , 1 35
d isseminated, 1 22, 1 35
particularized, 1 34
p reset, 1 34
s'u bstituted , 1 38-1 39



Oostoevskij , F., 1 3, 1 21 -1 22, 1 3 1 , 1 34,
1 35, 1 56, 1 90, 1 95
D u rkheim, E., 6 1

Eclecticism, 1 86 , 1 90 , 1 99-200
Ejxenbaum , B., 1 86, 1 90
Emp iricism , 2
Energeia versus ergon, 48, 9 8 , 1 46, 1 48 , 1 68
E ngel'gardt, B ., 49, 1 22
E renburg, 1 . , 1 35
Ermatinger, E., 2 7 , 32
Eth ics, 9, 3 1 , 54
thnic psychology, 5 0
Evaluation, 1 03, 1 06 , 1 55 , see also
Social evaluation
Evaluative accent, 22, 8 0-8 1 , 99, 1 03 ,
1 05 ' 1 5 5
Experknce, 27-30, 35-3 6 , 39, 84, 90, 93,
1 1 8 , 1 47, 1 85
Expression, 52, 84-8 5 , 8 9 , 1 3 1
Expressivity, 28, 84, 1 1 9

Figures of thought { figures de pensee ) ,

1 44-1 45
Form of the whole, 1 83, 1 84 , see also
U tterance as a whole
Formalism, 78, 1 59, 1 75 , 1 78
R ussian ( formal method, formal school,
formalists) 1 65 , 1 75-1 80, 1 8 1 -1 83,
1 91 , 200
Fortunatov, F., 1 6 1
French, 1 2 1 , 1 26 , 1 27-1 28, 1 4 1 , 1 46
M iddle, 1 20, 1 5 1
Old, 1 5 0
Freud, 5 . , 4 , 3 3 , 8 8
F reudianism, 4, 2 6 , 88
Friedmann, K., 1 21
Functional psychology , 29-3 1
Generative process 4 , 1 7 1 8 7 2 ' 7 7-78 '
96, 98, 1 00 , 1 02, 1 0 6 , n'o, 1 5s,
1 80 , 1 82

Generative process/generation of language,

2, 5, so, 5 6 , 63, 75, 96, 98, 1 5 3 ,
1 58 , 1 73-1 74
Geneva school , 1 61
Genre (literary ) , 90, 1 83-1 84
German, 1 26, 1 4 1 , 1 46
Gogol', N ., 1 2 1 , 1 26 , 1 3 1
Grammar, 48, 74, 1 1 7 , 1 28
and style , 5 1 , 1 25-1 27
G rammatical categories, 1 1 1 , 1 72
Gruzdev, 1 . , 1 22
Gundolf, W., 2 7 , 32

Harris, Z ., 1
Hero's con text, 1 38-1 39, 1 93
Hierarchical factor, 2 1 , 1 23
von H umboldt, W., 2, 3, 47, 48-49, 1 67
Humboldtian l inguistics, 2-3 48-49
1 67-1 6 9
Husser!, E . , 32


I dealism, 1 1 -1 2, 27, 1 22
I deological accent, 22
I deological commu nication/intercourse, 13 ,
1 4, 1 8, 9 7 , 1 1 9
I deological creativity 1 2 1 4-1 5 1 7 1 9
23, 85, 96, 1 5 3
I deological evaluation 1 0
I d eological form, 23, fl7
I deological purview, 1 80, 1 83 , 1 85
I deological science(s) , 26 , 3 6
I deological sign, 9-1 0 1 5 1 9 2 1 23 24
33, 3 5 , 391 46, 9 0
I deological system , 3 5 , 9 1 -92
I deological u nderstand ing, 25, 3 7
Ideological value, 2 9 , 57
I deology, 9-1 5 , 1 7 , 21 , 22-24, 3 1 -34,
40, 68, 9 1
I d eology a n d the psyche, 3 1 -34, 4 0-41
l ndirect d iscourse, 1 02, 1 1 2 , 1 1 5- 1 1 7,
1 26 3 3 , 1 37, 1 44, 1 5 1
analytical transmission of, 1 28-1 33
consecutio temporum in, 1 26 , 1 5 1 , 1 58
impressionistic, 1 33-1 34
referent-analyzing, 1 30-1 3 1 , 1 33 , 1 99
texture-analyzing, 1 22, 1 3 1 -1 33 , 1 3 7, 1 94


