By Jean-Jacques Lecercle
The aim of this publication is to provide an exact desiring to the formulation: English is the language of imperialism. knowing that assertion comprises a critique of the dominant perspectives of language, either within the box of linguistics (the booklet has a bankruptcy criticising Chomsky’s examine programme) and of the philosophy of language (the publication has a bankruptcy assessing Habermas’s philosophy of communicative action).
The booklet goals at developing a Marxist philosophy of language, embodying a view of language as a social, ancient, fabric and political phenomenon. seeing that there hasn't ever been a powerful culture of puzzling over language in Marxism, the e-book offers an outline of the query of Marxism in language (from Stalin’s pamphlet to Voloshinov's e-book, taking in an essay by means of Pasolini), and it seeks to build a couple of strategies for a Marxist philosophy of language.
The booklet belongs to the culture of Marxist critique of dominant ideologies. it may be quite precious to those that, within the fields of language learn, literature and conversation experiences, have made up our minds that language isn't simply an software of verbal exchange.
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Additional info for A Marxist Philosophy of Language (Historical Materialism Book Series, Volume 12)
The problem with this kind of argument (‘there is no other explanation for these phenomena than . ’) is that it has a history: it is the argument that founds the physico-theological proof of the existence of God (the clock-world is too complex for there not to be a watch-maker). No wonder that Chomsky is sometimes called a linguist for creationists out of polemical spite. If there is a single structure of language which is inscribed in our genetic inheritance; and if all social or cultural differences are, from standpoint of language, irrelevant, a second conclusion follows: each member of the human species is identical as regards the faculty of language, because language is inscribed in his or her brain.
For Chomsky, in fact, linguistics can at best only be a provisional science; and, at worst, not a science at all – or, rather, not a speciﬁc science. At worst, the I-language is an object for scientiﬁc psychology, which will itself one day be reduced to biology. At best, it is currently the object of the science of language, pending the day when the advances in biology will render superﬂuous indirect description of the language faculty via grammatical structures which, whatever level they are envisaged at, can only be surface phenomena, effects of the material constitution of the mind/brain.
This is the sticking point, for the phenomena do not live up to Chomsky’s expectations: the grammar of the reciprocal pronoun is not the same in French as in English. While Chomsky’s native speakers observe these rules without ever erring (which seems to me a decidedly hazardous generalisation), my francophone students commit such ‘errors’ and ﬁnd it difﬁcult to distinguish between sentences (6) and (7) on the one hand and (8) and (9) on the other. Perhaps this is due to the fact that they have not been exposed to the English language before the age of eleven – too late for the parameters to be triggered.