Bourdieu, Language and the Media by John F. Myles (auth.)

By John F. Myles (auth.)

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Trudgill 1990: 11) Bourdieu’s concept of habitus, and particularly ‘linguistic habitus’, serves to remind us of the embodied nature of language. , in the form of so many linguistic habituses which are at least partially orchestrated, Bourdieu–Language–Media 21 and of the oral productions of these habituses. (Bourdieu and Thompson 1991: 46) As we have seen, in Bourdieu’s view, every ‘speech act’ derives from the intersection of the class habitus and the linguistic market and these are two relatively independent forces: Every speech act and, more generally, every action, is a conjuncture, an encounter between independent causal series.

As mentioned in Chapter 1 in relation to Chomsky, Bourdieu’s view of the embodied nature of language is not a biological-determinist one. Also, for Bourdieu, the body is inscribed fundamentally by social practices, rather than inscribed by singularly discursive ones. Butler’s position on reflexivity in language is the key interpretation of Bourdieu’s ideas on the performative and one which stresses his concern with embodiment. But she extends the idea of embodiment of language in a way that significantly departs from Bourdieu.

Some of the key concepts of Halliday’s work, such as ‘linguistic register’ and ‘dialect’ have similarities to the relationship between field and habitus in Bourdieu’s approach. A theoretical engagement between these types of approaches could enable an enrichment of our understanding of the class and language relationship. But, in coming from the field of linguistics, it is a characteristic of SFL that it finds Saussure a key forebear to producing a semantic-focused account of language. Hasan is, therefore, critical of Bourdieu’s reading of Saussure because it is ‘limited’ (Hasan 1999b: 29), over-stresses the ‘arbitrary’ aspect of language and misses ‘Saussure’s further comments on the value and identity of the linguistic sign’ (Hasan 1999b: 447).

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