Speech genre

"Language is realized in the form of individualized concrete utterances (oral and written) by participants in the various areas of human activity. . . . each sphere in which language is used develops its own relatively stable types of these utterances. These we may call speech genres. . . . Special emphasis should be placed on the extreme heterogeneity of speech genres (oral and written)." (Bakhtin, 1986, p. 60; emphasis original).


Bakhtin, M. M. (1986). The problem of speech genres (V. W. McGee, Trans.). In C. Emerson & M. Holquist (Eds.), Speech genres and other late essays. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. 60-102.


Bakhtin's (1986) examples range from informal conversation (including "the single-word rejoinder," p. 81) to practical matters such as chronicles, contracts, and letters, to the literary, with a special focus on the novel.

Other Notable Uses: 

Bauman, R. (2006). Speech Genres in Cultural Practice. In K. Brown (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Language & Linguistics (2nd ed., Vol. 11, pp. 745–758). Oxford: Elsevier.
Hanks, W. F. (1987). Discourse Genres in a Theory of Practice. American Ethnologist, 14(4), 668–692.

Original Use: 

Bauman (2006) attributes the earliest uses of the concept of speech genres to the work of the Grimm brothers in the early 19th century in developing their collections of oral folk narratives; this work, he says, was largely responsible for the centrality of classification to the efforts of folklorists.

Contributed by: 

Nick Temple, Carolyn Miller

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