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[Xmca-l] Re: The Social and the Semiotic



Could someone in this discussion explain to me the relationship between
social-semiotics and the sounds of whales which David used as the
springboard to the comments about socio ? cultural.

It appears to be clear to all of you, but it is not at all clear to me! The
question of the ways that different people have referred to the Vygotsky-
inspired theorizing has been discussed a fair number of times here on
xmca and I would be happy to re-visit it. But David was (I thought)
seriously linking the early and late parts of his note and I could not
follow
it into the recent notes.

Guidance much appreciated.
mike

On Tue, Jun 27, 2017 at 10:28 AM, James Ma <jamesma320@gmail.com> wrote:

> Thanks Andy, your personal take on is very interesting - perhaps you could
> enlighten me on your point?
>
> Larry, such strangeness has much to do with the vagueness of
> "sociocultural" reflected in sociocultural theory itself.  Although my
> current work focuses on Peirce and Vygotsky, the Hallidayan imagery is
> always saliently present in my mind.  Halliday is explicitly
> sociocultural.  Vygotsky used this term to refer to the higher
> psychological functions as "sociocultural" in origin (e.g. p. 46 in Mind in
> Society), but he defined his own paradigm using the term
> "cultural-historical".  To me, "sociocultural" is somehow still in
> wholesale fashion - maybe it should move out and become something which
> would epitomise "cultural-historical"?
>
> For years I've been taking "sociocultural" and "cultural-historical" to be
> customary terms.  However, this doesn't stop me being "ruminant" (here I
> borrow David's word portraying the SFL mindset) about the essence of these
> terms, albeit seldom reaching anything with satisfaction.  At times I find
> myself concluding that three entities - social, cultural and historical -
> form an indispensable core of human existence.  I know this is no more than
> stating the obvious!
>
> More to the point, the way I see it is that "social" is enmeshed with
> "cultural" and "sociocultural" as a whole is entangled with itself in
> itself - this entanglement is perhaps the essence of the term.  But the
> problem is that these two entities intertwine in a complex whole that
> appears to be simultaneously "social" and "cultural" in an ambiguous
> way.  Anyway,
> on a positive note, this is perhaps ambiguity par excellence, as Emmanuel
> Levinas would say! Or perhaps Umberto Eco's "unlimited semiosis"!
>
>
> James
>
> *_____________________________________*
>
> *James Ma*  *https://oxford.academia.edu/JamesMa
> <https://oxford.academia.edu/JamesMa>*
>
>
>
> On 26 June 2017 at 16:53, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:
>
> > The inclusion of "historical" is quite loaded, James, marking the Soviet
> > heritage of CHAT, and rejected by those who regard the inclusion of
> > "historical" as a modern arrogance based on notions of social progress.
> > Personally, I like "historical" while I reject the notion of cultural
> > totalities which can be ordered unproblematically, whether
> chronologically
> > or otherwise.
> >
> > Andy
> >
> > ------------------------------------------------------------
> > Andy Blunden
> > http://home.mira.net/~andy
> > http://www.brill.com/products/book/origins-collective-decision-making
> > On 26/06/2017 6:19 PM, James Ma wrote:
> >
> >> Hello David, I have an applied linguistics background too. My first
> >> acquaintance with the term "sociocultural" was in the work of H Stern
> who
> >> described sociocultural factors in language learning and teaching. I do
> >> feel a bit strange that "sociocultural" appears to be interchangeable
> >> with "cultural-historical" when people talk about Vygotsky and his
> >> followers.
> >>
> >> James
> >>
> >>
> >> *_________________________________________________________*
> >>
> >> *James Ma*  *https://oxford.academia.edu/JamesMa
> >> <https://oxford.academia.edu/JamesMa>*
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >> On 25 June 2017 at 23:09, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com> wrote:
> >>
> >> A few years ago there was a minor theoretical kerfuffle at the
> >>> International Congress of Systemic Functional Linguistics in Vancouver.
> >>> Systemic Functional Linguists tend to be gentle, ruminant creatures,
> who
> >>> frown on intellectual prize fighting (building "vertical" intellectual
> >>> structures, like building chemistry on physics and biology on
> chemistry,
> >>> is
> >>> the goal rather than building "horizontal" knowledge structures like
> >>> competing fields of sociology, psychology, cognitive science). But they
> >>> also prize delicacy and like to make fine distinctions that account
