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[Xmca-l] Re: Jan Blommaert - Meaning as a non-linear phenomena

Yes - a fascinating conversation - also interesting because the 'paper' is a 'fixed' version of what was clearly a 'fluid' interaction - a conversation in which the relationships between the speakers sometimes leak through as well as the 'content' of their discourse - what would normally be ALL that would be available to a reader of a published paper.

I have always thought that Vygotsky understood 'rules' in a sociocultural way - 'what, as a rule, people do' and I think this is children's way in to language - they pick up patterns in what people do without any CONSCIOUS awareness of the 'rules' they have found. And adults usually USE language with very little conscious awareness of the rules they are applying (and these rules may be quite different even among speakers of the 'same' language so what to me is an error may not be an error at all to someone else).

Infants make sense of what people around them do and say by drawing on information from the context but a significant part of that context is the 'languagedness' of the behaviour of the other people all around them. As this paper also shows, adults also, normally, draw heavily on context to make sense of the social import of the things that people say. The case of arguments presented in print is a very special and rather peculiar one - not quite stripped of context because every reader brings to the reading a socialised knowledge of how people, as a rule, use written language in particular contexts  but peculiar because readers must make do with  such knowledge about the context as THEY can bring into play. They can imagine a form of dialogue but the respondent is animated only by the reader's assumptions, knowledge and patterns of thinking, unlike what happens in a dialogical process (words in their speaking, as Shotter would say) where the context can be constantly co-constructed as an interaction BETWEEN the patterns brought by different participants. Shotter uses the analogy of the (Moire) interference patterns created when sets of concentric circles (ripples) are overlaid and also the 'chiasmic interweaving' of optical information from left field and right field which creates a sense of a 3D space - different from what either eye on its own can produce.

Studying the aboriginal peoples of Australia is one way to make the familiar features of language strange but spending time with infants is often easier and cheaper!

All thebest,


-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Larry Purss
Sent: 06 November 2014 06:21
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Jan Blommaert - Meaning as a non-linear phenomena

I enjoyed the article "Translatability and the Uses of Standardization"
using the format of a conversation between Michael Silverstein, Jef Van der Aa, and Jan Blommaert. I agree it is exploring the same themes explored by Raymond Williams as the relation of fixidity and fluidity.
I will highlight the point being explored on page 2 in Jef's phrase "SO preceding the idea of language AS a cultural construct, there was an idea that one could elicit things directly."
Jef's answer came after this exchange from Michael:  ".... - certainly not semiotic objects - and they are not obviously just inter-translatable at some kind of metalinguistic level which we can assume that everybody has.
SO if you don't have a notion of what we now call the semanticity of language, AS A CONCEPTUAL SYSTEM, that's applied to the world as it were ...."

To repeat, Jef completes Michael's thought with his response:
"SO preceding THAT idea of language AS a cultural construct, there was an idea that one could elicit things explicitly"[elicit things contextually - LP]

Jan Blommaert jumps in to the conversation with this observation of the contextual prior to the conceptual when he comments:

"SO when you [Michael] say that you had to change the culture of these local people, you changed it by means of another culture, and you already hinted that it's a culture in which we ASSUME from within our tradition that this denotational STRUCTURE is the structure of language. And also this idea of translatability, SO, you, I almost everyone here at this conference has been trained in A SYSTEM in which we had to translate all the time. So, say the stock, the books in our bags, every day at school included a dictionary and a grammar. SO we ASSUME that this is universal.

Michael jumps in at this point with the comment:
"Instruments of oppression! - they are, you know.

Greg, on the one hand is the SYSTEM of language as understanding as performance, [a system of praxis] and on the other hand *understanding* is transformed in the philosophical SYSTEM that Michael, Jef and Jan are talking about [the system of conceptual translatability]

So the contrast between "contextual" and "conceptual" SYSTEMS that Rod was describing.

Then Michael makes a fascinating comment:
The more you look at Hindu theories of use of language, you are see that what you are talking about IS a SYSTEM of praxis, i.e. it's all about performativity"

The key seems to be different notions of *understanding* and what is meant by the term [languaging]

I do see that this ties in with Raymond Williams notion of *structures of
feeling* and John Shotter's dialogical contextual notion of speech performance Larry

On Wed, Nov 5, 2014 at 7:21 AM, Greg Thompson <greg.a.thompson@gmail.com>

> Cool Mike,
> That was real cool...
> cool,
> -greg
> On Tue, Nov 4, 2014 at 11:01 PM, mike cole <mcole@ucsd.edu> wrote:
> > Cool. That is, when the temperature during my morning walk drops
> > below 52 degrees?
> > Cutural mediation is a non-linear phenomenon and so far as meaning
> > is a form of cultural mediation......
> > maybe?
> >
> > mike
> >
> > On Tue, Nov 4, 2014 at 2:16 PM, Greg Thompson
> > <greg.a.thompson@gmail.com
> >
> > wrote:
> >
> > > There is a flurry of threads that seem to be dealing with the
> > > issue of "meaning" and how to conceive of meaning.
> > >
> > > I just thought I'd mention that there is a cadre (I prefer "gang"
> > > but
> > > alas...) of folks who are doing work that runs in close parallel
> > > to
> these
> > > local conversations, namely the linguistic anthropologists.
> > >
> > > One of my favorite is Jan Blommaert (University of Ghent). He has
> > > a fascinating conversation with Michael Silverstein about language
> ideology
> > > that points to the historical and cultural origins of Western
> > > language ideologies that, imho, are at the heart of the problems
> > > about language instruction that have been discussed on XMCA
> > > recently. Here is the link
> > for
> > > that conversation (to access this paper, you may need to join
> > academia.edu
> > > and follow Jan first):
> > >
> > >
> >
> https://www.academia.edu/7654748/Michael_Silverstein_in_conversation_w
> ith_Jan_Blommaert_and_Jef_Van_der_Aa
> > > ​
> > >
> > > In addition, he has a lovely paper on academia.edu that speaks to
> these
> > > issues as well. Th paper is titled "Meaning as a Non-linear
> > > Phenomenon
> -
> > > The Birth of Cool". Accessible here (again, you may need to join
> > > academia.edu first and follow Jan):
> > >
> > >
> >
> https://www.academia.edu/8208677/Meaning_as_a_nonlinear_phenomenon_the
> _birth_of_cool
> > >
> > > ​​Happy to chat more if anyone is interested but I didn't want to
> > distract
> > > from the other fascinating conversations that are on-going (and in
> > > so
> > many
> > > different directions I wouldn't even know where to post this!).
> > >
> > > Cheers,
> > > greg
> > >
> > >
> > > --
> > > Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
> > > Assistant Professor
> > > Department of Anthropology
> > > 880 Spencer W. Kimball Tower
> > > Brigham Young University
> > > Provo, UT 84602
> > > http://byu.academia.edu/GregoryThompson
> > >
> >
> >
> >
> > --
> > It is the dilemma of psychology to deal with a natural science with
> > an object that creates history. Ernst Boesch.
> >
> --
> Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
> Assistant Professor
> Department of Anthropology
> 880 Spencer W. Kimball Tower
> Brigham Young University
> Provo, UT 84602
> http://byu.academia.edu/GregoryThompson

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