Re: Getting started with tools, signs and activity

From: ruqaiya hasan (
Date: Thu Jun 16 2005 - 01:20:42 PDT

Finally had a moment to look for the papers. Regretfully did not manage to
access anything except an old page on the archive. would appreciate
instruction on how to access the papers detailed for the June-July
'mini-course'. Many thanks

----- Original Message -----
From: "Phil Chappell" <>
To: <>
Sent: Tuesday, June 14, 2005 9:26 PM
Subject: LCA: Getting started with tools, signs and activity

> Dear Language, Culture and Activity enthusiasts,
> We finally have the papers posted on the site; I've included the URL
> again, with a ? at the end, as for some reason it fails to launch an
> updated version in some browsers
> You'll see we have three broad strands for discussion, the first, which
> I'm introducing here, being a kind of eclectic mix of readings. The
> Vygotsky extracts are there as a refresher for many on the fundamental
> role of tools and signs in human activity. The A.A. Leontiev paper,
> focusing on speech activity, is for me a deceptively easy read, but
> underlying it is a solid foundation of activity theory developed by
> A.A.'s father, A.N Leontiev. For example, AAL invokes the consciousness
> of the learner in the learning process, considering motives, actions
> and operations, as well as considering speech operations in speech
> acts. So, a paper introducing, so to speak, a mediational theory of
> mind involving tools and signs, and a paper based upon activity theory
> that considers foreign language learning.
> Once we have covered these, Steve Thorne will lead the discussion of
> his co-authored paper on what he and Jim Lantolf have called a
> "Linguistics of Communicative Activity", or LCA. That will then provide
> some kind of segue into a main theme of this enterprise - how the work
> of Halliday and colleagues might inform the theory of human activity in
> which so many of us are interested.
> I'm never very good at asking such a diverse group of scholars a
> question that will hopefully motivate you to tap away at your keyboard,
> so I'd rather paste a paragraph from the Vygotsky extracts that for me
> sums up the essence of what LSV was "meaning", and ask for some
> comments and clarification, especially on the role of language.
> Over to everybody...
> Phil
> We must emphasize also that our diagram [FIGURE 1 ON PAGE 4 - PC] is
> intended to present the logical relation of the concepts, but not the
> genetic or functional (on the whole, real) relations of the phenomena.
> We would like to point to the relation of the concepts, but not in any
> way to their origin or real root. So conditionally, but at the same
> time in a purely logical scheme of relations of the concepts, our
> diagram presents both types of devices as diverging lines of mediating
> activity. The second point we have developed consists of this. A more
> substantial difference of the sign from the tool and the basis of the
> real divergence of the two lines is the different purpose of the one
> and the other. The tool serves for conveying man's activity to the
> object of his activity, it is directed outward, it must result in one
> change or another in the object, it is the means for man's external
> activity directed toward subjugating nature. The sign changes nothing
> in the object of the psychological operation, it is a means of
> psychological action on behavior, one's own or another's, a means of
> internal activity directed toward mastering man himself; the sign is
> directed inward. These activities are so different that even the nature
> of the devices used cannot be one and the same in both cases.

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