In this article some limitations of the increasingly popular theories of the Russian semiotician L.S. Vygotsky will be identified. Emphasis will be placed on the lack of an account of social positioning within discourse as well as the social, cultural and historical production of discourse. At the heart of these concerns there lies an underdeveloped perspective on the social function of language, particularly when it is used to influence interpersonal relations. The theories of cultural transmission developed by Basil Bernstein in the later stages of his career will be discussed in terms of the potential for refining the Vygotskian thesis.