The present article examines the text-based content of the discussion on linguistics held in 1950 on the pages of the newspaper
The discussion on the issues of linguistics was held on the pages of the most influential Soviet newspaper, the official paper of the Communist Part of the Soviet Union, the newspaper
The world reputation of the Soviet science was one of the most important objects of the ideological propaganda in the USSR (Druzhinin, 2017; Tiknonov, 2016). The ongoing cold war accounted for the tough adversarial opposition of the socialist and capitalist blocs. Science, alongside with art, became the sphere where the Soviet state posed itself as a competitive and possessing certain advantages social institution. The topic of the discussion was “the new theory of language” of the Soviet linguist Nikolay Yakovlevich Marr (1864-1934). By 1950 this theory had attained the status of almost “official” linguistics and was introduced as an academic discipline and as a methodological framework of the scientific research. N.Y. Marr declared his theory as the only true one as its methodological foundation was based on the philosophy of Marxism-Leninism, and in this sense Marr’s theory was opposed to the western and “bourgeois” linguistics. Due to the official orthodoxy nobody doubted Marr’ s thesis about the methodological advantage of the Soviet linguistics; Marr’s academic standing was never questioned. The right of “the new theory of language” to be called “Marxist” and to determine the development path of the Soviet linguistic science was debated. The ideological context common for the whole country at that period specified the pragmatic characteristics and the style of the disputants’ speeches.
The range of problems of the present research is connected with some topical issues which occupy centre stage in the studies of Russian and foreign scientists. Namely, the discussion of the Soviet scientists is studied from the historical and philosophical points of view (Druzhinin, 2017; Ideology, 2008; Tikhonov, 2016). Some researchers pay attention to the background and dynamics of the discussion on language and linguistics issues, to the possible interest of I.V. Stalin in linguistics (Alpatov, 2004; Ilizarov, 2003). Other scholars describe the linguistic theory of N.Y. Marr and the phenomenon of Marrism in the history of the Soviet linguistics (Gorbanevsky, 1991; Voloshina, 2017; Stein & Petrenko, 2016). Some academic specialists describe the language means of influence and manipulation in the political and scientific discourse (Karasik, 2015; Koshkarova, 2017; Kupina, 2014; Romanova, Malafeev, Morozova, Klimova (Fokina), 2017; Nau & Stewart, 2014; Weinmann, Roth, Schneider, Kramer, Hopp, Bindl, Vorderer, 2017). The theory of conceptual metaphor is dwelt upon in a lot of publications (Budaev, Chudinov, Tsygankova, 2017; Kushneruk, Afanasyeva, Kurochkina, Mineeva, 2017; Thibodeau, Hendricks, Boroditsky, 2017). The outstanding feature of the present research consists in the attempt to reveal the linguistic and pragmatic specifics of the discussion on the issues of linguistics and justify its dependence on the ideologically-biased scientific and journalese discourse of the USSR in the middle of the XX century.
Purpose of the Study
The text materials of the discussion function as the object of the present research, and the means and forms of the evaluative and axiological semantics’ expression act as the subject of the study. The aim of the authors is to characterize the linguistic and ideological component of the public discussion on the issues of linguistics revealing its typical and specific features which are determined, on the one hand, by the dependence on state ideology and the framework of the Soviet journalese discourse, and on the other hand, by the subject of the discussion and the status of its participants. The references to the sources of the discussion materials are given according to the anthology “Discussions in the Soviet Science and Ideology” (Discussions, 2009).
For the achievement of the set goal it was necessary to reveal the peculiar language means through which the discussion’s participants realized the strategies of influence and convincing. The selection of the representative material was carried out on the basis of the methods of observation, comparison and description. The following objects of study were singled out: lexical units with the evaluative meaning; conceptual metaphors; question-answer units and adversative constructions. The estimation of the semantics, communicative and pragmatic functions of the identified objects was carried out with the help of the methods of discursive, linguistic and pragmatic, linguistic and cultural, contextual analysis. These methods helped to study the language units taking into account their syntagmatic, paradigmatic, intertextual, associative relations and cultural context. Besides, the method of polysystemic (systematic and integrated) analysis was used; it was aimed at the study of the split-level language means united by the similarity of the semantic function. The semantic and stylistic method was used with the help of which the text functions of the cognitive metaphors were described.
