Authored by: Benjamin Bailey

The Routledge Handbook of Multilingualism

Print publication date:  May  2012
Online publication date:  May  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415496476
eBook ISBN: 9780203154427
Adobe ISBN: 9781136578144


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Heteroglossia is a translation of the Russian term raznorechie, which was coined by Russian literary analyst and language philosopher Mikhail Bakhtin. The term refers to (1) the simultaneous use of different kinds of forms or signs; and (2) the tensions and conflicts among those signs, based on the sociohistorical associations they carry with them (Ivanov 2001: 259). The first part of this definition subsumes multilingualism, but includes a broader range of linguistic phenomena. Although multilingualism typically refers to situations and practices that involve “distinct languages,” the different kinds of forms or signs of heteroglossia include intra-language social variation, e.g. regional dialects and registers related to profession or age. Bakhtin coined the Russian term raznorechie specifically to refer to such intra-language variety within Russian, varieties with competing social and political implications, and the term is sometimes translated as “the social diversity of speech types” rather than “heteroglossia.”

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