in: Jef Verschueren, Jan-Ola Östman, Jan Blommaert, eds., Handbook of pragmatics
Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins 1995: 361-366
Discussion of marxist conceptions of language including the controversy between Marr and Stalin and recent trends in sociolinguistics and pragmatics. Gramsci, Vološinov and Pêcheux are introduced to break away from the presupposition of linguistic unity without relapsing into a conception of essential differences. Gramsci accepts neither the unity of language nor linguistic dividedness as given. Both possibilities are results that are to be attained in a social process. This gives him reaon to aim at social unity. Vološinov attaches more value to dividedness. Polyphony is to be regarded as a given characteristic of language. Pêcheux accepts neither unity nor polyphony as given, and tries to show the diversity within totalizing forms of unity; in his earlier work, he tries to escape from ideology by 'objective' formalization and mechanization of the linguistic procedure in a way that was disclaimed by Gramsci and Vološinov a long time before.