RE: [xmca] soznanie/osoznanie, or, the fish and the water

From: SungWon Hwang (
Date: Mon Feb 12 2007 - 15:35:09 PST

Hi David,
My sense is that jigak is somewhat like perception rather than
consciousness. Anyway, translating one word to another without context does
not seem to make good sense at all. From my experiences of writing and
talking about CHAT in Korean, I find it makes much better sense to use
different Korean words for one English word.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: []
> On Behalf Of David Kellogg
> Sent: Monday, February 12, 2007 3:09 PM
> To: xcma
> Subject: [xmca] soznanie/osoznanie, or, the fish and the water
> I guess I disagree that the etymology of words gives us a good idea of how
> concepts like ¡°consciousness¡± are really understood by the people who
use the
> words.
> I don¡¯t think etymology is IRRELEVANT. But I guess I think that
scientific words
> are not that far removed from the gestures of the baby in the high chair
that Vera is
> talking about. You really have to be there to figure out what they mean.
> Words like ¡°consciousness¡± in a language are almost always FOREIGN
> (and this is why the etymological chains for ¡°consciousness¡± are so rich
> varied and overlap in so many places). I don¡¯t think this is accidental
either, and in
> fact I think it is the key to the research Mike is referring to, the
research that shows
> that successful bilinguals tend to be more successful at other kinds of
> learning that are not obvious related to language (for example, maths). I
> suspect that this is why successful bilinguals suffer less from
Alzheimer¡¯s. But I
> don¡¯t think it really tells us very much about how people are thinking
> consciousness.
> In Korean, there are two words for ¡°consciousness¡± and they both come
> Chinese. Of course that doesn¡¯t mean that when Koreans use these words
> are thinking in Chinese (any more than when we say ¡°consciousness¡± we
> thinking in Latin, Greek, or Sanskrit). It means that when Koreans use
this word
> they do not want their interlocutors to think they mean an every day,
> concept; they want to make it clear that they are not talking about likes
and dislikes,
> pet peeves, passing thoughts, gut feelings, or fleeting perceptions.
> I think that it's slightly more useful to look at structure (along the
lines of ¡°con-
> scienci-ous-ness¡±. In Korean, the two words are ji-gak (in Chinese,
zi-jue) and oui-
> shik (in Chinese yi-zhi). Both are compounds, that is, two-syllable
> where each syllable can stand alone (and often does in the very spare and
> language that is literary Chinese) but usually co-occurs with some other
word, often
> a near synonym. The relationship is something like the two parts of the
> ¡°because¡±; ¡°be¡± and ¡°cause¡± CAN stand alone in English, but they
> something rather different (though not totally different) when we put them
> ¡°Jigak¡±, or ¡°zi-jue¡± means ¡°self-feel¡±, and ¡°oui-shik¡± or
¡°yi-zhi¡± means
> means ¡°will-know¡±). Again, this doesn¡¯t mean that when Koreans or
> use these words they are thinking of ¡°self-feeling¡± or ¡°the will to
> (any more than when you say ¡°because¡± you are really thinking something
> ¡°and let this be considered the cause¡¦¡±). When they use these words,
they mean
> ¡°consciousness,¡± as surely as the baby who raises his or her arms means
> me up.¡±
> The problem is not what they mean, but HOW do they mean it. I think that
> "consciousness" by deliberately selecting an expression that is not going
to be
> interpreted as an every day word. The Chinese origin is part of this, just
as the Latin
> origin of ¡°science¡± is part of the interpretation of that word.
> A somewhat bigger part of the interpretation is the structure of the
> which suggests ¡®metacognition¡± in both cases (¡°the feeling of a
feeler¡± and the
> ¡°willing of knowing¡±). But the main way they mean this is neither
etymology nor
> structure, but rather context, and in this we are all like Vera¡¯s baby.
> There is a difference though. The difference is that when I use an
expression like
> ¡°jigak¡± or ¡°yizhi¡± or ¡°consciousness¡± you know to look in the
co-text in order to
> CREATE the context in which the word is used for yourself. If I say
¡°this¡± or
> ¡°that¡± or even ¡°like¡± or ¡°hate¡± and nothing else, you really have to
look around
> to see what I mean (and if I do this on an e-mail chat list you are really
out of luck).
> Whereas, if I say ¡°self-feeling¡± or ¡°will to knowledge¡± or
¡°consciousness¡±, you
> may not know exactly what I am talking about, but you will at least know
better than
> to look around the room in order to find out.
