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[Xmca-l] Re: Ruqaiya Hasan



Yes, the Port Royal Grammar was extremely important in a number of ways.
Politically, it was an attempt to reestablish the rationalist,
Protestant-leaning current of thinking about language and society that had
been almost crushed by the Saint Bartholomew's Day massacre and was
eventually totally crushed when Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes (I
tried to find the site of the Port-Royal monastery a few months ago when I
was in Paris and there isn't even rubble.) And linguistically, the
contribution of the Port-Royal Grammarians can be seen as an extension of
that universalist rationalist spirit:

a) The underlying semantic distinctions of all languages (e.g. concepts,
spatiotemporal categories) are essentially the same.
b) The basic syntactic distinctions of all languages (e.g. nouns/verbs,
subjects/predicates) are essentially the same.
c) Although all of these distinctions do exist, there isn't any principled
distinction between vocabulary and grammar, because what some languages
express in a single word can be expressed in another language by a whole
wording.

Ergo: the "words 'n rules" model of language, which is the basic model we
use in all pedagogical grammars today, has no scientific or even logical
foundation. There is a distinction, of course, but it's much more like
Vygotsky's distinction between learning and development. That is, words are
learned; grammar develops.

Halliday explains why this should be. What we call vocabulary is
essentially a "word's eye view" of the units of the clause, relating them
to open-class words, to local areas of meaning, and to non-proportional
relations (that is, contextually variable "car-horns" rather than universal
"traffic lights". That is why a word like "love" means something different
in different lexical environments, while a morpheme like plural "s" always
means pretty much the same thing. What we call grammar is essentially a
"wording's eye view" of the units of the clause, relating them to
closed-class words, to system-wide areas of meaning, and to proportional
relations (that is, the "traffic lights" instead of the car horns).

Now, from these three properties--open/closed class words, local/general
meanings, and proportional/non-proportional effects--we can guess that
vocabulary is learned incrementally and piece by piece, but grammar
develops in a non-linear, revolutionary fashion. That is, of course,
precisely what we see: you learn ten or fifteen words a day, but when you
acquire that plural 's', you have led a social revolution that will
transform every single (that is, every singular) noun that you have already
learnt and generalize to (and generalize!) every conceivable singular noun
you could ever learn in the future. Ditto articles, tenses, grammatical
metaphor, etc.

I think that's what Ruqaiya's "critique" of Vygotsky really means: it means
that we now have an extremely important and precise means for
distinguishing between learning in development in precisely the area which
Vygotsky was most interested in, except that it's not the development of
word meaning so much as the development in the meaning of wordings.

Of course, Vygotsky did have access to grammars. He knew personally
linguists like N.I. Marr (who took part in the seminars that he and Luria
organized with Eisenstein). He read Volosinov. His work is full of
references to Von Humboldt and Potebnia and even lesser known
lexicographers like Shakhmatov and Dal. It was from these grammars that the
Moscow linguistic circle led by Roman Jakobson took shape, and then it was
a short step (by Jakobson) from Moscow to Prague, where the Prague
linguistic circle laid the foundations for Halliday and Hasan.

But when I said that Ruqaiya's eyes would smoulder, I was thinking of a
series of discussions  we had in Guangzhou about Saussure. She was an
ardent defender of Saussure, and I was an equally strident detractor. In
the course of the discussions, I came to see what she was getting at:
Saussure turned his back on history and created an almost purely structural
view of word meanings, and that was a terrible mistake. But Saussure was
carrying on the Port-Royal tradition of NOT erecting a rigid impermeable
barrier between vocabulary and grammar. And as for Saussure's notion of
"l'arbitraire", that is, the apparently random associations we find between
phonemes and morphemes, the Saussurean idea which most exercised me at the
time, Saussure simply meant "conventional"--that is, nothing more than the
kinds of relative differences that the Port-Royal grammarians were able to
describe precisely--precisely because they denied their absolute force.

Was Vygotsky an opponent of Saussure? In some places, he explicitly
endorses the Saussurean "phoneme" (e.g. Chapter One of Thinking and
Speech). But in other places, it's quite clear he's really talking about
morphemes (e.g. his discussion of Russian case endings in HDHMF). In some
places, he has a Sapirean idea of vocabulary (once again, Chapter One of
Thinking and Speech, although the passage on Sapir has been cut from the
English translation). In others, he seems to have a Saussurean one (e.g.
when he uses Piaget's test about calling a dog a "cow").

