Re: [xmca] LCA - Hasan: Words, Meaning, Speech?

From: Phil Chappell (
Date: Thu Jul 07 2005 - 04:16:18 PDT

I sent this earlier and noticed the scan was rather large - it didn't
go through fortunately. The file is now of "un-annoying" size, I hope!
Sorry if the original turns up later - Phil

Hi Kristen,

Can I comment on your first question? I have attached a three-page scan
from a book by Claire Painter who did a longitudinal study of child
language development in a similar vein to that of Michael Halliday's.
Painter mentions one of the limitations of protolanguage is that the
infant's signs lack representational and experiential content - "the
child's inability to refer specifically to any 'bit' of outside
reality". Painter goes on to suggest a first step is to introduce
"names" into the functional system. Hmm. "Names" Painter seems to
suggest these are vocabulary items, which the infant lacks.

I wasn't going to paraphrase her discussion (in the interests of time),
so I'll leave you with the couple of pages, as well as the child's
protolanguage system mapped out for functions, meaning options, how
they are realised (lots of grunts and gurgles ;-) and an interpretation
of what the child was meaning.

You ask: "Can we think of protolinguistic children as “having
words/word meaning” but not speech and whether/how “having speech”
might be different for our understanding of the debate?" According to
Painter and Halliday, no, although come to think of it, after reading
the Painter snippet, what is "having speech" for the infant?

Vygotsky wrote: "It is essential that the development of speech occurs
independently of thinking and thinking develops independently of the
development of children's speech, but at a certain instant, both meet.
At approximately the age of two, the child experiences a burgeoning of
his vocabulary, its active extension, after which there is a phase of
questions: "What is this? What do you call this?"

What do you think?


On 07/07/2005, at 2:39 AM, Kristen R. Clark wrote:

> Hi all – Fantastic discussion.  After reading the two Hasan papers I
> find myself struggling with a couple of points.  I’ll bring up just
> one in this post.   In the “…Three Exotripic Theories…” paper she
> writes: “…the child’s communication could not be dismissed as a
> genetically programmed ‘spread of affect’, but at the same time it
> would be absurd to suggest that the child is ‘telling someone
> something’ in the sense of recounting or debating on an experience.
>  Nor could we claim that communication depends on the availability of
> words, and this is where Vygotsky’s own position appears unclear: is
> the protolinguistic child communicating, or is he not?”
> This passage reminded me of Goodwin’s work (“Emotion Within Situated
> Action”) where an adult with a brain injury clearly both communicates
> and has words yet doesn’t have speech (as evidenced by his
> participation in family discourse through gesture, non-specific
> vocalizations, etc.).  The questions I have relate to wondering:
> Can we think of protolinguistic children as “having words/word
> meaning” but not speech and whether/how “having speech” might be
> different for our understanding of the debate?  
> What does Hasan finally suggest regarding where each of the approaches
> (V. and SFL) come down on this issue and how they differ?  
> Best.
> -Kristen
> Kristen Radsliff Clark
> Doctoral Candidate
> LCHC and Department of Communication
> University of California, San Diego
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