Heteroglossia (253 words)

Literary/ Cultural Context Note

  • Simon Dentith (University of Reading)


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The term heteroglossia translates the Russian raznorecie (literally, multilanguagedness), a term coined by Bakhtin in the essay “Discourse in the Novel” (published in English in The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays, edited by Michael Holquist, translated by Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist [University of Texas Press, 1981]). The term alludes to the multiplicity of languages within the apparent unity of any national language. However, it should not be confused with a simple celebration of linguistic diversity, for the term alludes not only to the co-existence of “languages” within a language, but their co-existence in a state of tension and competition. In particular, it alludes to the tension between those …

Dentith, Simon. "Heteroglossia". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 18 July 2001
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=510, accessed 27 October 2016.]