Re: LCA: Getting started with tools, signs and activity

From: Phil Chappell (
Date: Fri Jun 17 2005 - 02:15:20 PDT

Here is the article to which Gordon refers.

On 17/06/2005, at 2:00 AM, Gordon Wells wrote:

> I have recently been reading Anna Stetsenko's introduction to the
> section in The Essential Vygotsky (Kluwer, 2004) entitled 'Scientific
> Legacy: Tool and Sign in the Development of the Child.' I found it a
> very helpful situating of the tool/sign issue in the larger Vygotsky
> project. Anna has agreed to have the article reproduced for our
> discussion and I intended to scan it and then post i.t. Unfortunately
> the software that comes with my scanner won't launch. But I'll keep on
> trying.
> Following on from previous discussion, I feel there is another
> distinction to be drawn between tool and sign (while acknowledging
> their similarity in mediating action). Tools (of a material kind) are
> usually already to hand and are 'used' in order to benefit from their
> affordances for the achievement of the intended action. Signs (of a
> linguistic kind) seem to me to be different. They don't preexist the
> signing/languaging operation that mediates an action which is often
> not fully envisaged in advance. Furthermore, signing occurs in a
> dialogic interaction with one or more other signers who contribute
> their own interpretation of the sign. Signs (or 'utterances' as
> Bakhtin would say) look in both directions - both to preceding
> utterances and to the anticipated response. To a degree, this still
> holds when the dialogue takes place in inner speech as such inner
> dialogue is ultimately part of a social activity involving other
> people and the tools that are also involved.
> Gordon
> --
> Gordon Wells
> Dept of Education,
> UC Santa Cruz.

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