> Yes, I think that is the real reason why all languages (that I know) use
> language words in order to refer to scientific concepts. I also suspect
that this is
> why successful bilinguals do better in maths, and why aging bilinguals
have better
> back-up systems for thinking with when the primary circuits start to go on
> fritz.On the one hand, bilinguals are used to looking in texts for answers
rather than
> looking at facial expressions or looking around the room. On the other,
they are
> capable of REVERSING the normal way of thinking (from context to text)
when it
> doesn't work.
> I think this is why Vygotsky, in Chapter Two of Thinking and Speech,
spends so
> much time disposing of poor Piaget (who was, you remember, Janet¡¯s
> Piaget believes that the primary learning mechanism of the child is simple
> ¡°displacement¡±. The child uses and reuses the same basic learning
strategies as
> long as he/she can.
> The second language is therefore to be learnt exactly as the first
language was,
> from context to text. And the scientific concept is to be mastered just as
the every-
> day concept was, gradually forcing out old concepts and replacing them
with new
> ones, through assimilation if possible and grudging accommodation if
> necessary.
> But for Vygotsky, this is impossible, simply because the child¡¯s social
> environment of learning has so radically altered when the child goes to
school. The
> foreign language CANNOT be learnt as the first language was; the first
> was learnt context first, and the foreign language has to be (nay, SHOULD
> learnt text first. The every-day concept was learnt unconsciously first,
and the
> scientific concept must (and CAN) be learnt from dictionary definitions.
> Perversely, Vygotsky CELEBRATES the difference, even though he
> acknowledges repeatedly that the price the child must pay is many years of
> before anything like unconscious mastery can take place. Why is he so
> that in foreign language study the first must be last so that the last
must come first?
> Why does he INSIST on INVERSION rather than DISPLACEMENT?
> It¡¯s not because he likes to torture little kids, or because he hasn¡¯t
> Kenneth and Yetta Goodman on ¡°Vygotsky and the Whole Language
> Perspective¡±. (He read Tolstoy, and the ideas are very similar!) It¡¯s
because he
> really does believe that it is this inversion of teaching orders that
allows the foreign
> language to be built on the most developed part of the native language
> system, and allows the scientific concept to be built on the most
concept-like part of
> the child¡¯s conception system.
> This is, after all, the real content of the zone of proximal
development; the fact
> that instead of starting all over again in a foreign language or in
scientific language,
> the child can build straight on top of the native language and the every
day concept
> into the foreign language or the science experiment, using the highest
level of
> semantic relations the child already has. The only condition is that the
child must
> see those semantic relations as recontextualizeable, and of course with
> language word meanings, the child can see them in no other way.
> This is exactly why the current fad for ¡°task based teaching¡± or
immersion or
> any other form of recreating the mechanisms by which first languages are
> is so wrong. Yes, it may work and help encourage a little more unconscious
> although it probably won¡¯t work very well, simply because a classroom can
> hope to recreate the social environment of the kitchen high chair and even
if it
> could the child will always see the classroom beyond the artifice.
> But the cost the child must pay is the most valuable thing in the
child's growing
> academict repertoire, namely the conquest of the abstract concept. And the
cost to
> the teacher is the most valuable thing in the whole foreign language
> experiment. What child and teacher give up is all hope of teaching what a
> scientific understanding of what human language is and all hope of
learning how
> even the mother tongue, that set of somethings that was everything the
child knows,
> is really only one small instantiation of the human capacity for
communication. The
> child remains in the state of a fish that cannot ever know what water is.
> David Kellogg
> Seoul National University of Education
> ---------------------------------
> Looking for earth-friendly autos?
> Browse Top Cars by "Green Rating" at Yahoo! Autos' Green Center.
> _______________________________________________
> xmca mailing list

xmca mailing list

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Mar 01 2007 - 10:36:50 PST