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

From: Phil Chappell (
Date: Fri Jul 08 2005 - 06:37:32 PDT

Hi Kristen,

I wonder of you elaborate on what you feel is the "murkiness" of infant
speech and communication, that some of our SFL colleagues more attuned
to infant research on language development might chime in. And, of
course, others from other disciplines, too.

On 08/07/2005, at 1:24 AM, Kristen R. Clark wrote:

> Phil - Thanks for the Painter snippet. It seems to me that Painter
> and Vygotsky make complementary claims suggesting that meaning and
> even the beginnings of word meaning develop prior to the emergence of
> individual words and grammar, but the question of infant speech and
> communication is still murky. On the Vygotsky quote - Chukovsky's
> work which makes a similar argument to Vygotsky that something very
> wonderful happens around 2 years of age.
> Per your colleague's email - it's interesting to think about our own
> experiences with infants in relation to the theories we are currently
> addressing. There are seminars here in the states that teach parents
> to introduce signing to their young infants but I haven't looked up
> the theoretical underpinnings of "baby sign language" until now. I
> found this article but haven't read it yet - Acredolo is from UCDavis
> I think.
> Goodwyn, S. W. & Acredolo, L. P.  (1993). Symbolic gesture versus
> word:  Is there a modality advantage for onset of symbol use?   Child
> Development , 64, 688-701.
> Kristen
> Kristen Radsliff Clark
> Doctoral Candidate
> LCHC and Department of Communication
> University of California, San Diego
> ________________________________________
> From: []
> On Behalf Of Phil Chappell
> Sent: Thursday, July 07, 2005 4:16 AM
> To:
> Subject: Re: [xmca] LCA - Hasan: Words, Meaning, Speech?
> 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?
> Phil
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