Linguistic Discussion In The Context Of The Soviet Journalese Discourse


The present article examines the text-based content of the discussion on linguistics held in 1950 on the pages of the newspaper Pravda . The focus is on the means and forms of expressing evaluation and axiological semantics. The authors set a goal to characterize the linguistic-ideological component of the discussion revealing at the same time the features 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 materials of the "linguistic discussion" reflected the signs of scientific polemical discourse and conflict communication in the discourse of the media. To the former belong: the abundance of evaluative vocabulary which expresses predominantly a rationalistic assessment; the active usage of interrogative sentences and question-answer complexes. The conditions of public communication accounted for the expression of the axiological notional "friend-foe" opposition and the expressive richness of separate text items. The main means of the "friend-foe" opposition’s representation are ideologemes and a system of metaphors. The common linguistic and pragmatic features of the discussion are found on the level of syntax and are manifested in the active usage of interrogative, negative and adversative constructions. A characteristic feature is the usage of question-answer complexes, and expressivisation of the text through adversative constructions and antitheses. It is shown that the question-answer complexes, the adversative constructions, the expressive richness of separate fragments of speeches carry out in this discussion a manipulative function.

Keywords: Marrdiscussionideologememetaphorevaluationsyntax


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 Pravda in 1950. Invoking to such a remote event is justified by a variety of reasons. Firstly, the study of the public polemical discourse of different historical periods contributes to a deeper comprehension of the mass communication phenomenon and mass-media phenomenon the latter being mass communication’s agent. It should be noted that the reviewing of the scientific discussion taking place in the mass information space is of special interest not least because it is a rather unusual occurrence because general public is usually interested not in the scientific discussion but in the practical appliance of the scientific research. Secondly, in a rather short period of 1947-1951 the discussion on the problems of philosophy, biology, physiology of higher nervous activity, psychology, chemistry, political economy took place in the USSR. During these discussions, including the linguistic one, not only the influence of the Soviet state ideology on science was demonstrated (Berkov, 2015) but also “the belief in the positive and beneficial” character of this influence was revealed (Ideology, 2008). The materials of the discussion on the issues of linguistics give us the opportunity, on the one hand, to conceptualise the role of the ideological component in goal-setting and methodology of linguistics and, on the other hand, to comprehend the role of language in exercising the ideological influence, the latter being a topical issue at present time – the time of information and psychological warfare.

Problem Statement

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.

Research Questions

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).

Research Methods

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;

  • teleological evaluation : 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 …;

  • intellectual: 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 …;

  • true-false: 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 …;

  • quantitative: … 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: сияющие своды марксистско-ленинской науки о языке… [… siyayushchie svody marksistsko-leninskoy nauki o yazyke…]… shining arches of the Marxist-Lenin language science; … затхлое болото буржуазного языкознания… [… zatkhloe boloto burzhuaznogo yazykoznaniya…] … stuffy bog of the bourgeois linguistics … ( Discussions, 2009; G. Sanzheev. Pravda. May 23, 1950).

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: Soviet, Marxist, Leninist, materialistic (“friend” → “value” → positive evaluation), bourgeois, western, idealistic, comparative and historical linguistics (“foe” → “anti-value” → negative evaluation). In the speeches of the discussion’s participants this lexis labels the defined object as belonging to the circle of “friends” (which is good) or, on the contrary, to the circle of “foes” (which is bad) rather than expresses the relevant notion, e.g.: Борясь с лженаучными построениями буржуазной идеалистической лингвистики, советские ученые строят подлинную науку о языке, материалистическое языкознание на основах диалектического и исторического материализма (Дискуссии, 2009: И. Мещанинов. Правда. 16.05.1950). [ Boryas' s lzhenauchnymi postroeniyami burzhuaznoy idealisticheskoy lingvistiki, sovetskie uchenye stroyat podlinnuyu nauku o yazyke, materialisticheskoe yazykoznanie na osnovakh dialekticheskogo i istoricheskogo materializma (Diskussii, 2009: I. Meshchaninov. Pravda. 16.05.1950)] . Fighting with the pseudoscientific arguments of the bourgeois idealistic linguistics the Soviet scientists build a genuine science about language, materialistic linguistics on the principles of the dialectical and historical materialism (Discussions, 2009: I. Meshchaninov. Pravda. May 16, 1950); Он первый из лингвистов дореволюционной формации освободился от многих предрассудков буржуазно-идеалистической науки о языке и вступил в ожесточенную, непримиримую борьбу с ними во имя материалистической лингвистики (Дискуссии, 2009: В. Виноградов. Правда. 06.06. 1950). [ On pervyy iz lingvistov dorevolyutsionnoy formatsii osvobodilsya ot mnogikh predrassudkov burzhuazno-idealisticheskoy nauki o yazyke i vstupil v ozhestochennuyu, neprimirimuyu bor'bu s nimi vo imya materialisticheskoy lingvistiki (Diskussii, 2009: V. Vinogradov. Pravda. 06.06. 1950)] . He was the first among the linguists of the pre-revolutionary breed who got rid of the majority of prejudices of the bourgeois and idealistic science about language and entered the desperate and irreconcilable struggle for the sake of the materialistic linguistics (Discussions, 2009: V. Vinogradov. Pravda. June 6, 1950).

