David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Studies in East European Thought 62 (2):217 - 236 (2010)
Roman Jakobson, who had left Russia in 1920 and in 1941 took refuge in the USA from the Nazis, was one of the main figures in post war linguistics and structuralism. Two aspects of his work are examined in this article. Firstly, Jakobson purifies his linguistic theory of pragmatic references. Secondly, he develops his own diplomatic mission of mediating between East and West. In this article, I argue that these two aspects did not develop independently from one another. Instead I claim that his theory is designed to slip through the Iron Curtain, while at the same time providing the means to analyse ways of acting politically by using language. This argument is unfolded in two steps, each consisting of two parts. First, I compare the theory of pronominal expressions as developed by Emil Benveniste to Jakobson’s theory of shifters. While Benveniste focuses on the relation of language and its subject using language, Jakobson introduces a model of communication to allow maximal formalisation of language. According to this even the category of person can be freed from its reference to a subject which would be understood as having a place in space and time. Then, Jakobson’s theory of shifters is studied in relation to his analyses of poetry. For this, two examples are chosen: Jakobson’s text on two poems by Russian poet Alexandr Blok, and his text on a poem by Bertold Brecht. In both texts, the theory of shifters—and the alleged purification from pragmatic aspects of language use ensuing from this theory—is challenged by the simple fact that they focus on the pronoun of the first person plural. According to Jakobson, the category of number does not belong to the shifters. Rather, number quantifies participants of the related event. The pronoun ‘we’ is at the same time a shifter and a non-shifter, as it refers to the speech event and the related event. Thus the pronoun ‘we’ opens up the possibility to include or exclude the participants of a communicative situation, and thereby enables the speaker to act socially or even politically by using language. The article concludes by coming back to the historical situation in which Jakobson developed his analyses of poetry. Analysing poetry seems to have been a passe-partout for him, a seemingly harmless subject that allowed him to get a foot in the door of remote and secluded lecture halls.
|Keywords||Roman Jakobson Post-WWII linguistics Shifters Pronouns Bertold Brecht Alexandr Blok Formalism Structuralism Analysis of poetry|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
Lorraine Daston (2007). Objectivity. Distributed by the MIT Press.
Michel Foucault & Paul Rabinow (1984). The Foucault Reader. Monograph Collection (Matt - Pseudo).
Claude E. Shannon & Warren Weaver (1949). The Mathematical Theory of Communication. University of Illinois Press.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Andrew Carstairs (1987). Roman Jakobson: Verbal Art, Verbal Sign, Verbal Time (Review). Philosophy and Literature 11 (1):182-184.
Jakób Liszka (1981). Peirce and Jakobson: Towards a Structuralist Reconstruction of Peirce. Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 17 (1):41 - 61.
Jan Marta (1996). A Linguistic Model of Informed Consent. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 21 (1):41-60.
J. N. Kaufmann (1976). Jakobson ou le structuralisme phénoménologique. Présentation, biographie, bibliographie. Par Elmar Holenstein. Paris, Seghers 1975, 244 pages. [REVIEW] Dialogue 15 (2):360-363.
Boudewijn de Bruin (2009). We and the Plural Subject. Philosophy of the Social Sciences 39 (2):235-259.
Marc Maesschalk (1989). Questions sur le langage poétique à partir de Roman Jakobson. Revue Philosophique De Louvain 87 (4):470-503.
Barry Smith (ed.) (1981). Structure and Gestalt: Philosophy and Literature in Austria-Hungary and Her Successor States. Benjamins.
Hugh Bredin (1984). Roman Jakobson on Metaphor and Metonymy. Philosophy and Literature 8 (1):89-103.
R. Jakobson (1965). Quest for the Essence of Language. Diogenes 13 (51):21-37.
Richard T. De George (1972). The Structuralists: From Marx to Lévi-Strauss. Garden City, N.Y.,Anchor Books.
Added to index2010-06-09
Total downloads8 ( #369,889 of 1,790,289 )
Recent downloads (6 months)1 ( #429,822 of 1,790,289 )
How can I increase my downloads?