Re: [xmca] RE: meaning and sense and has anyone any opinion

From: Wolff-Michael Roth (
Date: Fri Jul 22 2005 - 08:24:35 PDT

hi all,
When I was reading Peg's lines, MY first question was not about
linguistic issues but about what people are making in "meaning-making".
Then after reading Mike's and Gordon's comments, I was further thinking
about meaning and its relation to sense.

If I understand right, sense is tied to the relation of activity
(something collectively motivated) and action (something individually
realized). So sense arises from the dialectic relation of self and
other, individual and collective. Some writers use the qualifier
"personal" to situate "sense."

Perhaps that gives us an entry point to understanding meaning, as a
generalized version of personal sense, that is, the possibilities of
sense available at the collective level.

Such an approach would allow us to approach meaning in a dialectical
way, paralleling the individual|collective dialectic, and therefore
locating it as the dialectic of two other dialectics.



On 22-Jul-05, at 8:08 AM, Mike Cole wrote:

> Great timing, Gordon. you answered part of my question re Halliday and
> the
> equivalent distinction. Thanks!
> mike
> On 7/22/05, Gordon Wells <> wrote: >Gordon, I've often
> thought along the lines you explore about how it relates
>> >to Vygotsky's meaning/sense discussion.  Maybe it reflects his roots
>> in
>> >philology.  If so, then maybe we can push it a little further.
>> >
>> >Gordon's list of alternatives were: "dynamic/everyday/narrative v.
>> >synoptic/scientific/paradigmatic modes of meaning-making."  When I
>> see
>> >"paradigmatic," I look for "syntagmatic."  Maybe for Gordon this is
>> in both
>> >or either "dynamic" and "synoptic?"
>> >I understand paradigmatic and syntagmatic as mutually constitutive
>> not so
>> >much "versus."  So, for example, for linguists (I think whether you
>> look
>> >back to Prague School or further to Panini) the copula verb ("to be"
>> in
>> >English) as a paradigm (for example: be am is are were been) is
>> relentlessly
>> >tied to/emerging with its syntax (I am. She is. etc.).  The
>> syntagmatic
>> >patterning is not just a methodological frame for the morphological
>> >paradigm; neither one is necessarily primitive to the other (but
>> theories of
>> >language might explore to establish this).  Each constitutes the
>> other.
>> >
>> >So, maybe 'meaning' can be understood as the paradigmatic and
>> 'sense' as the
>> >syntagmatic of a mutually constitutive set.
>> Peg,
>> I agree that syntagmatic complements paradigmatic. One way of
>> interpreting Bruner's narrative/paradigmatic distinction might be
>> that narrative is concerned with the relations between constituents:
>> who does what to whom, when and for what reason. Similarly,
>> Halliday's dynamic/ synoptic distinction might be equated with
>> narrative/syntagmatic - to some degree!!, while synoptic highlights
>> the paradigmatic relationship between alternative lexicogrammatical
>> realizations of the same event, with a focus on grammatical metaphor
>> through nominalization.
>> I think I'm happy with your final paragraph above but I'll give some
>> more thought to this.
>> Gordon
>> --
>> Gordon Wells
>> Dept of
>> Education,    
>> UC Santa Cruz.
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