Question on “The Problem of Speech Genres”

What exactly does Bakhtin mean when he refers to “style,” and how is style different from genre in his thinking?  I’m not entirely clear on it and it’s bugging me more and more.  I’m going to have to do some more digging on the topic and maybe read the other essays in Speech Genres and Other Late Essays.  Still, Bakhtin’s got such an interesting-sounding name: Mikhail Mikhailovich BAAHK-TEEEHN.  Or M.M. Bakhtin for short, also great-sounding.

And speaking of linguistics, I’ve discovered an unexpected benefit from having to ride the bus all the time — namely, that I get to eavesdrop on the conversations of the other riders, and consequently I get to listen to a lot more French-English codeswitching than I usually do.  I just heard some intrasentential codeswitching, so I I guess I have to reject my original contention that such codeswitching doesn’t happen around here.  I wish I could read on a moving vehicle without feeling like I need to vomit, otherwise I’d do more on the bus than daydreaming and surreptitiously scoping out the other people there.

2 Replies to “Question on “The Problem of Speech Genres””

  1. Not the way Bakhtin uses the terms. Actually, I guess speech genre is obvious enough, being a relatively stable type of utterance, utterances themselves differing from each other in thematic content, style, and compositional structure.
    Still, it’s the way that Bakhtin uses “style” that gets my goat. I understand what he means by individual style, since that refers to personal idiosyncracies (I suppose it would be called an idiolect), while I guess linguistic style refers to how utterances can differ because of dialectical differences? Maybe? But what about style in general? What does that refer to? It’s particularly mystifying when Bakhtin goes on at length about how style and genre are inescapably intertwined but doesn’t seem to offer a definition of what style itself is. I can’t offer you a short and pithy quote since the style thing is spread out all over the essay. I’m going to read the essay again tomorrow and see if I get anything new out of it.
    And by the way, I like your new digs. I’d been wondering what happened to sblog and only saw your new blog today (I check my RSS feeds less often nowadays).

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