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Entre grammaires et ethnographies

La parole, enterrée comme dans une crevasse entre la grammaire et l'ethnographie, comme disent Bauman et Sherzer, n'avait jamais été considérée comme production sociale ou construction culturelle, this was a concern that up to that point had fallen through the cracks between grammars and ethnographies.

Richard Bauman and Joel Sherzer, Eds.,
Explorations in the Ethnography of Speaking,
Second Edition, Cambridge, CUP, [1974] 1989,
Introduction, p.xi.

Our primary motivation in producing the book was to establish the viability and productiveness of the ethnography of speaking program, that is, to elucidate the patterns and functions of speaking as a cultural system or as part of cultural systems organized in other terms. It is important to remember that this was a concern that up to that point had fallen through the cracks between grammars and ethnographies, taken separately or analytically combined.

Les anthropologues rassemblés par Bauman et Sherzer en 1974 procédaient donc à une double réhabilitation. Du côté linguistique ils prenaient pour objet non plus la langue mais la parole. Du côté anthropologique ils définissaient le terrain d'enquête ethnographique comme une scène langagière et définissaient l'ethnographie comme l'étude socialement et culturellement contextualisée de la poétique et de la rhétorique constituant le répertoire des figures of speech d'une communauté donnée. Ce que Bauman et Briggs décrivaient en 1990 dans un article de synthèse.

Richard Bauman and Charles L. Briggs,
Poetics and Performance as Critical Perspectives
on Language and Social Life,
Annual Review of Anthropology, 19 (1990), pp.59–88.

Scholars have vacillated for centuries between two opposing assessments of the role of poetics in social life. A long tradition of thinking about language and society argues that verbal art provides a central dynamic force in shaping linguistic structure and linguistic study. This position emerges clearly in the writings of Vico, Herder, and von Humboldt; attention from Sapir, the Russian Formalists, and members of the Prague School [1] to the role of poetics contributed to the development of performance studies and ethnopoetics in the last two decades. Nonetheless, poetics has often been marginalized by anthropologists and linguists who believe that aesthetic uses of language [= la rhétorique] are merely parasitic upon such "core" areas of linguistics as phonology, syntax, and semantics [= la grammaire], or upon such anthropological fields as economy and social organization [= l'ethnographie].

The balance between these two views shifted in favor of poetics in the late 1970s and early 1980s as a new emphasis on performance directed attention away from study of the formal patterning and symbolic content of texts to the emergence of verbal art in the social interaction between performers and /60/ audiences. This reorientation fit nicely with growing concern among many linguists with indexical [2] (as opposed to solely referential or symbolic) meaning, naturally occuring discourse, and the assumption that speech is heterogeneous [3] and multifunctional [4].

[1] Formalistes russes (entre 1915 et 1930). Roman Jakobson (1896-1982) fut l'un des membres les plus actifs du Cercle linguistique de Prague (années 1930). L'école de Prague:t le Jakobson des Questions de poétique.
[2] Dichotomie entre «indexical» et «référentiel».
[3] Hétérogénéité de la parole: l'hétéroglossie (Bakhtine).
[4] Multifonctionnalité de la parole: les différents formats de production et cadres de participation (Goffman).