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[Xmca-l] Re: meaning and sense

I'm not convinced that this gets to the cultural-historical transformation
of meanings. Seems like he is saying that a word can have different
meanings in different contexts.

He says "Isolated in the lexicon, the word has only one meaning." That
seems to suggest a culturally historically synchronic view.

But that is not to say that Vygotsky doesn't have a strong appreciation for
the transformation of meanings across time (it would be weird if he
didn't). Just that I'm not seeing it here in this example.

On Thu, Aug 22, 2013 at 12:24 AM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:

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

Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
Visiting Assistant Professor
Department of Anthropology
883 Spencer W. Kimball Tower
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT 84602