Heteroglossia and its perspectives


The term heteroglossia is a concept coined by the Russian thinker Mikhail Bakhtin (1895-1975) and can be a great contribution to the pedagogical practices in the classroom, however, before defining the concept itself, a brief theoretical review must be made to contextualize it.

The term heteroglossia goes back to a Russian linguist named Mikhail Bakhtin. Bakhtin noted the importance of novels and other forms of fiction writing that have multiple dialects or forms of language mixed together. A work by Bakhtin in the 1930s, whose title is translated as “speech about the novel,” points out some of the ways in which heteroglossia can have an effect on communication.

Heteroglossia is the idea that different forms of language can exist in a single coherent text. This is the case with some types of communication texts, but not others. For example, it would generally be inappropriate for a piece of technical writing, a business plan, a public notice to include more than one dialect or type of language. Common types of text that may include more than one linguistic or dialectical form are works of much of fiction, including novels, plays and stories.

One theory about heteroglossia is that several dialects or voices within a narrative can work with or against others in specific ways. The contrast between these voices, according to many literary experts, is part of what creates meaning in a novel or similar work of art. Academics who reflect or study this idea can provide many different examples of how these different voices uses can give readers an idea in the political, cultural and social context of the work.

When identifying this linguistic phenomenon in fiction, the student must begin with the omniscient narrative. This narrative should not change from one part of the text to the next in terms of voice or dialect. Within this greater narrative, other voices arise, mainly as the voices of the individual characters. Even a character can have more than one dialect or voice, according to his intention. Heteroglossia in fiction tends to highlight the use of multiple forms of language in societies that use formal or informal means of direction, local or regional dialects, or any other change in language for religious, cultural or social reasons.

One aspect of heteroglossia is that they make proper use of a certain skill and knowledge on the part of the writer. When writers cannot use heteroglossia in a technically correct way, much of the effect of the novel or piece of writing begins to analyze, and may even become offensive; For example, a poorly researched or exaggerated attempt to reproduce dialect speech could be interpreted by some as a sign of prejudice. Using heteroglossia effectively, however, is part of the writer’s great task to provide a realistic and authentic context for the reader.

Bakhtin participates in some controversies of the language sciences during the 1920s between two opposing positions: one is stylistic criticism, interested in individual expression, and the other, language-centered structural linguistics. Bakhtin reacts to these perspectives and considers the human statement as the product of the interaction of language and context, thus proposing a model where the literary structure not only exists, but is generated in relation to another structure.

This author states that the mutual relationship between individual language and social language should be studied, taking into account that language is always conditioned by the submission to its basic rules as a code that guarantees its communicability and by the space-time and historical-social situation In which it is found.

So the use of language has three elements: the individual, the discursive and the ideological that establish a complex dialogue through different levels of abstraction that Bakhtin calls HETEROGLOSIA.

Heteroglossia then is the opening to the participation of two or more voices in the speech, the existence of diverse perspectives in the statement. This contrasts with the concept of monglossia, which consists of categorical statements, which express a single option or perspective. Here it is possible to appreciate the individual, discursive and ideological aspects, which are expressed in our daily speeches as teachers. For example, when faced with a school text that raises a determined ideological discourse that is transmitted in a monoglyphic way to students, you can say “Arturo Prat was a brave soldier” which entails his particular ideology, closing the voices that participate culturally, as It is, for example, a different perspective than “brave”. In this statement I give as an example,

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