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Re: [xmca] Exaptations and Revoicings
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- Subject: Re: [xmca] Exaptations and Revoicings
- From: mike cole <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Mon, 16 Jan 2012 19:59:40 -0800
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For those interested in the issues David is bringing to the discussion in
the note b below the work of Claudia Zaslavsky may be of interest. Some of
it is to be found
On Mon, Jan 16, 2012 at 2:08 PM, David Kellogg <email@example.com>wrote:
> This week the new volume of our Korean edition of Vygotsky’s works came
> out: Tool and Sign in Child Development. See the attached front cover (the
> back cover carries recommendations from Mike, Vera, and Anna, for which
> MANY thanks!)
> The front cover shows a painting by Bogdanov-Belsky, an exact contemporary
> of Vygotsky’s, called “A New Fairy Tale”. It depicts (I think) the arrival
> of one of those little children’s magazines of fairy tales in a remote
> village of herdsmen.
> Whenever I look at it, I think of Chapter Three and the beginning of
> Chapter Four. This is the part where Vygotsky and Luria first make the
> point that oracy, literacy and numeracy are really external lines of
> development, corollaries, a kind of revoicing or exaptation of inner
> processes such as the development of verbalized perception (i.e.
> vocabulary), the development of voluntary, narrativized attention (the
> ability to tell stories about things that are not there and which have
> never been seen) and logical memory (he ability to think about quantity
> separately from objects themselves).
> I was working on this part of the book (translating and commentating it)
> while we were driving around a very remote area of Sichuan Province in
> China. This area is grassland; it's flat and grassy but very high up,
> because it's part of the Tibetan plateau, and the people there are Tibetans.
> They are mostly herdsmen; they herd yaks, which unlike mountains are
> discrete, countable objects. My sister-in-law wanted to ride a horse, so we
> stopped at a tent where there were some horses tethered. There were some
> young men inside, and they immediately started to bargain in approximative
> Chinese. My brother-in-law offered them ten yuan per horse per person, and
> they asked for twenty. I think they were pretty surprised when we agreed
> (although twenty yuan is a little less than three dollars).
> Four of us went horse riding for an hour or two and then it was time to
> move on. But the herdsmen were confused when it came time to collect the
> money and my brother in law gave them eighty yuan. Why were we giving them
> more than twenty yuan?
> My brother in law explained that there were four of us, and that four
> times twenty yuan was eighty yuan. The herdsmen could not understand this
> and my brother-in-law tried to explain by handing them twenty yuan, saying
> the word for “horse”, and then another twenty yuan and another "horse" and
> so on.
> The herdsmen still could not understand. Although one of them did
> understand what we were trying to do, he was clearly confused by the fact
> that there were two ten-yuan notes for each horse, and he kept losing track
> of the relationship between the notes and the horses and the riders. So we
> all lined up like yaks, each rider with twenty yuan in his or her hand, and
> gave them the money one by one.
> This is business life without numbers. The herdsmen think of twenty yuan
> as two objects--two pieces of paper--and not as twenty units. Business is
> really BARTER and not EXCHANGE: good for goods and not quantities for
> It reminds me of the MCA article (12, 3-4) back in 2005 by Geoffrey Saxe
> and Indigo Esmond reported on in New Guinea, where people use fingers and
> then other body parts such as wrist, elbow, shoulder, ear, chin, nose, etc.
> to count and they cannot count without body parts. (Strangely, Vygotsky
> uses this SAME example in his chapter on arithmetic!)
> Saxe and Esmond report that in the 1970s a two-unit bill of money was
> introduced by the New Guinea government, and the New Guineans began to use
> a gesture which had previously meant only "more than twenty four" to mean
> "use two unit bills", so that they only invented a primitive form of
> multiplication as the exaptation, that is, a revoicing, of a gesture which
> meant previously just meant "many".
> This is what Vygotsky means when he says that counting and logical memory
> are simply two aspects of one and the same function. They develop
> together—each one exapts, that is, revoices, the other one.
> David Kellogg
> Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
> xmca mailing list
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