A Marxist Philosophy of Language

Buy hardcover (Brill)
Published Nov 2016
ISBN: 9789004147515

Jean-Jacques Lecercle, University of Nanterre. Translated by Gregory Elliott

The purpose of this book is to give a precise meaning to the formula: English is the language of imperialism. Understanding that statement involves a critique of the dominant views of language, both in the field of linguistics (the book has a chapter criticising Chomsky’s research programme) and of the philosophy of language (the book has a chapter assessing Habermas’s philosophy of communicative action).
The book aims at constructing a Marxist philosophy of language, embodying a view of language as a social, historical, material and political phenomenon. Since there has never been a strong tradition of thinking about language in Marxism, the book provides an overview of the question of Marxism in language (from Stalin’s pamphlet to Voloshinov’s book, taking in an essay by Pasolini), and it seeks to construct a number of concepts for a Marxist philosophy of language.
The book belongs to the tradition of Marxist critique of dominant ideologies. It should be particularly useful to those who, in the fields of language study, literature and communication studies, have decided that language is not merely an instrument of communication.

Biographical note

Jean-Jacques Lecercle was educated at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris. From 1999 to 2002 he was Research Professor in the English department at the University of Cardiff, and he is currently Professor of English at the University of Nanterre. He is the author of Interpretation as Pragmatics (Macmillan 1999), Deleuze and Language (Palgrave 2002) and The Force of Language (with Denise Riley, Macmillan 2004).


Lecercle’s book is definitely thought provoking […]
Piotr Stalmaszczyk, Marx & Philosophy Review of Books, 17 November 2010

“many excellent points […] this book has to offer”
Peter Ives, Capital & Class 94:162-166

Table of contents

1. ‘Chirac est un ver’
2. Critique of Linguistics
3. Critique of the Philosophy of Language
4. The Marxist Tradition
5. Continuations
6. Propositions (1)
7. Propositions (2)
Conclusion: Contrasting Short Glossaries of Philosophy of Language