M. M. Bakhtin - Speech Genres and Other Late Essays - issuu

In Bakhtin's view, an in a living context of exchange--termed a "word" or "utterance"--is the main unit of meaning (not abstract sentences out of context), and is formed through a speaker's relation to Otherness (other people, others' words and expressions, and the lived cultural world in time and place). A "word" is therefore always already embedded in a history of expressions by others in a chain of ongoing cultural and political moments.

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Speech Genres and Other Late Essays. | Reading Rhetoric

Speech Genres and Other Late Essays

Thus, all real and integral understanding is actively responsive, and constitutes nothing more than the initial preparatory stage of a response (in what ever form it may be actualized). And the speaker himself is oriented precisely toward such an actively responsive understanding. He does not expect passive understanding that, so to speak, only duplicates his or her own idea in someone else's mind... Rather, the speaker talks with an expectation of a response, agreement, sympathy, objection, execution, and so forth (with various speech genres presupposing various integral orientations and speech plans on the part of speakers or writers) (p.69)

Bakhtin speech genres and other essays on leadership

When we select words in the process of constructing an utterance, we by no means always take them from the system of language in their neutral, form. We usually take them from and mainly from utterances that are kindred to ours in genre, that is, in theme, composition, or style. (p.87)

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This is why the unique speech experience of each individual is shaped and developed in continuous and constant interaction with others' individual utterances. This experience can be characterized to some degree as the process of more or less creative--of others' words (and not the words of a language). Our speech, that is, all our utterances (including our creative works), is filled with others' words, varying degrees of otherness or varying degrees of "our-own-ness" ....These words of others carry with them their own expression, their own evaluative tone, which we assimilate, rework, and re-accentuate. (p.89)

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Speech and complex cultural discourse in all our genres (novels, scientific descriptions, art works, philosophical arguments, for example) is mixed through and through with (an other's speech, and many others' words, appropriated expressions) and are necessarily ("many-voiced," incorporating many voices, styles, references, and assumptions not a speaker's "own").

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Language is not a neutral medium that passes freely and easily into the private property of the speaker's intentions; it is populated –overpopulated– with the intentions of others. Expropriating I, forcing it to submit to one's own intentions and accents, is a difficult and complicated process... As a living, socio-ideological concrete thing, as heteroglot opinion, language, for the individual consciousness, lies on the borderline between oneself and the other... The word in language is half someone else's. It becomes one’s "own" only when the speaker populates it with his own intentions, his own accent, when he appropriates the word, adapting it to his own semantic and expressive intention. Prior to this moment of appropriation, the word does not exist in a neutral and impersonal language... but rather it exists in other people's mouths, in other people's contexts, serving other people's intentions; it is from there that one must take the word, and make it one's own (p.294)

Speech Genres and Other Late Essays (Bakhtin, 1986)

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Every level of expression from live conversational dialog to complex cultural expression in other genres and art works is an ongoing chain or network of statements and responses, repetitions and quotations, in which new statements presuppose earlier statements and anticipate future responses.

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An essential (constitutive) marker of the utterance is its quality of being directed to someone, its Each speech genre in each area of speech communication has its own typical conception of the addressee, and this defines it as a genre. (p.95).