What is the difference between Bakhtin's notion of 'dialogism' and 'double-voicing' in regards to everyday literacy practices, such as diary writing or shopping lists?

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M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Bakhtin's ideas of dialogism and double voicing are among several aspect of performative pragmatics, and they both aim to explain how the process of speaking, listening, and understanding are interconnected.

Dialogism occurs in teaching, and in writing, particularly in novel and story writing. In not so many words, it is the application of the thoughts of the writer by using the perspectives of different characters. For example, if a writer authors a treatise in favor of something, and uses two different characters to debate the topic through two different perspectives, the three-dimensional complexity of the treatment of the topic illustrates dialogism.

Double-voicing is the aspect of dialogism; this is the part of the dialogue that is seen from two different perspectives.

In every-day literary practices, such as diary writing, the author of the diary entry is expressing his or her thoughts about something entirely through a subjective perspective. Whether what is described in the diary is true or not is not meant to be known; there is no dialogism nor double voicing there because only one perspective, that of the writer, is meant to be the only one that matters. Therefore, diary writing is one-dimensional and gears solely toward one direction only, which is to allow the writer to analyze or recall facts.

Equally, list-making only involves one perspective because it constitutes an individual and independent problem solving skill. In fact, list making is one of the most popular tools to help individuals do self-monitoring and behavior control. Undoubtedly, dialogism and double-voicing are not welcome in an exercise of list-making unless it is meant to be a shared task.

Only when the information put on print is to be dissected, extrapolated, and analyzed under a number of points of view created by the same author is when we will find Bakhtin's theory in practice.

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