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Bakhtin

I found Bakhtin interesting. A lot of the questions that he raised made me think about things that I was aware of but had never paid that much attention to. The issue of how language is inseparable from human interaction is a sharp reminder of how the social aspect of our species has shaped our evolution.

I thought some of the insights on page 1215 were fairly striking. The reminder of how important a shared context is to communication stuck in my head. It made me think of a Star Trek reference that I will, due to what seems to be a popular aversion, refrain from illustrating here. I find it impossible to disagree with his statement that there is no such thing as an abstract addressee.

I do think Bakhtin is guilty of a recurring sin common to people who write about about communication. On pages 1223-1225 he wants to impose a very hard and unwavering analysis on how people interact with one another. I think that this is a doomed effort when a person is writing about something that is as ever-changing and amorphous as human communication. What he says is certainly insightful, but I don't think that is as absolute as he makes it out to be.