Linguistic and pragmatic characteristics
The rhetoric of the speeches of both parts has some common linguistic and pragmatic features which display close connection of the present discussion with the Soviet journalese polemical discourse. The genre of the discussion accounted for the abundance of the lexical means which express the evaluative meanings, among which the rational ones dominate: utilitarian, teleological, intellectual, true-false, quantitative (this classification is based on the theory by N.D. Arutyunova, 1988). As a rule, the object of evaluation is the teaching of N.Y. Marr, his friends and opponents, the figure of N.Y. Marr himself, the Soviet and western (“bourgeois”) linguistics, the teaching of the fathers of Marxism-Leninism. Below are the examples of the evaluative lexical units in the materials of the discussion:
utilitarian evaluation: …
надежная теоретическая база [… nadezhnaya teoreticheskaya baza…] … reliable theoretical base; … основополагающие утверждения Маркса, Энгельса, Ленина, Сталина [… osnovopolagayushchie utverzhdeniya Marksa, Engel'sa, Lenina, Stalina…]… basic premises of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin; …статья проф. Арн. Чикобава очень острая, резкая и нужная […stat'ya prof. Arn. Chikobava ochen' ostraya, rezkaya i nuzhnaya ] … the article by prof. Arn. Chikobava is very poignant, acute and necessary;
: исследовательские приемы академика Н.Я. Марра не отвечают требованиям марксистского диалектического метода… [issledovatel'skie priemy akademika N.Ya. Marra ne otvechayut trebovaniyam marksistskogo dialekticheskogo metoda…] … the research methods of N.Y. Marr don’t meet the requirements of the Marxist dialectical method …; … изжившие себя каноны буржуазного языкознания перестали удовлетворять наиболее мыслящих языковедов…[… izzhivshie sebya kanony burzhuaznogo yazykoznaniya perestali udovletvoryat' naibolee myslyashchikh yazykovedov…] outdated canons of the bourgeois linguistics have stopped to satisfy the needs of the most reflecting linguists …;
… бесспорная заслуга, роль акад. Марра огромна и неоспорима … [ besspornaya zasluga, rol' akad. Marra ogromna i neosporima ] … the achievement is undoubted , and role of acad. N.Y. Marr is great and undeniable; … особый интерес представляет та часть работ Н.Я. Марра … [ osobyy interes predstavlyaet ta chast' rabot N.Ya. Marra…] this part of the works by N.Y. Marr is of special interest; точные языковедные указания Маркса, Энгельса, Ленина и Сталина… [… tochnye yazykovednye ukazaniya Marksa, Engel'sa, Lenina i Stalina…]… exact linguistic instructions by Mrx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin …; … прекрасно изложены в гениальном произведении товарища Сталина… [… prekrasno izlozheny v genial'nom proizvedenii tovarishcha Stalina…]… beautifully stated in the genius work by comrade Stalin …; …… самое удивительное в поведении наших языковедов заключается… [… samoe udivitel'noe v povedenii nashikh yazykovedov zaklyuchaetsya…]… the most curious fact in the behaviour of our linguists is that; застой , в состоянии которого оказалось наше языкознание… [… zastoy , v sostoyanii kotorogo okazalos' nashe yazykoznanie…]... the stagnation in which our linguistics found itself …; застойность нашего советского языковедения… [… zastoynost' nashego sovetskogo yazykovedeniya…] the stagnation state of our Soviet linguistics …;
понятие классового языка внутренне противоречиво , научно несостоятельно… [ponyatie klassovogo yazyka vnutrenne protivorechivo , nauchno nesostoyatel'no…] the notion of the class language is intrinsically contradictory , scientifically invalid …; принципиальные ошибки теории Н. Я.Марра… [printsipial'nye oshibki teorii N. Ya.Marra…] the fundamental errors of N.Y. Marr’s theory …; … неправильные положения лингвистической теории акад. Н.Я. Марра [… nepravil'nye polozheniya lingvisticheskoy teorii akad. N.Ya. Marra]… wrong issues of the linguistic theory by acad. N.Y. Marr; ошибочные высказывания… [oshibochnye vyskazyvaniya…] erroneous statements …;… ошибочные построения… [… oshibochnye postroeniya…]… erroneous arguments …; … лженаучные построения… [ lzhenauchnye postroeniya…] pseudoscientific arguments …; лицемерие и лживость буржуазной терминологии [ litsemerie i lzhivost' burzhuaznoy terminologii] … hypocrisy and falsehood of the bourgeois terminology …;
грандиозное языковое строительство [… grandioznoe yazykovoe stroitel'stvo] … grand language construction; исключительный теоретический интерес… [ isklyuchitel'nyy teoreticheskiy interes …] outstanding theoretical interest …; …нельзя не удивляться великому дерзанию советского ученого… грандиозности его замыслов и значительности достигнутых им результатов […nel'zya ne udivlyat'sya velikomu derzaniyu sovetskogo uchenogo… grandioznosti ego zamyslov i znachitel'nosti dostignutykh im rezul'tatov] … one can’t but admire the great endeavour of the Soviet scientist … the immensity of his ideas and the magnitude of the achieved results.