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: Советский период творчества Марра, характерный наиболее важными для нас творческими трудами уже сложившегося советского ученого, оценивается лишь отрицательно (Дискуссии, 2009: И. Мещанинов. Правда. 16.05.1950). [ Sovetskiy period tvorchestva Marra, kharakternyy naibolee vazhnymi dlya nas tvorcheskimi trudami uzhe slozhivshegosya sovetskogo uchenogo, otsenivaetsya lish' otritsatel'no (Diskussii, 2009: I. Meshchaninov. Pravda. 16.05.1950)]. The Soviet period of Marr’s activity which is characterised by the most important works by the mature Soviet scientist is estimated only negatively (Discussions, 2009: I. Meshchaninov. Pravda. May 16, 1950) .

Metaphor usage

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: задач языкового строительства нашей Родины [zadach yazykovogo stroitel'stva nashey Rodiny]urgent tasks of language construction of our Motherland; советское языкознание… будет строиться на основополагающих указаниях Маркса, Энгельса, Ленина, Сталина о языке [sovetskoe yazykoznanie… budet stroit'sya na osnovopolagayushchikh ukazaniyakh Marksa, Engel'sa, Lenina, Stalina o yazyke] Soviet linguistics … will be built on the basic instructions about language of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin; советские ученые строят подлинную науку о языке, материалистическое языкознание [sovetskie uchenye stroyat podlinnuyu nauku o yazyke, materialisticheskoe yazykoznanie] Soviet scientist build true science about language, materialistic linguistics and so on. In the context of discussion this metaphor has an evaluative function which is to a great extent determined by extra-linguistic factors. During the country’s revival after the devastating war the vocabulary of the thematic group “construction” acquires positive connotation which, in its turn, is transmitted from the words of target sphere to the metaphor.

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: по этому пути, по пути исторического и диалектического материализма, и должно идти далее советское языковедение [po etomu puti, po puti istoricheskogo i dialekticheskogo materializma, i dolzhno idti dalee sovetskoe yazykovedenie ] the Soviet linguistics should go further along this road, along the road of historical and dialectical materialism; освободив его высказывания от ошибочных отклонений от правильно взятого им пути [osvobodiv ego vyskazyvaniya ot oshibochnykh otkloneniy ot pravil'no vzyatogo im puti] having unchained his statements from the erroneous deviations from the correctly taken track and so on. Both the metaphor of the language construction and the metaphor of way turn out to be ideologically determined because the label the “friend’s” position. On the whole, this system of images coincided with the epistemological scientific paradigm of that time.

