Mikhail Mikhailovich Bakhtin – Patron Saint of August, 2019

It’s the first weekend of a new month! You know what that means, right?

Allow us to introduce you to Mikhail Mikhailovich Bakhtin!

Born on the 16th of November, 1895, Bakhtin was a Russian philosopher, literary critic and semiotician, who also worked on literary theory, ethics and philosophy of language.

There can be no doubt that Bakhtin had a significant influence in a number of different fields of study: for us, though, the most important work Bakhtin did might be the work known as The Dialogic Imagination, a collection of four essays about language first published as a whole in 1975. In this work, some terms that are now in common use in linguistics (and other fields) were introduced. Among others, we find important terms such as heretoglossia, dialogism, and chronotope.

You might recognise some (or all) of these as important concepts in today’s study of language and they all originated in this one person – quite a feat, wouldn’t you say?

Bakhtin also proposed that all languages represent a distinct point of view on the world. As such, there are no “neutral” words because language is always “shot through with intentions and accents” and even the most unremarkable statement therefore possesses a taste or conveys an attitude.

So there, your topic for Monday’s coffee-break chat is there for the taking: is there something like a neutral statement?

Next month, we’ll give you some small insight into another one of those influential, and inspiring, linguists throughout time! Join us then.

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