I think that, like Ruqaiya, Vygotsky accepted Saussure's basic model of
language, at least as a structure. What he rejected was the associative
psychology that lay directly behind it. And like Ruqaiya, he was working to
put something much better--much more historical, and at the same time much
more functional and thus rationalist--in its place. Port-Royal would have
approved.

David Kellogg


David Kellogg

a)

On Sat, Jun 27, 2015 at 4:36 AM, Carol Macdonald <carolmacdon@gmail.com>
wrote:

> Fellow XMCA-ers
>
> Now, I might have missed something here in the comments over the past 24
> hours, but there weren't very good grammars around a century ago, in fact
> there was only the Port Royal Grammar.  I long ago forgave Vygotsky for
> focussing on word meaning only, on these grounds. (I am a linguist, that
> why I was judgemental to start with.) He could not have had a theory to
> use.
>
> Whether he would have developed one later we can never know - but knowing
> the the sort of man he was, he would definitely have gotten around to it,
> and it would have been good.
>
> So, perhaps it would be a good way to honour both  Ruqaiya and LSV to
> develop one.
>
> Best
>
> Carol
>
> On 26 June 2015 at 20:45, HENRY SHONERD <hshonerd@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> >
> > I would be in over my head with verbal art, but I am sure you are right,
> > David, that the topic is very important to understanding Ruqaiya’s
> > contribution to understanding Vygotsky. On the other hand, Ruqaiya seems
> to
> > be making the case that Vygotsky lacks something very important: a theory
> > of grammar. That is where her passion and brilliance especially seems to
> > come out. And I agree with her about the need! So maybe it’s not just
> > something you and I take a great interest in, but apparently a gap that
> > needs addressing. It wouldn’t be too far off the mark that this very gap
> is
> > why I got into the CHAT. I have been interested in this since Vera
> > John-Steiner, another passionate and brilliant Vygotskian, took me under
> > her ample wings 30 years ago. At that time, I wondered if cognitive
> grammar
> > and Vygotsky were commensurable. Forgive my broken record on this, but I
> > think the potential is still there. I gather from what you have said
> about
> > Halliday that, from a Vygotskian perspective, there are problems with
> > cognitive grammar (e.g. Langacker). Andy (2011) has written about the
> lack
> > of a convincing notion of concept coming from cogntive psychology (e.g.
> > Rosch).
> >
> > If I am wrong about cognitive grammar, a festschrift for Ruqaiya that
> > includes the “correction” of Vygotsky will help convince me. I don’t mean
> > that such a festschrift would include mention of cognitive grammar and
> > cognitive psychology. Just saying.
> >
> > Henry
> >
> > P.S. I love David’s description of Ruqaiya’s discourse “style”. It brings
> > her alive. Such descriptions will certainly be part of the festschrift,
> > whoever contributes.
> >
> >
> > > On Jun 26, 2015, at 1:08 AM, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com>
> wrote:
> > >
> > > I don't think I'm qualified to edit a special issue for Ruqaiya, Henry.
> > I'm
> > > not sure who is qualified, but I think it should be somebody whose main
> > > relationship to the reviewers is not a collection of more than ten
> > > rejections going back over a decade, varying from the patronizing to
> the
> > > extremely vehement (in one case, my work was actually made the stuff
> of a
> > > graduate seminar by the reviewer, and dutifully reviled by all the
> > > participants!). I am sure there will be a Festschrift--but it will be
> > > probably be organized by her students and colleagues at Macquarie (e.g.
> > > Annabelle Lukin, who is in the lecture).
> > >
> > > Actually, I no longer have an academic position of any kind. So I think
> > the
> > > only thing I can usefully do at this point is what I always do--just
> > start
> > > some kind of discussion and hope that somebody else who can command the
> > > respect of reviewers and/or publishers will do something with it.  You
> > did
> > > ask about Ruqaiya's critique of Vygotsky and that was why I posted the
> > link
> > > to her exotropic theories article; that is the obvious entry point for
> > most