The emotional evaluation is expressed inconsistently, in the structure of ideological metaphors:
The axiological ‘friend-foe’ opposition is the characteristic feature of the polemical discourse (Chernyavskaya & Molodychenko, 2014; Karasik, 2015; Koshkarova, 2017). We consider this opposition to be the key one for this discussion. The ideologemes, “the verbally shaped politically charged issues” (Kupina, 2014: 55), serve as the main means of the verbal representation of the above-mentioned opposition. These ideologemes are always connected with the definite general evaluative meaning. The following words and expressions belong to these ideologemes:
In the framework of the ‘friend-foe’ opposition the usage of the ideologemes could serve as a manipulative means of the opponent’s discreditation not only as a scientist but also as a trustworthy citizen. Academician I.I. Meshchaninov’s statement about the scientific viewpoint of the principles N.Y. Marr’s opponent A.S. Chikobava could serve as an example in this context:
In the process of labeling of the ‘friend-foe’ opposition, metaphors, namely the metaphor of language construction (“friends” − build, “foes” − ruin), play a great role:
The usage of the metaphor of the language construction in the context of the cognitive metaphor of war contributed to the forming of the evaluative semantics. The metaphor of war symbolises the search of the only right vector of the Soviet linguistics’ development:
The ‘friend-foe’ opposition whose implication is the ideological confrontation is also reflected in the destructive metaphors of war, struggle, and restrain which are also coherent with the rhetoric of the Soviet discourse:
The common linguistic and pragmatic features of the speeches are also demonstrated on the syntactic level. The question-answer complexes, negative and adversative constructions are actively used in the participants’ speeches and perform important text functions. Interrogative sentences determining the topic of the speech and highlighting the main semantic part of the text stir up and guide the reader’s attention. The range of interrogative sentences in the beginning of the text performs two functions: they convey the essence of the text in the form of an abstract and outline the structure of the speech:
In the conclusion of the text the interrogative sentences briefly refresh the author’s position and perform a pragmatic function determined by the genre of the discussion, namely they outline the polemic bitterness of the article and an open, unfinished character of the discussion:
But it should be noted that interrogative sentences are more often used as a constructive element of the question-answer complexes the aim of which is the explication of the author’s position. The evaluation of the other’s point of view is expressed with the various degree of categorical wording at that, hence the manipulative character of these question-answer complexes is manifested to different extents.
The interrogative sentences which include the ideologemes demonstrate the highest degree of categorical wording. The aim of such sentences is to discredit the other’s point of view by means of expression doubt in the ideological coherence of the scientist’s position to “right way” of linguistics’ development:
The categorical wording is achieved by means of the general negative sentence which is used in response. The negation in this general negative sentence applies to the predicate and is updated by a range of specific negative components:
The less categorical evaluation is expressed in such question-answer complexes where the response has a supposition modality: Мы не можем поэтому не спрашивать себя, чему мы объективно служим, отстаивая значение именно сравнительно-исторического метода, хотя бы как одного из методов языковедения в области истории языка? Что говорит в нас? полученная ли школа? привычка? инерция? неумение оценить перспективы, открывающиеся с других позиций? неспособность преодолеть пережитки буржуазного сознания? Вряд ли (Дискуссии, 2009: Л. Булаховский. Правда. 13.06.1950). [My ne mozhem poetomu ne sprashivat' sebya, chemu my ob"ektivno sluzhim, otstai¬vaya znachenie imenno sravnitel'no-istoricheskogo metoda, khotya by kak odnogo iz metodov yazykovedeniya v oblasti istorii yazyka? Chto govorit v nas? poluchennaya li shkola? privychka? inertsiya? neumenie otsenit' perspektivy, otkryvayushchiesya s drugikh pozitsiy? nesposobnost' preodolet' perezhitki burzhuaznogo soznaniya? Vryad li (Diskussii, 2009: L. Bulakhovskiy. Pravda. 13.06.1950)]. We can’t but ask ourselves what kind of things we serve, defending the meaning of exactly the comparative and historical method which can be at least one of the linguistics method in the area of the history of language? What motivates us? received education? habit? inertness? the inability to estimate the perspectives from other points of view? the failure to overcome the remnants of the bourgeois consciousness? Hardly. (Discussions, 2009: L. Bulakhovskiy. Pravda. June 13, 1950). The constructions of this kind perform several functions which are determined by the genre specifics and the discursive conditions in which the discussion took place. The discussion on the issues of linguistics which was held on the pages of the mass Soviet newspaper includes the elements of the scientific and mass-media discourse. It should be underlined that in the conflict discourse of the mass-media the interrogative constructions “let the author convey the negative information quite safely for himself” (Popkova, 2015: 163). In the scientific discourse one of the functions of the question-answer complexes is “notional catching or generalization of what was said before with the aim of the following disputing and reinterpretation but from the alternative point of view” (Nephyodov, 2015).
The latter can be applied to the adversative constructions with the conjunctions
The antitheses without conjunctions means but with the juxtaposition also contain emotional evaluation and are highly expressive. Such constructions very often contain metaphors and repetitions on different levels:
We strongly believe that question-answer complexes and adversative constructions which represent contradictory points of view, expressive character of some parts of the discussion perform, alongside with the ideologemes, perform a manipulative function. In this respect we stand in full solidarity with T.V. Romanova who thinks that even amid overt criticism and evaluation some speech devices and language means “play an important role in imposing your own point of view on a reader” (Romanova, Malafeev, Morozova, Klimova (Fokina), 2017: 70).
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30 April 2018
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Sociolinguistics, linguistics, semantics, discourse analysis, translation, interpretation
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Petrova, N., Shirokova, E., & Koshkarova, N. (2018). Linguistic Discussion In The Context Of The Soviet Journalese Discourse. In & I. V. Denisova (Ed.), Word, Utterance, Text: Cognitive, Pragmatic and Cultural Aspects, vol 39. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 310-321). Future Academy. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2018.04.02.45