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[Xmca-l] Re: Help With Russian: фон

There visual instances where, one could say, the background completes the foreground.


> On Mar 18, 2016, at  3:57 PM, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com> wrote:
> I have a problem--a homophone in Russian. The word "phone" can mean two
> things:
> a) "phone": that is, the actual sound that we hear in speech, such as the
> /b/ in "big".
> b) "field": that is, the POTENTIAL sounds that form the BACKGROUND of
> identifying a particular sound, such as the /p/ we do NOT hear when we hear
> "big" rather than "pig".
> Here's what Vygotsky says (this is the Russian Collected Works, volume 4,
> p. 354, also English Collected Works, volume 5, p. 271).
> Характеризуя развитие устной детской речи, надо указать, что оно происходит
> не по типу письменной речи, не по типу изучения иностранного языка, а как
> бы по средней линии между этими двумя типами, линии, которая теперь
> выявляется. Благодаря слушанию речи взрослых ребенок имеет гораздо более
> обширный фон речи, чем те «фигуры», которые есть в его распоряжении. Как
> только возникает фонема со своим фоном, возникают и аналогичные структуры,
> т. е. восприятие идет структурно.
> And here's the problem. I this goes something like:
> "In characterizing the development of oral speech in the child, it's
> necessary to point out that it takes place not according to the type of
> written speech (that is--all of a sudden, with the child acquiring the
> writing system and being able to write anything he hears--DK) nor according
> to the type of studying foreign languages (that is--word by word by word,
> with the child having to learn each word and each wording in a new
> context--DK) but, as it were, at a midpoint in the continuum between these
> two types, a line which can now be thus construed.  Thanks to the fact that
> he hears adult speech, the child disposes of a very much broader range
> of background/phones (фон--DK) of speech than the "figures" which he had at
> his disposal. As soon as one phoneme emerges with its phone/background
> (фон--DK) analogous structures also emerge, i.e. perception goes on
> structurally."
> So--two questions about this:
> a) Is it REALLY legitimate to translate фон as BOTH the figure AND the
> background? It does seem to me that "phone" is figure when we consider the
> act of perception, but it is background when we consider the act of
> generalization, sort of like today's weather, which is figure when we
> consider the act of perception but background when we think of tomorrow and
> tomorrow.
> b) It's not THAT clear why this locates oral speech midway between written
> speech on the one hand and foreign language speech on the other. I gather
> than Vygotsky is arguing that the child doesn't acquire the whole system
> instantaneously (the way that Korean children acquire the Korean writing
> system, which is so regular that it can easily be learnt in three hours or
> three days and then applied to almost anything they hear) because the child
> doesn't yet know all the words but on the other hand the child's experience
> of speech is much broader than the child's experience of proto-speech was
> during infancy making generalization possible. Am I reading too much into
> this?
> David Kellogg
> Macquarie University