Re: [xmca] LCA-- transparency

From: Gordon Wells (
Date: Mon Jul 04 2005 - 18:33:32 PDT

>I did not understand this phrase, Bill.
>As in other activty, the language we use to direct our eyes becomes
>internalized and the use of our eyes during driving becomes as
>looking while driving becomes an operation, even more so when we
>consider the learning and predicting of the brain as it mediates
>many of our unconscious lookings.
>The example of learning to drive and the transformations that occur
>with gaining expertise is, I recall, an example from Leontiev. Is
>that so? If so, perhaps some of the SFL folks could talk about how
>the role
>of language as one of the mediational means in this transformation
>changes. In all of this, I assume our major objective in THIS
>discussion is how to eal with language in activity.

For what it's worth, my take on the role of language in driving fits
Leont'ev's distinction between action and operation. Too long ago to
remember, I must have been talked through the actions involved in
driving - brakes, gear shift, judging distances and so on. But all of
these actions now function as operations without need for conscious
monitoring. (It often surprises me when listening to a taped story or
chatting with a passenger, that I have apparently driven for many
miles without any recollection of paying conscious attention to what
I was doing.) However, when I am uncertain about where I am going, I
may ask someone to check the map to tell me when to turn (or do so
myself); when making a left turn at lights, I consciously check
whether I can turn when the main lights are green or whether I have
to wait for the green arrow. In these conditions, I am conscious
quite often of using language, either in unvocalized speech to self
or sometimes even aloud. On this basis, I would argue that language
is not involved in any form when driving does not require conscious
attention but that it comes into play when I have to make conscious
decisions. In this latter condition, I think my speech (inner or
vocalized) speech functions as a mediating operation but not as a
goal-directed action. In fact, I think speech is rarely an action in
its own right but rather an operation employed like a pointing finger
or conventional gesture to contribute to the achievement of the
action in play.


Gordon Wells
Dept of Education,
UC Santa Cruz.

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