Academic journal article SKASE Journal of Theoretical Linguistics

Modern German Prison Discourse: Mental Resource

Academic journal article SKASE Journal of Theoretical Linguistics

Modern German Prison Discourse: Mental Resource

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

The growing interest in the study of human consciousness through the concepts as its operational units, the access to which for a linguist is provided by a word, led to the establishment of anthropological paradigm in the field of linguistics, the supporters of which consider a comprehensive study of the entire spectrum of discourse practices as varieties of social interaction between parts in the communication process to be one of the priority tasks.

Of all the diversity denoted by a very popular word 'discourse', we choose the aspects relevant of our study: a) "the forms of discourse are as diverse as the forms of human life" (Kibrik 2009: 4); b) "every kind of discourse appears to be a special speech practice, a specific sublanguage that creates its own picture of the world and attends to a certain functional area of the linguistic community" (Naumenko 2003: 122); c) "every discourse also has power because whenever language is used there is an effect in the context surrounding discourse" (Lirola & Rubio 2012: 60).

The above mentioned gives grounds to consider the chosen object of research--contemporary German prison discourse (further referred to as PD) as one of the discursive practices that function in the space-time continuum of the German ethno-community.

The importance of selecting such an object is substantiated by both the socio-cultural factors (establishment of a criminal subculture through the media, penetration of its leitmotif into all spheres of public life, the non-obvious nature of the answer to the question of the corrective function of a prison, etc.), and purely linguistic ones, being determined by the constant growth of scientific interest to the mutual influence of social relations, thinking of man and language, general orientation of modern linguistic studies on the study of language through the prism of cognitive processes in consciousness. Due to the social significance of the prison as a social institution located within the society (and not beyond its borders, as previously thought), there is an objective need for a scientific justification of the modern PD as a space of coexistence of the convicts and prison staff, during which both their cognitive worlds and linguistic personalities, manifestation of cognitive mechanisms and forms of their verbal representation interact.

Based of a clear understanding of the direct connection between language and thinking, human consciousness, categorization, memory, and other cognitive functions, the task of linguistic analysis of discursive practice within the cognitive approach is regarded as the reconstruction of its mental foundation, because in the process of speech it is the language means, that help man to explain his own mental models, in which his knowledge of the surrounding world is preserved (Viehover & Keller 2013: 14).

2. Discussion

PD now appears to be a research object that has hardly ever been interesting for linguists. Still there are some works by scientists in the field of criminology and jurisprudence, in which an attempt was made to distinguish between the legal (O. Dzioban), criminological (A. Zhalinsky), psychological and criminological (Yu. Irkhin), historical and legal discourse (V. Timashov). The existence of a discourse relating to the criminal world is mentioned by D. Altaide, K. Gregoriu and L. Fillippini, but there is no substantial linguistic research in which the PD would be the object of research. Instead, the felonious / criminal jargon as a component of the criminal subculture has long been of interest to linguists (E. Golin, A. Gurov, R. Gunther, V. Driomin, K. Laubental, L. Masenko, V. Pirozhkov, Y. Tsimer).

3. Prison discourse as a discursive practice

Prisons, as well as orphanages, psychiatric hospitals, barracks and monasteries (Schumacher 2013: 28) belong to the so-called 'total institutes' (Goffman 1980: 314), the common features of which are: the concentration of all members within the institution, where the management is carried out by the central authorities; compelled interaction with other members of the community; availability of regulations; constant monitoring and supervision of the social community members, their work and life. …

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