Social conditioning of language evolution, Sociolinguistic...

Social conditioning of language evolution

In close connection with the problem of social differentiation of language is the problem of social conditions in which there exists and develops each specific language. And the tightness of such a connection is quite understandable: the social differentiation of the language in this or that synchronous section is the result of its development, in which social factors play an important role, and conversely, the nature of the development of language, the specificity of its functioning can be to some extent determined by its social structure .

The idea of ​​social conditioning of language evolution is by no means new. It follows from the axiom according to which language is a social phenomenon, and if this is so, then, naturally, the development of language can not be completely autonomous: it somehow depends on the development of society. The question is how exactly changes in public life affect the changes in the language, what is the mechanism of this influence.

The answer to this question we find in the works of a number of domestic and foreign scientists. A special place in this series is occupied by the works of Yevgeny Dmitrievich Polivanov (1891-1938), who owns many innovative for his time thoughts about the social conditioning of language development. Some of the statements made by ED Polivanov in the 1920s. The response was received and developed only many years later - in the 60-70s. XX century. To understand the current state of sociolinguistics, it is useful to find out what the current language researchers have learned from the linguistic heritage, an outstanding scientist.

Sociolinguistic concept of ED Polivanov

Considering the question of the social conditioning of language, ED Polivanov repeatedly pointed out that in the past linguists paid insufficient attention to the social causes of linguistic changes. At best, this was done in a declarative way, and in concrete linguistic studies the "social side of the linguistic process actually remained almost without attention" (Polivanov, 1968, p. 52). In fact, the science of language must be not only natural-historical, but also sociological.

The most important component of sociological linguistics ED Polivanov considered the theory of language evolution, more precisely, the part of it that must deal with elucidating the social causes of linguistic changes. Pointing to the problem of studying the processes that took place in the United States language after 1917, as one of the urgent problems of United States linguistics, he stressed that to understand these processes and to foresee their development in the future, the general doctrine of the evolution of the language is necessary. .. & gt; In other words, we need linguistic historiography, "ie, explained E. D. Polivanov, in the doctrine of" the mechanism of language evolution " (Polivanov, 1931, p. 25). Paying much attention to the social context in which the language develops, ED Polivanov at the same time warned against the fetishization of social factors, attempts to explain everything in the language by the impact of economic and political forces (such an approach was characteristic of Marrism). In the language, its internal laws, which are set for a language outside of time and space, also act, the social factors are the predetermined ultimate goal of language development. (Polivanov, 1928, p. 175). "Recognizing the dependence of language on life and the evolution of society," he wrote in one of his articles, "does not at all abolish or deny the significance of the natural-historical" theories of evolution " language (Polivanov, 1928, p. 40).

What are the laws revealed by a linguist who studies the language from a social angle? In the development of language, ED Polivanov believed, the linguistic, internal, and external, social factors are difficult to interact. The character of this interaction and the role of each group of factors, he analyzes in detail in a number of his works. He comes to the conclusion that social factors can not change the nature of linguistic processes, but they depend on decision 1) to be or not to be given

kind of language evolution in general; 2) modification of starting points of development (Polivanov, 1968, pp. 211).

The course of language development ED Polivanov compared with the work of pistons of a locomotive. Just as any social shift can not cause the pistons to move not parallel to, but perpendicular to the rails, any factor of an economic or political nature can not change the direction of phonetic and other processes, t.s. so that, for example, instead of q or h (from a softened one), you get some other sound - f, x, e or the like. " (Polivanov, 1968, pp. 226).

Social factors do not affect the language directly. The main path of their impact, according to ED Polivanov, is as follows: "The economic and political shifts modify the contingent of native speakers (or the so-called social substratum) of a given language or dialect, and hence the evolution of the starting points of its evolution" (Polivanov, 1968, p. 86). A striking example of this kind of modification is the United States literary (or, as E. D. Polivanov called it, standard) language of the post-revolutionary era. In the late 1910's - 1920's. the composition of the speakers of the United States literary language has changed considerably: in addition to the old intelligentsia, which traditionally constituted the main layer of literary speaking people, the democratic layers of the population - workers, peasants, new, "red" intelligentsia. The change in the composition of carriers has led to a new goal of language evolution - the creation of a language that is unified for all social strata united in a new team of speakers, for the need for cross communication obliges the development of a single common language (ie, the language system) in place of different linguistic systems, each of which is incapable of servicing a new collective completely (Polivanov, 1968, p.87).

During this process, it turns out that the language of which of the combined social groups "will" play the first violin "in the evolution aimed at establishing a uniform (for all given groups of speech systems)". (Polivanov, 1968, pp. 212).