> > > people interested in Ruqaiya's relationship to Vygotsky.
> > >
> > > But I think a good discussion, and also a good Festscrhift, should be
> > > inclusive. Many people on the list find grammar less interesting than
> you
> > > and I do. That's why I suggested her work on fairy tales. The work on
> > fairy
> > > tales, though, is not easy to understand; it's really just an instance
> > of a
> > > much wider theory of Generalized Text Structure that Ruqaiyah was
> working
> > > out in opposition to the Labov and Waletzky model of "OCER"
> (orientation,
> > > complication, evaluation, and resolution) which essentially reduces all
> > > narratives to four panel cartoons. That was why I suggested Dr. Lukin's
> > > lecture, which really does tell you something about how to read
> Ruqaiyah.
> > >
> > > Ruqaiyah was a wonderful, combative, and at the same time very charming
> > > interlocutor; her eyes would light up like twin bonfires while you were
> > > speaking, and you knew that as soon as you paused for breath you were
> > going
> > > to get a blast that was going to open your eyes but maybe singe your
> > > eyebrows a little too. But Ruqaiyah was a somewhat awkward public
> > speaker:
> > > she interrupted herself a lot and like many people who do SFL she was
> > > always unsure where to start, where to stop, and how much of the whole
> > was
> > > necessary before the various parts she wanted to talk about would make
> > > sense. Dr. Lukin doesn't have that problem: she takes one of Ruqaiyah's
> > > best articles, starts at the start, goes on until she comes to the end,
> > and
> > > then...
> > >
> > > Well, that was the other thing about Ruqaiyah. She never really
> stopped;
> > I
> > > think she just didn't know how, or maybe just didn't bother to
> practice.
> > >
> > >
> > > David Kellogg
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > On Fri, Jun 26, 2015 at 1:59 PM, HENRY SHONERD <hshonerd@gmail.com>
> > wrote:
> > >
> > >> David,
> > >> I want to make sure I understand. The first link is for an article
> > >> connecting Vygotsky, Halliday and Bernstein  that goes straight to
> > >> Ruqaiya’s “correction” of Vygotsky, right? The second link seems to be
> > an
> > >> abstract for the text of the third link article, right? I don’t see
> yet
> > the
> > >> connection between the article and the lecture, so I’m not sure I can
> > help
> > >> there. Let’s just say I tackle the article. Can you tell me how my
> > response
> > >> might help you and Phil get started on the commemorative festschrift?
> > >> Henry
> > >>
> > >>
> > >>> On Jun 25, 2015, at 4:54 PM, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com>
> > wrote:
> > >>>
> > >>> This is just to say that I am happy to participate in a commemorative
> > >>> Festschrift for Ruqaiya--or maybe a commemorative special issue,
> along
> > >> the
> > >>> lines of what was done for Leigh Star--in any way I can.
> > >>>
> > >>> One way to start would be for Henry and for the list to read and
> > >>> discuss--and respond to--THIS:
> > >>>
> > >>> http://lchc.ucsd.edu/mca/Paper/JuneJuly05/HasanVygHallBernst.pdf
> > >>>
> > >>> Something else to think about: Ruqaiya came to Vygotsky more or less
> > the
> > >>> same way Vygotsky did, through the medium of verbal art. So another
> > thing
> > >>> to consider is Ruqaiya's work on the structure of fairy tales; by far
> > the
> > >>> best thing done thereupon since Vygotsky's work on fables.
> > >>>
> > >>>
> > >>
> >
> http://www.equinoxpub.com/journals/index.php/books/article/viewArticle/BOOK-29-752-1
> > >>>
> > >>> If you can't afford or have trouble reading the original, there's a
> > good
> > >>> lecture by Annabelle Lukin on Ruqaiya's theory of generalized text
> > >>> structure:
> > >>>
> > >>> https://vimeo.com/76491567
> > >>>
> > >>> David Kellogg
> > >>>
> > >>>
> > >>>
> > >>>
> > >>> On Fri, Jun 26, 2015 at 1:54 AM, mike cole <mcole@ucsd.edu> wrote:
> > >>>
> > >>>> Hi Henry
> > >>>>
> > >>>> The issue is -- who wishes to take responsibility for such a
> > production.
> > >>>> Phil and David have spoken up. Hard to say.
> > >>>>
> > >>>> The thing about self organizing systems is that the self is not
> > located
> > >> in
> > >>>> one particular part
> > >>>> of them. THEY have to self organize.
> > >>>>
