Re: Generalizing in Interaction

From: Ana Marjanovic-Shane (
Date: Tue May 31 2005 - 13:17:35 PDT

I need more clarification on epilinguistic and its analogy with "epidemic". While I understand, or I think I understand what is "epidemic" (when people become progressively infected by the same disease ?, when something spreads across many people so that they all "suffer" from the same condition?) I fail to understand the "epilinguistic" unless just knowing how to speak one language is some kind of an epidemic by that language. :-) (I do sometimes feel infected by a language).
How does world play and finding phonological patterns compare to an epidemic? Finding some linguistic patterns may be a meta linguistic activity, but why would it be an epi-linguistic phenomenon?

-----Original Message-----
From: Peg Griffin []
Sent: Tuesday, May 31, 2005 07:53 PM
Subject: Fw: Generalizing in Interaction

oops. I hit the wrong reply button for the enclosed.
and just one addition to it:Besides epidemic, epiphenomena might help, too.
----- Original Message -----
From: Peg Griffin
Sent: Tuesday, May 31, 2005 1:02 PM
Subject: Re: Generalizing in Interaction

For epilinguistic, think about epidemic.
A language as a socio-cultural entity holds epilinguistic patterning. It doesn't have to do with an individual's mind or language facility.

Kids act "within" the epilinguistic in play, in social negotiations...
C1: I want a blue one.
C2: I want a glue one.
C3: I want a goo one.
C1: I want a poo one.
T: I want a new one.
Everyone: relieved laughs
Sometimes these acts are taken as displays of the metalinguistic but maybe they shouldn't be but then again, says Gombert, think of epilinguistic as a part of the route to the metalinguistic.

Now for linguists, yes, there are logical and genetic analyses of the domain such that the epilinguistic becomes metalinguistic and that is their professional activity.

Bits and pieces of the epilinguistic patterning may get/have to get meta'd up as real people (as opposed to unreal linguists) gain expertise for some kinds of acts -- like jokes, pretend play, clarification, reading, writing, editing, individual or group voicing... But probably there's a small window of time for metalinguistics and we get that U shaped pattern (homotypic discontinuity?) -- for instance, adults (and first graders at the end of the school year) who spell well in a written script like English make a mess of some PA (phonological awareness) tasks even though they had once upon a time gotten to be good at them.

----- Original Message -----
From: Mike Cole
Sent: Tuesday, May 31, 2005 12:14 PM
Subject: Re: Generalizing in Interaction

Might you say more? That is too condensed for me, Peg. I sort of know what metalinguistic is, but not
epilinguistic. And am unsure how either speaks to rising to the concrete idea that requires logical analysis
of the domain as a starting point.

On 5/31/05, Peg Griffin <> wrote:
I wonder if the distinction/relation between epilinguistic and metalinguistic is relevant. Gombert's 1992 Metalinguistic Development (London: Harvester Wheatsheaf) is a source about epilinguistic; I chased it down because of Goswami's use of it.
----- Original Message -----
From: Mike Cole
To: Xmca
Sent: Monday, May 30, 2005 11:00 AM
Subject: Generalizing in Interaction

In reflecting on the earlier discussion of Jurow's article on generalizing in interaction I come
away with a feeling of incompleteness. Maybe its ingendered by the fact that some people
appreciated the careful description of classroom practices and Jurow's approach to understanding
generalizing as a consequence of changes of modes of participation and communication, in particular
the patterns labelled "linking" and "conjecturing." Others seemed to be looking for an analysis of generalization
as "rising to the concrete" a la Davydov and apparently did not take much away from the Jurow approach.

Looking back at the article, the critical disjuncture (if I am correct) is signaled on p. 281 where Jurow contrasts
her approach to development as formation of "decontextualized knowledge" (her quotation marks) and generalization
as "the product of accurated mental representations.... and "an individual cognitive activity performed to recognize
and acquire objective categories." (My quotes)

She substitutes instead a "situated or practice perspective, (from which) abstracting is conceptualized not as "moving
away from" situations, but as a product of local practices." (her quotes and mine)

I gather that Michael Roth and others which to substitute "rising to the concrete" for "product of local practices."

I wonder if his is equivalent to a shift from the use of Vygotsky to Davyodov. For example, Vygotsky (Collected works,

Vol 3, p. 138) writes

The law: the form of generalization corresponds to the form of communication. "Communication and genralization
are internally connected. ....

Generalization. What is generalization? Generalization is the exclusion from visual structures and the incusion in thought structures,
semantic structures. ....

Now if there were someone on XMCA interested in discourse theories of mathematical thinking, who knows, we might get some
help with disentangling these issues. Are the approaches contradictory? Complentary? Incoherent? Out of date? On the cusp
of the future?

I am unsure. By convention, I believe we are on the cusp of summer where I live. I am going for a walk, summer style, to prepare
for those examinations and grant deadlines!

Unless there is more to be written, lets examine language and activity.

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