I nd ividualistic subjectivism, 48-52, 5 6 ,
82, 83-85 , 8 7 , 93-94, 1 45-1 46, 1 52, 1 54
I nd ividuality, 34
I ndo-E u ropean school/studies, 72, 79, 1 05
I nh ibition, 90
I nner experience, 25 , 28, 90
l nner contex 30, 36
I n ner d ialogue, 38
I nner intonation , 87
I n ne r l ife, 14, 27, 29
I nner sign, 9, 1 4 , 33-39, 46, 69, 85
l nner speech, 4, 1 1 , 1 4, 1 5 , 1 7 , 25 , 28-29,
37-39, 87, 96, 1 1 8, 1 30 , 1 38 , 1 72
I nner style, 8 7
I n ner word , 14, 1 9-20, 90, 93
I n ternal speech, 1 33
I ntonation, 83, 8 7 , 89, 1 00, 1 03-1 04,
1 1 2 , 1 30, 1 33 , 1 71
I n trospectionjself-observation, 25, 33,

L inguistic fantasy, 1 46, 1 48 , 1 50, ) 54

Linguistic form, 7 0-74, 96
formes /inguistiques, 68, 1 44-1 45
Linguistic norm, 53, 56, 65-66, see also
Normative identity, Normative system
Linguistic positivism, 50
Linguistic taste, 5 0 , 56, 1 46
Linguistics, 1 -2, 4 , 47, 7 1 , 7 5 , 78, 1 09-1 1 1 , .
1 62-1 8 2
comparative, 1 09
d iachronic, 6 1 , 1 60, 1 65
sociological orientation i n , 1 1 2-1 1 3 , 1 64
synchronic, 6 1 , 1 65
Listener/reader, 2 , 46, 7 0, 1 1 1 , 1 64,
1 92-1 93, see also Addressee
Locke, ) . , 1 61 , 1 63
Lorek, E., 50, 8 3 , 1 2 1 , 1 26 , 1 4 7-1 49,
1 50, 1 52, 1 54, 1 55 , 1 59
Lotman, ) u ., 1 95

J akobsen, R., 5, 1 60, 1 87-1 88, 1 90, 200

) akubinskij, L ., 1 1 6, 1 1 8 , 1 45, 1 7 1 , 1 91
Kalepky , Th., 1 26, 1 42, 1 43-1 44, 1 46
Karcevskij, S., 1 62, 1 67
Kazan school, 1 6 1
Kruszewski, M ., 5 9
Krylov, 1 . , 1 27

La Bruyere, ) . de, 1 5 1
L a Fontaine, ) . de, 1 23 , 1 48 , 1 5 1
L angue, 2 , 59-60 , 1 46, 1 64
Language creativity, 2, 48, 5 0-5 1 , 5 3 , 98,
1 68-169
Language system, 52-57, 1 45 , 1 64
Leibniz, G ., 2, 5 1
Lerch, E ., 50, 1 44 , 1 47, 1 52, 1 54, 1 55
Lerch, G., 1 1 6, 1 1 9, 1 4 1 , 1 49-1 52
Levi-Strauss, C., 1 66
L inguistic categories, 1 09-1 1 1 , 1 82

Mann, Th., 1 5 2
M arr, N ., 72, 76, 1 01 , 1 73
M arty, A., 47, 62, 1 05
M arx, K., 1
Marxism , 1 , 3 , 5 , 1 5 , 1 7 , 20, 25 , 1 7 6-1 77
Marxist philosophy of language, 45-63
Meaning, 9 , 28, 79-80, 99-1 06, 1 82-1 83
Mechanistic causality, 1 7 , 24
Mechanistic materialism, 1 3
Medvedev, P., 1 76 , 1 77-1 8 7 , 1 89-1 90, 200
Meillet, A . , 6 1 , 67
Meinong, A . , 29
Monologic u tterance, 72-7 3 , 78, 84, 94, 1 1 1
Monologue, 3 3 , 1 7 1 , 1 97
Morphological categories, 1 1 0
Morphologization of syntax, 1 09, 1 70
M ukarovsky, ) ., 5 , 1 77
Mul tiaccen tuality, 23, 8 1 , see also
Evaluative accent
Native language/word, 7 5 , 8 1 , 83
Neoclassicism, 83
N eogramm arians, 62
N eo-Kantianism , 1 1 , 32



Norm {social, ethical, l iterary), 3 7 , 66,

98, 1 9 0
in l anguage, see Lingu istic norm
N orrnative identity, 52-5 3, 57, 6 5-68
Normative system , 54, 6 7

