The political revolutions which established state socialism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe were accompanied by revolutions in the word, as the communist project implied not only remaking the world but also renaming it. As new institutions, social roles, rituals and behaviours emerged, so did language practices that designated, articulated and performed these phenomena. This book examines the use of communist language in the Stalinist and post-Stalinist periods. It goes beyond characterising this linguistic variety as crude "newspeak", showing how official language was much more complex – the medium through which important political-ideological messages were elaborated, transmitted and also contested, revealing contradictions, discursive cleavages and performative variations. The book examines the subject comparatively across a range of East European countries besides the Soviet Union, and draws on perspectives from a range of scholarly disciplines – sociolinguistics, anthropology, literary and cultural studies, historiography, and translation studies.
Petre Petrov is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Texas at Austin.
Lara Ryazanova-Clarke is Head of Russian and Academic Director of the Princess Dashkova Russia Centre in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures at the University of Edinburgh.
"…this is a book that should be read not only by students of linguistics but also by anyone interested in the problems of the ‘captive mind’, so eloquently revealed at the time of Stalin’s death by Czeslw Milsz."
Martin Dewhirst, University of Glasgow, Slavonic and East European Review
Introduction Petre Petrov and Lara Ryazanova-Clarke Part 1: Language Regimes of Stalinism 1. Linguistic Turn a la Soviétique: The Power of Grammar, and the Grammar of Power Evgenii Dobrenko 2. The Soviet Gnomic: on the peculiarities of generic statements in Stalinist officialese Petre Petrov 3. Aesopian language: the politics and poetics of naming the unnamableIrina Sandomirskaja Part 2: Negotiating Codes of Communism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe 4. From subject of action to object of description: the classes in the Romanian official discourse during communism Călin Morar-Vulcu 5. Speaking Titoism: student opposition and the socialist language regime of Yugoslavia James Robertson 6. Deviant dialectics: intertextuality, voice, and emotion in Czechoslovak Socialist Kritika Jonathan Larson 7. Birdwatchers of the world, unite!’ The language of Soviet ideology in translation Samantha Sherry Part 3: Soviet Vernaculars after Communism 8. Linguistic mnemonics: the communist language variety in contemporary Russian public discourseLara Ryazanova-Clarke 9. ‘The golden age of Soviet Antiquity’: sovietisms in the discourse of left-wing political movements in post-Soviet Russia, 1991-2013Ilya Kukulin