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[Xmca-l] meaning and sense

I was just looking into this business about Vygotsky imputing excessive stablility to word meaning. The following key passage from Chapter 7 of "Thinking and Speech" does not, it appers to me, to imply such stability:

   "First, in inner speech, we find a predominance of the word’s sense
   over its meaning. Paulhan significantly advanced the psychological
   analysis of speech by introducing the distinction between a word’s
   sense and meaning. A word’s sense is the aggregate of all the
   psychological facts that arise in our consciousness as a result of
   the word. Sense is a dynamic, fluid, and complex formation which has
   several zones that vary in their stability. Meaning is only one of
   these zones of the sense that the word acquires in the context of
   speech. It is the most stable, unified, and precise of these zones.
   In different contexts, a word’s sense changes. In contrast, meaning
   is a comparatively fixed and stable point, one that remains constant
   with all the changes of the word’s sense that are associated with
   its use in various contexts. Change in the word’s sense is a basic
   factor in the semantic analysis of speech. The actual meaning of the
   word is inconstant. In one operation, the word emerges with one
   meaning; in another, another is acquired. The dynamic nature of
   meaning leads us to Paulhan’s problem, to the problem of the
   relationship between meaning and sense. Isolated in the lexicon, the
   word has only one meaning. However, this meaning is nothing more
   than a potential that can only be realized in living speech, and in
   living speech meaning is only a cornerstone in the edifice of sense."

As I read this, the stability of meaning is merely relative to that of sense, i.e., in the context of speech, rather than "teh aggregate of all psychological facts." He is not at all denying the fact of polysemy or the cultural and historical migration of meaning.

mike cole wrote:
I agree, very clearly statements of the sense/meaning relation, along with
the Mandelshtam line, " I forgot the thought I wanted to say, and thought,
unembodied, returned to the hall of shadows."

In the quote here, I think LSV is somewhat overstating the stability of
meaning across contexts; yes relative to the microgenetic processes of
sense making capturable with
modern technologies, but not totally "context independent." Even dictionary
meanings change, as LSV was well aware from his interest in the history of
words in relation to their appearance in children's vocabularies in

Keeping the simultaneous relevance of several time scales in mind in these
discussions seems really important, as hard as it is to do.