Quasi-d i rect d iscourse, 1 1 6 , 1 22 , 1 26, 1 34,

1 37 , 1 39-1 40, 1 4 1 -1 52 , 1 5 4-1 58 , 1 95

Objectification, 84-85, 8 7
Objective psychology , 1 2, 1 3, 2 5
Opojaz, 1 75

Paragraph, 1 09, 1 1 1 -1 1 2
Parody , 1 96-1 97
Parole, 2 , 59-6 1 , 8 1 , 9 3 , 1 46, 1 64
Peirce, C . S., 3 , 1 63
Personality, 1 5 3
Peskovskij , A., 1 1 2, 1 27 -1 28
Peterson, M ., 47, 59, 6 1 , 1 62
Phenomenology, 3 1 -32
Philologism , 7 1 -73
Philosophy of langu age, 3, 9-1 5 , 24, 45-5 2,
56-5 7 , 7 5 , 97, see also M arxist
ph ilosophy of langu age
Philosophy of sign , 3, 3 3 , 38
Phonetic empiricism , 40, 46
Phonetics, 48, 7 4 , 1 82
comparative, 1 09
experimental, 46
Physiological process, 26, 29, 46
Poetic function, 1 82 , 1 88
Poetic l anguage ; 1 82-1 8 3
Poetics, 1 77 , 1 82
Polyphonic structure , 1 98-1 99
Polysemanticity, 80
Positivism, 1 7, 5 0
Potebnja, A . , 4 9 , 1 69
P ragmatists, 3
P rague school , 5 , 1 67 , 1 90
Proletariat, 1 5 4
Psyche, 25-26, 29-3 1 , 33-3 7 , 39-4 1 , 4 8 , 49
Psychoanalysis, 4
Psychologism, 1 1 -1 2, 25, 3 1 -32, 39
Psychology, 1 3, 25-39, 1 7 1
Puskin , A., 1 38-1 40, 1 55

Rationalism, 1 5 , 87
Rationalistic dogmatism , 1 20, 1 21 , 1 23
Realistic individualism , 1 21 , 1 23
Reflexology, 2, 68, 1 71
Relativistic individualism , 1 22-1 23
Remizov, A., 1 2 1
Renaissance, 8 3 , 1 5 1
Reported speech, 5 , 1 1 2-1 1 3, 1 1 5 -1 2 3,
1 25-1 40, 1 5 1 5 5 , 1 57 , 1 92 95,
see also Direct D iscourse, I nd i rect
d iscourse, Quasi-direct d iscourse
depersonalization of, 1 1 9-1 20
factual commentary in, 1 1 8, 1 20, 1 22
internal retort in, 1 1 9
l inear style of, 1 20, 1 30, 1 5 7
patterns and modifications of, 1 1 9,
1 25-1 26
pictorial sty l e i n , 1 20, 1 27, 1 5 7
Rhetoric, 1 22-1 2 3 , 1 27 , 1 59
Rhetorical q uestion and exclamation,
1 3 7-1 38
Rickert, H ., 32
Rodi n , A., 1 32
Rollan d , R., 89
Romanticism, 83, 1 67
Russian language, 1 26-1 27, 1 28 , 1 32, 1 33
Old Russian, 1 33

Saussure, F . de, 2, 58-6 1 , 67, 1 6 1

Saussure school, 58, 61
S cerba, L., 1 62, 1 7 1
Sechehaye, Ch., 59, 1 62
Sem antic p aleontology, 23, 1 00
Sem iotics, 1 61 -1 63, 1 66 , 1 69-1 70, 1 74
see also 5 ign
Sign , 3, 9-1 5 , 22-23, 26-29, 34-3 7 , 39, 5 0,
68, 1 61 , 1 64, 1 73-1 74, 1 80 , see a!so
I deological sign, I nner s ign, P h ilosophy
of sign
S ign an d signal, 68-69, 7 1



S ignal i ty and recogn i t i on , 68-69

S i m m e l , G., 3 9


1 9 1 , 1 97 - 1 9 8

S o c i a l accent, 2 2 , 4 1
S o c i a l eval u a ti o n , 8 7 , 1 8 3 , 1 9 2
S o c i a l i n teracti o n / i n te r c o u rse, 1 7 , 4 6 , 9 0 ,
9 8 , 1 63
Social m il i e u , 1 1 , 4 7 , 8 6 , 9 3 , 9 7
Social p s y c h o l og y , 3 , 1 9 - 2 0 , 4 1 , 1 6 3
S o c i a l p u rview, 8 5 , 1 06
S o c i a l s i tuatio n /s e t ti n g , 3 8 , 8 5 - 8 7 , 1 7 1
Socioe c o n o m i c b as i s , 1 7 - 1 9 , 1 06 , 1 80
Socio i d e o l ogical i n te r o r i e ntatio n , 1 1 9 , 1 4 3
S o c i o i d eo l ogical c o m m u n i ca ti o n , 1 2 3 , 1 4 3
S o c i o l o gical m e t h o d ( i n the stu d y of
l i te ratu re) , 1 7 7 - 1 7 9 , 1 8 1 -1 8 2 , 1 8 6

U n d ersta n d i n g, 1 1 , 1 3 , 6 8 , 6 9 , 7 3 , 1 02
U n d e rsta n d i n g a n d i n t e r p r e t i n g p s y c h o l ogy,
2 6 -2 7