This idea of ​​ED Polivanov is remarkable in that it anticipates later developments in the field of the theory of social groups. In modern sociological and sociolinguistic studies, the orientation of speakers of a single social group is associated with the notion of social prestige: the more prestigious the status of a group in the eyes of all other members of a given society, the more likely it is that its language is capable of serving as a model for imitation. Such a socially prestigious language subsystem is usually the language of the most cultured part of society, but under certain conditions, the scale of assessments can shift towards other social groups. So, in a criminal environment, high prestige is enjoyed by those who own thieves' jargon.

The development of a single common language, which ED Polivanov talks about, is uneven in different parts of the language system. This is because the levels of the structure of the language - vocabulary, phonetics, morphology, syntax - are not equally receptive to the influence of social factors. The lexicon and phraseology are most susceptible to this influence:

Changes in the life of society are reflected in these areas of the language in the form of new names and turns, in rethinking old words, in borrowing, etc. The vocabulary (with phraseology) is the only area of ​​linguistic phenomena, where the very content of culture (of a given collective in a given epoch) is reflected more or less directly. This is why the most rapid result (even within the language of the same generation) is the result of socio-economic mutation (Polivanov, 1968, 208).

In substantiating the thesis about the direct and direct impact of social factors on vocabulary and phraseology, ED Polivanov drew attention primarily to quantitative changes in the vocabulary, to changes in its composition (mainly the departure of certain words and the emergence of others, new ones). Accumulating, these quantitative changes subsequently led to qualitative shifts in the lexical-semantic system of the United States language: to a change in the semantic (paradigmatic and syntagmatic) connections between the words of different classes and groups, in their stylistic attachment and emotional coloring, to new types of interaction of common use and terminological vocabulary, etc.

Naturally, on that insignificant time interval, which E.D. Polivanov considered, analyzing the changes in the United States language, such qualitative changes could not yet occur. And the researcher says nothing about them, not even to the future of the United States language.

Turning to changes at other levels of the language structure - in phonetics and morphology, ED Polivanov puts forward two theses: 1) the phenomena of these levels are much less likely than vocabulary to be influenced by social factors; 2) the quantitative accumulation of phonetic features in individual "languages", speaking only very slowly, gradually lead to qualitative changes in the general phonetic system of the language.

The linguistic innovations caused by social changes accumulate unevenly only at different levels of the linguistic structure, in and in different linguistic environments. Some groups of speakers are conservative, consistently adhere to the old norm (as, for example, the greater part of the intelligentsia), while others speak of a mixture of diverse traits - literary, dialectal, proverbial, professional. This raises the question for scientists about the need to study "social-group dialects". ED Polivanov not only clearly showed why such a study, but also dates, interesting examples of describing the characteristic features of some social and linguistic subsystems in his works "Phonetics of the Intelligent Language", "On the phonetic features of social group dialects and, in particular, the United States standard language and others.

The theory of ED Polivanov about the "saving of labor energy" developed by him in the article "Where are the causes of language evolution" are worthy of attention? " (1931): the main collective-psychological factor of linguistic evolution should be considered characteristic of the speaking trend

These processes are described in detail in the four-volume work "United States Language and Soviet Society" (1968).

to save labor energy, or, "laziness of the people". The effect of this factor has certain limits: a person can save, for example, his pronouncing efforts or the muscular efforts of the hand when writing to the norm while the recipient understands it (Polivanov 1968: 81-82). Note that these considerations about the economy of language efforts were expressed by ED Polivanov for a quarter of a century before L. Martine, who formulated the "principle of economy in phonetic changes" (Martine, 1960).

The sociolinguistic concept of language evolution, which ED Polivanov consistently defended in many of his works, was not free from some errors. Some of them can be explained by the influence of the "spirit of the time" (such, for example, is his opinion of the class character of the literary language), what the ruling class of society owns him), others by exaggerating the role of social factors in the development of language in the era of radical transformation in society. So, ED Polivanov believed that in the era of revolutionary cataclysms the pace of language life is accelerating. As shown by further studies of United States and other languages, the pace of language evolution largely depends on the level of development of the literary language - the more it is developed, the slower the changes occurring in it. In connection with this, the famous polyvai paradox is much more justified: the development of the literary language consists, in particular, in that it changes less and less.

The influence of ED Polivanov on the development of the theory of linguistic evolution and on the formation of sociolinguistics turned out to be so profound that without any references to a hundred ideas and works, no serious sociolinguistic study on the problems of language evolution is still necessary.

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