Re: [xmca] Translation Problem?

From: Ana Marjanovic-Shane (
Date: Fri Feb 02 2007 - 11:21:33 PST

I am sending the picture that is missing below as an attachment.

Ana Marjanovic-Shane wrote:
> David,
> You may be right in noticing that Vygotsky's use of the terms
> longitude and latitude is different from standard geographic one.
> Longitude is thought in geography as a distance (east or west) between
> any meridian and the Prime Meridian. And therefore is on the
> "horizontal" co-ordinate. While latitude is a location in terms of
> degrees of North or South from the Equator, and therefore is on the
> "vertical" coordinate.
> In my translation of Vygotsky to Serbo-Croatian, Vygotsky uses these
> words in the same way as in your translation --and opposite from the
> geographic usage.
> What he called Longitude (Dolgota (Rus.)/Duzhina (Srb.)) described
> points along a Meridian (i.e. different latitudes on the same
> longitudinal degree).
> And what he called Latitude (Shirota (Rus.)/Shirina(Srb.)) was the
> east-west dimension, a place of a Meridian in relationship to other
> Meridians (and usually called longitude).
> In other words between the two coordinates he imagined the "vertical"
> (South-North) one to be the "longitude" and the "horizontal"
> (East-West) one to be the "latitude". I drew a little picture long
> time ago on the margin of my copy. It looked something like this (if
> the picture does not follow here, it will probably be in an attachment):
> Globe
> I imagined the concrete, sensual graphic quality of the concepts to be
> on the "South Pole" and the abstract, general to be on the "North Pole".
> What for me was important was an understanding that no individual has
> all the concepts (around the globe) on the same degree of
> generalization/abstraction (Vygotsky's longitude), and that at any
> point of time in a person's life the state of all of the concepts
> could be represented with a jagged graph line around the globe.
> Elina, Why do you think that here Vygotsky did not follow the Hegelian
> understanding of abstract and concrete?
> Ana
> Peter Moxhay wrote:
>> David,
>> Checking my copy of the Russian collected works (Vol. 2, pp.
>> 273-274), it looks like the translation is correct: longitude for
>> "dolgota" and latitude for "shirota."
>> Peter
>>>>> 02/01/07 4:22 PM >>>
>> In Chapter Six of "Thinking and Speech" (in Volume One of the
>> Collected Works), Vygotsky is discussing how scientific concepts,
>> unlike spontaneous ones, emerge swaddled in a dense network of
>> related concepts. He uses a kind of Cartesian grid, only he imagines
>> it in three dimensions, as global coordinates instead.
>> One set of coordinates gives the location of the concept in
>> terms of what we might call "object/meaning" or "meaning/object":
>> that is, is the concept identical with a concrete object or action
>> (say, "my goldfish", or "I kicked the ball") or is it almost pure
>> generalization (e.g. numbers, where the concept is only very remotely
>> linked to the concrete action of counting)
>> The other set of coordinates gives the location of the concept in
>> terms of other concepts at the same level of generality (that is, the
>> same proportion of "object/meaning"). The problem is, which set
>> of coordinates is which? Here's how the passage appears in the
>> Collected Works:
>> "Imagine that all concepts are distributed at certain longitudes
>> (does he mean latitudes?) like the points of the earth's surface
>> between the North and South poles. Concepts are distributed between
>> poles ranging from an immediate, sensual, graphic grasping of the
>> object to the ultimate generalization (i.e., the most abstract
>> concept). The longitude (he must mean the latitudinal location) of a
>> concept designates the place it occupies between the poles of
>> extremely graphic and extremely abstract thought about an object.
>> Concepts would then be differentiated in longitudinal (that is,
>> latitudinal) terms depending on the degree to which the unity of
>> concrete and abstract is represented in each concept. Imagine further
>> that the globe symbolizes for us all reality which is represented in
>> concepts. We can then use the concept's latitude (that is, longitude)
>> to designate the place it occupies among other concepts of the same
>> longitude (that is, latitude), concepts that correspond
>> to other points of reality just as the geographical latitude
>> designates a point on the earth's surface in the degrees of the
>> earth's parallels." (226-227)
>> I THINK I understand what he's trying to do. Unlike the
>> Cartesian grid, he wants to have two distinct poles at which
>> variation is not really possible: one of them (which we'll call the
>> North Pole) is really the spontaneous concept, which is pretty much
>> sui generis; the child does not have other concepts at the same level
>> of generality as "wood" or "water" that occupy exactly that
>> conceptual space. At the other pole (we'll call it the South Pole) we
>> have the purely scientific or mathematical concept; the number of
>> names of any particular number is infinite, but they all have exactly
>> the same abstract meaning. In between we find concepts that are very
>> much in between, that is, the conceptual space they occupy is
>> slightly different from neighboring concepts which are hyponyms or
>> hypernyms and thus vary on the North-South axis, but also different
>> from analogous concepts which are at the same level of abstraction
>> but which cover different conceptual spaces. That is why there
>> are only two poles in this system.
>> The problem is that the passage only makes sense to me when I
>> substitute latitude for longitude and vice versa. At first I thought
>> that it was my usual inability to keep "left" and "right" from
>> getting mixed up. Then I thought maybe LSV was using "longitude" to
>> mean "position on a line of longitude" (that is, latitude). I checked
>> the Vakar and Hanfmann translation (1962) and they simply use
>> "coordinate grid", which unfortunately doesn't allow poles. I also
>> looked in a German translation from 1964, but it has the same text as
>> the Minick translation. Can anybody clear this up? What does the
>> Kozulin translation say?
>> David Kellogg
>> Seoul National University of Education
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------------------------------------------------------------------------ /Ana Marjanovic-Shane, Ph.D./ /151 W. Tulpehocken St./

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