1 95

U tterance, 3 , 2 0-2 1 , 4 0 -4 1 , 6 7 , 7 0 , 72 , 7 9 ,
8 1 , 8 2 , 8 6 -8 7 , 9 0 , 9 3 , 9 4 -9 8 , 9 9-1 00,
1 1 0 -1 1 1 , 1 1 5 , 1 2 0 , 1 64 , 1 6 9 , 1 97 - 1 9 8 ,

see also Parole,

S pe e c h a c t , S p eech

perfo r m a n ce

fo rms of, 20-2 1

h ierarch i c al factor i n , 2 1 , 1 2 3
poetic, 1 8 3
U tterance as a w h o l e , 7 8 -7 9 , 9 6 -9 7 , 9 9 ,
1 1 0-1 1 2 , 1 7 1 -1 7 2

S o c i o l og i c a l p o e t i cs , 1 8 0 , 1 8 2, 1 8 6 - 1 8 7 ,
1 92
S o l ogu b ,

F ., 1 2 1

R., 4 7 , 5 9 , 9 8

S pe a k e r , 2 , 4 6 , 7 0 , 8 6 , 1 02 , 1 2 9 , 1 3 3 ,
1 42 - 1 4 3 , 1 64 , 1 9 2 - 1 9 3
S pe c i f i c a t i o n , 1 7 8 - 1 8 0, 1 8 1 -1 8 3
S pe e c h a c t , 3 , 4 8 , 5 7 , 9 0 , 1 64 , 1 69
S pe e c h i n teere n ce , 1 25 , 1 3 7 , 1 5 6
S pe e c h p e rfor m a n ce , 1 9 , 9 6 , 1 04 , 1 1 0
S pe e c h receptio n , 1 1 7- 1 1 8 , 1 2 2 , 1 2 8 , 1 5 4
S pe t , G . , 4 9 , 5 0 , 1 05

L., 5 0 , 8 3 , 8 9 , 9 4 , 1 7 0

S p ranger,

Stei n t h a l ,

F., 3 2

S t u d y of i d e o l o g i e s , 9 - 1 5 , 1 7 , 2 1 , 1 7 8
Stu m p f, K . , 2 4

see also

C o m m u n ic a t i o n

V i n ogradov, V . , 1 1 6 , 1 2 2 , 1 65 , 1 7 6 , 1 92
V o l k ov,

V o l os i n o v , V . , 1 -6 , 1 6 2 , 1 6 7 , 1 7 6 , 1 9 1 -1 9 6 ,
1 99
V o l u n tarism , 4 9
Vossler, K . , 3 2 , 5 0 , 5 1 , 7 9 , 8 3 , 1 4 9
Vossler s c h o oi/Vossl e r i te s , 5 1 , 7 0 , 8 6 , 9 4 ,
Vygotsk i j ,

L., 1 7 1

1 45

S t y l i s t i c s , 5 1 , 1 25 - 1 2 7 , 1 4 3 - 1 4 4 , 1 95 ,

see also

A., 1 7 4

9 8 , 1 2 6 , 1 44 , 1 46

H., 4 7 , 4 9

Style indirect fibre,

V e r bal i n terac t i o n , 3 , 1 9 , 9 4-9'8 , 1 7 0 , 1 7 2 ,

G ram m a r a n d style

Stylization, 1 9 6-1 98


S u p e rs t r u c t u res, 1 7 -1 8 , 2 4

W e i f) i nger,

S y n c h ro n i s m , 1 6 6

W o l ffl i n ,

S y n c h r o n y and d i a c h ro n y , 5 4 , 1 65 -1 6 7

Word , 3 , 9 , 1 3 -1 5 , 1 7 , 1 9 , 4 1 , 45 , 7 0 , 8 2 ,

S y n ta x , 4 -5 , 7 9 , 1 09 - 1 1 2 , 1 55 , 1 8 2

0., 2 7 , 3 2
0., 38

H ., 1 2 0

1 04 , 1 1 0-1 1 1 , 1 5 7 - 1 5 9
i d e o l ogical n e u t r a l i t y of, 9 , 1 5

W o rd - u t t e r a n c e , 1 5 8
W u n d t, W . , 3 2 , 4 7 , 49

T h e m e , 2 2 -23 , 99 - 1 0 3 , 1 1 5
au ton o m ou s , 1 1 5
Tob l e r ,
Tol stoj ,

A . , 1 42-1 43
L., 1 3 1 , 1 3 5

T u rge n e v ,

1 . , 1 3 1 , 1 35

Tynjanov, j u ., 1 64 , 1 66 , 1 8 7, 1 89 , 1 99



1 2 2 , 1 45 , 1 5 2

Zvegnicev, V . , 1 74