> > >>>> You know the old saying, where there is a will there is a way. Very
> > >>>> optimistic in my view, but better than the total absence of will as
> a
> > >>>> starting point.
> > >>>>
> > >>>> Time will tell.
> > >>>> betcha
> > >>>> mike
> > >>>>
> > >>>> On Thu, Jun 25, 2015 at 8:55 AM, HENRY SHONERD <hshonerd@gmail.com>
> > >> wrote:
> > >>>>
> > >>>>> I am saddened not only by Ruqaiya’s passing by also by how little I
> > >> knew
> > >>>>> about Ruqaiya’s work. I hope to correct that now by reading more.
> Not
> > >>>> least
> > >>>>> because of what David points out that she adds to Vygotsky:
> Grammar!
> > >>>> There
> > >>>>> may be a thousand things that Ruqaiya has contributed to systemic
> > >>>>> functional linguistics, but connecting it so explicitly to
> Vygotsky,
> > >>>> THAT I
> > >>>>> would like to read more and hear more about. If there is, as Mike
> > >>>> suggests,
> > >>>>> an MCA honoring of her work, I would very much like to see that
> > >>>> connection
> > >>>>> “foregrounded” (a term straight out of the Wikipedia article on
> > >> Ruqaiya).
> > >>>>> Henry
> > >>>>>
> > >>>>>
> > >>>>> On Jun 25, 2015, at 4:29 AM, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com>
> > >> wrote:
> > >>>>>>
> > >>>>>> I think that Ruqaiya was the only person I ever met who set out to
> > >>>>>> "correct" Vygotsky and actually succeeded: her insight was that
> > >>>>> Vygotsky's
> > >>>>>> theory, without a theory of grammar, was inevitably going to focus
> > too
> > >>>>>> narrowly on lexical meanings and their historical derivations. As
> > >>>>> Vygotsky
> > >>>>>> himself pointed out, it's very hard to tell when children's word
> > >>>> meanings
> > >>>>>> develop. But Ruqaiya pointed out that it's very easy to tell when
> > >> their
> > >>>>>> wordings do.
> > >>>>>>
> > >>>>>> I was hoping to see her at the next ISFC in Germany next
> month--I'll
> > >>>> miss
> > >>>>>> her.
> > >>>>>>
> > >>>>>> David Kellogg
> > >>>>>>
> > >>>>>> On Thu, Jun 25, 2015 at 4:56 PM, Phil Chappell <
> > philchappell@mac.com>
> > >>>>> wrote:
> > >>>>>>
> > >>>>>>> Many on this list will know of Ruqaiya Hasan's work and may even
> > have
> > >>>>>>> joined in an XMCA seminar we had back in the mid noughties. She
> > was a
> > >>>>> great
> > >>>>>>> advocate of intersections between Vygotsky, Halliday, Bernstein
> and
> > >>>>> Marx.
> > >>>>>>>
> > >>>>>>> I'm sad to pass this message on.
> > >>>>>>>
> > >>>>>>> Phil Chappell
> > >>>>>>>
> > >>>>>>> Dear SFL Friends
> > >>>>>>>
> > >>>>>>> With great sadness I have to tell you that Ruqaiya passed away
> > >>>> suddenly
> > >>>>>>> yesterday afternoon.  She suffered heart failure, brought on by
> the
> > >>>>> stress
> > >>>>>>> of the cancer and the infection, which had so weakened her body.
> > >>>>>>> Fortunately Michael was with her at that moment, and for some
> time
> > >>>>>>> beforehand.
> > >>>>>>>
> > >>>>>>> I have just spoken with Michael, and want to reassure you that he
> > is
> > >>>>> doing
> > >>>>>>> well in these circumstances - as courageous and determined as you
> > >> know
> > >>>>> he
> > >>>>>>> would be.
> > >>>>>>>
> > >>>>>>> There will be a small funeral service in Sydney next week.  The
> > time
> > >>>> and
> > >>>>>>> date are still being arranged, and details will be posted when
> they
> > >>>> are
> > >>>>>>> available.  There will also be a much larger scholarly event to
> > >>>>> celebrate
> > >>>>>>> Ruqaiya's life and work, and to keep it moving forward, later in
> > the
> > >>>>> year
> > >>>>>>> at Macquarie University.
> > >>>>>>>
> > >>>>>>> A wonderful life, an immense scholarly contribution, an
> > extraordinary
> > >>>>>>> friend to so many people around the world.
> > >>>>>>>
> > >>>>>>> Best regards,
> > >>>>>>> Geoff Williams
> > >>>>>>>
> > >>>>>>>
> > >>>>>>>
> > >>>>>>>
> > >>>>>
> > >>>>>
> > >>>>>
> > >>>>
> > >>>>
> > >>>> --
> > >>>>
> > >>>> All there is to thinking is seeing something noticeable which makes
> > >>>> you see something you weren't noticing which makes you see something
> > >>>> that isn't even visible. N. McLean, *A River Runs Through it*
> > >>>>
> > >>
> > >>
> > >>
> >
> >
> >
>
>
> --
> Carol A  Macdonald Ph D (Edin)
> Developmental psycholinguist
> Academic, Researcher,  and Editor
> Honorary Research Fellow: Department of Linguistics, Unisa
>