• Soviet;
  • Marxism;
  • sociolinguistics;
  • dialectology;
  • Russian

The work of Lev Iakubinskii, Boris Larin and Viktor Zhirmunskii working at the Institute of Discursive Culture in Leningrad in the 1920s and 1930s deserves to be recognised as an early version of sociolinguistics. These thinkers combined dialect geography with Marxist sociological thought and contemporary work on linguistic conflicts and planning to produce very sophisticated sociological reflections on language. The influence of their teacher, Jan Baudouin de Courtenay, was crucial to their work, as was the tradition of Russian dialect research carried out by Aleksei Shakhmatov and others. However, the socio-political conditions for linguistic research brought about by the 1917 revolution were decisive. The historical significance of the reception and reinterpretation of these ideas is considerable, leading to a reconsideration of the origins of sociolinguistics and of the relationship between Marxism and the language sciences in the early years of the Soviet Union.