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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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Totalitarian self-designation: the case of jednota in the Czech totalitarian register 1948–1953: Karen Gammelgaard


Totalitarian self-designation: the case of jednota in the Czech totalitarian register 1948–1953 Karen Gammelgaard 1 Introduction In a totalitarian system, those in power need to talk and write about the political system they create and live in. They need to name those aspects of reality that are relevant for their understanding of the system. They need a set of words to describe the characteristics of their totalitarian system. In this article, I will analyze how, in the period between 1948 and 1953, producers of Czech public discourse designated the totalitarian character of the regime. First, I will discuss why the term “totalitarian register” may be useful as a term for the linguistic formation that characterizes totalitarian regimes. Fur- thermore, I will examine the Czech noun jednota, its cognates, paraphrases, col- ligates, collocates, and semantic preferences. The analyzed material stems from two main sources. The first source is the electronic corpus Totalita developed by scholars at the Institute of the Czech National Corpus.1 It consists of three sub-corpora covering totalitarian discourse from 1952, 1969, and 1977. Unless otherwise stated, examples in this article stem from the 1952 sub-corpus. Encoded and tagged, the Totalita corpus repre- sents a powerful tool for detailed analysis. Moreover, it served as the basis for the Dictionary of Communist Totalitarianism by editors František Čermák, Václav Cvrček, and Věra Schmiedtová (2010). Quantitative information in the analyses in this article stems from this dictionary. I follow the practice of the dictionary’s authors in...

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