By Jean-Jacques Lecercle

The aim of this publication is to offer an exact intending to the formulation: English is the language of imperialism. realizing that assertion includes a critique of the dominant perspectives of language, either within the box of linguistics (the booklet has a bankruptcy criticising Chomsky’s learn programme) and of the philosophy of language (the publication has a bankruptcy assessing Habermas’s philosophy of communicative action).

The publication goals at developing a Marxist philosophy of language, embodying a view of language as a social, ancient, fabric and political phenomenon. considering that there hasn't ever been a powerful culture of brooding about language in Marxism, the ebook offers an summary of the query of Marxism in language (from Stalin’s pamphlet to Voloshinov's ebook, taking in an essay through Pasolini), and it seeks to build a few techniques for a Marxist philosophy of language.
The e-book belongs to the culture of Marxist critique of dominant ideologies. it's going to be fairly important to those that, within the fields of language learn, literature and communique reviews, have determined that language isn't really basically an software of verbal exchange.

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Extra resources for A Marxist Philosophy of Language (Historical Materialism Book Series, Volume 12)

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207. 22 • Chapter Two changed since its appearance at the dawn of humanity. Any historical phenomenon, any linguistic change is superficial, and irrelevant for the scientific study of the language faculty. Or, rather, there is linguistic change, but only at the level of the individual whose competence passes from an innate ‘initial state’ to a ‘steady state’, once parameters have been triggered by the linguistic environment. The transition from infancy in the etymological sense to articulate language is therefore not effected by learning (or only at a superficial level); and the sole temporality of language is the retrospective time of recollection.

In so doing, it places the bar very high: innate grammar does not only concern very general and highly abstract phenomena, but extremely precise grammatical rules, like those governing reciprocal pronouns. If it can be shown that these rules do not really cover French – a language which is nevertheless typologically close to English – the Chomskyan monad will have the same complexity as its Leibnizian cousin and will require some transcendence to become philosophically credible. For, even if the detail of the linguistic phenomena – what differentiates French from English – is attributed to local parameters rather than universal principles, either these parameters are innate, and the human brain contains in its innermost recesses the totality of human languages, past, present and future; or they are not only triggered by experience, but determined by it – that is, acquired by the speaker.

The same relationship obtains between the brain and language as between the hand and technique. Stone-cutting is not innate; neither is speech. All this is highly abstract. The touchstone of Chomsky’s theory is its ability to explain phenomena. My claim is that it does not. I shall mention two examples – one semantic, the other syntactical. Chomsky suggests that in the following utterance we immediately understand that what is painted brown is the outside, not the inside, of the house: 9 On this point, readers are referred to Milner 2002.

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