Linguistic rhetoric of Soviet discourse: official vs personal register (J. Stalin – A. Dovzhenko)

  • Aleksandra A. Vorozhbitova Sochi State University.
  • Serhiy I. Potapenko Kyiv National Linguistic University.
  • Natalya Yu. Khachaturova Sochi State University.
  • Yuliya Khoruzhaya N. Sochi State University.
Keywords: Soviet discourse, official register, personal register, Sochi Linguistic & Rhetorical School, Stalin, Dovzhenko.


Within the conception of the Sochi Linguistic & Rhetorical School the paper discusses the diglossia of the Soviet discourse employed in the former USSR, distinguishes official and personal registers as well as shows their difference drawing on Joseph Stalin’s speech of 31 January 1944 to the Politburo of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks concerning Alexander Dovzhenko’s screenplay “Ukraine in Flames” and in the writer’s diaries. The comparison reveals a few specific linguistic rhetorical features of cognitive communicative type ontologically characteristic of the Soviet linguistic personality’s communicative cognitive activity in a totalitarian state. The cognitive features of Stalin’s individual discourse representing the official register and his system of argumentation rest on the significative component of linguistic units, arguments from literature to illustrate the postulates and dogmas of Marxist-Leninist doctrine forming the foundation of the Soviet discourse. It is also found that the official register represented by Stalin’s speech is characterized by the following features: 1) repetition; 2) sarcastic remarks; 3) dramatic mutually exclusive contrast of mental spaces (“our own, true in the last resort” and destructed, represented by the opponent’s discourse); 4) rigidly adversarial characteristic of the alternative linguistic rhetorical worldview; 5) appeal to the Soviet collective linguistic personality’s opinion; 6) ideological translation from one subdiscourse into the other, from personal register into the official one; 7) biased retelling of the discourse regarded as anti-Soviet; 8) appeal to the facts lacking in the discourse under criticism; 9) “ideological editing” taking on the form of peremptory lecturing with consequences threatening the liberty of the person under criticism. The personal register of the Soviet Ukrainian writer Dovzhenko is characterized by a broad interpretation of reality devoid of the “Marxist-Leninist blinds” and a more objective interpretation of the world due to a bigger ratio of denotative references (“evidential arguments” like “I say” and “I heard” etc) and communicative cognitive activity relative to two axiological hierarchies: national and Christian, i.e. the dominance of human values over class morality. It is proved that Dovzhenko’s screenplay was criticized within Stalin’s official register for its deviation from the cognitive schemas and the model of the Soviet discourse, for the focus on Ukraine and its citizens rather than on class struggle.


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Author Biographies

Aleksandra A. Vorozhbitova, Sochi State University.

Doctor of Pedagogy, Doctor of Philology, Professor, Professor of the Department of Roman-German and Russian Philology, Sochi State University.

Serhiy I. Potapenko, Kyiv National Linguistic University.

Doctor of Philology, Professor, Professor of the Department of English Philology, Translation and Language Philosophy named after Professor O.M. Morokhovsky, Kyiv National Linguistic University.

Natalya Yu. Khachaturova, Sochi State University.

Ph. D. of Philology, Associate Professor, Associate Professor of the Department of Roman-Germanic and Russian Philology, Sochi State University.

Yuliya Khoruzhaya N., Sochi State University.

Ph. D. of Philology, Associate Professor of the Department of Roman-Germanic and Russian Philology, Sochi State University.


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How to Cite
Vorozhbitova, A., Potapenko, S., Khachaturova, N., & N., Y. (2020). Linguistic rhetoric of Soviet discourse: official vs personal register (J. Stalin – A. Dovzhenko). Amazonia Investiga, 9(29), 224-233.