> >>> exhaustively for data (e.g. vocabulary is treated as nothing but most
> >>> delicate grammar, and grammar as most general forms of vocabulary,
> hence
> >>> the use of "words" for the latter and "wording" for the former).
> >>>
> >>> Accounting exhaustively for language as a social-semiotic phenomenon
> >>> usually involves a delicate distinction between the social and the
> >>> semiotic, something like the distinction between physics and chemistry
> on
> >>> the one hand and biology on the other. But Jim Martin argued that
> >>> semiotic
> >>> activity does not occur independent of social activity and vice versa,
> >>> so,
> >>> by Occam's razor, the terms are redundant and the hyphen superfluous.
> >>> Surely the distinction between social behavior and meaningful behavior
> is
> >>> nothing like the distinction between animate and inanimate, sentient
> and
> >>> non-sentient, carbon-based self-replicating matter and inorganic
> >>> compounds.
> >>>
> >>> Yesterday, we went whale watching out of Sydney Harbour. The Southwest
> >>> Pacitic humpback community, which numbers between thirty and forty
> >>> thousand, spends the summer (that is, your winter) months in Antarctica
> >>> feeding on krill and small fish; they have an ingenious method of
> feeding
> >>> called bubble-netting which takes about 27 years for a whale to learn.
> >>> It's
> >>> a lot like Leontiev's description of a primitive hunt: twelve whales
> work
> >>> together to emit a circle of small bubbles encircling the prey, and
> >>> gradually shaping it into a tall cylinder about thirty metres in
> >>> diameter.
> >>> When the krill kill is shaped in this way, the dinner table is set. The
> >>> whales just sluice up and down through the cylinder with their baleen
> >>> plates agape, raking in thousands of fish and/or tiny crustaceans with
> >>> each
> >>> pass.
> >>>
> >>> But then they embark on the road trip which brings them past Sydney
> >>> Harbour
> >>> and to points further north. The migration lasts many months, during
> >>> which
> >>> the whales do not eat at all. Even mothers, who have to produce about
> 40
> >>> litres of whale milk daily, fast the whole six months. I noticed that
> the
> >>> whales we saw were always in groups of two or three and I wondered to
> the
> >>> marine biologist on board if whales worked in small communities in
> >>> Antarctica but then went on holidays in nuclear families. She pointed
> out
> >>> that these dyads and triads were all the same size and gender. "They're
> >>> just mates," she said.
> >>>
> >>> She also said that the study of whale songs is being
> >>> "de-anthropmorphized":
> >>> it was previously believed that since they vary much like languages,
> with
> >>> regional dialects and some "multilingualism", they must have an
> economic
> >>> function in feeding, a sexual function in mating, or a political
> function
> >>> in establishing male dominance (no easy feat, because females are
> >>> polyandrous and rather larger than males). None of this is the case:
> >>> whales
> >>> sing when they aren't feeding, when they aren't mating, and when they
> >>> aren't fighting: they just like to sing. And in fact the four-tone
> songs
> >>> vary more like pop-tunes than like regional dialects or functional
> >>> registers.
> >>>
> >>> Now, when the kerfuffle broke out between Halliday and Martin in
> >>> Vancouver,
> >>> Halliday pointed to ants as a species who were social but not semiotic
> >>> (there is no reason to believe that "meaning" as distinct from
> molecular
> >>> biology is at stake). You might think the Southwest Pacific humpback
> >>> community is a good counter example, since they clearly have both
> social
> >>> and semiotic activity. But it seems to me exactly the opposite: they
> are
> >>> a
> >>> clear example that social activity is goal oriented in one way, and
> >>> semiotic activity is goal oriented in quite a different way. I have
> never
> >>> liked using the term socio-cultural to describe Vygotsky's theory (it
> is
> >>> the term generally used in my own field of applied linguistics)
> because I
> >>> thought it was redundant; now I am not so sure.
> >>>
> >>> --
> >>> David Kellogg
> >>> Macquarie University
> >>>
> >>> "The Great Globe and All Who It Inherit:
> >>> Narrative and Dialogue in Story-telling with
> >>> Vygotsky, Halliday, and Shakespeare"
> >>>
> >>> Free Chapters Downloadable at:
> >>>
> >>> https://www.sensepublishers.com/media/2096-the-great-
> >>> globe-and-all-who-it-inherit.pdf
> >>>
> >>> Recent Article: Thinking of feeling: Hasan, Vygotsky, and Some
> >>> Ruminations
> >>> on the Development of Narrative in Korean Children
> >>>
> >>> Free E-print Downloadable at:
> >>>
> >>> http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/8Vaq4HpJMi55DzsAyFCf/full
> >>>
> >>>
> >>
> >
>