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: Весь огонь своей критики направили на дискредитацию всей фактической стороны исследований акад. H. Я. Марра (Дискуссии, 2009: Ф. Филин. Правда. 30.05.1950) [ Ves' ogon' svoey kritiki napravili na diskreditatsiyu vsey fakticheskoy storony issledovaniy akad. H. Ya. Marra (Diskussii, 2009: F. Filin. Pravda. 30.05.1950)]. The fire of criticism was aimed at the discreditation of acad. N.Y. Marr’s scientific position (Discussions, 2009: F. Filin. Pravda. May 30, 1950); Таким построениям буржуазной лингвистики Н. Я. Марр наносит решительный удар и опрокидывает одну за другой все ведущие установки идеалистической науки о языке (Дискуссии, 2009: И. Мещанинов. Правда. 16.05.1950). [ Takim postroeniyam burzhuaznoy lingvistiki N. Ya. Marr nanosit reshitel'nyy udar i oprokidyvaet odnu za drugoy vse vedushchie ustanovki idealisticheskoy nauki o yazyke (Diskussii, 2009: I. Meshchaninov. Pravda. 16.05.1950)] . N.Y.Marr makes a determined attack at such arguments of the bourgeois linguistics and overthrows one by one the leading guideposts of the idealistic science (Discussions, 2009: I. Meshchaninov. Pravda. May 16, 1950); Широкий размах научно-исследовательской мысли Марра в подавляющем большинстве случаев оказывается скованным железным обручем весьма немногочисленных основополагающих теоретических положений (Дискуссии, 2009: Б. Серебренников. Правда. 23.05.1950). [ Shirokiy razmakh nauchno-issledovatel'skoy mysli Marra v podavlyayushchem bol'shinstve sluchaev okazyvaetsya skovannym zheleznym obruchem ves'ma nemnogochislennykh osnovopolagayushchikh teoreticheskikh polozheniy (Diskussii, 2009: B. Serebrennikov. Pravda. 23.05.1950)]. A vast scale of the scientific-research thought predominantly turns out to be chained by the hoop of the rare fundamental theoretical points (Discussions, 2009: B. Serebrenninkov. Pravda. May 23, 1950).

Syntactic level

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: В этой связи необходимо разобраться в вопросе: что собою представляет теория акад. Н. Я. Марра? Насколько правомерно замещать марксизм-ленинизм в языкознании теорией Н. Я. Марра? Что требуется для развития советской лингвистики, основанной на подлинно научных принципах марксизма-ленинизма? (Дискуссии, 2009: Арн. Чикобава. Правда. 09.05.1950). [ V etoy svyazi neobkhodimo razobrat'sya v voprose: chto soboyu predstavlyaet teoriya akad. N. Ya. Marra? Naskol'ko pravomerno zameshchat' marksizm-leninizm v yazykoznanii teoriey N. Ya. Marra? Chto trebuetsya dlya razvitiya sovetskoy lingvistiki, osnovannoy na podlinno nauchnykh printsipakh marksizma-leninizma? (Diskussii, 2009: Arn. Chikobava. Pravda. 09.05.1950)] . In this connection we must see into a matter: what do the works by acad. N.Y. Marr correspond to? How appropriate is it to substitute Marxism-Leninism in linguistics by N.Y. Marr’s theory? What is necessary for the development of the Soviet linguistics which is based on the truly scientific principles of Marxism-Leninism? (Discussions, 2009 : Arn. Chikobava. Pravda. May 9, 1950).

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: Означает ли все вышесказанное то, что Н. Я. Марр должен быть совершенно отброшен и советское языкознание должно строиться совершенно заново? Думается, что такой вывод был бы неверным (Дискуссии, 2009: Б. Серебренников. Правда. 23.05.1950). [ Oznachaet li vse vysheskazannoe to, chto N. Ya. Marr dolzhen byt' sovershenno otbroshen i sovetskoe yazykoznanie dolzhno stroit'sya sovershenno zanovo? Dumaetsya, chto takoy vyvod byl by nevernym (Diskussii, 2009: B. Serebrennikov. Pravda. 23.05.1950)]. Does it mean that N.Y. Marr should be rejected and the Soviet linguistics must be built from the very beginning? It seems that such a conclusion would be wrong (Discussions, 2009: B. Serebrenninkov. Pravda. May 23, 1950).

