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(also zaumnyi iazyk, “trans-sense language”), a concept propounded by the theoreticians of Russian futurism in the early 1920’s. The term “zaum’” was introduced by the poet V. Khlebnikov, who sought to discover the general laws governing the direct interdependence of sound and sense. Proceeding from these laws he attempted to create a new poetic language unencumbered by the “everyday meaning of the word”—a language “beyond reason.”Zaum’ generally refers only to the poetic methods of the Russian futurists, notably V. Khlebnikov, A. Kruchenykh, and V. Kamenskii. For the linguists and poets associated with the journal LEF, the problem of zaum’ was connected with a totally different task—the objective of “linguistic technology,” or the conscious alteration of the literary language. For the futurists zaum’ was a kind of laboratory work for revealing the expressive possibilities of a word. The problem posed by Khlebnikov is on the whole insoluble: a word free of the “burden” of “everyday meanings” does not exist; poetry deals with words in their name-giving and communicative functions. The idea of “linguistic technology,” closely associated with the functional trends in linguistics, has remained on the level of general statements.
REFERENCESShklovskii, V. B. “O poezii i zaumnom iazyke.” In the collection Poetika. Petrograd, 1919.
Gofman, V. “lazykovoe novatorstvo Khlebnikova.” In his book Iazyk literatury. Leningrad, 1936.
Vinokur, G. “Futuristy-stroiteli iazyka.”LEF, 1923, no. 1.
Polivanov, E. D. “Obshchii foneticheskii printsip vsiakoi poeticheskoi tekhniki.”Voprosy iazykoznaniia, 1963, no. 1.
A. A. LEONT’EV