The relevance of Marx to contemporary perspectives on Utterance Meaning in Context: a re-examination of Voloshinov's Philosophy of Language

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Abstract


Philosophers on all sides of the contemporary Contextualism debates have given primacy to the role context plays in utterance comprehension. They view language as a socio-cultural practice; their theoretical perspectives are largely focused on speaker's intentions and contextually modified senses of language elements appropriate to the situation at hand. Following Marx and Engels' (1845) philosophical contributions on language, Voloshinov (1929: 9–24, 83–98) argues that language can only exist if socially organised individuals engage and communicate through the use of ‘signs’. The object of study should be the language of ‘actual life’, in other words utterances that carry meaning in existent social contexts, as well as interactions between interlocutors which alter and shift in real socio-historical conditions. The central tenet of this paper is to examine and advocate the use-value of language key to both contemporary philosophical thought on language and that of Marx. The latter however has had little or no impact on the former. Using Voloshinov's (1929) framework, which gives primacy to the historical and social character of language, we argue for a (re)introduction of a Marxist Philosophy of Language into current philosophical debates as its contribution is essential in assessing the impact of language use on social consciousness.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-204
Number of pages11
JournalLanguage Sciences
Volume70
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 18 Nov 2018

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Utterance
Philosophy of Language
Karl Marx
Language
Primacy
Philosopher
Tenets
Speaker Intentions
Marxist philosophy
Social Interaction
Social Consciousness
Social Context
Language Use
Contextualism
Thought
Friedrich Engels
Interlocutors
Cultural Practices

Keywords

  • Marxism and philosophy of language
  • use-value of language
  • Radical Contextualism
  • utterance meaning in context
  • communication

Cite this

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title = "The relevance of Marx to contemporary perspectives on Utterance Meaning in Context: a re-examination of Voloshinov's Philosophy of Language",
abstract = "Philosophers on all sides of the contemporary Contextualism debates have given primacy to the role context plays in utterance comprehension. They view language as a socio-cultural practice; their theoretical perspectives are largely focused on speaker's intentions and contextually modified senses of language elements appropriate to the situation at hand. Following Marx and Engels' (1845) philosophical contributions on language, Voloshinov (1929: 9–24, 83–98) argues that language can only exist if socially organised individuals engage and communicate through the use of ‘signs’. The object of study should be the language of ‘actual life’, in other words utterances that carry meaning in existent social contexts, as well as interactions between interlocutors which alter and shift in real socio-historical conditions. The central tenet of this paper is to examine and advocate the use-value of language key to both contemporary philosophical thought on language and that of Marx. The latter however has had little or no impact on the former. Using Voloshinov's (1929) framework, which gives primacy to the historical and social character of language, we argue for a (re)introduction of a Marxist Philosophy of Language into current philosophical debates as its contribution is essential in assessing the impact of language use on social consciousness.",
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AB - Philosophers on all sides of the contemporary Contextualism debates have given primacy to the role context plays in utterance comprehension. They view language as a socio-cultural practice; their theoretical perspectives are largely focused on speaker's intentions and contextually modified senses of language elements appropriate to the situation at hand. Following Marx and Engels' (1845) philosophical contributions on language, Voloshinov (1929: 9–24, 83–98) argues that language can only exist if socially organised individuals engage and communicate through the use of ‘signs’. The object of study should be the language of ‘actual life’, in other words utterances that carry meaning in existent social contexts, as well as interactions between interlocutors which alter and shift in real socio-historical conditions. The central tenet of this paper is to examine and advocate the use-value of language key to both contemporary philosophical thought on language and that of Marx. The latter however has had little or no impact on the former. Using Voloshinov's (1929) framework, which gives primacy to the historical and social character of language, we argue for a (re)introduction of a Marxist Philosophy of Language into current philosophical debates as its contribution is essential in assessing the impact of language use on social consciousness.

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