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: Если исследовательские приемы академика Н. Я. Марра не отвечают требованиям марксистского диалектического метода, то где искать выход? Этот выход состоит в применении в языковедческих исследованиях марксистско-диалектического метода, основные черты которого прекрасно изложены в гениальном произведении товарища Сталина «О диалектическом и историческом материализме» (Дискуссии, 2009: Б. Серебренников. Правда. 23.05.1950). [ Esli issledovatel'skie priemy akademika N. Ya. Marra ne otvechayut trebovaniyam marksistskogo dialekticheskogo metoda, to gde iskat' vykhod? Etot vykhod sostoit v primenenii v yazykovedcheskikh issledovaniyakh marksistsko-dialekticheskogo metoda, osnovnye cherty kotorogo prekrasno izlozheny v genial'nom proizvedenii tovarishcha Stalina «O dialekticheskom i istoricheskom materializme» (Diskussii, 2009: B. Serebrennikov. Pravda. 23.05.1950)]. If N.Y. Marr’s research techniques don’t meet the requirements of the Marxist dialectical method where should we find the way out? The way out is in the usage of the Marxist dialectical method in the linguistic research the main points of which are stated in the genius work “Dialectical and Historical Materialism” by comrade Stalin (Discussions, 2009: B. Serebrennikov. Pravda. May 23, 1950).

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: Где, когда и кем доказано, что все слова всех языков земного шара восходят к четырем элементам (Сал, Бер, Йон, Рош)? Нигде, никем и никогда это не было доказано (Дискуссии, 2009: Арн. Чикобава. Правда. 09.05.1950). [ Gde, kogda i kem dokazano, chto vse slova vsekh yazykov zemnogo shara voskhodyat k chetyrem elementam (Sal, Ber, Yon, Rosh)? Nigde, nikem i nikogda eto ne bylo dokazano (Diskussii, 2009: Arn. Chikobava. Pravda. 09.05.1950)]. Where, when and who proved the fact that all the words of the world languages trace their origin to the four elements (Sal, Ber, Yon, Rosh)? It hasn’t been proved by nobody and anywhere . (Discussions, 2009: Arn. Chikobava. Pravda. 09.05.1950).The stylistic device of incomplete syntactic parallelism alongside with the lexical and root repetitions adds to the categorical wording and expressive character of evaluation. The manipulative potential of such constructions is rather strong as they “signal about the active interference of the author into argumentation. It is expressed in the categorical imposing of the author’s point of view and in the addressee’s “pressure” (Nephyodov, 2015).

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 но (but), однако (however) which are used to introduce the “foe” position (in the first part of the construction) and “friend” position (in the second part of the construction). In our opinion, such constructions are relevant to the constructions of concessive assumption when the speaker in the first part “intentionally makes a concession, agrees with somebody’s opinion, has to put up with something”, and in the second part he expresses his “true point of view” (Toptygina, 2011): Все сказанное выше, конечно, не означает, что в теории Н. Я. Марра нет ошибочных и спорных положений. Но из этого отнюдь не следует вывод, который делает проф. Чикобава, что теорию Н. Я. Марра надо отбросить (Дискуссии, 2009: Н. Чемоданов. Правда. 23.05.1950). [ Vse skazannoe vyshe, konechno, ne oznachaet, chto v teorii N. Ya. Marra net oshibochnykh i spornykh polozheniy. No iz etogo otnyud' ne sleduet vyvod, kotoryy delaet prof. Chikobava, chto teoriyu N. Ya. Marra nado otbrosit' (Diskussii, 2009: N. Chemodanov. Pravda. 23.05.1950)]. The above-mentioned facts don’t mean that N.Y. Marr’s theory doesn’t contain erroneous and contradictory points. But it doesn’t ensure the conclusion made by prof. Chikobava that N.Y. Marr’s theory should be rejected (Discussions, 2009: N. Chemodanov. Pravda. May 23, 1950); Советские лингвисты так или иначе продолжают дело акад. Марра, когда они в борьбе с буржуазно-идеалистическим языкознанием строят материалистическую лингвистику, опирающуюся на марксизм-ленинизм. Однако установить исторические закономерности семантических изменений слов на разных стадиях развития языка и связать эти закономерности с законами истории общественной жизни, открытыми марксизмом, Н. Я. Марру не удалось (Дискуссии, 2009: В. Виноградов. Правда. 06.06.1950). [ Sovetskie lingvisty tak ili inache prodolzhayut delo akad. Marra, kogda oni v bor'be s burzhuazno-idealisticheskim yazykoznaniem stroyat materialisticheskuyu lingvistiku, opirayushchuyusya na marksizm-leninizm. Odnako ustanovit' istoricheskie zakonomernosti semanticheskikh izmeneniy slov na raznykh stadiyakh razvitiya yazyka i svyazat' eti zakonomernosti s zakonami istorii obshchestvennoy zhizni, otkrytymi marksizmom, N. Ya. Marru ne udalos' (Diskussii, 2009: V. Vinogradov. Pravda. 06.06.1950)]. The Soviet linguists in this or that way continue hand on the lamp of prof. Marr when they struggle with the bourgeois and idealistic linguistics, build the materialistic linguistics which is based in Marxism-Leninism. However, N.Y. Marr didn’t manage to establish the historical regularity of the words’ semantic changes on different stages of the language development; he didn’t manage to connect these regularities with the history laws of the social life opened in Marxism (Discussions, 2009: V. Vinogradov. Pravda. June 6, 1950).

