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Totalitarian Political Discourse?

Tolerance and Intolerance in Eastern and East Central European Countries- Diachronic and Synchronoc Aspects- In collaboration with Karsten Senkbeil


Edited By Beatrix Kreß

This volume contributes to the study of political and especially totalitarian language in the countries of the former Eastern Bloc, by bringing together not only diachronic and synchronic aspects, but also by including different media types, such as newspapers, the internet, and different discourse types, e.g. environmental and gender discourses. The combination of historical and contemporary perspectives in many contributions add comparative dimensions, while also shedding light on relevant socio-political developments and phenomena in those post-communist countries, thus uniting linguistic methods with cultural studies.


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Emotive signs and evaluation in totalitarian language: About Вехи and Andrej Vyšinskij: Holger Kuße


Emotive signs and evaluation in totalitarian language: About Вехи and Andrej Vyšinskij Holger Kuße 1 Vacuum cleaners and variants of totalitarian language The article deals with some features of totalitarian language (TL) as it is used in totalitarian and non-totalitarian social, juridical or political contexts. To illus- trate the common patterns and the differences of TL in various contexts, some examples from the well-known political and philosophical anthology Вехи (Landmarks) form 1909 and speeches of the infamous Soviet prosecutor Andrej Vyšinskij during the Stalinist show trials are analysed. These extremely varied texts produced by rather different writers/speakers in different situations demon- strate some totalitarian forms of persuasive rhetoric, which are typical for non- totalitarian contexts in case of the Вехи; and for high-grade totalitarian contexts in the case of Vyšinskij (cf. concerning Вехи Read 1979; Tacho-Godi/Tacho- Godi (eds.) 2007; Kuße 2011; Kusse 2011; van der Zweerde 2011; van der Cverde 2011; cf. concerning Vyšinskij and the Moscow show trials Waksberg 1991; Conquest 1991; Reabilitacija 1991; Freidhof 1995; Freidhof 1996; Schlögel 2008). But first I would like to start with one example from the sphere of commer- cial communication. In Germany there is a strange company that produces and sells only one product: vacuum cleaners. And they sell their cleaners not in shops, but only through vacuum cleaner salesman (or women). The profession itself has become a metaphor in German. The “vacuum cleaner salesman” (Staubsaugervertreter) stands for a high degree of persuasion over needless things. It means convincing...

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