Skip to main content
  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: March 2012

8 - The Word as Culture: Grigorii Vinokur's Applied Language Science


A brilliant linguist, Grigorii O. Vinokur (1896–1947) stands out from the famous 1920s constellation of Russian/Soviet linguistic and literary scholars as a theoretician of applied linguistics and the proponent of language culture (kul'tura), a specifically utilitarian language science, which laid the foundation for Soviet scholarship in the social and cultural history of language, and theory of language usage, including but not confined to stylistics.Whilst in a broader sense Vinokur used the term ‘language culture’ to refer to verbal practices of a society, more specifically it also presents one of the many models of sociological linguistics, developed and employed by Soviet theorists and language practitioners in the immensely language-conscious period of the 1920s and early 1930s. Also referred to as ‘linguistic technology’, Vinokur's language culture in its second, narrower, meaning offers perhaps one of the most consistent attempts at a methodological delineation of the newly emerging branches of social and human sciences in Soviet scholarship. Against the advance of the so called vulgar sociologism in literary criticism and linguistics, Vinokur sought to delimit the boundaries of linguistics, poetics and sociology with the help of a scientifically sound method which, for him, had been outlined in Ferdinand de Saussure's Cours de linguistique générale [Course in General Linguistics] (1916). What is, however, less obvious, but certainly no less important, is that Vinokur undertook the unique task of reviving philology as a distinct field of knowledge and a methodological system in his outwardly Saussurean – and what is expected by extension to be a rigidly linguistic – approach.

Recommend this book

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this book to your organisation's collection.

Politics and the Theory of Language in the USSR 1917–1938
  • Online ISBN: 9780857289483
  • Book DOI:
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to *