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: В свое время элементный анализ загнал в тупик лингвистическую теорию акад. Н. Я. Марра. Ныне – с восстановлением в правах элементного анализа – в тупик попадает вся лингвистическая работа (Дискуссии, 2009: Арн. Чикобава. Правда. 09.05.1950). [ V svoe vremya elementnyy analiz zagnal v tupik lingvisticheskuyu teoriyu akad. N. Ya. Marra. Nyne – s vosstanovleniem v pravakh elementnogo analiza – v tupik popadaet vsya lingvisticheskaya rabota (Diskussii, 2009: Arn. Chikobava. Pravda. 09.05.1950)]. In due time the element analysis got N.Y. Marr’s linguistic theory into a tight place. Now – alongside with the rehabilitation of the element analysis – the whole linguistic work is in a tight place (Discussions, 2009: Arn. Chikobava. Pravda. May 9, 1950).

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).


7.1. The genre specifics, historical and political context of the discussion on the issues of linguistics determined the linguistic and pragmatic characteristics of the speeches of its participants. These features are revealed on the lexical, stylistic, syntactic, compositional and speech levels. First of all, we should single out the functions of the evaluative vocabulary. As it was shown, utilitarian, teleological, intellectual, true-false, quantitative evaluative meaning dominated in the course of the discussion. This fact is coherent with the principles of the scientific discussion. Secondly, the evaluation was quite restrained, the derogative, emotional statements against the opponents were absent which reflects the desire of the speakers to be objective. The participants of the discussion differentiate between N.Y. Marr as a person who is evaluated rather positively, and the theory of N.Y. Marr which is evaluated ambivalently. The following ideological issues become objects of the emotional evaluation (positive or negative): Marxism-Leninism, Soviet linguistics, idealistic and bourgeois linguistics. Thirdly, the conceptual ‘friend-foe” opposition of the political discourse becomes the main means of the ideological influence in almost all the speeches. The ideologemes, evaluative metaphors, syntactic means of the different viewpoints’ contradiction (question-answer complexes, adversative constructions with modal meanings), stylistic means function as tools of the expression of the ‘friend-foe” opposition.

7.2. The discussion on the issues of linguistics was such not only by the title but by the contents as well. Two alternative points of view were represented during this discussion: “official” (pro-Marr) and oppositional (anti-Marr); the number of the latter’s adherers was much greater. Thus from the period of May 9 when “Pravda” announced the beginning of the free discussion up to June 19, more than 190 articles were submitted to the newspaper, 170 of which supported Marr to this or that extent, and only 20 articles had a strong anti-Marr character (Ilizarov, 2003). The article “Marxism and Problems of Linguistics” by J. V. Stalin which was published in “Pravda” on June 20, 1950 acknowledged the victory of N.Y. Marr’s adversaries and the end of “the new theory of language”. Unfortunately, the Soviet and western linguistics had been in artificial controversy for a long time; this fact restrained the development of the Russian science about language. Nowadays there is a tendency to revise N.Y. Marr’s ideas about the regularities and factors of the language origin in the light of modern theories about language anthropocentrism. The scientists often argue about the event connected with the discussion on the issues of linguistics. The government order for the ideologically “correct” human science seems to be naive in the XXI century. But at the same time an open scientific discussion on the issues of linguistics makes a great impression on the reader nowadays. From our point of view, orientation at the diversity of opinions, personalism, the probable character of knowledge leads to the fact that the search for truth is not admitted as the goal of scientific cognition. This leads to the society’s unresponsiveness to the scientific ideas, especially in the sphere of human sciences which are not directly connected with the person’s material needs.


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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.