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Re: [xmca] The Ubiquity of Unicorns: conversation

Andy-- Is private speech another way of controlling ourselves from the

On Tue, Nov 3, 2009 at 5:30 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:

> Peter, it is very interesting to me to discuss something I know nothing
> about. How else can we subject our fundamentals to test?
> Firstly, Peter, I think it is incoherent for you to talk of "conversation"
> as an "irreducible functional unit." "Conversation" is the whole animal not
> the cell. And in any case, it's not actually a conversation, though you
> might conceive of it as a limit case of a conversation if you wanted to. But
> you could also conceptualise what is going on as a performance, and a
> performance requires a script, scenes and stage directions; it *can* have an
> audience but doesn't have to have an audience (addressee).
> Also, I don't think being a long monologue is any bar to being an
> utterance. Luther's 95 theses was an utterance in my reading, as was the
> Gettysburg Address. They can be broken down, but if they are, they cease to
> be an utterance and cannot be understood in that way as "a move".
> Question: is private speech always associated with practical actions? If
> so, aren't these actions part of your unit of analysis?
> Andy
> Peter Feigenbaum wrote:
>> So we must approach the problem from both a practical and a conceptual
>> perspective, and find a way to make them coincide. For Bakhtin, utterance
>> unit boundaries can be concretely identified by turn-taking. For Vygotsky,
>> word meaning is the irreducible unit of analysis, beneath which the
>> functional integration of word and meaning ceases to exist. If
>> conversation is, indeed,
>> that irreducible functional unit, then what is the smallest concrete form
>> conversation can take? It cannot be defined as a turn at talk, for some
>> turns can be quite extensive, such as a monologue consisting of multiple
>> sentences.
>> But if an individual utterance is defined in terms of a single word (at
>> minimum)
>> or a single sentence (at maximum), and these linguistic structures are
>> shown to have the functional properties of conversation (i.e., they
>> participate
>> in an initiation-response structure with other utterance units or
>> practical
>> activity),
>> then this unit would meet both the practical and conceptual criteria we
>> have been discussing.
>> Of course, this does not address all of the problems associated with the
>> analysis of private speech utterances, for there is still the knotty
>> problem of
>> *who is conversing with whom*! But that moves the problem down a different
>> path, which is a whole other topic.
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