[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]
[xmca] When Thoughts Meet Words Is It a Second Marriage for Both?
This is a question about the translation of Thinking and Speech, directed to Achilles, Mike, Professor Kotik-Friedgut, Anton Yasnitsky, and any other Russophones who might be listening.
What exactly (and who exactly) does LSV mean when he writes of "a recent study" that concludes that the motor processes suppressed in thinking facilitate thought (p. 44 of the Collected Works in English) and he complains that this view sees only EXTERNAL and MECHANICAL dependencies between thinking and speech?
Vygotsky's got this:
"В качестве примера можно было бы указать на попытки одного из современных авторов изучить с помощью такого приема разложение речевого мышления на составные элементы, связь и взаимодействие обоих процессов. В результате этого исследования он приходит к выводу, что речедвигательные процессы
играют большую роль, способствующую лучшему протеканию мышления. Они помогают процессам понимания тем, что при трудном сложном словесном материале внутренняя речь выполняет работу, содействующую лучшему запечатлению и объединению понимаемого. Далее, эти же самые процессы выигрывают в своем протекании как известная форма активной деятельности, если к ним присоединяется
внутреяя речь, которая помогает ощупывать, охватывать, отделять важное от неваж-
ннного при движении мысли, наконец, внутренняя речь играет роль способствующего фактора при переходе от мысли к громкой речи."
Now, here's how I render it, drawing heavily on the French, Italian, and Japanese translations as well as my own limited knowledge of Russian:
"An example would be the possible attempts of one of the contemporary authors to study by the aid of this method the decomposition of verbal thinking into its component elements, and the interconnection and interaction of both processes. As a result, this study comes to the conclusion that the speech-motor processes play a large role in facilitating maximal flow in thinking. They help the processes of the understanding by virtue of the fact that with difficult and complex verbal material internal speech carries out the task of, contributing to maximal imprinting and association of that which is understood. Further, the same processes modify themselves into a determinate form of activity, which, joined to inner speech, helps to grasp, to select, and to separate the important from the less so; at last inner speech plays the role of the facilitating factor with in the passage from thought to speaking aloud."
Minick includes a note here (p. 44 and p. 387 of Collected Works Volume 1): “Vygotsky may have had in mind the experiments such as those by Jacobsson (sic), L.E. “The Electrophysiology of Mental Activities,” American Journal of Psychology, 1932, Vol. 44, pp. 677-694. These experiments on imagining and verbal thinking were replicated and extended by Max, L.W. in among others, “An experimental study of the motor theory of consciousness. III. Action-current responses in deaf-mutes during sleep, sensory stimulation and dreams,” Journal of Comparative Psychology, 1935, vol. 19, pp. 469-486.”
This seems unlikely. Both works are concerned with “galvanism”, the minute electrical charges found under the skin as a result of muscular activity. But Jacobson (not “Jacobsson”) is studying the reflex arc of imagining and remembering certain physical activities (e.g. weeding a garden). As for Max, it is a set of experiments demonstrating that deaf and dumb subjects have less galvanic activity when they are asleep. Neither experiment is connected with difficult and complex verbal material, or with the problem of speech at all.
But both experiments are based on the idea of a reflex arc, and so is the “attempt of one of the contemporary authors” which Vygotsky describes here. A reflex arc is something like this:
The arrow going from stimulus to response is the “sensory” part of the arc, while the arrow going from response to stimulus is the “motor” portion. Thinking is then a reflex arc, but it is one in which “speech”, the response, has been inhibited for some reason. However, if the motor response is inhibited, what function does the response serve?
According to the author Vygotsky refers to, thinking first ensures the fluency of thinking (!) by amplifying the verbal stimulus in some way which helps the hearer “associate”. Vygotsky, of course, rejects associative psychology in general and associative concept formation in particular.
Then the suppressed motor response, dynamically transformed into an activity, somehow “joins” with some kind of pre-existing inner speech to grasp, feel, and help the hearer separate the important from the incidental. It is this pre-existing inner speech, egged on by the suppressed motor activity, which facilitates the passage from inner speech to external speech.
In other words, just as thinking facilitates thinking, so too does inner speech facilitate the passage from inner speech to external speech. It’s easy to see why Vygotsky is not very satisfied with this description.
Notice, though, that it does seem to resemble the way in which Vygotsky’s concept of inner speech has been used in language teaching, e.g. in Lantolf’s work on “language play”, and later work on private speech and even Merrill Swain’s recent work on “languaging”. In both authors, we find similar claims that “private speech” facilitates thinking and participates in the planning and execution of speech.
Of course, Lantolf and Swain are discussing the use of private speech in FOREIGN language learning. In this situation it may really be the case that thinking and inner speech are separate processes which interact in the “external”, after-the-fact manner described. After all, in that situation, thinking is linked to one language, and inner speech to another.
Seoul National University of Education
xmca mailing list